How to Purify Indoor Air Naturally

What You Need to Know About Air Fresheners

Did you know the air in your home can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air? Air fresheners, like cleaning supplies, are unregulated and not required to disclose ingredient lists. Studies have shown that the air in our homes contains ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene. Even if you’re not sensitive to the strong fragrances that cleaning supplies emit, it’s important to know what you’re spraying in your home and how it impacts your health.

What’s Really In Air Fresheners?

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) – carbon-based compounds including benzene, formaldehyde, acetone, and toluene.
  • Phthalates – known hormone disruptors, cause reproductive harm and birth defects. There are often multiple types of phthalates found in air fresheners.
  • 1,4 Dioxane – suspected carcinogen, toxic to the brain and central nervous system, as well respiratory system, kidneys, and liver
  • Formaldehyde – known carcinogen, strong irritant to eyes, throat, skin, and lungs
  • “Fragrance” – Fancy term for a ‘cocktail of chemicals’ that produce a particular scent; thousands of chemicals can be included under the term ‘fragrance’, without being listed on the ingredient label. Up to 95% of ingredients called “fragrance” are derived from petrochemicals.

A study conducted by the University of Washington tested 25 air fresheners, among other cleaning supplies. They detected 133 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). Each product contained 17 VOC’s, 1-8 hazardous chemicals, and close to half of the products tested contained at least 1 cancer-causing ingredient. (Doesn’t sound too ‘fresh’ if you ask me!)

Related Post: How to Clean Clothes Without Dirty Chemicals

Since we’re spraying our home with these chemically-laden air fresheners, we’re inhaling them and absorbing them through our skin.

Air fresheners don’t actually ‘freshen’ the air

Unfortunately air fresheners don’t actually purify or ‘freshen’ indoor air at all. They simply mask unpleasant odors by overpowering them, not actually removing the odors in the first place. Am I saying we’re basically just spraying harmful chemicals into the air for no reason other than masking unpleasant odors? Pretty much.

Safe ways to purify indoor air

  1. Open the windows
    Since indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air, opening your windows, even for just a few minutes a day, helps ventilate your indoor air and reduce polluted air.
  2. Replace your air filter regularly
    And, if your budget allows, another option is to invest in a high-quality air purifier (like this one) that removes harmful microparticles, cleans the air, and significantly reduces allergies & asthma.
  3. Diffuse Essential Oils
    Diffusing essential oils helps purify the air by dispersing microparticles of the oils. Essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, cinnamon, tea tree, and peppermint are great for diffusing because they offer a variety of healing benefits in addition to making your home smell spectacular! This is my favorite way to naturally purify the air in my home!
  4. Purify the Air with Plants
    Plants that purify the air? Yep! I talk more about this one in my ebook A Beginner’s Guide to A Nontoxic Home.
  5. Use a Himalayan Salt Lamp
    Himalayan Salt Lamps aren’t just for ambiance! They are a great way to naturally purify indoor air. When heated, the salt absorbs moisture from the air. This releases negative ions that bind to the positive ions in the air (from dust, debris, and electronics). Himalayan Salt Lamps reduce allergens and pollutants, ultimately purifying the air.

What are you using for air fresheners? Not sure if your air fresheners contain harmful ingredients? Comment below!

Sources and Further Reading:
Pubmed: Scented Products Emit a Bouquet of VOCs
National Resource Defense Council: Hidden Hazards
EPA: VOC’s Impact on Indoor Air Quality

Hannah Smith

Hannah is the founder of Healthfully Hannah and is a nutrition professional empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Get in touch with Hannah right here.

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  1. I do all of these, but one thing I am adding to it is an air purifier. My husband suffers with allergies, so we are going to see if this helps.