Air Fresheners Don’t Make Scents!

air freshener advertisement with flowers and butterflies coming out of the potFrom plug-ins to sprays, synthetic air fresheners are bad news. Chock-full of toxic ingredients, they typically contain phthalates linked to obesity and other problems, as well as potent allergens that lead to fragrance allergies—a condition that affects 34 million people in the U.S.

That’s why when I heard about this new campaign from Women’s Voices for the Earth, I knew I had to share. The campaign targets Glade air fresheners and employs some of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen as messengers. If SC Johnson can use cute babies to sell products, why can’t we use them to let people know about the air-polluting fragrances that are in their products?

baby sitting next to air freshenersWVE targeted Glade for several reasons. Among other chemical ingredients, the non-profit organization found high levels of synthetic musks in Glade products. Synthetic musks are hormone disruptors that show up in blood and breast milk; they bioaccumulate, meaning they build up in our bodies over time. The products may also include terpenes, which can react with ozone in the air to form carcinogenic formaldehyde.

But more importantly, although SC Johnson claims that they’re committed to transparency, they’ve never shared the exact chemical makeup of their air fresheners. For example, SCJ discloses 26 allergens on product labels in the European Union, but none in the United States—because they’re not required to by law. How can we make sure our air is safe to breathe if we don’t know exactly what’s in the air fresheners that we’re using to scent it?

If I’m going to spritz, it’s going to be with essential oils like this Certified Organic Lavender Fields Aromatherapy Room Spray. I prefer naturally fragranced candles, like this Certified Organic Aromatherapy Soy Candle Sampler Pack including Lavender Fields, Vanilla Cream and Chamomile Petals scents. And there’s nothing like an open window in the morning to make a room feel fresh.

Oh, and the occasional surprise bouquet of flowers. Hint. Hint.

Meanwhile, I sent a letter to Glade asking them to disclose what’s in their air fresheners. Will you take a minute to do the same? Thanks!

Photo: Giovanni+draftfcb for SC Johnson & Son



  1. Marielle says

    I have been suffering of dry eyes for many years and I was told by my doctor that was allergies to…. Well, he did not know. My energy was low, my thyroide acting up, my mood up and down. The doctor said that it had to be because of my age close to menopause.
    I don’t like to take meds so I turn to acupuncture and later started to educate myself on finding natural remedies.
    Two months ago, I started to get rid of the plug in air fresheners in my house, and I’m feeling a lot better. My eyes do not burn anymore, My energy is back and my mood is more stable. I’m convinced that getting rid of some chemicals around me (and did I mention that I make my own laundry detergent) is the reason I feel better.

    • Rachel Sarnoff says

      Oh Marielle, I am so happy that you figured this out. Those plug ins are awful. You can also try swapping out your housecleaners for things like vinegar (I use it everywhere) and see if that helps additionally. I’m going to post some of this on our Facebook page–so great! Thank you for commenting your success story made my day! 🙂


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