The Dangers of Febreze
Febreze is classified as an air freshner, created by Proctor & Gamble. It reports to work by "trapping" odor molecules in a donut-shaped chemical.
The first thing that is really important to understand: the product does not remove odor molecules and it doesn't clean the item it comes into contact with.
The odor molecules are still there. Your nose just can't perceive them because you smell the chemical product instead.
That alone should be your first warning. We know inhalation of any chemicals is dangerous, and several of its ingredients listed below are known to irritate the lungs...but this is a chemical whose entire purpose is to be inhaled!
Unfortunately there is not much data being shared on Febreze and their many products, but the Environmental Working Group (EWG) did conduct a test for the ingredients of one of their products, Febreze Air Effects.
Shockingly, P&G only disclosed THREE ingredients in this product, but the EWG...they found 87 chemicals in total!
Now this is just one Febreze product, but the fact that only 3 ingredients were disclosed and that so many undisclosed ingredients are dangerous, it's safe to assume that their other air freshners are just as dangerous.
Below you'll find a list of just some of the 87 chemicals found by the EWG in Febreze Air Effects, listed in order of their toxicity to humans:
- BHT - Known as a neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor, immunotoxicity, non-reproductive organ system toxicity, skin eye and lung irritator
- Acetaldehyde - Known to cause cancer, toxic to reproduction and development, immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin, skin, eye and lung irritator
- "Fragrance" - One of the three ingredients actually disclosed, it's a neurotoxin, immunotoxin and allergen
- Propylene Glycol - Causes cancer, allergies, toxic to immune system, accumulates in the system, non-reproductive organ system toxin, is classified with "enhanced skin absorption" and irritates the skin, eye and lung
- 1,3-Dichloro-2-propanol - Carcinogenic (causes cancer)
- Limonene - Synthetic form used is known allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- Methyl pyrrolidone - Toxin to reproduction and development, allergen and immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- Alcohol denatured - Also disclosed in the ingredients of Febreze, it's linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- Butylphenyl methylpropion al - allergen, immunotoxin and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- Ethyl acetate - linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, organic system toxicity and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- Geraniol - Synthetic form used linked to allergies, immunotoxicity, organi system toxicity and and skin, eyes and lung irritation
- Linalool - Synthetic form used is known allergen, immunotoxin, and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- Benzaldehyde - neurotoxin, and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- Diethylene glycol monoethyl ether - non-reproductive organ system toxicity
- Ethylhezanol - developmental and reproductive toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- Hexyl cinnamal - allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
- And way too many more....
You can find the EWG's full report on the dangers of Febreze and other common cleaners here.
Removing Odors Naturally
Again, it's important to understand that these types of products are not only dangerous to our health, but they aren't actually cleaning the air or eliminating odor. They are just masking it...the bacteria and molecules are still hanging around, maybe even making you sick themselves.
If you really want to remove odors naturally there are two recommendations I have:
- Types of Houseplants That Clean the Air - In this article I'll point out the best houseplants to use to freshen indoor air, as well as just how effective they really are.
- Removing Odor Naturally - Here I'll show you how you can actually remove odors for all kinds of surfaces...safely, easily and naturally.
- ACTUALLY Purify the Air: Febreze doesn't purify, but only masks odors. But essential oils can actually purify the air and eliminates odor.
No need for chemicals, side effects or pricey products. Just a few simple tips to keep your home healthy and smelling fresh.
Is there a good way to remove Febreze from carpet? One carpet guy told me it was an encapsulate and each time you crush it it releases more fragrance--and that it even penetrates drywall. I can't sleep from the crap. I sprayed vinegar water but it didn't work. I'm thinking of having someone steam it? I'm renting this room and the carpets are newer. Any ideas?
I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this. It's very unfortunate that more people don't realize the chemical sensitivities we all have. I can't find any information on the water-solubility of Febreze, but I do think a steam clean would be the best bet. I also recommend checking out our article on houseplants that clean the air - they have been study by NASA for their purifying abilities and will help remove any off-gassing from the newer carpet, as well as the chemicals from the air. The recommendation is one 10 inch potted plant per 100 sq ft of living space but with chemical sensitivities, it never hurts to have as many as you can care for.
Do you have questions? Ask below in the comments!