November 20, 2021

By the year 2027, the home fragrance market is expected to reach a valuation of $27.63 billion. Clearly, people are willing to spend a lot of money to make sure their homes smell nice!

Did you know, though, that many of the most popular home fragrance products are harmful and don’t work the way they claim to work?

Common Home Fragrances

There are lots of home fragrance products that are sold to help people get rid of unpleasant smells in their homes. The following are some of the most popular options:

  • Air fresheners
  • Plug-ins
  • Scented soaps
  • Scented detergents
  • Scented cleaning products
  • Candles

What’s Wrong with These Products?

At first, these products seem perfectly useful for adding some freshness and a nice scent to your home. Did you know, though, that many of them don’t always work the way they’re marketed?


According to this report from the Environmental Working Group, air freshener sprays, candles, and wall plug-ins don’t eliminate odors at all. In reality, they simply cover up unpleasant smells.


Eventually, when the candle burns out, or the air freshening spray or plug-in starts to fade, the smell will return, and your home's indoor air quality will suffer the damage. 


Products like scented detergents and soaps can get rid of odors that are lingering in pillows, couch cushions, and other soft surfaces. However, the scent that these products give off can cause harm to your body. 

Toxic Ingredients in Home Fragrances

It’s worth noting, too, that many home fragrances, especially air freshener sprays and plug-ins, contain a variety of potentially toxic ingredients.


When you’re spraying these products or letting them disseminate scents through the air from an outlet in your living room, you’re also exposing yourself and your loved ones to a wide range of chemicals, including the following:


Phthalates are used to make fragrances last longer. They have also been linked to male and female hormone disruption and male reproductive system birth defects.


Acetaldehyde is found in many air freshener products and is a probable human carcinogen. This means it has been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are substances that quickly become vapors or gases when released into the air. Many VOCs (although, not all) are known to be toxic and have been linked to chronic respiratory issues and certain types of cancer.


1,4-Diclorobenzene is a common VOC that has been linked to impaired lung function. It is particularly problematic to those with asthma and other respiratory conditions.


Parabens are artificial preservatives that have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. They have also been associated with hormone disruption in men and women.


Xylene is a highly flammable synthetic chemical. It has been linked to central nervous system depression and symptoms like headaches, depression, dizziness, and poor short-term memory.

Petroleum Distillates

Many candles contain petroleum distillates. Petroleum distillates can contribute to a wide range of health problems, including headaches, dizziness, and allergy symptoms. They’ve also been linked to increased asthma attacks, respiratory tract infections, and some kinds of cancer.


It’s worth noting, too, that the word “fragrance” or "natural fragrance" is also problematic. Manufacturers can use the word “fragrance” as a sort of catch-all to hide ingredients like those listed above. This is a sneaky way for product sellers to say they don’t use harmful chemicals when, in reality, they do.

What Should You Use Instead?

As you can see, many conventional home fragrances are harmful. This doesn’t mean you have to just live with unpleasant smells, though.


There are plenty of natural alternatives that are highly effective and good for your health. Here are some of the best options to use instead:

DIY Room Spray

For those who want to freshen up their furniture or add a nice scent to the room after it’s been cleaned, a DIY room spray made from witch hazel, distilled water, and essential oils is an easy solution.


To make this, fill a spray bottle with equal parts witch hazel and water, then add 25-30 drops of your favorite essential oils.

Essential Oil Diffuser

An essential oil diffuser is another good option for those who want to keep a nice scent going in their home throughout the day.


Fill the diffuser with distilled water, then add a few drops of essential oils and power it on. Just be careful not to use too many drops, as essential oils can be overpowering.

100% Beeswax Candles

For those who love the ambiance that candles create but want to avoid breathing in harmful chemicals, 100% beeswax candles can be a better alternative. Beeswax candles are made with 100% natural wax and get their fragrance from essential oils, so they burn more cleanly than conventional candles.

HEPA Air Filter

All of these natural home fragrance ideas are good options for those who want to cover up smells or add some extra oomph to their rooms. They don’t truly eliminate odors, though.


If you want to say goodbye to bad smells for good, installing a HEPA air filter is a better choice. HEPA air filters pull odors and allergens out of the air and prevent them from wreaking havoc on your home. 

Open A Window

What's that smell? A window opening to fresh air will do wonders for eliminating the odor-causing agents in your home. Opening up windows can also help to improve your indoor air quality while preventing mold and mildew growth.


Now that you know more about the truths and lies surrounding home fragrances, do you need to make some changes? Are you inadvertently spreading harmful chemicals around your home (and your loved ones)?


If you said “yes” to these questions, be sure to keep this information in mind, especially the list of healthier alternatives. That way, you can refresh your home fragrance collection and make sure you’re using products that are effective andsafe!

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