Ever since fabric fresheners were invented, people have been refreshing their sofas, chairs, beds, curtains, and cars with just a few simple sprays. I admit, I used to Febreze and Lysol everything I could get my hands on, but when I started eliminating toxins and chemicals from my life, I had to take a second look at some of the ingredients on these popular products.
What’s Really In Those Popular Fabric Refresher Brands?
Growing up, we would constantly use Lysol to freshen up and disinfect around the home, and it was just something we did without thinking twice about it. We always used air fresheners in the bathrooms, sprays in the living areas, fabric softeners on the bedding, you name it.
When Febreze came out, it was like a little miracle in a bottle. Just spray it on anything and everything to freshen and clean, or at least leave it smelling clean. It was pretty amazing…that is, until I decided to look into the ingredients a bit more…oh, boy.
Proctor & Gamble, the company that makes Febreze, has a nice little PDF ingredient file for their product that you can download right from their website, but I have it right here for you, if you’d like to take a look.
Now, their list of ingredients have wonderful little explanations of what each of the chemicals do for you in terms of how it freshens, but what they don’t include is what those chemicals do to you, in terms of your health.
Here are some of the most common ingredients for Febreze, and thank goodness I don’t have to try pronouncing these out loud:
- Modified polydimethicone – This one took me a while to look up, but basically it’s a dimethicone, which is a man-made silicone compound found in all sorts of applications from cosmetics, automotive fluids, adhesives, and even McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, or Wendy’s french fries. Mmmm, yummy! It’s listed as a possible skin and eye irritant, and can cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.
- Alkanolamine Sodium Hydroxide – This one confused me a bit, mostly because I couldn’t find a straight answer on what this chemical actually does. It seems that alkanolamine is used as a pH balancing agent, but I’m not entirely sure why it’s added to sodium hydroxide. I do know that sodium hydroxide is extremely caustic, which means it can cause severe burns to the skin and it used in industrial applications, like paint stripper. While I’m sure there is some reason these two chemicals are mixed together, the fact that I can’t seem to get a solid explanation of what they do definitely causes some concern.
- Quaternary Ammonium Chloride – This chemical I finally found some data on, and it’s not good. Quaternary Ammonium Chloride is listed as a level 3 health concern on the MSDS report, which makes it a hazardous material that can cause severe skin and eye irritation, respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea, and even death if ingested.
- Benzisothiazolinone – This is a chemical used in a number of different cleaning products for the home, but it is a known skin, eyes and lung irritant, can cause allergic reactions, and is an immune system toxicant.
- Various Perfumes – Ahh, yes…that magical fragrance that Febreze has, which is one of the main reasons most of us use it, right? Well, according to Proctor & Gamble’s ingredient sheet, they had to make an entirely separate PDF file just to list their “various perfumes”, because there’s absolutely no way to know what scents they are actually using. I’ll let you take a look at their fragrance list for yourself, because there are thousands, literally thousands, of chemical compounds that they can use as fragrances in their products.
You think that list of ingredients is scary? That’s actually the least amount of chemicals I’ve seen in one of these types of products, which means that the majority of other air fresheners, fabric fresheners, and aerosols have a ton of additional chemicals in them to perform whatever function they are designed for.
I don’t know about you, but that was enough for me to want a more natural way to freshen my home, knowing exactly what ingredients I was using, and being much safer than these conventional products.
How To Make A Natural Fabric Refresher
This is a very easy DIY recipe to make, and one that you can experiment with in order to try new scents for different applications. While it’s not going to be as potent as conventional products, it’s going to get the job done with a much safer after effect.
Note: The use of essential oils in this recipe is the key ingredient in making this a fabric refresher alternative, but there are some essential oils that can be toxic to pets, just like certain flowers and plants can be. Here’s a detailed list of some of the essential oils that can be harmful to pets.
Natural Fabric Refresher Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons Baking Soda
- 2 tablespoons Distilled White Vinegar
- 2 cups hot water
- 30-40 drops of Essential Oils (optional)
- 16 oz glass spray bottle
Natural Fabric Refresher Instructions
- Pour the vinegar and hot water into your glass bottle.
- Add in the baking soda and essential oils and mix well.
- Spray on fabrics, sofas, curtains, bedding, or anywhere else that needs refreshing.
Additional Tips: You can substitute the vinegar for rubbing alcohol, or a cheap vodka, but just keep in mind that this can cause your fabrics to become flammable, so use with caution. I usually use lavender in my mixture, but I also like citrus scents for a really clean smell. Just make sure that whatever oils you choose, they are safe for pets, if you have any.
Do you use a fabric refresher at home? How do you keep your living areas smelling clean?