We’ve looked into several popular home fragrance brands, including Bath and Body Works, Yankee Candle, and Air Wick. When it comes specifically to plug-in air fresheners, though, there is one brand that’s more well-known than all the rest: Glade!
So in this article, we’re digging into the ingredients in Glade PlugIns (as well as their sprays, candles, carpet powders, and wax melts) to find out whether they contain toxic chemicals.
What Are the Ingredients In Glade PlugIns?
Most conventional fragrance companies (and even some “green” ones) contain a wide variety of hidden toxic chemicals like phthalates, carcinogens, allergens, and more. In all honestly, we were expecting nothing different with Glade.
But we were surprised to see that (at least at first glance) Glade is more “mindful” about their ingredients. They advertise that their PlugIns are made without:
- nitro musk
Okay, that’s a good sign! HOWEVER, Glade does not include what actually IS in their PlugIns on the product pages. While we’re glad that Glade doesn’t use certain hormone-disrupting chemicals (like phthalates) and some carcinogens (such as formaldehyde), that doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods. Let’s keep digging.
Glade is owned by S.C. Johnson, which is overall a bit more transparent about their ingredients than other conventional brands. Even though the ingredients in Glade products are not listed on the product packaging or brand website, you CAN find full ingredient breakdowns on S.C. Johnson’s website.
The fact that Glade’s parent company has a whole website about their ingredients and fragrance standards is definitely a sign of positive progress. When fragrance ingredients have been hidden behind legal loopholes for so long, we do love seeing this kind of transparency from brands. After all, consumers have the right to know what is in the products they buy and use in their homes!
S.C. Johnson includes their full “fragrance palette” on this page, which tells you every single chemical that may be included in any of their fragrance products. We sorted through this list (it’s a long one!) and although it’s definitely missing many toxic chemicals, it’s not completely clean either. A few notable observations:
- Even though formaldehyde is missing, there are several other known carcinogens on this list (like benzenes).
- There are also a lot of ethoxylated ingredients on the palette. Because of the process they go through to be made, ethoxylated ingredients have been found to be contaminated with two toxic ingredients: ethylene oxide (an endocrine disruptor and carcinogen) and 1,4-dioxane (a carcinogen).
- There are also phthalates included on this list. That means that although Glade’s products may not include phthalates, other S.C. Johnson products probably do (the question is: which ones?!).
- In addition to phthalates, there are several other known endocrine disruptors included as well (such as benzophenone).
Aside from the fragrance oils, what about the other ingredients? Well, S.C. Johnson also has a similar page for the other (non-fragrance) ingredients they use. This list also contains more than a few toxins, including:
- DMDM Hydantoin (a formaldehyde-releaser)
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), like acetone, ethanol, butane, propane, and more
- PEGs and other ethoxylated ingredients
- Paraffin (for Glade’s candles)
- Synthetic dyes
So, What’s the Verdict—Are Glade PlugIns Safe to Use?
When taking all of the above into consideration, can Glade PlugIns be considered non-toxic? Unfortunately, we can’t recommend them due to the toxins listed above.
Instead of Glade’s plug-in air fresheners, go for one of these brands instead.
Now let’s look at some of Glade’s other products…
Are Glade’s Candles and Wax Melts Toxic?
Yes. Not only are Glade’s candles are wax melts made with paraffin wax (which you can find out about here), but many of them also include BHT (a toluene-based ingredient, which is a known toxin). Their list of fragrance ingredients includes a lot of synthetics, and some of them are questionable.
We recommend checking out this article for guidance on the best non-toxic candle brands.
Are Glade Air Freshener Sprays Toxic?
Glade carries a variety of different fragrance sprays, including their Automatic Sprays, aerosol Room Sprays, and fragrance “Mists.” These cannot be considered non-toxic either, as they contain many known toxins like methylisothiazolinone, PEGs, and VOCs. (Aerosol sprays of any kind almost always contain VOCs.)
Check out this article for our favorite non-toxic and organic room and linen sprays.
What About the Carpet Powders?
Out of all of Glade’s products, their “Carpet & Room Refresher” powders are probably the safest. The primary ingredients are calcium carbonate and sodium silicoaluminate, which are not concerning. They do, however, contain benzyl benzoate, which is classified as an allergen by the E.U., along with several ethoxylated ingredients and other synthetic fragrance ingredients.
We recommend using regular baking soda and essential oils instead. Here is an easy DIY recipe!
It’s also worth noting that when you look up Glade’s products on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) database on home cleaning products, their scores range from C to F (the worst rating) when it comes to ingredient safety.
Are Plug-In Air Fresheners Safe to Leave Plugged In? Can They Catch on Fire?
In terms of fire safety, Glade PlugIns and other plug-in air fresheners are safe to leave plugged in for long periods of time. The only instance that could pose a potential threat of fire is if there is something wrong with the actual wiring of the home or that particular outlet (which obviously doesn’t have anything to do with the air freshener itself).
Conclusion: Are Glade PlugIns Bad?
Glade (and its parent company, S.C. Johnson) are doing better than most major brands because they actually disclose their ingredients (although you do have to dig for them) and they did eliminate certain toxic ingredients like phthalates and formaldehyde (well, at least in the Glade products… they may still be used in other S.C. Johnson brands).
However, Glade’s plug-ins, spray air fresheners, candles, and other products still contain other known toxins like paraffin, VOCs, and more. For this reason, we can’t recommend using Glade’s products, especially when there are so many other great non-toxic alternatives available.