Last Updated on May 28, 2022 by The Filtery Staff
Everyone loves a fresh-smelling home, car, gym bag, bathroom, etc… But unfortunately, a lot of conventional air fresheners are filled with toxins like phthalates, carcinogens, VOCs, allergens, and more.
The good news is that there are so many great alternatives that not only smell great but also don’t contribute to your indoor air pollution or make you sick. So, we’ve rounded up the best natural air fresheners, organic room sprays, and Febreze alternatives that you can spray in your home without worry.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our ingredient safety standards.
Why Are Conventional Air Fresheners Bad?
As mentioned above, a lot of air fresheners you’ll find in stores contain things like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (which can cause infertility and a host of other issues), allergens and sensitizers, and more.
Why do brands include these toxic ingredients? Well, for a variety of reasons… It might be to increase the shelf-life, it might be because they’re cheaper than safe and more natural alternatives, it might be to create a stronger scent, or it might be some combination of all of the above and more.
Here are some of the most commonly used toxic air freshener ingredients to avoid:
Almost all conventional air fresheners will contain the word “fragrance” on their ingredient list. Unfortunately, under that one word, companies are legally allowed to include almost 4,000 different chemicals in their products without actually disclosing them to their customers. Some of these chemicals are completely safe, but others are endocrine-disrupting phthalates, carcinogens, VOCs, allergens, and more. This is why we recommend trying to avoid “fragrance” as much as possible.
You can read more about the fragrance issue right here.
Ingredients like benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone are used as preservatives, but they’re also well-established irritants and allergens. Methylisothiazolinone is also a suspected neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor.
Of course, preservatives are often necessary in order to prevent things like mold growth, but there are plenty of safer preservatives available.
Ethoxylated ingredients (like PEGs) are extremely difficult to avoid completely, so we recommend just trying to avoid them when possible.
When being made, this group of ingredients goes through a process called ethoxylation. This process requires ethylene oxide, which is an irritant that’s known to cause multiple types of cancer and infertility, along with 1,4-dioxane, which is another known carcinogen.
The problem is that ethoxylated ingredients have been found to be contaminated with these two toxic ingredients.
Are Essential Oils Safer?
Most non-toxic and natural fragrance brands use essential oils in their formulations instead of synthetic scents. And while overall they tend to be safer, it’s important to remember that essential oils are not always perfect either.
Some essential oils can be sourced in an unsustainable way, so it’s important to buy from brands that source their oils carefully and responsibly.
Additionally, certain essential oils are more sensitizing to some people than others, especially considering that essential oils are MUCH more highly concentrated than the actual plants from which they’re sourced. Therefore, products that utilize essential oils need to be dosed and formulated properly.
The Best Natural Air Freshener Sprays to Use Instead of Febreze:
Now, let’s get to our favorite brands for non-toxic and natural air fresheners! We’ve carefully looked at the ingredient lists for all of these brands to make sure they’re free from things like phthalates, carcinogens, volatile organic compounds, and other toxic chemicals.
Grow is one of our very favorite non-toxic Febreze alternatives—they sprays smell sooo good! They have a collection of standard scents that are offered all year-round (Lavender Blossom, Bamboo, Cedar Citrus, and more), and then they also release seasonal scents as well.
Grow is committed to true transparency when it comes to their fragrance ingredients. Everything is 100% plant-based and is free from phthalates, parabens, petroleum, and synthetic petrochemicals. Everything is made ethically in the USA. And they have candles as well!
Force of Nature is not a scented spray, but rather works as an odor-eliminator that you can spray into the air, on furniture, in gym bags, and more. Instead of putting a good smell on top of the stinky ones, it works to actually eliminate bad smells by deodorizing and sanitizing.
Force of Nature has actually been lab-tested against Febreze and shown to work better at eliminating malodors. It’s also registered with the EPA to get rid of 99.9% of germs, bacteria, and viruses. You can read our full review here!
Shop Force of Nature (use code THEFILTERY30 for 30% off Starter Kits & bundles)
Halcyon Grace Co. combines rhodochrosite crystal purified water(!!) with witch hazel and essential oils to create non-toxic and long-lasting room sprays. Available scents include “Breathe,” “Full of Energy,” and “Oye Como Va.”
Shop Halcyon Grace Co. on BLK+GRN and use the code THEFILTERY10 for 10% off.
Neals Yard carries several beautiful Organic Aromatherapy Room Sprays that come in “Uplifting,” “Balancing,” or “Calming” scents. These are made with organic essential oils and contain zero synthetic ingredients. Neals Yard carries several certifications as well, including Soil Association Organic, Carbon Neutral, and Cruelty-Free.
Hank’s Garden’s products come with a handful of earth-friendly labels like organic, non-GMO, biodegradable, cruelty-free, locally sourced, and more. Based in Bellingham, Washington, Hank carries a collection of room and body mists that are meant to “balance, harmonize, & promote the health of body, mind, & spirit.” His short ingredient lists include distilled water, glycerin, and essential oils.
Zum’s Room & Body Mists contain very few ingredients: water, glycerin, and essential oils. Everything from this brand (which has been around since 1996) is made in Kansas City, Missouri. They carry some great bar soaps, too.
This is another great odor eliminator that’s fit for your gym bag, car console, or bathroom. Made with witch hazel, alcohol, and essential oils, you can use it to spray in the air, on your hands, on gear or equipment, or on your body.
The lavender used in this multi-purpose spray is not only organic but it’s actually grown and harvested on their family farm! The only ingredients in this vegan spray are distilled french lavender hydrosol and pure lavender essential oil. You can spray it on linens, in the car, use it as a room spray, and more.
Other Safe, Natural Air Fresheners
Here are a few additional non-spray air freshener and deodorizer options that you might want to check out to help freshen up your indoor air:
Guru Nanda carries a wide selection of diffusers and humidifiers that come in different shapes and sizes (including a mini plug-in one!). You can use them with their essential oils, which are sustainably sourced and pesticide-free.
If you’re looking for a plug-in alternative to Glade or Air Wick, check out Scent Fill. It’s a 100% natural plug-in air freshener that contains “zero weird chemicals” while maintaining a long-lasting fragrance. They have a TON of different scents to choose from!
Using ingredients like activated carbon, these powders actually purify their air by absorbing contaminants naturally (instead of just covering them up). They also contain essential oils for a light, natural scent.
Moso air purifying bags work in a similar way to the Attitude Air Purifying boxes mentioned above. They use moso bamboo charcoal, which works to eliminate odors and harmful pollutants without giving off a scent. These can last up to 2 years with monthly rejuvenation in direct sunlight!
Of course, improving indoor air quality by actually cleaning it (instead of just covering it up) will go a long way in eliminating odors and keeping things fresh. Molekule and Dyson are good brands to check out.
Lastly, another way to keep unwanted odors at bay is to keep your home clean! VOCs, mold spores, and other tiny toxic molecules like to live in the dust around your home. Vacuuming regularly and using a non-toxic all-purpose cleaner like those from Attitude or Force of Nature can go a long way!
There’s no reason to keep spraying carcinogens and endocrine disruptors into your air! When it comes to air freshener sprays and plug-ins, there are plenty of great natural and non-toxic brands on the market to keep your home fresh.