Lemons growing on a tree
Citrus oils can make a room smell fresh again [Image: Beglib - MorgueFile]

Q&A: Clearing the air

17 August, 2011

Q – I have read that air fresheners are not good for your health. Is that true for everybody? I like to use an air freshener in my loo and the room where my cat sleeps, can you suggest something else to use instead?


A – The article you have seen was probably referring to a study in the Archives of Environmental Health, which reported on researchers who have studied the health and development of 14,000 children since before birth.

They found that in homes where air fresheners, sticks, sprays and aerosols were used every day, 32% more babies had diarrhoea, and the babies were more likely to experience earache. Also the mothers who used air fresheners and aerosols daily had nearly 10% more headaches and were about 26% more likely to experience depression.

Air fresheners contain a large cocktail of potentially toxic chemicals and although the study was done on mothers and children who tend to spend quite a lot of time at home, it seems sensible for anyone concerned about a healthy environment to avoid them.

Many essential oils have deodorising and freshening properties and can be used as alternatives to synthetic air fresheners. Citrus oils, such as lemon, lime and grapefruit, are always fresh smelling, and these combine well with deodorising oils such as pine, eucalyptus and rosemary. Spice oils such as clove and cinnamon are antiseptic and also smell delicious.

To fragrance a room invest in a plug in aromastone and add the oils to the hot plate, or use an essential oil vaporiser. Alternatively, you can make up your own room spray by half-filling a plant spray with water and add 40-60 drops of essential oils of your choice, shake well then spray liberally around the room.