Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Non-Toxic Air Fresheners

By Wong Ee Lynn
<wongeelynn@yahoo.com / gl.mnselangor@yahoo.com>

Clever advertising makes us believe that commercial 'air fresheners' and deodorisers can make a room smell fresh and clean, but there is nothing clean about the butane, propane, dichlorobenzene, phthalates and other toxins found in most store-bought air fresheners. These products do not actually improve the quality of indoor air, but merely masks other unpleasant scents, and can contribute to a host of ailments including breathing difficulties, headaches and nausea.

Chemical-free alternatives are available in natural and organic food stores, but are usually too expensive for the average homeowner. If you are going to use air fresheners often, it is best to make your own air fresheners and experiment with the recipes and ideas below until you find one or several that suit your needs and purposes.

1. Use good quality, natural essential oils (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint) in an aromatherapy diffuser to create an inviting and calming indoor atmosphere. You don't even have to buy a diffuser. Boiling some water in a saucepan and then adding a few drops of essential oils or some lemon peel, mint leaves or lavender flowers to the boiling water after you turn off the heat would serve your purpose just as well. Do not buy cheap essential oils such as those found in RM5 stores, as they have usually been adulterated with petrochemical products or alcohol

2. To eliminate bathroom smells, leave a little box of matches in your bathroom cabinet. Strike a match after flushing. The smell of sulphur from the burning matchstick (admittedly not perfect but still less harmful than hemical strays and fragrance gels) will mask and eliminate other unpleasant smells.

3. A freshly-unwrapped bar of soap (choose natural and phosphate-free soap whenever possible) will work wonders in deodorising a room, closet, bathroom or car interior, so consider doing this right before guests arrive. As a bonus, if you are using lavender or citronella soap, it will also repel insects and roaches. Once the soap has lost its initial fragrance, you can still use it in the shower or at the washbasin.

4. Many houseplants, including spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) and aloe vera, have incredible air-purifying qualities, so be sure to add living and not artificial plants to every window and area that receives natural light. Read up on the plants in advance to ensure that they do not pose any danger to pets and children. Plants with a pleasant natural fragrance such as pandan, lemongrass, musk lime, mosquito plant and potted herbs are also good additions to a home.

5. Make your own vinegar-based air freshener spray by mixing 1.5 cups of water, half a cup of white vinegar (natural, not artificial or 'cuka tiruan') and 12-15 drops of pure essential oils in a spray bottle. Shake it up and use the solution to spray a room before guests arrive, or to eliminate smells near pet litter trays, rubbish bins and in bathrooms.

6. Alternatively, make a baking soda-based air freshener spray by pouring 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 5-6 drops of pure essential oils into a spray bottle and topping it up with water. Shake it up and spray it to freshen up a room, fabrics, shoes and car interiors.

There are many ideas online on how you can make your own potpurri, orange and clove pomanders, beeswax candles, scented cloth sachets and even scented gels. There are no limits to what the human imagination can think up when we are determined to do the right thing for Mother Earth and human (and animal) health.

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