Carpet fresheners or deodorizers are designed to remove odors from carpets without actually cleaning the carpet. While they offer a simple way to quickly make a room smell fresh, they are not without some risks. These risks are higher for children and pets that spend time playing on the carpet and could come in direct contact with the freshener.
If carpet freshener comes into contact with the nose or face, it can cause irritation. This includes stinging or burning eyes and a runny or burning nose. While most adults will not allow their face to come into direct contact with carpet deodorizer, children and pets playing on the carpet could experience irritation. The irritation is not usually serious but can cause discomfort.
Like contact with the face, carpet freshener also can cause skin irritation in certain individuals. Children and pets are most susceptible, but adults sitting or laying on the carpet also could experience irritation. The individual using the carpet freshener also could come into contact with the powder as it floats through the air while being applied. This irritation is usually temporary and not serious.
The chemicals used in carpet freshener or deodorizer can have long-term health effects. Many of these fresheners contain phthalates, which have been linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility and disrupting the body's endocrine system. They also can set off dangerous reactions in individuals with asthma and other breathing disorders. Other chemicals commonly used in fresheners are linked to pulmonary and lung problems.
The scents used in carpet fresheners can trigger allergies. Once the scent is in the carpet, it is difficult to remove quickly or easily, meaning the individual with the allergies will need to leave the area. In most people an allergic reaction results in a runny nose and itchy eyes, but in a few rare cases it can result in difficulty breathing.
Homemade carpet fresheners are usually touted as safe alternatives to commercial products. While they may not contain the same chemicals or strong scents, homemade freshener can still cause irritation. Baking soda can cause irritation in the respiratory tract if the fine powder is breathed in through the nose or mouth. It also can cause eye irritation. These reactions are typically not serious but can be uncomfortable.