Disadvantages of Air Freshener

Air fresheners are often used to cover up the smell from a garbage can.
Air fresheners are often used to cover up the smell from a garbage can. (Image: garbage can image by AGphotographer from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Homeowners and renters alike can use air fresheners to eliminate bad odors in their homes. Air fresheners are a quick fix to bad smells, and may seem like a gift from the home-cleaning gods. However, there are several disadvantages to using air fresheners. Certain aspects of air fresheners may affect your health, finances and the sanitation of your home.

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Many air fresheners contain variable quantities of phthalates. Phthalates are added to air fresheners because they help dissolve and transport fragrances. These chemicals are also found in makeup, paint and nail polish. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the use of phthalates, but they have been linked to cancer, decreased testosterone and lowered sperm counts, according to TIME Magazine. Phthalates in air fresheners can be absorbed into the body through the skin or lungs. In fact, there are trace amounts of phthalates in many people’s blood streams, according to Linda Greer, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Public Health Program.

Not a Cure

Most air fresheners do not address the source of the odor, but simply cover up the bad smell. Some air fresheners will eliminate bad odor, but if the smell is coming from old garbage or food, then the smell will return as the air freshener wears off—which means using more air freshener. Additionally, the fact that air fresheners cover up bad smells may prevent homeowners from cleaning their home when cleaning is needed.


Because air fresheners do not fix the actual cause of the smell, you will need to continue to use them. This expense adds up over time, and can become a significant part of your cleaning supply budget. Thrifty homeowners employ cheaper options to freshen their air, including ventilating the room by opening windows and encouraging a cross breeze. You can also spread baking soda on the bottom of your garbage can, put a lemon down your garbage disposal or eliminate the source of the smell by cleaning your home more often.


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