Every time I leave NYC to go someplace a little less bustling and a little more green, I opt to sleep with the windows wide open, regardless of the season. Scent is a powerful thing, and my nose starts to call out for those whiffs of fresh, wild air after I've been in the city for too long. They seem to bring with them a sense of serenity and resolute calm—serving as reminders that, no, the rest of the world doesn't smell like a corner bodega or trash-lined street.
We all want to imbue our homes with these reminders of nature, but turning to conventional air fresheners might not be the safest way to do it. If you look at their labels, you'll likely spot catch-all terms like "fragrance," which can be describing a host of nasty products including phthalates—potentially dangerous compounds that affect hormones and reproductive health.
"There are more than 3,000 fragrance ingredients used in household goods, including air freshener sprays," explains Samara Geller, a database and research analyst at the Environmental Working Group. "These ingredients can sometimes cause skin irritations or allergic reactions and have been associated with hormone disruption and even cancer. In the European Union, there's a list of fragrance allergens that have to be identified on product labels to inform consumers, but there's no such requirement in the U.S."
But fear not, aroma addicts: These natural home sprays are making it easy to let the fresh air in without you ever cracking open a window, and they're made from ingredients you can actually decipher.