Sunday, May 5, 2013

Plug in Air Freshener Tutorial

Don't you just love a nice fragrance filling the air, when you return home, after a long day's out? I sure do. I am always paranoid of my house smelling badly. I do open the windows, weather permitting, and I do keep smelly culprits away, as much as possible...but I always yearn for that good smell. 

Enters the plug in air fresheners. I used to buy those guys all the time, and I used to love coming home to fragrant lavender fields, or rose gardens, or fresh linens. That was, until I found out the evil of plug ins and air fresheners!

According to in 2002, EPA researchers (testing air freshening units that plug into electrical sockets) determined that, when the fragrance chemicals in these products react with common indoor air pollutants, they produce serious health hazards. These chemicals include toxic substances such as: benzene derivatives, pinene and limonene, aldehydes, phenol, and cresol.

Pinene and limonene react with ozone, a common outdoor and indoor air pollutant, creating formaldehyde and a variety of related chemicals which have been implicated in multiple chemical sensitivity and respiratory distressAir freshener chemicals have been implicated in cancer, neurological damage, reproductive and developmental disorders, and other conditions. The synthetic chemicals in air fresheners also can aggravate asthma and/or trigger attacks. MMMM, DOES NOT SOUND GOOD!

Researching air freshener/plug-in ingredients, from their Material Safety Data Sheets, the following were found to be toxic:

Benzyl Alcohol “...upper respiratory tract 
irritation, headaches, nausea and vomiting, a depressed central nervous system and a drop in blood pressure.”

Camphor“On EPA's Hazardous Waste List... readily absorbed through the body tissues...irritation of eyes, skin, nose, and throat...dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions...avoid inhalation of vapors.” (MMM...THE PLUGIN DOES NOTHING BUT VAPORS!!!!)
Dichlorobenzene-- “extremely toxic, a central nervous system depressant, kidney and liver poison. One of the chlorinated hydrocarbons that is long-lasting in the 
environment and is stored in body fat. Vapor irritating to skin, eyes and throat. Banned in California.”
Ethanol-- “... derived from petroleum and is carcinogenic... toxic to the skin, respiratory, cardiovascular, developmental, endocrine, neurological, and gastrointestinal systems.”
Formaldehyde-- “...toxic if inhaled, poisonous if swallowed, skin and eye irritant, carcinogenic...”
Limonene—“ ...Carcinogenic, prevent its' contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer ...always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating or not inhale limonene vapor". (MMM, VAPORS MENTIONED AGAIN?!? NO BUENO!)
Naphthalene-- “... a carcinogen that accumulates in our waters and marine life. It can be irritating to the skin, alter kidney function, cause cataracts, and is toxic (cardiovascular and developmental), especially to children. It can be poisonous if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.
Phenol-- “...can cause skin to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives ... cold sweats, convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death. (DEATH YOU SAY?? O.o)
Pinene-- “...Flammable. Incompatible with strong oxidizing agents. Eye, skin, & respiratory irritant. May be absorbed through skin...very destructive of mucous membranes.

So, this is how plug-ins got plugged-out of my sockets and ended up in a box at the back of my closet. Although my mind knew that plug ins were evil, my heart still yearned for that fresh homey scent. So I researched online, and I found that many people were already doing what I had only suspected to be possible: refilling the plug-ins with 100% natural essential oils. Awwww, I am a happy camper again! This is how it works.

I got my old plug-in, a vial of lavender oil that I had in hand, and a knife. With the knife I forced the plastic cap (and wick) off of the glass jar, you may also use a screwdriver for this if you have nice knives. The wick is purple, as the last freshener was lavender and off course mounds and mounds of chemicals MUST be used at all times to impress buyers! :( 
If you want to, I have seen youtubers opening the plastic lining, removing the fiber wick, washing it, and then reassembling the whole thing using clear tape in place of the plastic liner. It did however, not look the same once it was 'jerry rigged' like that. The wick was not as tight, it looked a bit 'fluffy'. So until I find a better solution I will be using the original wick. I am hoping that with time the wick will saturate completely with the essential oils and the yucky stuff will dissipate...fingers crossed. I am keeping the house well ventilated in the mean make sure we are breathing the least amount of residue left on the wick. 

At this point I filled the plug in glass receptacle with 1/3 of essential oil

I then filled the bottle with 2/3 water making sure not to fill it to the brim. Leaving at least 1 inch to the opening, assures that once the wick is re-inserted the content won't overspill.

At this point I re-inserted my wick (and later snapped it in place).

And finally I put my bottle back onto the plug-in and stuck it into the socket. 
Awwwwwww! I love it.

The scent is not as strong as the commercial ones. But I can definitely smell the lavender in my dining room and the Eucalyptus in the bedroom. I love it and now I am hooked. 

Now go and get yourself some essential oils and hack your own plugins. If you check your local natural store, you should be able to get some on sale. I just got a very large bottle from Sprouts Market for $11. Whole foods for sure has some too, and I bet Trader Joe's does as well...but I will have to wait a few more months for IT to open in Denver. 

Happy smells to you all! ^__^


  1. That's a great idea!! I will try that too!!

  2. Cool! Let me know how it works out for you :)