How Scented Plug-Ins May Be Harming Your Health

2 mins read
How Scented Plug-Ins May Be Harming Your Health

Fall is here, which means many people are running out to stores to purchase everything that tastes, smells, and looks like pumpkins. That’s perfectly okay and perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts about fall, but we must be aware of the products we bring into our homes. For example, if you’re experiencing health issues and can’t figure out what’s wrong, perhaps the problem lies in your home fragrance products. Air fresheners come in many forms: plug-ins, beads, sprays, gels, and more. Although they smell great, here’s how scented plug-ins may be harming your health.

What Ingredients Do Plug-Ins Contain?

Scented plug-ins look harmless. You pick your favorite scent and plug it into a socket, and suddenly your home is filled with the smell of apple pie. But what is in that plug-in? Surprisingly, many products on the market may contain ingredients that are detrimental our health and to the environment—and we don’t even realize it.

Unfortunately for consumers—but great for the fragrance industry giants—many companies are not legally required to list their ingredients on their products. They’re allowed to keep these from the public because the US Food and Drug Administration considers them “trade secrets.” Additionally, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) lists approximately 4,000 ingredients that can be found in different types of fragrance products. Among those 4,000 ingredients, many are considered to be highly harmful to our minds and bodies.

Many scented plug-ins are known to contain harmful ingredients such as:

  • Phthalates
  • Formaldehyde
  • Myrcenes

Dangers of These Ingredients

Many of the ingredients we spread in our homes via scented plug-ins can have serious health effects.


Phthalates (DEHP) are combinations of phthalic acid and branched-chain-2-ethylhexanol, a plasticizer compound. Exposure to phthalates can cause damage to the lungs, reproductive system, liver, and more vital organs in our bodies. In fact, prenatal exposure can lead to fetal abnormalities and negative fetal neurodevelopment. This ingredient also exists in many plastic products such as shower curtains and beauty products.


Formaldehyde is a colorless gas typically used in building materials and household products. This harmful gas can irritate the respiratory system, and—with too much exposure—it may even cause cancer.


Myrcenes is a chemical made of isoprenoid precursors, which are used in many products, including household fragrances. This chemical can cause cancer, specifically in the liver and kidneys.

Alternative Solutions

Although many ingredients in commercial air fresheners are toxic, your home doesn’t have to go without scents. Instead, it may be better for your health to use more natural air fresheners such as:

  • Bamboo charcoal bags
  • Open windows
  • Potpourri

The great thing about bamboo charcoal bags is that you can place them anywhere. These natural fresheners contain activated bamboo charcoal, which absorbs odors, pollutants, and moisture from the air.

Open your windows to let in some fresh air, or boil a pot of fresh flowers, orange slices, and other natural ingredients to create a sweet, natural scent in your home.

It’s essential to understand how scented plug-ins may be harming your health. As much as you may like the convenience of plugging in a scent, pursuing a more natural fragrance route may be best for your health.

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