Incensed about odours (Day 205)…


I’ve never been one for the Glade Plug-Ins, those neon-coloured gel packs you cram into an ugly plastic thing which sticks into a wall socket. They always smelled fake to me, and really overpowering, like there was some odour lurking underneath that you really didn’t want to encounter.

When the Febreze line came out, I initially had the same reaction — why would anyone need to spray stairs and couch pillows with anything? But eventually, Proctor&Gamble’s marketing sucked me in.

“Hmm,” I thought one day at the store, “maybe my couch pillows are smelly but my sense of smell is poor and I can’t notice… I’d better buy a bottle of this and douse them just in case.”

Totally ridiculous. But at the same time, there is something to be said for a house that smells nice, that smells of more than just, well, house. So I’ve decided to forgo any plastic or aerosol cans, not to mention all the harsh chemicals that come with most brand-name perfumes, and use incense or my beeswax candles, instead.

The trick with incense, I think, is to not use the whole stick at once — unless, of course, you actually want your house to smell like hippie.

Photo of incense coils in Hong Kong courtesy of bethlet on Flickr

20 Responses to Incensed about odours (Day 205)…

  1. Those sprays are so toxic. Glade was my client back in my past life and those candles and sprays really do nothing good. They smell like old people house. 1/4 stick of incense lasta the day- mildly and burning essential oils is another option. A couple of drops in water and light the candle under it. Gives a bit of a fresher- less smokey smell than the incense.

  2. dahlia says:

    incense can be quite toxic, too, with nasty synthetic chemicals and additives to make it burn evenly and… ugh! i’m in love with the incense from; it’s just wildcrafted herbs or woods, a bamboo stick, and a bit of adhesive. nothing else! it smells amazing and doesn’t bother my allergies like perfumes and incenses usually do. they are a local company here in the san francisco bay area and seem like very nice folks, too!

  3. Blacklight says:

    OMG Febreeze…You know what I saw one day walking home from school in the rain? A febreze can, ominously rolling toward a storm drain, and I press the little button and there’s still Febreeze in it! I’m thinking, “No river of mine is having febreeze in it!”

    And yeah, with incense, I guess it just depends on how strong the kind is.

  4. Nicole says:

    Have you researched Method’s plug-ins? We use them in the bathrooms at our business (which can get kind of stinky when lots of people are trucking through them), but I wasn’t sure what eco-friendly values (if any) they had.

  5. Jen (SLC) says:

    I agree with dahlia. Incense can be very toxic. Be careful about what you buy.

    Also you can make your own fabric freshening spray. I mix 1 part fabric softener (buy an environmentally friendly one) with 10 parts water in a spray bottle, and spray all over your upholstery rugs. It can also be useful sprayed on wrinkled clothes.

    • Marianne says:

      the thing to do to frewshen your house is add some vinegar to water and simmer it on the stove it elimenates odors completely

  6. /pd says:

    I am hippie2.0 .. and I use incense sticks and my fav is sandel wood..light up one stick its great for the whole day..

    the other thing I do is keep all my orange peels in a bowl and let them natrually dry out.. and that also gives out a nice arome.. better still..just stick clove(s) into the orange and let it sit there for a week.. try it and let me know how it works for you :)-

  7. Carrie says:

    Hi, I have actually been researching the chemicals that are in fragrances in the past couple of months. I would truly recommend not using them for your own health and safety! One thing that I have found works really well that is safe–little clay pots with little cork stoppers that are diffusers for essential oils. At first I was tempted to buy one of the diffusers that uses heat to diffuse the scent; however, there is research that says harmful chemicals can be released when changing the molecules with heat. The clay pots were difficult to find, and if you are interested I can let you know the online company where I found them. The fun part of it is choosing from all of the wonderful essential oils available. Be sure to use a high quality essential oil.

    *Just a note, fabric softeners have many chemicals that can harm your body. You might want to research more about them before considering using any as mentioned earlier.

  8. Morgan says:

    The best thing to do for getting rid of odors from things like pillows and blankets is to hang them outside for a bit…as long as there is no Burger King up wind wafting BBQ odor in to your hand me down down blanket….

  9. pat farquharson says:

    what about those sticks that sit in oils and slowly diffuse into the air? Pottery Barn has them.
    Incense is sooo 60’s, soo messy, soo trying to hide the smell of marijuana.

  10. alottaerrata says:

    Mr. Errata cringes at febreeze ads when they show people with their faces jammed into the carpet, inhaling deeply, because they are almost implying that febreeze actually cleans things… when really I’m pretty sure that that carpet is pretty nasty and filled with dust, even if it does smell pretty. ick.

  11. senseofbalance says:

    Berger lamps? Much less cloying.

  12. Theresa says:

    I also vote for the Lamp Berger. My mom has one and it is lovely. Apparently they have been used in France for many years to clean the air in hospitals. At least that’s what I remember from the brochure with my mom’s Lamp. Here is a link to the Canadian site:

  13. blah says:

    I’ve always hated Febreeze. I used to be turned off to it because it left a weird residue on everything and if I sprayed a pillow or something, it always felt wet to me, no matter how long I had let it dry. Then I started thinking…if you cover everything in Febreeze, your sense of smell becomes way altered and you don’t notice other smells as easily. Not good (especially if you’re talking about mold or garbage). The best thing to me, is just to clean regularly, that way there is nothing to stink the place up. If you’re like me, and you hate the smell of food wafting through your house, just open a window or a sliding glass door and let the odor get out.

  14. blah says:

    I do have to confess, however, that Method does make some fantastic candles and oils for the home. On the off chance I want to have my home smell like mint and eucalyptus or brown sugar and cinnamon, is there any danger in these products? They are supposed to be hippy-granola friendly.

  15. gettinggreen says:

    Hey everyone — just to comment on the Method smelly stuff, I’m not sure what they’re like because I haven’t tried them, but I just noticed that their handwash has SLS in it, one of the ingredients, like parabens, I always try to avoid… so make sure you check what’s in their plug-ins first!

  16. peg says:

    I hate Febreze as well, I’d rather smell almost anything. We test-drove a used truck and the deal-breaker was the smell ofthe Febreze the previous owners had sprayed on the inside. It gave me a headache in five minutes. I think it’s toxic garbage and it seems to be taking over the cleaning product and home fragrance industries.

    AIRS used to make some all-natural stick, cone and coil incense, made from 100% essential oils. They had a number of wonderful varieties including lavender, sandalwood, palmarosa, and patchouli. Then they started making blends. I am not sure if they still do them but this is a wonderful product for those who don’t want to use artificial scents to freshen their homes.

    You can also use essential oils in an infuser, or just put a few drops in water in a glass bottle with a spray nozzle. Shake gently and spritz the air; Any type of citrus (lime, orange, lemon, grapefruit) works well for freshening the air, as does lavender, rosemary or peppermint, and all of these are very inexpensive as essential oils go.

    Any scent labelled something “foody” (like apple pie or pumpkin cake) or soem description that doesn’t make natural sense (like “desert rain” or “country meadow”) is likely loaded with artifical scents and chemicals that can cause headaches, allergic reactions or other symptoms. Whereas real essential oils not only don’t cause any side effects, but are beneficial to our health in many ways.

    Aromatherapy is easily learned by any layperson. It’s certainly of greater benefit than using artificial fragrances and chemicals to deaden the olfactory nerves and cover up unpleasant odors. White vinegar works on bad odors, too and once it does its work the vinegar smell fades completely.

  17. Speakaboo says:

    I’ll sometimes add a few drops of my favorite essential oil into a spray bottle, diluted with water, and spray the stinky places (diaper pail, garbage can, the kitchen after the dishes have been neglected for a day or two). I also add essential oil to the vinigar/hot water combo I use to wash the floors/tub/stuff. This makes the whole apartment smell nice.

    We have a little pot that’s heated with a candle for the oils, but after reading what was posted above about heating them being unhealthy, I’ll definitely look more into it.

    My MIL swears by beeswax candles. It’s the only scented thing she allows in her home, and says they clean the air.

    What frightened me was looking for dish soap the other day, and noticing that one of them is now sold with an air freshener built right into the bottom of the bottle. Wasteful (as I doubt you can recycle the darn thing) AND needlessly stinky. Artificial smells really bother me, and I avoid even using the oils unless the diaper/dirty dish/husband smell overpowers our home. 😉

  18. m says:

    those plug in house fragrances have been linked to higher levels of depression… I’m not sure where I read this but it was serious study – might have been in New Scientist. They should be banned. I occasionaliy add lavender or geranuium and tea tree oil to a bit of dishwashing liquid if I’m cleaning in the house for a nice smell. Ialso add essential oils to my wash instead of using condidtioner.

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