Not only do most people measure clean by the looks of a place, but they also judge it by its smell, but nice smells don't equal clean. In fact, they can spell indoor air quality issues. Many of the aerosol spray room fresheners propel the chemicals used to create the scent, dispersing them in such small particles that they can easily make their way into your air passages and lungs. Some of the sprays are merely overbearingly strong.
Even candles are guilty when it comes to indoor air quality. The smoke they produce creates particulates that can enter air passages and cause irritation and distress to those with respiratory problems. And the wire that supports the wick? Some foreign manufacturers use lead. When burned, the substance enters your airways and is no better for you in this form than if you ate lead paint.
To add insult to injury, candles are most commonly made of petroleum-based paraffin, known to burn "dirty" compared to natural candles made of beeswax, palm oil, or soy.
Cleaning the air in your home is better accomplished by the following methods rather than covering up bad odors with yet more fragrances, whether sprayed, burned, or plugged in:
• Open the windows and let in the fresh air.
• Open curtains or blinds to get some sun exposure, which does its part to freshen.
• Get rid of odors by removing the source or cleaning.
• Set an open box of baking soda in the room to absorb odors.
A mixture of ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup cornstarch with 3 drops of essential oil (optional for scent) sprinkled in athletic shoes will absorb odors and moisture.
• Limit candle burning to those made of beeswax, soy, or palm-oil, making sure that they contain all-cotton (no-lead) wicks. Avoid burning in a drafty area to prevent fires.
• Create your own natural scents with favorites such as lavender buds, citrus oils, and mint oils. (See Chapter 3 of this book for recipes for air fresheners.)
Don't assume that you won't have a reaction to natural scents made from essential oils. These oils are quite strong and may irritate the skin. Don't put these oils directly on your skin. Use in small amounts until you determine whether you or anyone else has a reaction to them.