Exposed: What’s Lurking in Febreze?

Forget what the TV commercials tell you:  Febreze doesn’t contain some miracle substance that envelopes bacteria in mid-air, leaving your house sanitized, healthy, fresh and clean-smelling.  What it does contain may surprise you, however.  Proctor and Gamble discloses only three ingredients on their Febreze-brand products yet the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—an American-based non-profit that advocates for health protection—found a whopping 87 chemicals in Febreze Air Effects, some of which include:

BHT—a known neurotoxin (substance that is toxic to the brain and nervous system), a hormone disruptor, immune system toxin, and irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs.

Acetaldehyde—a known carcinogen (causes cancer) that has reproductive and development effects (yes, that means it can damage a fetus), immune system toxin, and irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs.

Fragrance—This is one of the three disclosed ingredients.  However, on its own, it can contain up to 400 ingredients, most of which are petrochemicals. Clinical observation by medical doctors has found that exposure to fragrances can damage the central nervous system and cause depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, behavioral damages, headaches, dizziness, rashes, hyper-pigmentation, vomiting, coughing, and skin irritation. A shocking 95% of the chemicals used as “fragrance” come from petroleum! According to the research of Julia Kendall (available at, the most common chemicals in fragrances are ethanol, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, a-pinene, acetone, benzyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, linalook, a-terpinene, methylene chloride, and a-terpineol.  You’ll see that numerous of these ingredients were found in Febreze.  Check out my article Detox Your Cosmetics for more information about fragrances.

Propylene Glycol—also a known carcinogen, propylene glycol is toxic to the immune system, is linked to allergies, accumulates in the body and irritates the skin, eyes, and lungs

1,3-Dichloro-2-propanolcauses cancer

Limonene—allergen, immune system toxin and skin, lungs, and eye irritant

Methyl pyrrolidone—Reproductive system toxin linked to birth defects, allergies, immune system toxicity, and skin, eyes, and lung irritation

Alcohol, denatured—Also one of the three disclosed ingredients in Febreze. In this form it is linked to cancer, birth defects, organ system toxicity, and skin, eyes, and lung irritation

Butylphenyl methylpropional—allergen, irritant, and immune system toxin

Ethyl acetate—another brain and nervous system toxin (neurotoxin) which is also linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity

Benzaldehyde—also a neurotoxin and skin, lung, and eye irritator

Of course, the list goes on.  For the full EWG report on Febreze, click here.  The tagline for Febreze is “We’re out to make the world breathe happy.”  When I inhale Febreze or read the ingredient list and their toxic effects, I’m not breathing happy and I doubt you are either.

Obviously, the biggest issue is that these ingredients really shouldn’t be allowed in products that will be sprayed into the air, inhaled, or absorbed directly into the bloodstream through skin contact.  But there are other issues like duping the public into thinking that they are somehow cleaning the air and eliminating odors.  They simply mask them.

As for the toxic effects, not to worry, Proctor and Gamble also offers a wide selection of drugs that can address many of the symptoms and conditions linked to Febreze ingredients.  Can you say “conflict of interest” as fast as you can send a toxic whiff of Febreze into the air?

Next week, I’ll discuss “EXPOSED:  More Serious Toxins Found in Air Fresheners” and “EXPOSED:  Is Your Child’s Classroom Toxic?”

Sources:  Environmental Working Group Report and The Dangers of Febreze.

Subscribe to my free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.


Related—EXPOSED:  The Shocking Truth about Air Fresheners

Detox Your Cosmetics

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Sue H.
Sue H.about a year ago

If something smells, wash it. What is so hard about that for people to understand. I'm horribly allergic to perfumed products and have to avoid the smelly aisles when grocery shopping. Going into other peoples homes in winter is hazardous to my health so don't socialize except outside. We are being poisoned by most of the perfumed products that exist. There is nothing wrong with washing dirty and smelly things and opening a window to air out our homes even in winter.

Dayna Colvin
Dayna AC1 years ago

E-mail Letter writing campaign to open-minded medical practices to urge them to refrain from using (if they are not already) all Air Poisoners especially Febcrap and ask them to support a petition to CDC to ban the use in all medical establishments including Vets since it is potentially harmful to them and animals as well!

Dayna Colvin
Dayna AC1 years ago

How abut a petition to the CDC who has already banned the use of toxic fragrances in it's offices, see and to prohibit the use of Febcrap products in any health establishment in the U.S. especially with children!
Recent Policy Bans Fragrance in CDC Sites |
A new “Indoor Environmental Quality Policy” has been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reportedly seeking to “protect and maintain safe indoor environmental quality … for all CDC employees at all CDC work areas [owned, rented and leased] including animal facilities.”

Chaaht Aggarwal
Chaaht Aggarwal1 years ago

thank you :)

Kim Snyder
Kim Snyder1 years ago

My EX sprays my 5 children down with this every visit but no one will help me get it stopped!!!

Andeep Mahi
Andeep Mahi1 years ago

thanx for sharing

Cmsdeveloper Navjot

good information thnku so much

Parm Minhas
Parm Minhas1 years ago

thnx for sharing this grat info

Don Swanz
Don Swanz2 years ago

COLLEEN M: I really don't know how much more information you would need or want; but if you really feel that you really need more information prior to passing along the information contained in the original post: GOOGLE febreze ingredients. Don and I CAN! :-))

Kath P.
Kath P.2 years ago

It's an abomination. It's everywhere and in everything. People wonder why they feel sick all of the don't have to look any further than the bathroom or the laundry room to find the scented culprits.