Disclaimer: I am feeling very grumpy about a pet peeve today, and that’s all the forewarning you’re going to get.airfresheners

At the risk of offending many friends, relatives and associates, I’m breaking the polite silence I have kept for years on one certain topic.  After all, it’s not my house I’m visiting, not my life I enter into as a guest in someone’s home…  and what host wants to hear a guest complain?  But if the shoe were on the other foot, I think I’d want to know about my friend’s distress.  As much as I love them, there have been some people’s homes which have been so unbearable that I couldn’t wait to leave, even though I was having a good time with them.  I turn the air on full blast once inside the car and try not to hyperventilate for joy.  Just like I would after being caught with a smoker, after I get home I always have to take a shower and wash everything possible that I wore or took into their home.  Why?  Because the indoor air quality of their homes was horrible!  When I think of it, I seem to hear that old 70’s hit in paraphrase, Killing me softly with [their smell], killing me softly, with [their smell], killing me softly, with [their smell], killing me-e-e-e!

Now, I know we all want our houses and clothes to smell nice, but am I the only one whose olfactory senses are still working?   Why am I the only one who gags and is sometimes literally unable to breathe when I walk into a room or a home where air fresheners, candles, or laundry detergents are being so religiously used that you can even taste them in the food?  Specifically, I’m talking about Febreeze (my particular unfavorite); Air Wick, Glade; oh-barfy Scentsy products, chemical-laden laundry detergents like Tide; incense sticks, scented candles, carpet cleaners, bathroom deodorizers, aerosols, spritzes, sprays; or any other chemical and perfume laden product made to cover up a smell.   I don’t understand why people think that blending  dirty smells with chemicals  somehow takes the original filth away.  The problem has been compounded, not solved.

There are poisons in all of these products, and studies which demonstrate the damage being done to the people’s health.  See the EPA website on air pollution or read the article at  http://www.naturalnews.com/025008.html

In my younger years, I worked as a professional custodian as well as a private housekeeper.  I observed that the most scented households  were almost always the households most often ill, especially if little children live there. Because of my experience using many of the different commercial and industrial products available, it’s also my opinion that even  so-called natural or biodegradable products are anything but.    Americans must learn to curb their obsession with clean, by understanding that their definition of what makes something clean has been defined for them by chemical industry marketers for at least the past 60 years.

I grant that private individuals may be easily duped by commercials.  But how does one explain what occurs in most 24-hour grocery store chains?  They wait until 2 or 3 in the morning to restock the household chemical aisle.  That’s because the air in the entire store becomes so toxic during restocking that these grocers risk EPA punishment if they stock at any other time.  There would simply be too many people present when the Tide, Dawn, and Raid are having their poison parade back onto the shelves.  Did you know there are even EPA officers whose job is to inspect stores with air quality devices at these very times of the day?  Despite the EPA, chemicals are still leaching out of the containers.  One reason I don’t shop at my local 24-hour grocer is because they store the health food in the aisle next to the laundry detergent.  Who wants to buy Dynamo-flavored rice cakes?  What’s worse… why am I the only one who seems to be able to taste that in the rice cake?

So what are the alternatives?  Ever heard of sunshine?  Direct sunlight is one of the best smell and germ killers in the world.  My freshly washed baby diapers and the children’s bedding, socks and underwear stay out on the line all day during the summertime.  How about the proposition that CLEAN means SCENTLESS?  Now that’s fresh air!  The old-fashioned solution of burning a match in a bathroom works far better for me than gagging through the fog of an automatic chemical mister.  Or how about just opening a window???   (Or, if you really want to know the truth behind the lurking American sewage problem, read Joseph Jenkins book on humanure… but I digress. )

If you insist upon having some kind of  scented ambiance in your home, consider diffusing essential oils.   This would NOT be to cover up a dirty home like deodorant on an odoriferous body that needs a bath, but rather to ENHANCE a home that has been cleaned already and just wants a little dash of something to make things special.

When I want my house to smell like apple pie,  I coat my air in the glorious smell of a REAL apple pie, actually baking!  WOW!  What a concept!  And WHY would anybody in their right minds take that freshly baked apple pie into the bathroom to deoderize what their bowels just dumped a few moments earlier?  I kid you not, whenever I smell vanilla, I now smell crap with it, thanks to the Watkins “natural vanilla air-freshener” used in my parents’ home for years.

To avoid mixing either synthetic or genuine food smells with oh-so-real waste smells, please consider diffusing essential oils!  This is not the same as burning essential oils.  Burning essential oils is a bad idea.  To diffuse essential oils, all you need do is take the lid of a bottle of essential oils.  Voila!  But be careful to put the lid back on, or you might come back a few days or weeks later to an empty bottle.  If you want something fancier than the capless method, consider getting a machine called a  diffuser.  It uses vibration to break the oil into smaller particulates light enough to go  airborne.  Older diffuser models simply blow the oil particles into the environment.  Newer diffuser models work similar to humidifiers, locking the oil particles into water particulates before dispensing the oil into the air.

We like our essential oil diffuser, and if I could afford to hand them out to all my smell-fancying friends, I would.  I have found, however, that even when I do gift a beloved someone with a diffuser, if that someone is not convinced that the mainstream products are toxins, they eventually go right back to them because they’re cheap and convenient.  Thank you, commercialization, for helping to maintain the poor health and diminishing well-being of so many duped Americans! WHEN will Americans ever learn that if something is  cheap and convenient, it’s a quick fix, and it’s probably bad for you too.  I’m sorry, but you get what you pay for.  All the Dollar Stores know that and they don’t care about you or your health.  I think my family’s health is worth whatever expense and inconvenience is required to maintain our indoor air quality.

In these February blah days of cabin fever, give me fresh air… please!  Please?!!!  Or how am I going to explain why I’m not visiting?!