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Do Your Part: That air freshener can make you sick

You know what stinks? Using toxic air fresheners at home or in your car. They can release air-polluting chemicals that can actually make you sick. Some of the most popular air fresheners on the market contain phthalates, which are known to cause everything from birth defects to cancer. There’s nothing too sweet smelling about that. Do Your Part before you spray, plug in or light some traditional air fresheners and check out some safer alternatives.

Baking soda: Nontoxic baking soda is cheap, safe and versatile. It can be sprinkled on or in everything from trash cans to carpets. It doesn’t cover up smells. Instead, it absorbs and neutralizes them without releasing any pollutants in your home.

White vinegar: Vinegar is another all natural – and super effective – solution for tough odors. You can use it in the washing machine or dishwasher to tackle tough smells or put a little bit in small, hidden containers around your home to soak up unwanted odors.

Soy candles: No one wants to light a scented candle only to breathe in petroleum by-products. When you burn paraffin candles, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Instead opt for natural beeswax candles or ones made from soy.

Open the windows: Did you know that the air inside our homes is often more polluted than the air outside? That’s another reason to open up those windows and doors when you are trying to get rid of offending smells – without covering them up with chemicals.

Essential oils: Essential oils are plant-based oils that come in all sorts of soothing scents such as lavender and lemongrass. Adding a few drops of your favorite on cotton balls is a safer way to scent your home. You can also add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water for another way to freshen up the air in your home.

Spice it up: Boiling a little bit of water with a sweet smelling spice such as cinnamon or nutmeg will make your home smell downright delicious. Other good options are ginger or allspice.

Buy nontoxic alternatives: If you prefer to buy a safe air freshener, you can find nontoxic ones with a little digging.