Why You Should NOT Use Car Air Freshener | Symptoms | Alternatives

“Headache is only one of the ill effects of using car air freshener. It can causes irritability, anxiety, fatigue, respiratory problems, irritation or itching in eyes, asthma, dizziness and other seemingly nonspecific symptoms.”

The Incident

If you have a car the first add-on that you would buy would be an Air Freshener. In fact Car Air Freshener is one of the best selling car accessory worldwide. There are obvious reasons for this, one of them would be nothing but, it keeps your car fresh. When I bought my first car I had spent almost a week online, reading user review, to select the best car air-freshener which suits my taste. I’m sure you also might have come across this dilemma “finding The Best Fragrance that suits you”. Finally, I ended up buying one from the local market, it was an Orange flavor. But I never knew what are the ill effects of keeping a car freshener. Let me share my experience with you.

Liquid type Automobile Air-Freshener

Liquid type Automobile Air-Freshener – Hidden Hazards

I use my car everyday and spend about an hour daily, driving to and fro office and prefer to drive all windows up and with Air Condition (AC) ON, while driving through one one of the dust & sound free cities of India, if you know what I mean. Now I have my New Orange Freshener on and I’m enjoying the aroma. In a week time, I started experiencing strong headaches and I couldn’t figure out why. Firstly, I thought it is the dehydration which is troubling me and i had increased by water intake. Then I came across this conversation with one of my friends, who had similar issue and he had figured out the reason. He said it is the car air-freshener, and that is when I realized that I get headaches only while or after driving. I couldn’t digest this completely, so I  gave a try removing the air-freshener and guess what, it turned out true in my case as well. It was “The Car Air freshener”.

The Theory

I don’t argue that this is the only reason why you get head ache wile driving. But it can be one and you won’t know until you try and see. OK, so I found the cause, now I was after the reason. Headache is only one of the ill effects of using air freshener. It can causes irritability, anxiety, fatigue, respiratory problems, irritation or itching in eyes, asthma, dizziness and other seemingly nonspecific symptoms. All of us expect our car to smell good. What we don’t understand or try to understand is that all these are fresheners are synthetic or chemical based. If you think that your car air freshener actually cleans up the air inside, you are wrong. It just cover up the odors.  There are lots of automobile Air-freshers available in the market, commonly gel type, spray type, vent clip type, hanging type and so on, again all of these in infinite type of flavors the one I had was gel based.

Gel type Car Air-Fresheners

Gel type Car Air-Fresheners

So this is the theory behind. Korean researchers found that the emissions from automobile air fresheners contains common air freshener chemicals alphapinene, beta-pinene, p-cymene and limonene. When these chemicals are subjected to ozone-initiated oxidation, highly toxic compounds are formed. Moreover,  it was observed that the irritating ultra-fine particles and gaseous compounds, including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, acetone, and propionaldehyde are formed in these reactions. As a matter of fact, small children and pets are most affected by these compounds.

If you have similar experiences, I would urge you to try and check if this is the reason behind the discomfort, especially if you have the habit of driving with windows sealed.

Alternatives and Solutions – Car Air Freshener

Now the question is what are the alternatives to keep my car fresh. It is simple, always keep your car clean instead of trying to cover-up something stinky. If you are a smoker, maybe you can stop smoking inside your car. Now if you are particular about having an aroma in your car, try some of these natural alternatives.

  • Do you like coffee? If you do, fill up a cloth bag with dried coffee beans and hang it in your car. Sounds refreshing ? You also try with partially crush beans if you want a stronger scent.
Coffee Beans Air Freshener

Coffee Beans Air Freshener

  • Vanilla beans is another option that you should. Dried beans are easily available in market. Wrap it up in a cloth or put in a small jar and cover the lid with a thin cloth. Most of you will like this because it is not strong and vanilla smells pleasing.
Vanilla Beans air freshener

Vanilla Beans air freshener

  • I still remember one of my uncles used to have a pot filled up with spices, mainly cardamom and cloves, in his car. Find the spice that suits you and try my uncles idea. Cinnamon would be my personal choice. Maybe you can pickup one and freshen your mouth as well :p.
  • If you are blessed to stay in a place which is not dusty or polluted, often open your windows and let the fresh air in.
  • Keep natural flowers in the car if it not allergic to you.
  • Cinnamon sticks, Pinecones and essential oils can make a good car air freshener.
  • Do you have some other ideas coming up in your mind? Feel free to comment those below.
  • If you cannot avoid it, buy only genuine products and always read the composition before buying, maybe that can stop you from buying.

Car Air-Freshener Incidents and Confessions

“I hate most of these Car perfumes – makes my head spin – especially xxxxxxx. And in any case, with the revelation in this thread – I think it was good that I never bought one. “

“I got xxxx just once but started getting those burns in the eyes while driving.”

“I completely got rid of perfumes in the car after my baby was born. I found them to be very strong and was concerned about the ingredients in these perfumes. Especially with xxxxx it used to be so strong, that it used to give me a headache. If it does that to plastic, wonder what it does when inhaled over a period of time. There should be toxic testing on these products.”

“My dad has the same problem with xxxx, He has thrown away the xxxx perfumes from our cars saying it irritates his eyes and the smell always gave him a headache. I used to think he was just making up some reason to get rid of it but now I see what he meant.”

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