Tempted to Spring Clean your home…. don’t believe the ads

  • Take the headache out of cleaning product choice
  • This tip will make your home smell like a bakery… mmmmm!
  • How to get a naturally clean home with ease

You’ve probably seen ads like these…

A housewife sits in her house, looking depressed.

There’s a wet dog in the kitchen and nasty cooking odours everywhere.

Her home is so smelly that even the flowers on the window ledge have wilted.

Then suddenly as if from nowhere a can of air freshener appears.

A few strong blasts and all the colour returns to the house. Flowers spring to life. Children skip through the kitchen and all is well.

Smiling at last, the housewife takes a long deep breath.


Well, in adland, perhaps she’d be okay. But in the real world, this woman has literally poisoned her house. She should be reeling from a headache and nausea, not revelling in the scent of spring.

I find these sorts of ads appalling. Let me explain exactly why.

Could this be the cause of your headache?

In many of your household products there are some nasty solvents known as Volatile Organic Compounds.

They are found in paint, furnishings and cleaning products… and especially air fresheners.

And they are bad news.

The University of Bristol studied 10,000 mothers and infants to look at the effects of Volatile Organic Compounds.

They found that in the homes where they were used daily, 32% more babies had diarrhoea and earache… and that the mothers also had 10% more headaches and became 26% more susceptible to depression.

One Volatile Organic Compound, called benzene, has even been linked to leukaemia.

Researcher Dr Alexandra Farrow has expressed concern that people most at risk are mothers and babies, because they spend about 80% of their time at home.

Elderly people, too, for the same reason.

In fact I probably fall into the risk category as well, because I work from home.

But rather than stark warnings being issued about these home poisoners, they’re actually on the increase. And as usual, it’s all down to greedy businesses putting their profit before your health…

Why the misleading adverts won’t stop

The global market for air fresheners was £8 billion in 2018 and is forecasted to be worth £11 billion by 2026 which is enough to have any cold-hearted businessman drooling.

And these days, the ad men are using ever-more sophisticated tricks to get you to fill your house with these nasties.

While I was scanning for info on a market analsysis website called ‘Euromonitor International’, I stumbled across the following statement.

“The nature of demand for air fresheners has undergone a gradual shift – from the basic desire to combat unpleasant odours in the house to a more sophisticated need for transforming living surroundings into a more pleasant habitat.”

Well, that’s a bit rich. I don’t call getting a headache pleasant.

The reporter, Marzena Moglia, continues.

“The sense of smell is a powerful tool that affects our state of mind – a tendency manufacturers have recognised as they increasingly look to tap consumers’ emotional impulses.”

So they’re going for the jugular on this one… using more sophisticated ads and smells to boost sales… despite the product being chock full of nasty chemicals.

But don’t be fooled by the sales pitch.

Always keep your house well aired – at least 20 minutes a day of fresh air.

Never use these products in confined spaces and always check the labels for the toxins to avoid:

Benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, camphor, methylformamide, butanoic acid ethanol, limonene, formaldehyde, tolune, methoxybenzaldehyde and terpinolene.

Better still, try using healthy alternatives to commercial air fresheners.

Natural air fresheners

Here are some healthier, less expensive ways to freshen your home:

– For a short term solution, just squeeze a lemon! Or cut two lemons into quarters and leave them in a bowl of cold water. Alternatively, use leaves of mint.

– Vinegar is very effective – especially for cigarette smoke. All you do is pour half a cup of vinegar in a few containers and place them around the room.

– For a stronger effect, if something really has been stinking up the house, simmer cinnamon sticks or cloves in a pot of water.

– For a lovely, warm aroma in the home, add cloves, orange peel, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract and fresh ginger to a pot of water, and simmer the mixture slowly on the stove.

– For that alluring ‘fresh-baked’ smell, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar onto foil and put in the oven at a low heat.

Even try natural cleaners

You can even go the whole hog and try natural cleaning products too:

– One of my favourites is good old soap nuts. Either the liquid detergent or the nuts themselves after being soaked in water can be used to effectively clean floors, worktops and even ovens.

– For windows and mirrors, pour a quarter of a cup of vinegar into a spray bottle. Fill with water and you’re ready to go.

– For sinks and baths, sprinkle baking soda onto the porcelain and rub with a wet cloth. Add some soap if you like, then rinse well.

– For ovens, mix a cup of baking soda with water to make a paste. Spread it on your oven surfaces and wait for a while. Check every few minutes to see if the food has loosened. Then scrub away food and grime from oven surfaces with a non-treated scourer, damp cloth or steel wool.

– Suffer from a dust mite allergy? Apparently, black tea kills dust mites. Just make some black tea as you would normally and let it cool. Fill a spray bottle and apply it to the carpet, (always test a spot first to make sure it won’t stain).

My wife and I swear by the tips above and try to go natural whenever we can… especially with me working from home.

After all, I get enough headaches trying to keep my life and family in order without cleaning products adding to the problem!

Of course, there are times when nothing but a strong industrial cleaner will do.

But remember… the key to a good healthy life is to do avoid man-made chemicals and substances wherever possible – so if you have to use artificial cleaning products, use them as sparingly.

And watch out for those air freshener ads!