Synthetic fragrances in our household cleaners

This is day 2 of our chemical free home challenge. For the next couple of weeks will be talking about household cleaners as well as some personal care products. Today, I wanted to talk about synthetic fragrance in our household cleaners and personal care products..

I am on a kick to get the chemicals out of my life. I hope you join me! If you have followed me then you know I sell a skin care line that has transformed my skin. It is  effective and has ingredients that are considered safe by the European guidelines. I mention the skin care because more times than not, people are interested in the smell. One of the first questions I am asked is, “How does it smell?”

synthetic fragrance in our household cleaners Do we need scents in our household cleaners? Obviously, I do not want a product to smell bad but I would rather have a safe and effective products than an effective product that has a nice scent. Would you agree? Most of our household cleaners are scented with synthetic fragrances. Have you ever walked into a room and smelled that “clean” scent. I think you know what I am talking about.

Unfortunately, that clean scent comes with a price tag. More times than not, the scent is caused by ingredients such as synthetic fragrances.

Manufacturers have tried to train us that clean has a smell  and to some degree I agree with that. Scent can bring back memories and we associate certain smells to experiences in our life. Have you ever been in a hospital? You may remember smelling an antiseptic smell.

What about synthetic fragrances in our household cleaners? Do you smell lavender or lemon? Manufacturers can use actual lavender and lemon but it becomes too costly.

Most of the synthetic fragrances used in our household cleaners are derived from petrochemicals. It is cheaper and more readily available. Synthetic fragrances don’t add anything to the efficacy of a cleaning product, and instead introduce potentially significant health risks. Fragrances are rated an 8 on EWG’s Website…not good.

Some synthetic fragrances use volatile organic chemicals also known as VOCs. They penetrate the air when the bottle is opened and then we inhale these compounds. These VOC’s can affect the air quality. We are also exposed through direct contact with cleaning agents.

The National Institute of Health summarizes it nicely. They believe that exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause,

Short-term exposure to various VOCs may cause:

  • Irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Visual disorders
  • Memory problems


Long-term exposure to various VOCs may cause:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system
  • Cancer

An investigation by the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics showed that may ingredients used in synthetic fragrances can lead to hormone disruption and allergic reactions.

“Unfortunately, the FDA has not assessed many of these substances for safety. Examples include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies, and musk ketone, which concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk.”

-Source Scientific American

You can learn more about what the EPA is doing in regards to fragrance HERE

Is there any oversight of a synthetic fragrance?

The fragrance industry is self-regulated which means the government leaves it p to the individual manufacturer to ensure that the ingredients they are using and the products they are selling are safe.

The Environmental Working Group also known as EWG has a “Not so sexy report” This report related to perfume but the same ingredients are used in personal care products and household cleaners.

“A rose may be a rose,” reports EWG. “But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer.” “source EWG.

Why is the concoction hidden and not found on labels?

Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973

Fragrances in products are covered under the federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973.

The act allows manufacturers to simply lump fragrance chemicals as “fragrances.”

Fragrances fall under trade secrets. If the manufacturer shared their recipe the recipe or concotion  can be duplicated by others.

In addition, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)  has not assessed the safety of these synthetic fragrances.


If you want to join a chemical free community where you will learn DIY recipes and chemical free products I encourage you to check out our community.

essential oils

What can we do to avoid synthetic fragrance?

Watch out for products labeled as “natural” or “natural fragrance”.  There  is no standard criteria for what the word “natural”, means

There are no federal guidelines in regards to labeling products as natural. Everything comes from a natural source otherwise it would not be found in our environment. Natural does not equivalent to safe.

Look for “fragrance”  on the label. Unfortunately,  “fragrance-free” or “unscented”  products  can also contain chemicals that are harmful for our health.

essential oil for healthy cleaning

Read labels and avoid products that have “fragrance”. When in doubt check this website EWG

Open your windows to allow dispersion of the synthetic fragranceThe EPA states reported that, “Studies have found that levels of several organics average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors”.

What scents can you use? Think essential oils. Now that being said everybody could be allergic to anything but if you take a look at EWG’s Skin Deep they rate most essential oils as a 1. You could find the list HERE

Buy my favorite household cleaner HERE

Start off with just a drop or two. You are always able to add more but it is difficult to take away unless you dilute your formula. Shoot for a light scent if you need to scent at all. Even essential oils can be overbearing if you use too much.


Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Environmental Working Group

What do you think of synthetic fragrance?

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