No one likes to visit a smelly house. I’d be mortified if a guest pointed out an odor at my home or workplace.
Modern problems require modern solutions, and Bath & Body Works provides one solution. That solution is Wallflower, an air freshener.
Scented products have become extremely popular; I’m sure you use some yourself. Bath & Body Works has capitalized on this trend; they have a market value of roughly $17B in 2021.
But are these products safe to use? Let’s check.
|Safe in moderation
|May be unsafe
|May be unsafe
What Makes a Wallflower
Wallflowers are plug-in air fresheners that come in two parts. The diffuser (called a Wallflowers plug); and the refill, which contains the scent.
I quite like the different designs the plugs come in; some are really cute! However, the problem is in the refill.
The company says that Wallflower Refills contain fruit, flower, and tree essences. They also advertise essential oils in the product.
Sounds great, but the refills also contain many other chemicals.
The National Resources Defense Council did a study on air fresheners in 2007. They found that 86% of air fresheners from various brands contained hazardous chemicals. Even products advertised as “all-natural” contained these chemicals.
These chemicals are called phthalates (pronounced thal-ates)—and they can be harmful.
But do Wallflowers contain phthalates?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a conclusive answer. The official ingredients do not mention phthalates.
But, the list may not contain all ingredients. Bath & Body Works Wallflowers was not one of the products listed by the NRDC as having phthalates in them.
Wallflowers Are Toxic To
I found quite a few complaints about Wallflowers giving problems to users. One reviewer became nauseous from using Wallflowers in their room. The Wallflower left a lingering smell on everything in the room.
Another blog post showed some minor damage done to some furnishing. The company advises keeping Wallflowers 12 inches away from any surfaces.
I also found a safety data sheet on the company’s website. The liquid itself can cause skin irritation, so do not touch it without gloves if it gets out.
Unless you find yourself allergic, using Wallflowers casually seems to be perfectly alright. Many users have reported only positive results from using Wallflowers.
Obviously, asthma patients should not use Wallflowers or any scented product. Allergy-prone people should also be wary. The vapors released will aggravate any existing problems, so be cautious.
Some people have reported a runny nose, watery eyes, or itchy skin after using Wallflowers.
Everyone should be extra careful with babies. Did you know that babies begin to use their sense of smell while only 10 weeks in the womb? Newborn babies have a particularly sensitive sense of smell.
Any strong smells at all may interfere with their feeding.
Infants and children have tender lungs because their bodies are still developing. Wallflowers and most scented products work by projecting tiny particles in the air.
If those particles get into a child’s lungs, it can be harmful to them.
Animals generally have a much better sense of smell than humans do. This means they are even more sensitive to odors and harmful vapors than us.
Ingesting the liquid refills is even more dangerous to them.
Air fresheners use Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to disperse fragrances into the air. Many studies show that VOCs can cause many adverse health effects to both animals and humans.
Some VOCs can even cause cancer in animals and are suspected of causing cancer in humans.
All the scientific sources I read said that cats are sensitive to unnatural smells.
Here’s a quote from Dr. Patrick Mahaney on petmd.com:
“Cats have had an increase in feline asthma as a result of living in households where there are air fresheners, incense and cigarette smoke—or even just the aroma of cleaning products.”
Essential oils are also harmful to cats. The oils will harm a cat’s liver.
As Wallflowers contain essential oils, I would keep my cat from smelling or touching them.
Dogs do not have a specific problem with air fresheners like cats, but they are still sensitive to smells. I have seen complaints that dogs started to have allergies after turning on a Wallflower.
Others said that their dog started itching or developed feeding problems.
This is not the case with all dog owners, though. If you want to use Bath & Body Works Wallflowers, then keep a close eye on your dog.
Safer Alternatives To Wallflowers
What should you use instead of Bath and Body Works Wallflowers to freshen up your living space? Here’s some better ways than using a Wallflower:
I always prefer everything natural.
Investing in some indoor plants is one of the best ways you can have a natural smell within your house. Not only do they add a little bit of fragrance, they genuinely help purify the house by absorbing fumes from cooking.
If you are up for it, here’s a great herb seed mix on Amazon that are pretty hardy, and low maintenance. It is not a quick set-and-forget solution, but it is much safer in the long run.
Not to mention, you have an unlimited supply of aromatic herbs at your disposal for healthy cooking!
Simmering Herbs or Fruits
Another quick homemade alternative is to simmer a few aromatic herbs and spices like thyme, basil for a 15-20 minutes. All natural, no additional cost, but yes, some work. Slices of citrus fruits works wonders too!
Organic Essential Oils
In fact, you can also buy a few ORGANIC essential oils and put a drop into boiling water. Notice the emphasis on ORGANIC. Essential oil industry is, for the lack of a better word, shady.
There is no way to know for sure which essential oil is really organic, and not another cocktail of nice-smelling chemicals.
A good way to source them is by shopping around your local farmer’s market. When you do find a good essential oil, you can also use them with Reed diffuser sticks such as these from Amazon
Always exercise caution if you have pets or toddlers at home, even with Reed Sticks. Place them in well-ventilated areas only, away from the reach of your pets or toddlers, and never for an extended amount of time.
I like air freshener products in moderation. Smell is a sense which is firmly attached to memories.
A whiff of mom’s cooking can bring all kinds of childhood nostalgia.
Air fresheners do not solve the problem of bad odors; they only mask them. The best way to solve foul odors in your home is with proper ventilation and cleaning.
Many people use Bath & Body Works Wallflowers with no adverse effects. If you want to try it out, then go ahead!
I only advise caution; lookout for symptoms like watery eyes, headaches, and allergies that come suddenly. If any of these issues appear suddenly, then turn the Wallflower off.
If you have pets in your house, I would not use any artificial air fresheners.
Our furry friends are much more sensitive to environmental changes than we are. They cannot always communicate their discomfort to changes.
A clean and well-ventilated home will suit you both much better.