Maybe you think your feet don’t stink and you smell OK after a week in the wild, but ask your camping companions and they might say otherwise. The problem with trying to eliminate foul odors in our homes is that most commercial air fresheners contain harmful toxic ingredients that should be avoided – especially in a small, confined space like our RVs.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, dangerous chemicals known as “phthalates” (prounnounced “thal-ates”) can be found in 86 percent (12 of 14) of products the group recently tested, including those advertised as “all natural” or “unscented.” Why are pthalates so bad for us? According to the NRDC, indoor exposure to pthalates has been associated with allergic symptoms, asthma and even long-term use can lead to birth defects and reproductive harm according to the state of California.
The irony behind commercial air fresheners is they don’t actually get rid of the stink in your RV, they just mask it by assaulting your nostrils with a sprayed scent that’s more powerful than the existing one.
But don’t attack your senses with chemicals – especially within the small confines of your RV. Consider these easy ways to get rid of odor in your RV.
Step 1: Circulate Air
No, we don’t mean turn on the RV air conditioner. Throw open the door and windows for as long as you can stand it. Fresh air is the fastest way to move a stink bomb in your home.
Step 2: Make Friends with Vinegar
Every home has its own unique scent that accumulates from bodies, cooking, pets and more. If you can’t smell that odor, your friends who visit sure can. Be kind to your visitors by picking up that broom, vacuum and a cleaning rag to get down to business.
Don’t reach for the commercial cleaners though, unless you want even more hazardous chemicals in your home. Vinegar is the original organic air freshener secret that’s been around much longer than Glade Plug Ins. Natural properties found in this inexpensive liquid not only eliminate odors but also help kill nasty germs around the home. Combine vinegar with water in a spray bottle and use it to clean everything from kitchen counter tops to your RV toilet, then boil a 50/50 combination on your stovetop to get rid of kitchen odors. The many uses of vinegar are endless!
Hate the smell of vinegar? Fear not; it’s easy to mask the pungent odor by combining about 20 drops of essential oils with a cup of water and a cup of vinegar in a spray bottle.
Step 3: Make Your Own Natural Air Freshener
The plant-based properties of essential oils make them a safe, natural way to freshen the air in your RV. They even have health benefits too, like the ability to help you relax and breathe easier. Most oils blend well with one another which makes it easy to create your own favorite combinations. If you’ve never used essential oils as air fresheners here are easy combinations to get started:
Essential Oil Combinations to Freshen the Air
Add the following to a spray bottle. Use 8 ounces of water for each combo:
Lavender + Vanilla Extract
Lemon + Basil
Cedarwood + Tea Tree Oil
Cinnamon + Clove
Lavender + Chamomile
With so many choices of natural ways to eliminate stink in your rig, there’s no reason to put your health and those around you at risk with hazardous air fresheners. Stick to safer odor removers in your RV for a healthier home on wheels.
Often called “The O.G. of full-time RVing,” Rene Agredano and her husband Jim Nelson hit the road in a fifth wheel trailer in 2007, after their dog Jerry lost a leg to terminal cancer. Sixteen years later they are still traveling and sharing their nomadic adventures at LiveWorkDream. As a self-employed wordsmith, Rene shares her expertise for many RV industry videos, publications such as the Escapees RV Club Magazine, and has authored numerous books, including the Essential RVing Guide to National Parks, and Income Anywhere, a guide to earning money on the road. She has been featured in global media outlets including the PBS documentary “NATURE: Why We Love Cats and Dogs,” The Guardian Sunday Edition, and the Dan Pink book Free Agent Nation.