At some point, we have all used plug-in air fresheners to improve the scent in our homes. These devices are convenient and affordable, and they are available in various scents and designs.
However, many people do not realize that these seemingly harmless products can pose a significant risk of causing house fires.
In this article, we will explore the hidden danger of plug-in air fresheners and how they can cause house fires. We will discuss the factors that contribute to this risk, as well as the steps that you can take to prevent fires in your home.
The Dangers of Plug-In Air Fresheners
Plug-in air fresheners are small devices that are designed to be inserted into an electrical outlet. They release scented oils or chemicals that are designed to mask unpleasant odors and freshen the air. However, these devices can pose a significant risk of causing house fires for several reasons.
Firstly, plug-in air fresheners contain flammable substances that can ignite when they come into contact with heat sources. here is a list of some of the flammable ingredients that can be used in plug-in air fresheners:
- Petroleum-based compounds
- Essential oils (which can become flammable when heated to high temperatures)
It’s important to note that not all plug-in air fresheners contain these ingredients, and some may use water-based solutions instead.The oil or chemical in the device can also build up and ignite, causing a fire. This risk is particularly high in homes with old or faulty electrical systems, as well as in homes with a high level of dust or debris.
Secondly, plug-in air fresheners can overheat and malfunction, leading to electrical fires. This risk is particularly high when the device is used for an extended period or is placed in a location that is not well-ventilated.
For example, in 2019, a family in the United Kingdom reported that their plug-in air freshener had caused a fire in their home. The family stated that the device had overheated and sparked a fire that caused significant damage to their home.
Lastly, plug-in air fresheners can cause fires if they are used improperly. For example, they should not be used near flammable materials or in areas where they can be knocked over. They should also be unplugged when not in use to prevent overheating.
What Percentage Of House Fires Are Caused By Plug-In Air Fresheners
According to a report by the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 1,900 reported fires were caused by plug-in air fresheners between 2010 and 2021 . However, it’s important to note that this figure represents only reported fires and may not include all incidents.
Fire chiefs caution that leaving plug-in air fresheners plugged in for extended periods of time may cause them to become so warm that they cause an electrical fire.
Johnson, the maker of Glade plug-in fresheners, recalled five million units in 1994 due to a fire hazard, but there were no actual reports of fires or property damage associated with the product prior to its recall.
When it comes to other types of air fresheners, the most recent air freshener recall due to injury and laceration hazards was issued in January 2023 by Reckitt, the manufacturer of AirWick Fresh New Day aerosol air fresheners.
The recall involved specific batches of the product in 8-ounce aerosol cans in Fresh Linen and Fresh Waters scents. The recall was issued due to reports of the cans’ valve stem detaching, potentially causing the can to propel and pose a hazard to consumers.
In October 2021, Walmart voluntarily recalled roughly 3,900 bottles of the Better Homes and Gardens Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones due to reports of the product posing a risk of serious injury or death.
The recall was issued due to the presence of Burkholderia pseudomallei, a rare and dangerous bacteria that can cause severe illness.
Are Plug-In Air Fresheners Safe To Leave Plugged In?
If you are wondering whether it is safe to leave these devices plugged in for long periods, the answer is generally Yes. Here are some important points to consider:
- Plug-in air fresheners typically contain a small amount of essential oils that slowly evaporate over time and are not flammable, meaning they do not pose a fire risk when used as intended .
- These devices use very little electricity and can be safely left plugged in for long periods of time. The only situation in which they could become a fire hazard is if there is faulty wiring, which is unrelated to the air freshener itself.
- While plug-in air fresheners are generally safe to use, it’s important to be aware of the ingredients they contain. Most air fresheners list their ingredients as simply “fragrance” or “odor eliminator,” making it difficult for consumers to know what they’re being exposed to. Some experts have raised concerns about the presence of phthalates in air fresheners, which have been linked to allergies and asthma.
- If you have pets, it’s worth noting that plug-in air fresheners are often plugged in close to the floor, so your pets may inhale more of the scent than you do. However, as long as you use the device as directed and don’t leave it plugged in for excessively long periods, there shouldn’t be any significant risk to your pets’ health.
Do Glade Plug-in Cause Home Fires?
The question of whether Glade Plug-ins cause home fires has been a topic of debate for some time. The answer, as with many things, is not a simple yes or no.
Plug-in air fresheners in general can be a fire hazard. However, other sources state that plug-ins like Glade are safe to use for extended periods of time as long as there is no issue with the wiring in the home or the outlet being used.
It is important to note that there have been reports of Glade plug-ins being recalled due to safety concerns in the past, such as in 1994 when five million Glade plug-ins were recalled due to a faulty switch.
However, it is also worth noting that proper usage of plug-in air fresheners, including Glade plug-ins, should not pose a fire hazard if the product is functioning properly.
Preventing House Fires Caused by Plug-In Air Fresheners
There are several steps that you can take to prevent house fires caused by plug-in air fresheners. Firstly, ensure that the device is not placed near flammable materials or in areas where it can be knocked over. It is also important to unplug the device when not in use to prevent overheating.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent house fires caused by plug-in air fresheners:
- Choose high-quality air fresheners from reputable brands that have been tested and certified by independent organizations. Look for products that have a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratories) certification.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and do not modify the product in any way. This includes not using extension cords or plugging the air freshener into an outlet that is damaged or overloaded.
- Avoid using plug-in air fresheners in areas with high heat or moisture, such as near a heater, stove, or shower. Heat and moisture can increase the risk of the air freshener catching fire.
- Do not use multiple plug-in air fresheners in the same outlet or in close proximity to each other. This can overload the outlet and increase the risk of a fire.
- Do not leave plug-in air fresheners plugged in for extended periods of time or overnight. Unplug the air freshener when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Consider using alternative air fresheners, such as natural essential oils or candles, that do not pose a fire hazard. Be sure to use these products safely and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
In conclusion, plug-in air fresheners can pose a significant risk of causing house fires. The flammable substances in the device, as well as the risk of overheating and malfunction, can lead to a fire.
However, by taking the steps outlined in this article, you can significantly reduce the risk of a fire in your home.
Always use the device according to the manufacturer’s instructions, keep it away from flammable materials, unplug it when not in use, and ensure that your home’s electrical system is in good condition.
By taking these steps, you can enjoy the benefits of plug-in air fresheners without risking a house fire.