MUNDANE MYSTERIES: How Does Febreze Work?

Funky smells are everywhere around us, from rough body odor to whatever your pet might’ve gotten into & tracked into your house. And rather than wait for the smell to fade on its own, some people reach for products like Febreze to neutralize the odors. But does that actually get rid of the smell, or just hide it?

Well, according to Mental Floss, actually it’s a bit of both. Febreze chemically attacks smells. When odor molecules are emitted in the air, that stimulates receptors in your nose. When you use Febreze, the spray utilizes compounds called cyclodextrins to trap the odor molecules. So, while it doesn’t disappear, the odor gets contained (like the ghosts in Ghostbusters). Febreze does have other properties, too, like sodium citrate which affects the odor molecules’ pH level & its proprietary duo PSB polymers that help the Febreze get deep into fabrics.

But if Febreze can neutralize an odor, how can it give off a pleasant aroma of its own? Shouldn’t it neutralize itself, too, in the process? Well, not necessarily. Both the cyclodextrins and the odor molecules are hydrophobic, which means they repel water. The perfume content of an odor neutralizer is hydrophilic, meaning it’s attracted to water. The two don’t mix, so Febreze is able to both neutralize existing odors while emitting a pleasant scent of its own without interfering with itself.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via Twitter (@AndyWebbRadio), or shoot me an email at [email protected].