air freshiners

This week, SC Johnson–parent company to products like Windex and Glade–announced they’d start publishing many of their fragrance chemicals publicly on their site.

Finally! The world can know the true face of those chemical compounds that blissfully cloak piles of dirty laundry in “clean linen” scents.

Browsing the Glade site, consumers can click on each product‘s fragrance, and discover a laundry list of compounds like 2,6-dimethyl-7-octen-2-ol, benzyl acetate, and methyldihydrojasmonate, among dozens of other chemical unpronounceables.

I decided it was time to enlist some professional help to de-code these multi-syllable monstrosities.

Steve Maguire is a Canadian chemist who dissolves chemicals for an underground lab called SNOLAB.

Maguire says the first thing to know about the fragrance chemicals in these air fresheners is that they are “not scary.”

He says these chemicals are called “esters” – they’re flavoring compounds that produce the smell.

Whether that smell is made in a lab, or produced by a plant or fruit, it’s the same ester.