MCS & FRAGRANCE SENSITIVIES: Overcoming Travel Challenges

trapped in a bubble2

I am presently on the way to my fourth, month long airbnb stay, between moving out of my sold home in one town in August and into my next home next month in another town.  As a recovered MCS and TILT sufferer I am always vigilant about staying away from fragrances and toxic chemicals, not only because they are offensive but because I have done my homework to be able to recover and know how toxic these are.


The first airbnb host had issues with me using 4 drops of pure tea tree in a spray bottle to clean instead of their toxic cleaning products, due to the unfamiliar scent and someone elsewhere in the building being sensitive to fragrances; but apparently not to the toxic cleaning products provided in the airbnb rental unit.

Gratefully, the second airbnb host used vinegar to clean and no toxic or fragranced products and had no issue with me using tea tree and natural non toxic products.


When I arrived at the third airbnb I was overwhelmed with the scent of Glad and Febreze when I opened the door.  My past vigilance alarm went off and I stepped back to assess.  I knew these products were toxic, but I also knew that I would be safe if I took precautions now that I am recovered. What’s so toxic about these readily available and commercially advertised products? The Invisible Disabilities Association reports:

“These synthetic compounds are chemicals that can be dangerous to many when inhaled or applied to the skin. Author Connie Pitts explained, “Perfumes, colognes, and many other scented  products contain an abundance of harmful chemicals, many of which are listed on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste List. They also include numerous carcinogenic chemicals, neurotoxins, respiratory irritants, solvents, aldehydes, hundreds of untested and unregulated petro-chemicals, phthalates (which can act as hormone disrupters), narcotics, and much more.”

Have you ever considered how a neurotoxin in a fragrance might affect someone with mental health challenges? Would it affect their brain chemistry negatively? You can find out more about what is in the products below by reading this excellent post.

The Dangers of Febreze- EZ Breathe

I packed the Glad plug in and Febreze can in a ziploc bag and set it out on the deck out of site.  I immediately opened the one window and turned the bathroom fan on to try to get the smell out.  I then went to Canadian Tire and bought 3 Environmental Air Sponges which are made up of natural products that soak up toxins in the air.  They are often used after fires to clean the air.  I then turned on my diffuser with all natural Purify Cleansing Blend essential oil in it to further clean the air and override the smell. These are the 100% natural ingredients:

  • Lemon Peel
  • Lime Peel
  • Siberian Fir Needle
  • Austrian Fir Needle
  • Pine Needle
  • Citronella Grass
  • Melaleuca Leaf
  • Cilantro Herb

I was able to stay in the room that night without reacting, due to my previous recovery, and my actions to mediate further harm.  Even now, almost 30 days later, whenever I enter the room I can smell residual Glad and especially Febreze fragrance, possibly coming from the adjoining host’s side of the house or their circulated air.

My advice to you if you are a traveler, whether you have or had MCS or TILT or not, is to be cautious about accommodations that use toxic and harmful cleaning and air freshener chemicals that contain neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors. Go prepared when you travel with Purify and a diffuser, Environmental Air Sponges, and if you will be staying for long periods of time, a supply of your own natural cleaning supplies vinegar, baking soda and a spray bottle, as well a tea tree essential oil. Unfortunately making comments in reviews after an airbnb stay may interfere with you odds of successfully securing airbnb accommodation in the future, and during Covid-9, long term stay locations, at least in southwestern Ontario have been few and far between. Hopefully airbnb will encourage hosts to refrain from using toxic cleaning and air freshener products and encourage designations for host accommodations making it easier for those that have or have recovered from MCS, TILT, fragrance sensitivities, asthma, COPD or other  immune compromised diseases or are in cancer treatment. I will bring the air freshener and glad plug in back in when I leave.  Should I leave a note?  Should I share this information with the host? Should I share this information in a review? For my fourth airbnb location I am on my way back to host #2, who is providing an eco-friendly environment by using and allowing all natural cleaning and air freshening products.

Learn more about my recovery and how you can recover too in my book:


Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design,

Author of The Whole Person Well-being Equation.

For information on less toxic products for home and rental accommodations visit the Less Toxic Guide. 

Environmental Working Group: Fragrance Concerns

FRAGRANCE: Oh How Sweet The Smell and How Potentially Dangerous To Your Health

Invisible Disabilities Association


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