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Is Air Freshener Safe for Parrots?

Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Keeping the home smelling fresh is a challenge for all bird owners. Aside from naturally occurring smells in the home, parrots emit bad odors that can’t be controlled entirely through regular cleaning.

The respiratory system of parrots can be problematic. While efficient breathing is essential for flight, it renders birds vulnerable to environmental contaminants that are inconsequential to humans.

Synthetic air fresheners contain chemical compounds, including aerosol sprays and plug-in devices. These high-pressure particles linger in the air, threatening life.

When inhaled by parrots, air fresheners can cause wheezing, coordination loss, seizures, paralysis, and death. The sooner a bird is removed from the toxic environment, the likelier it is to survive.

Air Freshener Can Kill Parrots

Strong scents can overwhelm birds’ respiratory systems, often with fatal consequences. For this reason, owners should avoid spraying, diffusing scents, and burning scented products.

Most bird owners realize how difficult it is to keep a house clean and fresh without using chemical-based cleaning supplies or scented air fresheners.

Standard air fresheners can be life-threatening for parrots. Instead, consider using safe, non-toxic natural products.

Glade Safety Around Parrots

While Glade products are marketed as non-toxic air fresheners for humans, they harm birds. The aerosol room sprays and fragrances in the Glade range contain toxic compounds, including:

  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG).
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Methylisothiazolinone.

Exposure to these toxic chemical compounds has deadly consequences for birds.

can air freshener kill birds?

Air Fresheners Harmful To Parrots

Air fresheners include air fan vents, essential oil diffusers, plug-ins, and aerosols.

Products that are dangerous to parrots include:

Essential Oils

Many of us use essential oils because they are therapeutic, soothing, relaxing, and refreshing. Some are even effective in managing stress, anxiety, and depression.

Not all essential oils are safe when inhaled by parrots. Avoid the following types:

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint has a potent aroma, so it’s used as an ingredient in rodent and insect repellents. Unfortunately, its scent can harm the avian respiratory system.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is among the most damaging essential oils. According to BMC Veterinary Research, a cockatiel suffered severe liver damage and neutropenia after exposure to a few drops of tea tree oil.

Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon oil has a strong scent that repels pests. However, the smell of cinnamon oil can irritate the respiratory system and shouldn’t be used in a diffuser around pet birds.

Citronella Oil

Citronella is another essential oil used in diffusers to improve the scent of homes. Unfortunately, the aroma of citronella oil is too strong for most parrots to tolerate.

Parrots have vulnerable lung membranes that are sensitive to intense fragrances. When they inhale an undiluted essential oil as potent as citronella, they may struggle to breathe.

Aerosol Air Fresheners

Aerosols are air fresheners sprayed as minute liquid droplets from a pressurized container.

Usually, aerosol-based air fresheners comprise a blend of chemicals that emit a distinct scent. In most cases, these compounds are entirely chemical-based and unnatural.

All fragrances in the aerosol category of sprays are toxic to parrots. These include canned air fresheners, deodorant sprays, and hairspray. Avoid using these hazardous aerosols.


Incense has an aroma most people find uplifting and therapeutic.

Parrots dislike incense because it releases strong fragrances and smoke when burnt. This puts a strain on the respiratory system, causing severe respiratory distress.

Candles (Scented vs. Unscented)

There are things to consider when using scented candles to improve the scent of the home when you have a companion parrot. The most important factors include:

  • Wax type (petroleum-based vs. soy).
  • Same room or a different floor.
  • Scent emitted by the candle (strong vs. neutral).
  • Type of wick (avoid lead and zinc wicks). Paper and cotton wicks are preferred.

It’s likely okay if a candle burns 3 rooms away from the parrot’s living space. Likewise, if the candle is made from natural wax and has no fragrance (unscented), it’ll be safer.

All candles produce smoke and soot, so keep the door closed and aerate the room afterward.

Parrot-Safe Air Fresheners

While parrots are sensitive to fragrances, there are air freshener products you can use in the home without jeopardizing the health of an avian pet. These include:

Essential Oils

Most essential oils have potent scents that can overwhelm the lungs and air sacs. However, there are essential oils that are milder for use by bird owners, including:

  • Lavender.
  • Eucalyptus.
  • Geranium.
  • Grapefruit.
  • Jasmine.
  • Bergamot.
  • Lemon.
bird safe odor eliminator


You can make potpourri with various fresh-smelling components. These include flowers, citrus slices, spices, and parrot-safe essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus.

The easiest way to make a natural home-blend air freshener is in the oven:

  1. Select your favorite fragrant flowers, herbs, and spices. Then, place them on parchment paper.
  2. Add a few drops of bird-safe essential oil. Place the mixture in an oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Allow the potpourri to dry until the flowers are brittle but not burnt.
  4. When the potpourri is ready, douse it with more essential oils and transfer it to a bowl.

Although potpourri comprises natural organic products that aren’t harmful, a parrot might still find the scent unpleasant if it is too strong. This means you should never put potpourri next to the cage.

This blend of natural fragrances loses its scent over time as it dries and cools.

Aroma Beads

Aroma bead air fresheners are harmless, provided parrots don’t swallow them. Since aroma beads are brightly colored and circular, a parrot can mistake them for food (like seeds or nuts.)

To be safe, use faintly fragrant fragrance beads. Store them in a sealed jar to prevent the parrot from accessing and ingesting them when playing outside its cage.