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Does Febreze Kill Germs and Bacteria? (Quick Guide)

Febreze is an effective air freshener and odor eliminator, but does it kill germs?

In this guide, you’ll learn which Febreze products kill germs and bacteria and which ones don’t.

You’ll also learn how to use the antibacterial products properly, so you actually kill the germs.

Use the links below to navigate the guide:

Febreze Products That Kill Germs

Febreze Antimicrobial Fabric Spray and Febreze Professional Sanitizing Fabric Refresher are the only Febreze products that kill bacteria and other microbes.

Both products serve two primary purposes: killing bacteria and mold and giving fabrics a fresh scent.

The only significant difference between the two products is that the Professional Sanitizing Fabric Refresher comes in bulk quantities and is advertised as a longer-lasting option. Procter & Gamble, the company that owns Febreze, says it prevents mold for up to 14 days after application.

It’s important to note: both Febreze products only kill certain kinds of bacteria and mold.

They kill enterobacter aerogenes, a bacteria responsible for many kinds of infections, including urinary tract infections, periodontal disease, and other soft tissue infections. It also kills staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that causes staph infections.

They’re also effective against two common types of mold, aspergillus niger and penicillium variabile. The first is responsible for most of the “black mold” you find on fruits and vegetables, while the second most often appears as greenish-white “bread mold.”

To properly use Febreze Antimicrobial Fabric Spray and Febreze Professional Sanitizing Fabric Refresher, spray it on your fabrics until they are damp. Let the fabric dry for a minimum of five minutes. That’s it.

Here’s a list of the ingredients in both products (Note: Didecyldimonium Chloride and Citric Acid are the ingredients responsible for killing germs).

Diethylene GlycolNeutralize Odors
AlcoholHelps Dissolve Ingredients
Didecyldimonium Chloride (Antimicrobial)Kills Germs and Bacteria
DextrinNeutralize Odors
PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor OilHelps Dissolve Ingredients
PEG Methyl Ether DimethiconeHelps Ingredients Penetrate Fabrics
Maleic AcidKeeps the pH Neutral
Sodium HydroxideKeeps the pH Neutral
Citric Acid (Antimicrobial)Kills Germs and Bacteria
FragrancesAdds a Pleasant Scent

Febreze Products That Don’t Kill Germs

Most Febreze products don’t kill germs. Below you’ll find a list of the brand’s non-antimicrobial products, along with a quick summary of each. You learn more about each of these products on Febreze.com or Amazon.

  • PLUG: Febreze’s PLUG product is a wall-mounted air freshener consisting of an oil warmer and a scented oil dispenser. Once you have the oil warmer, you can purchase oil refills as needed.
  • Air: This is a standard air freshener spray that comes in a wide array of fragrances, such as Ember and Wood.
  • Unstoppable Touch: This is an odor-eliminating fabric spray that you can apply directly to soft surfaces. Unlike the options mentioned in the previous section, this product doesn’t kill germs or bacteria.
  • Small Spaces: Perfect for powder rooms, closets, or other cramped areas, these devices are tiny and can be activated with the simple press of a button. Febreze warns against using them inside vehicles, so bear that in mind.
  • Car: These tiny devices can be clipped onto the inside vent of your vehicle. Once activated, they continuously release fragrance to keep your car smelling fresh.
  • Pet: Febreze pet odor elimination products include twice the odor-eliminating ingredients as Febreze’s other air fresheners. 
  • Candles: Febreze scented candles come in an array of sizes and scents.
  • Wax Melts: These melts can be placed in any electric, lightbulb, or tea-light warmer and release continuous fragrance for hours at a time.

How to Know If a Febreze Product Kills Germs

Febreze is constantly launching new products, so how do you know if the latest fabric or air spray has the ability to kill germs.

The simplest way is to check the product packaging and the active ingredients listed on the label.

If the product’s description contains words like “antimicrobial,” “disinfecting,” or “sanitizing,” it probably kills germs.

Also, if the product includes antimicrobial ingredients such as didecyldimonium chloride or citric acid, it likely kills germs and other microbes.

When in doubt, contact the manufacturer. There are several ways to get in touch with Febreze product specialists on this page, including email and phone.

Do Febreze Air Fresheners Kill Germs?

Febreze air fresheners don’t kill germs on surfaces or in the air. Spraying the antimicrobial fabric sprays in the air won’t work, either –– doing so can actually be dangerous.

A few sprays are marketed as air sanitizers, such as Lysol Neutra Air and Ozium Air Sanitizer. However, these sprays only linger in the air for a few seconds, which is hardly enough time to sanitize and only provides a temporary impact.

Steve Bennett, SVP of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Household & Commercial Products Association, confirmed there are “no sprayable household products currently registered with the Environmental Protection Agency that can be used to disinfect the air.”

The best way to clean the air in your home is by ensuring proper ventilation or by using registered air filtration devices (these should include a HEPA label).

The CDC recommends several tips for ensuring good ventilation, including opening windows, using the vents above your stove, and routinely replacing the filters for your HVAC systems.

Bottom Line: Not All Febreze Products Kill Germs

When it comes to sanitizing fabric, air, and surfaces in your home, only certain products will work.

Most Febreze products, including air fresheners, plug-ins, and pet odor eliminators, do not kill germs.

Febreze Antimicrobial Fabric Spray and Febreze Professional Sanitizing Fabric Refresher are the brand’s only antimicrobial products. Both kill germs and bacteria on fabric but not on hard surfaces or in the air.

Keep in mind: both products are only effective against two types of bacteria (enterobacter aerogenes and staphylococcus aureus) and two molds (aspergillus niger and Penicillium variabile).

If you’re looking for fabric sprays that kill germs, Febreze isn’t your only option. Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray are good choices to consider.

If you need a product to kill germs on hard surfaces, you have many options, including Lysol and Clorox.

The best defense against germs circulating in the air is proper ventilation and filtration. Although sanitizing sprays are available, they fill the air with chemicals and only work for a few seconds before the particles fall to the ground.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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