Are scented garbage bags toxic

Are Scented Garbage Bags Toxic?

Garbage bags are a common utensil in every household. They are a great help in keeping household hygiene. Scented garbage bags are just a further upgradation of such normal garbage bags. This bag contains fragrant ingredients, causing them to spread a melody of scents. These fragrances not only help to eliminate bad odors but also gives a fresh vibe all around the house or office. But these feature doesn’t come without paying a price. Garbage bags are often made using plastic materials and fragrance-formulating ingredients add even more artificial chemical burden into it. All of these may leave you in wonder if scented garbage bags are toxic.

So are scented garbage bags toxic? In this article, we will discuss the ingredients of scented garbage bags, the potential risk they are associated with, if they are toxic, their negative impacts on living beings and the environment, steps to follow for using such bags, and alternatives that you may try. So read thoroughly for better knowledge on scented garbage bags to keep you and your loved ones healthy and toxin-free.

Key Takeaways

  • Scented garbage bags are nothing but normal plastic garbage bags with a mild fragrance added.
  • Fragrant chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene make the garbage bags scented.
  • The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) method causes the fragrant compounds to vapor and smell.
  • Continuous inhalation of plastic smell can lead to substantial mental and physical health hazards.

Ingredients Of Scented Garbage Bags

Ingredients of scented garbage bags
Ingredients of scented garbage bags

Scented garbage bags are not so different from normal plastic garbage bags. They use the same resources and methods to make scented bags. The only base difference is fragrance chemicals are added to smell them good and vibrant. Some of the common ingredients of scented plastic bags along with some character defining are below:

  • Polyethylene: Polyethylene is the most widely used plastic in the world. It is a versatile synthetic resin made from polarized Ethylene, which is derived from natural gas and petroleum. Polyethylene is the base ingredient of maximum plastic and similar formed products on earth.
  • Phthalates: These are a group of chemicals that are used in making plastic even more durable. These plasticizers make the garbage bags last long even after continuous rough use.
  • Formaldehyde: Also called Methanol, is a preservative and is used in plastics as a fragrant preserver. The producers use colorless gas-like flavors in addition to Formaldehyde and polymer resins, to give the resulting products a desired smell.
  • Benzene: Benzene is a colorless chemical that has a sweet odor. It is derived from crude oil and gasoline. Benzene is used to make plastics, resins, nylon, and synthetic fibers.
  • Calcium Carbonate: Calcium Carbonate helps decrease surface energy and provides opacity and surface gloss, which improves surface finish. In controlled use, it helps increase both impacting strength and stiffness.
  • Toluene: From Toluene’s many uses, it works as a common solvent, able to dissolve silicone sealants, many chemical reactants, rubber, etc. This helps the bag-making process easier by solving the formation of particles quicker.

Are Scented Garbage Bags Toxic?

Are scented garbage bags toxic
Are scented garbage bags toxic

In short, yes, scented garbage bags are toxic. The principal reason for their being toxic lies in the very ingredients they are built from. Don’t forget that, scented garbage bags are made out of plastics. Plastics contain ingredients that are not well-suitable for the environment and living beings including humans. In addition to plastics, other chemicals along with fragrances can hamper the surrendering lives. Humans can consume these chemicals unknowingly with inhalation.

The scents used in garbage bags are typically synthetic fragrances that may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene. Prolonged exposure to such chemicals can cause skin, lung, and eye irritation, allergy, coughing, vomiting, and dizziness. Further clinical observation has speculated that VOCs can lead to damage to the central nervous system and cause depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, behavioral damage, etc.

Continuous use of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and High-density polyethylene (HDPE) can import plastic particles into the human bloodstream and cause permanent organ failure. Various studies have found that frequent exposure to plastic-based products such as scented garbage bags can ultimately build up diseases like cancer.

Though not all the scented garbage bags in the market is equally made. It can vary from company to company but the principle ingredients remain almost the same. You also may find the ingredients aren’t always to the level to harm you and it is not guaranteed that scented garbage bags will cause you problems all the time. But just like smoking cigarettes, one way or another, they intended to harm you for sure.

Unsustainable Impact On The Environment

Unsustainable impact on the environment
Unsustainable impact on the environment

Scented garbage bags are a great cause for their non-sustaining impact on the environment. Sourcing the materials of the plastic bags to their ultimate disposal saws an unethical practice of non-sustainability. They take all the resources and provide back ingredients for future mass sufferings in the long run. Some of the non-sustainable impacts of garbage bags are listed below:

  • Fossil Fuels: The main ingredient of scented garbage bags is plastic resins. These resins are made using polarized Ethylene. It takes crude oil, petroleum, and gasoline to produce Ethylene. We know that the quantity of fossil fuels is not infinite. A product like scented garbage bags uses these precious forms of energy to make themselves.
  • Lacks Recycling: Plastic-based products are often criticized for their lack of recycling use. Every day a huge amount of plastic-based products are disposed of into nature without having any intention of recycling them. These products are often recyclable and some are even reusable. But we don’t put enough passion to have them collected and sent for processing.
  • Non-Biodegradable: Plastics are mostly non-biodegradable. But we throw away the majority of plastic and similar kinds of products in a way that they end up in the soil and landfills. Imagine your thrown-away scented plastic bags taking 200 years to dissolve in soil.
  • CO2 Emission: The most negative impact plastic-based products leaves is their hand on carbon emission. From making plastics to shaping them into products, even the recycling process requires an immense amount of carbon released into the air. It causes an uprising of greenhouse gases and the temperature of Earth.

4 Precautionary Steps For Using Scented Garbage Bags

After all of that if you still need to use scented garbage bags for some reason, use the below precautionary methods while using them:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly after every time you use scented garbage bags. These will minimize the risks of exposure to chemicals.
  2. Use scented garbage bags in well-ventilated areas where it will help to reduce bad odors but will not come out to harm you.
  3. Don’t put the scented garbage bags under direct sunlight or heat. This will make them scents chemical to break down and evaporate into the air.
  4. Dispose of the scented dispose of bags as per the concerned authority guideline. Don’t burn them as it will release chemicals and carbon into nature.

Alternatives For Scented Garbage Bags

Alternatives for scented garbage bags
Alternatives for scented garbage bags

Considering the toxic impact of scented garbage bags, you can choose your most convenient one from the below alternatives:

  • DIY Trash Bags: The greenest alternative to your scented garbage bags is making your garbage bags by yourself. There are several in-house materials such as newspaper, brown paper, leftover craft bags, or cloths that you can use to make unscented bags. Though based on the type of material used, these bags may not be worth holding wet garbage. But indeed they can make a huge difference in preserving your health.
  • Unscented Garbage Bags: You can use normal unscented plastic garbage bags. These bags have almost similar built materials but lack the fragrance part. This can save you from toxic breathing which you had to face while using scented garbage bags. These bags come in your required sizes and can be zipped close to prevent bad odors from spreading.
  • Plant-Based Bags: Plant-based garbage bags are made out of sugar cane, surplus crops, corn starch, and GMO-free plants instead of fossil fuel sourced, polyethylene. Meaning they will be naturally decomposed without leaving much non-melted toxic trash. These bags are often for one-time use only but can make a greater impact on the earth’s sustainability effort.
  • Recyclable Garbage Bags: Recyclable products are always welcomed by consumers as they are convertible to other recycled products. These leave a sustaining impact on waste management. These bags don’t require fossil fuels every time they are made, rather old bags are recycled into new ones and other products such as bottles, containers, etc.


1. Is new plastic smell harmful?

Yes, inhalation of plastic fumes can increase the risk of heart disease, asthma, skin problems, nerve system breakdown, organ failure, and many more, due to the toxic chemical formulation they contain.

2. Why does cheap plastic smell bad?

Cheap plastics tastes and smells because they contain volatile plasticizer components such as bisphenols. Low-built quality makes them vaporize in the air and causes them to smell.

3. How do I stop my bin bag from smelling?

You can use bicarbonate of soda to reduce the smell coming out from garbage bags. Sprinkle the soda in the required amount to the bottom of the bin or you can use lemon oil, lemon peel too.

Final Thoughts

Scented Garbage bags may seem beneficial at first. But in the process of spreading fragrance, they are hampering your health. The fragrant chemicals that are used to make the bags smell good but every time you breathe the fragrant air, you are inhaling these hazardous substances. These cause temporary issues like dizziness, watery nose, and skin problem to alarming health issues like mental disorders and even cancer. You may find it rare that people are subject to such health issues while using scented garbage bags, but these are proven impacts on humans left by scented garbage bags. There are also environmental drawbacks to using such garbage bags. So, for a greater cause and benefit for human existence, it will not be a wiser option to choose such scented garbage bags in the future.


Todd Smith is a trained ecologist with five years of experience in environmental conservation and sustainability. He has a deep passion for promoting sustainable practices and has developed a thorough understanding of the natural world and its complex interconnections.

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