Are Scented Drawer Liners Safe for Babies? [With Alternatives]


Drawer liners may seem like a thing of the past, however, they are still readily available and commonly used, especially in baby nurseries. If you hop onto any parenting or mom-to-be forum, you will likely see questions about these products. Especially, when parents are seeking to create natural, non-toxic spaces for their babies, these products will provoke a lot of questions. 

Liners help protect our baby’s clothing, toys, and other products, but most liners contain fragrances that may not be safe for babies and most companies do not list their ingredients. While it is difficult to find safe, organic drawer liners, there are sprays and other scented alternatives that rely on essential oils and other natural ingredients to keep drawers smelling fresh.

So, are these items safe? If not, are there good alternatives? Can I safely make my baby’s room and items smell good, without risking their health? Let’s explore the products that are available to us and the alternatives we may be able to use in order to make the best parenting choice for our little ones. 

What are scented drawer liners and liner papers?

Drawer liners and liner papers are just as simple as the name implies. These items are adhesive papers, gripping liners, or fabric-based liners that are placed in the bottom of drawers or on shelving units. 

These liners are intended to maintain the cleanliness and integrity of the items placed in drawers or on shelving units. As parents, we spend quite a bit of time organizing and perfectly filling dresser drawers and shelves with baby clothes, toys, and linens. All of which are likely important for us to protect and preserve.

These liners are intended for us to be able to do just that. Liners protect these items from being damaged or snagged by wood surfaces, collecting dust, or picking up the unfavorable scent of some furniture. They can also protect the wood of the furniture itself! As parents, we can all appreciate caring for the items that we have purchased or been gifted for our little ones, especially if we are using hand-me-downs from older siblings or are hoping to reuse new items with additional little ones in the future. 

Why would scented liners be dangerous for babies?

While we may think that using liners with a scent would be a great addition to a baby’s room, the fragrances included in these drawer liners could pose a health concern. Sure, it would be great to keep our little one’s rooms and organized drawers or closets smelling perfect, however, we need to consider what we are risking if we make this choice.

Most drawer liners do not contain lists of ingredients. Even if you can track down a non-toxic or organic scent containing liner, many of these companies do not share their ingredients list. As parents, this should be a huge red flag. With the potential safety risks (many of which are still unknown) that fragrances pose, if a company isn’t willing to tell us what they use, we likely do not want it anywhere near our babies or families. 

Also, be aware that unscented is not the same thing as fragrance-free. Fragrance-free usually does not contain any fragrance creating or causing chemicals. However, unscented items usually contain chemicals that are masking scents that may be naturally occurring in products. 

Unfortunately, most liners that are paper-based and contain varying scents or fragrances. This may make other forms of liners seem more favorable, but unfortunately, most fabric-based or gripping liners, contain PVC in some for. PVC has been declared unsuitable for babies and children. Which makes these alternatives to scented liners also unsuitable for our babies. 

How to make your baby’s drawers smell good safely

If you are still hoping to make your baby’s drawers or closet smell good, there are many great options available to you. Like most topics when it comes to babies and children, it will just require that you find what option feels best to you and then make that parenting decision for your family. 

Best organic scented drawer liners

Those of us who are looking to raise our babies in the most natural manner are used to searching the internet for alternatives to the traditional, non-organic options. Unfortunately, as I attempted to scour the internet for organic and non-toxic liners, I was left disappointed.

First, I could not find a single organic or safely scented liner for drawers or shelves. I thought I had found a safe option until I noticed that the baby drawer liners were simply “unscented” and not scent-free. Even then, the items available that contain no scent, either contain PVC or require strong adhesives be used to secure or lay flat in drawers or on shelves. 

Alternatives to traditional liners and papers

One of the best things about being a parent is when we discover that our ability to improvise and engineer solutions is continuously getting better. So, if you still want to line your drawers and shelves in order to get the same protection liners provide, and you have some extra time on your hands, then it’s time to get creative and try out some new ideas.

Organic fabrics such as cotton, linen, canvas and even wool felt are great alternatives to the traditional and harmful liners. These materials, similar to paper, can be cut into any shape or size in order to fit a drawer or shelving unit. Unlike paper or plastic items, fabrics will lay flat without needing to be secured or covered in adhesive. Similarly, most can be washed with baby-friendly detergent as well which will help maintain the scent and cleanliness of the drawers they are placed in! Depending on how you attach them, you could even pull them back out and wash them as needed.

Baby-safe room or home fragrance sprays

While we can use alternatives to traditional liners, these alternatives are not the most simple or convenient options and as parents we often need convenient items that require little thought or upkeep. Thankfully, we have convenient options available to us that do not require us to neglect safety. 

Some of the best options available to us are room sprays, air fresheners and odor eliminating products. 

Fresh Wave is one of our personal favorites and they offer a great variety of products that will help with creating a pleasant smelling space that is also safe for babies and children. Their products are plant-derived and contain essential oils that are safe for all members of the family. Most of their products have an odor-removing focus while also providing a fresh scent that comes from natural oils.

Their staple product, the odor-removing spray, is perfect for spraying around a nursery room or even inside drawers where you will store clothing and other items. Since it is naturally deodorizing, it can help with any lingering laundry smells and also provides a nice lavender scent at the same time! The spray is available here (with lots of great reviews on Amazon)!

In addition to sprays, they also have little odor removing packs. These are single-use scent pouches that will be safely contained in protective wrapping and can be placed in a room, closet, or drawer where they will freshen up the space. The great thing about this option is that they are supposed to last for between 30 and 60 days once you sit them out so you will have long-lasting coverage without having to worry about spraying the area down frequently. If you want to check out this option, you can do so right here (with similarly good reviews).

If you are more interested in the odor-removing part of these kinds of products and less interested in the scents, then there are also plenty of options that can take care of your needs. We’ve used these activated charcoal bags in the past and we thought they were a great value. The awesome thing about these is that you get 5 of them and each one can last up to 2 years if you take care of them properly! Basically, you just need to set these out in the sun for a couple of hours each month and they will be naturally rejuvenated as the moisture is pulled out of the bags!

You may be wondering about essential oil diffusers? While yes, these are an option, there are many essential oils that even when diffused are too highly concentrated to be safe around children. Similarly, there are many essential oils that are not safe for children and babies. There are also some differences of opinion throughout the internet that state that oils may be safe for diffusing at three months and some others that say six months, however, there is no concrete answer available. 

If you desire to use essential oils instead of another product, please be sure to check with your doctor as the oils may be problematic for children on some medications or with varying medical conditions. 

Also, if you are having trouble with a stinky nursery because of poopy diapers (or whatever!), I’ve created a resource that goes into more odor-fighting details that you can find right here!

What about DIY baby fragrances?

If you desire to make your own DIY fragrance or room spray, this is an option. However, many of the “recipes” for these sprays or fragrances do contain essential oils. Similar to the option of diffusing, please check with your child’s doctor before creating a spray that contains essential oils. Please also check with essential oil experts to make sure that you are not using oils that are unsafe for pregnant or nursing mothers, babies or children. 

Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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