The name "Febreze" comes from the words "fabric" and "breeze." First introduced in test markets in 1993,[where?] the product has been sold in the United States since June 1998, and the line has since branched out to include air fresheners (Air Effects), fabric refreshers, plug-in oil (Noticeables), scented disks (Scentstories), odor eliminating candles and automotive air fresheners.
According to Febreze instructions, spraying fabrics at a distance of 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) will eliminate odors. Procter & Gamble does not recommend using Febreze on leather products as it may affect the color. Febreze should not be stored in direct sunlight, high heat or where it can be reached by children.
The active ingredient in Febreze is hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin (HPβCD). The molecule traps and binds volatilized hydrocarbons within its structural ring, retaining malodorous molecules, which reduces their volatility and thus the perception of their scent. These molecules are derived from corn. The original formula was developed in Plymouth, England. The use of a cyclodextrin as a sprayable odor absorber is patented by Procter & Gamble.
There are many types of Febreze. For example, the main Febreze are air freshener sprays. They are said to have disinfectant effect. There are specialized ones for odor from pets, for cars, and for fabric. Some are aromatic and others are odorless.
In other countries, there are Febreze products for house dust and toilet facilities.
The product, initially marketed as a way to get rid of unpleasant smells, sold poorly until P&G realised that people become accustomed to smells in their own homes, and stop noticing them even when they are overpowering (like the smell of several cats in a single household). The marketing then switched to linking it to pleasant smells and good cleaning habits instead, which resulted in a massive increase in sales. Only after the product became well established in the marketplace did the marketing go back to emphasising odor elimination properties as well. They have advertised it so that people use it for cleaning, and for designing the house air.
Veterinary toxicology experts working for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center consider Febreze fabric freshener products to be safe for use in homes with pets. However, the package labeling indicates that the product is considered not safe around birds.