The ingredients in Febreze Fabric Refresher are purified water, alcohol, cyclodextrin, modified polydimethicone, hydrogenated castor oil, alkanolamine, citric acid, quaternary ammonium chloride, benzisothiazolinone and various fragrances. Febreze was invented by Procter & Gamble in 1996.
The active ingredient in Febreze, cyclodextrin or beta-cyclodextrin, is a carbohydrate molecule typically formed from cornstarch. The molecule's peculiar donut shape contributes to its effectiveness at removing odors. When Febreze is sprayed on fabric, the water in the Febreze partially dissolves the odor molecules, causing them to form inside the cyclodextrin's "hole." With the odor molecules trapped inside the "donut," they are unable to bind to odor receptors in the human nose, which renders the odors undetectable. As Febreze dries, more odor molecules become trapped within the cyclodextrin molecule, reducing the number of odor molecules in the air and fabric. The odor is essentially neutralized, and may be replaced with a fruity or floral scent, depending on the Febreze formulation used.
Febreze comes in several scents, including wildflower, nectar, rain, clean splash and grapefruit fizz. It also comes in an unscented formula. It's formulated for use on furniture carpets, drapes, bedding and automobile upholstery and is marketed to eliminate odors from pets, smoke, gym clothes, bacteria and garbage.