[A revisit to an archived blog from March 14. 2012]
Health Alert: Avoiding Synthetic Fragrances
This was the headline in a Consumer Reports newsletter in my mailbox years ago. Now, I have been avoiding synthetic fragrances for decades. But… for those who don’t know:
Consumer Reports issued a report criticizing the use of synthetic fragrances in the dryer. “Consumer Reports environmental experts say you should get nervous about smells that won’t quit, especially when you don’t know what you’re smelling. The product’s label just says “perfume dispersant, perfume and dyes.” The manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, told Consumer Reports that perfume ingredients are “proprietary information,” but it says that the chemicals they use are at safe levels.” I am sure we all find that reassuring.
The good news is that it is possible to add fragrance to your laundry, and know exactly what you are using!
This is what I do. (Years ago a serious case of contact dermatitis landed me in the ER. I was taught there to *never* use a “dryer sheet” to soften cloths, to buy and use only the “FREE” detergents – unscented with no color – and to put some white vinegar in the fabric softener cup of my Washing Machine. Two washing machines later, I’m still following that advice.)
If I’m washing clothes that may have a bit of musty mold scent… a generous splash of Palma Rosa or Eucalyptus citrodora (Lemon Eucalyptus) goes into the wash water with the detergent. Anti fungal oils will freshen towels that perhaps sat, damp, too long. If clothes are grease stained, some Orange essential oil with the detergent will remove any greasy aroma. (Be aware though, that Orange Oil CAN discolor white clothes.) LilBit slept too long on my quilt? Fresh Aire synergy does a GREAT job at removing the scent of wet dog.
Other things that I do. (For various reasons I can’t dry my clothes on a clothes line. Cold water washing and low heat drying is as “green” as I can be.) There is NOTHING like the smell of sheets and pillowcases, blown dry on a line in the sun and freshly made up on your bed.
Lacking that option… I have two or three old washcloths (rags!) that sit on the dryer. When a load of clothes I want to subtly scent goes in the dryer, a few drops of essential oil or blend go on a rag, and it gets tossed in with the wet clothes. Normally I am aiming at a VERY faint aroma, and use only a few drops of EO. More essential oil, obviously, makes the scent of the clean and dried clothes a bit stronger.
Fresh Aire, again, for towels, and a lot of my clothes. Linens? Lavender, or, if I am feeling decadent and self indulgent..a drop of Rose. A man’s laundry could be scented with Cedarwood or Sandalwood.