19 answers

How Do I Get GREAT Smelling Laundry?

I have tried many kinds of laudry detergent but my clothes don't smell great. They are clean but I want them to smell awesome too! I already feel like I use too much just to get a fresher scent but it doesn't seem to make a difference. Any ideas?

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Great smelling laundry is more like smelling the roses than a chore. It makes me want to do the wash!
I;m gonna go with Gain and occasionally use Washing Soda.

Featured Answers

Hi S.,
Wash that's been hung out to dry in the fresh air smells best (a friend of mine puts her's in the dryer, then hangs it out for just the final drying so it will get that wonderful smell).


1 mom found this helpful

I love using either Tide with Downy or All detergent. Also, I put a dryer sheet in each drawer. It helps the clothes stay fresh and so clean smelling.

More Answers

OOOOOOH! I dearly hope you'll keep your mind open on this wish. I'm severely sensitive to the "awesome" scents that come off of other people's clothing. So are many children.

Most are synthetic scents; some are downright toxic. Ditto fabric softeners. Here's a list of the ingredients present in most fabric softeners (some are also in detergents, perfumes and colognes, and air "fresheners"):

Causes CNS (central nervous system) disorders... "highly irritating to mucous membranes" ..."Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema." Can also cause "excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression, and headache." "Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact."

Benzyl Acetate
Carconigenic (linked to pancreatic cancer). "From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough." "In mice: hyperanemia of the lungs." "Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects." "Do not flush to sewer."

Benzyl Alcohol
Causes CNS disorders ..."irritating to the upper respiratory tract" ..."headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure."

Causes CNS disorders. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. Symptoms: "local irritant and CNS stimulant" ..."readily absorbed through body tissues" ..."irritation of eyes, nose, and throat" ..."dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions". "Avoid inhalation of vapors."

Neurotoxic. Anesthetic. Carcinogenic. on EPA's Hazardous Waste list. "Avoid contact with eyes, skin, clothing. Do not breathe vapors ...Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness." "Inhalation can be fatal." "Chronic effects of overexposure may include kidney and/or liver damage." "Medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure: kidney disorders, liver disorders, heart disorders, skin disorders." "Conditions to avoid: Heat..." Listed on California's Proposition 65.

Ethyl Acetate
Narcotic. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. "...Irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract" ..."may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)" ..."may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys". "Wash thoroughly after handling."

Carcinogenic. "Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer." "Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking ...applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor."

Narcotic. Causes CNS disorders. ..."respiratory disturbances" ..."Attracts bees." "In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression ...depressed heart activity ...development of respiratory disturbances leading to death."

"Danger - Harmful if inhaled ...Avoid breathing vapor." "Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapors may cause CNS depression. Contact can cause eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis (skin rash)."

I become very ill (breathing difficulty, headache, nervousness, confusion, sleep disorders) when exposed to these chemicals wafting off people's clothing. This is a huge problem, obviously. For years now, my clothes smell wonderful – just plain clean!

3 moms found this helpful

Hi S.---I'm not sure I would worry about 'great' smells in your laundry, outside of making sure it is clean. I agree that putting too many clothes in the wash will keep that from happening. I don't have many suggestions except to explore www.ewg.org and look for their list of non-toxic household cleaners. Not sure, but I'd be they have a list of laundry detergents.

I will not use products containing chemical additives,for the health of my family. Frangrances are usually chemical additives, most of which are known carcinogens. Dryer sheets are the worst. I no longer use them, but use the dryer balls that can be found at most retail outlets. I got mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

I truly believe you must buy food and household cleaning products that do not challenge the health of your family. You can find some great ideas for healthier laundry at http://www.care2.com/greenliving/natural-laundry-solutions. Here are some great ideas from that website:


Fabric Softener: Add ¼ cup of baking soda—which also works as a brightener—to the wash. When using liquid detergent, add the baking soda during the wash cycle; when using powder, add the baking soda during the rinse cycle.

Whiten & Brighten: Pour 1 cup of lemon juice in a bucket half full of water and soak clothes overnight. Or add ¼ to 1 cup of washing soda (a more powerful form of baking soda) to each laundry load during the wash cycle.

Fragrance: If you want to add fragrance, do so during the drying cycle. Put a few drops of essential oil on a cotton cloth, and toss it into the dryer with wet clothes.

Treat Grease Stains: For best results, treat stains while they’re fresh. Cover the oily spot with a mixture of Borax and warm water and let it sit—20 minutes for a light, fresh stain, and two hours for a heavy, set stain—then rinse with cold water.

Remove Perspiration Odors and Stains: Spray full-strength distilled white vinegar on underarms and collars of shirts before washing.

Any other questions, feel free to contact me. I am a Personal Wellness Educator and my passion is to help others learn how to optimize their health. Good Luck. D.

3 moms found this helpful

My family has skin allergies and we can only use the free and clear detergent. So to get my clothes smelling fresh I use the Super Washing Soda (you can find it in the detergent aisle usually near the Borax and stain pre treaters). It's basically baking soda. It naturally softens my wash and then the clothes come out smelling fresh like outside fresh when I take them out. They don't have any perfuming fragrance to them, they smell almost like they were hung out to dry.

So you may want to try some super washing soda, maybe with your dryer sheets you will get the result you are looking for!

3 moms found this helpful

Wow, I can't respond to all of the super awesome answers you've recieved here, but I would recommend adding VINEGAR to your wash cycle. I pour vinegar into my wash cycle as I'm adding detergent. My Mom adds vinegar as her rinse cycle begins. The vinegar really helps the detergent do it's job, and just leaves our clothes with a especially clean odor.

3 moms found this helpful

I cloth diaper and just started using an awesome new laundry soap. It's natural and smells yummy enough to eat! :) It can be used on diapers AND clothes. And it's an excellent soap for hard water, if that's what you have?
The site I bought if from is www.rockingreensoap.com, (I have cherry vanilla scent), but it's sold elsewhere too.

If that's not for you, I'd try (less) laundry soap, Super Washing Soda & an extra rinse cycle. I've also used vinegar and a hot cycle for stinky towels before.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi S.,

The only way to get great smelling laundry is for it to actually be clean. Most dirt that is washed out of clothes redeposits itself back on the clothing in the spin cycle. I use a natural laundry detergent that actually inhibits the dirt from resettling on the clothes. My husband has gotten compliments from ladies about his cologne when all he's wearing is clean clothes.....

The detergent I use is 1/3 the price of Tide you would get at Wal-mart. If you're interested, let me know.


2 moms found this helpful

It's funny you should ask because I have a friend who is always commenting on how much she loves the smell of my detergent. However I don't think it's my detergent at all. I believe it is my fabric softner. I use the liquid Snuggle with the blue cap. Not sure the name of the sent but I get it at Sam's Club and it's the only one with a blue cap. Hope that helps some.

1 mom found this helpful

LOVED Peg M.'s answer! I am not sensitive like she is to fragrances, but I often can't stand the smell of perfumes because I haven't used anything with synthetic fragrances for years. As it turns out, fragrance in anything...perfume, lotions, cleaners, detergents...all contain phthalates, which are known carcinogens. After my first babies were born 10 years ago, I learned more and more and therefore simplified and used less and less of common household products. I loved that Peg M pointed out all the ingredients, because the last time I used a Tide/Cheer/Downy type product was several years ago when I decided that if the stuff doesn't come off my fingers with running water (it allways still felt slimy after rinsing), it surely wasn't coming off my clothes and I didn't want all those chemicals touching my family's skin/finding their way into the bloodstream. And 10 years ago, you couldn't find any "ingredients" listed on the cleaners (maybe that has changed). That alone, made me pretty suspicious! Now there are non-toxic alternatives available, but I am still suspicious of brands that claim non-toxic but are very strongly-scented (like the entire Method line). It is hard to get rid of all the carcinogens surrounding us, but if you make even a few small-but-important changes, it can make a difference in your health.
I like the idea of adding vinegar to the wash, and I happen to use the Ecos laundry detergent and Ecover liquid fabric softener. My clothes smell nice when I press my nose into them, but you cannot smell it otherwise. Fragrance is actually not a good thing for your health, and---I suspect---one of the reasons we have so much more breast cancer now compared to 50 years ago. Unless you shop carefully, scents/fragrance are in EVERYTHING now and big companies use it as a marketing tool all its own (think Fbreeze!). It might be worth considering to not care so much about "smells" and instead focus on making choices that are better for your health, and I mean that in a "considerate" way (and not to lecture). This is all coming from someone who once-upon-an-ignorant/trusting-time many years ago used to spray all her clothing with perfume before getting dressed ;)

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