Modern laundry scent engineering is quite sophisticated. Scent that is designed for laundry has to not only smell enticing from the bottle (most consumers make their choice of laundry detergents based on the scent, right in the household products isle); but also withstand the laundry cycle. This is possible thanks to micro-capsule technology, which means the scent is entrapped in microscopic capsules that will only release close to when the laundry cycle is complete, or - more sneakily, after the laundry is done
(so that the scent keeps getting released long after the washing process is complete).
But is this laundry truly clean? I think not. While this still does remove the dirt and grime, it replaces them with chemicals that are likely just as harmful as the bacteria and mold that your washing machine has worked so hard to clean.
Another unfriendly component of many laundry scents, is polycyclic musks
, which have replaced nitro musks and are used in nearly all scents in the mainstream fine fragrance world, as well as in functional fragrances. Not only do these musk retain their scent for long after the washing is done; they also never break down in the environment, creating sediments in our water sources. They accumulate in the bodies of many organisms, including human beings, creating hormonal disruptions, as well as reduce the body's ability to protect itself against toxic chemicals. Musk molecules are so persistent and have become such an inescapable pollutant that they have been found in nursing mothers' milk
and in infants. While nitro musks' carcinogenic and health hazards
have been long recognized and lead to them being banned, polycyclic musks effects are still largely unknown, and we only now begin to find out how they affect our health as well as the environment's.
Do we really want to wait and find out the hard way? I for one have stopped using synthetically scented body products and functional products. The laundry dryer sheets were the first to go. As well as scented laundry detergent. My laundry smells fantastic, simply by washing and drying it. And when I want to get rid of some greasy, moldy and other foul smells (usually accumulating in my kitchen towels), I add essential oils with solvent properties (such as coniferous and citrus oils) that and those that fight bacteria and fungi (i.e.: tea tree and eucalyptus). If you live in a rainy place like mine, where laundry never dries up on a clothes line, adding a few drops of essential oil such as lavender on a wool felt ball or a cloth and adding it to the dryer cycle will add a fresh and environmentally friendly scent to the laundry if you so desire. And of course you can add a true lavender scented linen spray if you iron your clothes. Your laundry can smell good without risking your health and ruining the environment on the way!