The Not-So-Sweet Smell of Excess

Something around here stinks.
And it’s not just my neighbor.


When I moved to Paris, I remember my first load of laundry that I proudly pulled out of my little machine tucked in the corner.

After I figured out the seven different dials and nine different buttons on the machine (actually, I’ve still only managed to figure out what about a third of them do), I remember extracting my clothes from the machine and hanging them all out to dry on my shiny new rack that took me a few hours to buy at the BHV. In Paris, few people have dryers since it’s verboten to cut holes in buildings to vent to the outside. And even though each load of laundry takes me the better part of 3 days instead of…say, an hour…I’m happy to report I’ve reduced my carbon footprint.

And I’ve also reduced my productivity at doing anything else.

But after I hung the clothes to dry, I sniffed and almost gagged on the forceful floral fragrance that filled the flat. I thought it would dissipate, but I was wrong. It only got worse.

As my clothes hung there, within a few hours my apartment reeked of something almost as bad as my neighbor. It was the artificial smell from the laundry detergent. It was so bad that I had to set the rack on my roof and pray the wind didn’t carry away my unmentionables and scatter them to the denizens of Paris.

So I went to the supermarket in search of unscented detergent, which I thought would be a breeze. In the United States, considered by many to be the land of additives, one would think they’d would be hard to find. But there’s many choices and most of the major brands of detergent offer unscented varieties. Yet in France, there are none.

I opened the bottle of the stuff for babies, labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ and…good God!….I was almost knocked over by the acrid floral stench. My eyes started watering, my throat closed up in protest, and I could almost feel my privates breaking out in a burning rash if I washed my undies in that stuff.

(At least I hope that’s what it is…)

But think of the children. Especially those poor French babies! No wonder everyone here sometimes seems so crabby. Imagine growing up with that horrible, viscous liquid searing you down below.

I swear, I opened every single bottle and took a whiff, even those labeled ‘douce‘, and if that odor that came out of those is considered ‘soft’, well now I know how they tolerated that French toilet tissue from those painful days of yore.

I haven’t quite figured out why there are hardly any unscented products and I have to import many of them from the states. On my last visit, I raided the aisles at Whole Foods for shaving gel since I have sensitive skin. If I use the commercial stuff here, a few scrapes of the razor and my face looks as though it’s gonna start screaming “Hold the anchovies!”

As a cook, I wash my hands a lot. But I need to use unscented soap since I don’t want the smell of faux flower-powered products to interfere with what I’m tasting and smelling. The natural food stores do offer stuff with ‘natural’ scents. And I’ve resigned myself to pay the stiff premium for laundry detergent from our fragrance-forward friends from the land of les frites.

Next month I’ll be in Florida doing a television shot and I hope there’s time to fill my suitcase with all-things unscented. If I get stopped at the border, it won’t be because of sniffing dogs, that’s for sure. Still, they’re going to be quite surprised to find a suitcase filled with everything sans parfum: shaving cream, soap, deodorant, moisturizer—you name it. If it’s not stinky, I’m hoarding it.

And for all those babies in France. I wish I could help them too. Really I do. But they’re going to have to look out for themselves, I’m afraid, since I’ve got my limits as to what I can carry. I sense at some point there may be a change in the air and the French will start introducing unscented products.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Or I should say I can’t, since I’m holding my nose at the same time.

And I don’t think it would be a good idea to do both at once.

Never miss a post!


  • November 18, 2007 7:05pm

    I had an old fashioned clothesline installed about a month ago. Even though it’s turning winter, I will trot outside to hang out the laundry. Although my son says “Mom, this is so ghetto,” I know that I am doing some small thing to reduce greenhouse gasses. Also, those sheets smell so good!

    Love your blog! And the dolce de leche brownies I made using your recipe are happily sitting on my hips right this moment!

    –Robin (Bumblebee)

  • November 18, 2007 7:10pm

    While I am not fond of the aroma of laundry detergent in France, I can live with it. It’s figuring out those combination washer/dryers that drive me to distraction. Why do they call them dryers?

  • Gigi
    November 18, 2007 7:14pm

    In Australia it is hard to find dryers too. I was really shocked when I moved here. Now that I have aquired a dryer I found that dryer sheets don’t even exist (nor woman’s shaving cream if you can believe it – tis a Man ‘s country! My new mother-in-law on the other hand was appalled at the size of our American appliances and our plethora of products. My world view is expanded (-:

  • November 18, 2007 7:52pm

    non-fragrance items aren’t available in Japan either…maybe because there are a LOT of stinky people here??

  • November 18, 2007 8:06pm

    When we visited Paris several years ago, we went to a laundromat to wash our clothes. We bought soap from the large soap dispenser (it was liquid in a plastic sachet) and then stood muddling at the machine and weird instructions until someone took pity on us and helped. He explained how the machine worked but also the soap situation: what we had actually purchased was in fact perfume (not soap at all)–AND it was scented like peach (gag).

    Soap was free and located in a big powdery bin in the corner (we never would have found this). We thanked the guy and gave him our unused perfume sachet as a token gift; he seemed to think it odd that we didn’t want to use the perfume but was happy to receive it himself.

    To think we were *this* close to washing our laundry in peach perfume! Just the thought still give me the willies.

  • Marsi
    November 18, 2007 8:56pm

    Why not try making your own laundry detergent?

    I’ve made it, and it’s very simple.


  • November 18, 2007 10:18pm

    i think you can find some unscented products for the skin in pharmacies, but the laundry chemicals is really a problem here. Plus, some consumer magazines have made studies : they have some evidence that those strong scents are coming from ingredients that may cause devastating allergies and skin reactions.
    I mean, it’s not even ” may cause” actually, this ingredients are known for those bad effects, but the legislation permit them on detergent in not so small amounts :/ .

    actually i’ve choosen a long time ago to wash my cloth with the minimal amount of detergent, no “softener detergent added”, and i never regretted it. It works very well (thoses products are so strong that using more would mean to have holes in my tee shirts ! :)), and it has nearly no smell when it’s dry.

    for the delicate pieces of clothes, i even prefer to wash them with petals of marseille soap. it can be rinced within seconds and it’s really healthy for the skin. once dried, it only smells “deep clean” too :D !

  • November 18, 2007 10:19pm

    Thinking about it, when I’m, home in Sweden I only dry towels, socks and scruffy shirts in the dryer (it’s shared washers and dryers in Swedish apartment buildings) and the rest I hang in my apartment. Looks very … continental with clothes hanging everywhere — but it smells good! However, in the States I toss everything in the dryer. It’s like there is no other way. Strange.

  • Lesley
    November 18, 2007 10:19pm

    I am always surprised at how much “clean” smell is in French laundry detergents and house cleaning stuff. A friend of mine who works for P&G in Paris swears to me that Ariel is the same thing as Tide, but i don’t believe him for a moment…Ariel has a much stronger scent that lingers.
    I used to use the humungous dryers at the lavomatique, it would take 3 hours to dry my clothes to “damp”…

  • November 18, 2007 10:59pm

    It’s the same in the UK. When we’re staying there, I bring unscented powder from the US. It makes me wonder what people with allergies or scent-sensitivities do.

  • elarael
    November 18, 2007 11:34pm

    Our entire family was allergic to commercial ‘scented’ detergents (ugly body rash), so we’ve been using the unscented health store stuff forever. I think it’s much cheaper than dealing with a tumor later on, and that it’s far more responsible is a bonus.

  • Steve
    November 19, 2007 1:16am

    That’s funny–you hit on something that drove me bonkers throughout my recent visit to Paris: laundry. My apartment had a washer/dryer combo. I’m convinced that the ‘dryer’ merely cooks the clothes. The wrinkles seem pressed in. And the detergent! I’ve relaundered everything several times since getting back home in unscented detergent and I can still smell the French stuff! I’m convinced people must think I’m wearing weird perfume.

  • tom
    November 19, 2007 2:13am

    And not just in France (although that stuff is overpowering); the cleaning products in most of Latin America have super powerful floral scents…they have actually started importing them to the US, because many recent Hispanic immigrants equated the strong floral scent with cleanliness, and since the US products are not scented as strongly, some tend to doubt the quality of the domestic products.

    I also wonder if some of the problem in France is that those detergents are highly concentrated, much more so than the US products (even the products labeled as such in the US), and you really have to use an extremely small amount to clean your clothes. Otherwise, your vetements will smell like the perfume counter at Gherlain!

    I also found it interesting when I lived in France that her citizens were generally very cautious and careful about conserving energy; those automatic hall light switches, etc. Yet curiously enough, there inevitably seemed to be only two temperatures of wash water available in their washers: boiling and Yellowstone geyser steam! I swear, my clothes were baked in those machines…and the coolest temperatures were still like a jacuzzi. Talk about a waste of electricity!

  • November 19, 2007 2:15am

    cheyenne: Peach ‘perfume’? That’s a new one on me. Yet one more thing to look out for.

    And to think, you were this close…

    Steve: So that’s what that smell was. I was going to say something. ; )

    krysalia: I’m one of those people and my doctor did recommend a brand of savon de Marseilles. So I went to the store, opened the bottle, took a whiff, and had to back down. If she thinks that’s unscented, she’s been breathing in too much ‘peach perfume’.

    marsi: Interesting, except I have to idea where to find borax. But since I make my own ice cream, cakes, and just about everything else from scratch, why not my detergent?

    Christina: A lot of US cities (and perhaps towns) have laws preventing people from line-drying their clothes. Apparently some people are offended by the site of bras, thongs, briefs, and tee’s flapping in the breeze. Me? Bring ’em on!

  • mb
    November 19, 2007 3:24am

    Actually, there has been a lot of progress in France the last ten years. ;) You can find dryers and you don’t need to cut holes in your walls because they have condensation collecting device (amazing the quantity of water it collects, lol).

  • November 19, 2007 3:59am

    David, we would make quite a pair in the hyper-marche; I routinely open all the bottles of every cleaning product I can before I buy. The worst offender I’ve found is the windshield cleaner for my car! It’s like spraying the entire car, and passengers, with cheap perfume. Yuck! Time to go green and save our noses for more delicate parfums like…gingerbread, armagnac, and truffles.

  • Judith in Yummmbria
    November 19, 2007 5:06am

    Here in Italy we have detergents called Marsiglia, which sort of smell like soap from Marseille. It just smells like soap to me. Better than all that floral stuff.
    I don’t stop there, though. Instead of softeners which to me stink, I use white wine vinegar in the proper part of the feed drawer. That smell dissipates very quickly and the vinegar does soften by removing soap residue and therefore the soap smell.

    I also found very quickly that I was using much too much detergent because I was used to big machines full of water, and the local machines are small and hold very little water.

    As the least domesticated female in Italy, I’m pretty nervy to offer these little drops of wisdom, but I had the advantage of arriving fairly ignorant and figuring out cleaning da capo.

  • Libiki
    November 19, 2007 5:31am

    You could try using soap nuts from India – they are fragrance free and 100% natural. You can find them in natural food stores around Paris. My French mother-in-law introduced them to me when I was looking for a fragrance free laundry detergent after the birth of our son (I agree with you – those poor babies growing up in France with such harsh smelling detergents!).

    Check out this link for info:

  • November 19, 2007 6:31am

    I use the supermarket stuff (Dash, Almond ‘douce’) but at less ~ 70% than recommended dose, and admit to liking the smell. As for clothes, have always been drying in on one those portable racks, if the sun is out we’ll also hang on lines we’ve strung out on the tiny balcony. The dryer is used only for bedlinen. Saved us lots in energy bills.

  • November 19, 2007 6:33am

    Thanks to Marsi for linking to my site. I am not sure if Borax is available in Europe, but if you do make a trip to the states I’d lug the ingredients to make your own back. A box of Borax, a container of washing soda (had to find mine in the pool supply section though I’ve been told that is readily available in Europe.) and a six pack of soap lasts our family of six over a month.

    You might also try googling for a different recipe. If Borax is not available I bet you can find an alternative. Best of luck!

  • November 19, 2007 6:43am

    I’ve yet to encounter a washer/dryer that even cooks clothing. The one we had never really dried anything at all, and we ended up hanging everything in the bathroom and turning on the on-demand gas heater. The funniest story I’ve heard is the woman who mistook fabric softener for detergent – and used a lot of it. Her clothes were not only peachy, they were limp.

  • November 19, 2007 7:30am

    I think perhaps you are using too much of whatever it is you’re using. I have very sensitive skin (I have severe eczema) and I use very small quantities of detergent here and absolutely cannot use any regular soap on my skin to wash it (I also have a very bulky water softener system in my shower because the water is too hard on me), and my clothes do not smell more strongly of detergent when they come out of the washer here than when I wash them in the US. Hmmm, I think it’s a question of quantity David…

  • November 19, 2007 8:10am

    Hilda: I often use the Monoprix vert (green) brand for laundry, which oddly lists ‘parfum végétale’ as an ingredient, although it’s very, very mild and doesn’t stink to high heavens.

    They recommend using 3.5-4 capfuls per load, which I’ve reduced to 1.5 capfuls. I’m just scratching my head how anyone can stand the stench of those other brands!

    Stephanie: I loved your recipe. It’s hard to find those kind of things here, but thanks for the tips.

    Mimi: Yes, I’ve heard about those (non) dryers, so I’m resigned to hang mine up or as they say in Paris…à la Napolitana!

  • expat
    November 19, 2007 8:29am


    There is a brand of eco-friendly laundry soaps, fabric softener etc that’s called ECOVER. It’s made in Belgium and it’s very good. Very light smell and it cleans very well, too. It’s the only thing I can use over here, as I can’t stand the smell of the regular detergents either.

    If your grocery store doesn’t carry it, try the health food stores.

  • November 19, 2007 8:49am

    I would likely never be able to wash my clothes again if I had to use scented products (not a good solution, I admit) – just the thought sends me into your imagined rash.

    But if you’re having to smuggle back in a suitcase, let me recommend the hyper-concentrated detergents from Method (wonderful stuff, totally scent free, and doesn’t require carrying a 25 pound bottle in your carry-on. I know, ’cause I’ve done it). Good luck!

  • Est
    November 19, 2007 8:58am

    That is strange, as a French living in the US… For me laundry detergents have the exact same fragrance.

    What’s changing is the efficiency of the washers, European ones are so much better! Perhaps you put too much detergent in your washer… The “noix de lavage” are a good option too.

  • Meg
    November 19, 2007 9:57am

    Last month’s Domino magazine mentions Savon de Marseille laundry flakes made from olive oil. Can be purchased from

  • November 19, 2007 10:12am

    I can’t stand scented detergents either– we’ve posted about making your own detergents, and besides being perfume-free they’re also incredibly inexpensive!

    Love love LOVE your blog!

  • November 19, 2007 10:18am

    Ouf! Brings back memories. I, too, am very sensitive and had a heck of a time finding something I didn’t react to when in France. An extra rinse helped, but since a load already took hours to do, adding another hour seemed like overkill. Luckily our machine was new and had a feature so that you could set it to go on in the middle of the night. Laundry was consistently a nightmare. Loved that the jeans didn’t shrink (I admit to gaining weight while living there, despite all the walking), but hated how rough and smelly everything was. And hated that there was always a forest of clothes, sheets and towels hanging across our apartment. (We had a retractable 5-line clothesline.) No wonder Americans think the French smell–if we had to deal with their laundry cauchemars, we wouldn’t wash things we’d only worn for an hour either!

    Here in the US I have the same problem–though it’s the softeners that are the worst. I have to run into the isle holding my breath to grab the free and clear Purex and a box of Borax. Target recently separated the detergent from the softener in two isles, and it is better (but I stay away from the softener isle!) I tried Cheer Free and Gentle, and actually had a reaction to that, too!

    I’d be careful importing Borax–it’s one of the ingredients in Crystal Meth, and you might get stopped and questioned on your chemistry abilities. There’s probably a reason you can’t buy it there. It is a rat and bug poison, so maybe you could find it at a place you’d buy that (Bricorama? BHV?)

  • November 19, 2007 10:23am

    In our household, everything we buy is unscented. Or as close to unscented as we can get. We have an organic shampoo with real lavender oil, but that’s less irritating than the fake laundry detergent smells. Plus the BF is allergic to fragrance. Do you have Kiehl’s available in France? Is Mustela also heavily fragranced? Ivory?

  • November 19, 2007 10:41am

    Get the 7th Generation stuff when in Fl.. I was shocked too by the horrid smells in cleaning things..But then I never figured out how to use the washer in my apartment-no instructions included. I washed stuff by hand with Marseille soup-they MUST make something for the laundry you would think. They have a shop on rue Vavin – worth looking into.
    One good thing about Paris=
    They haven’t yet put horrid-smelling disenfectant on the Metro like in NYC!

  • November 19, 2007 11:01am

    david> real 100% pure savon de marseille IS unscented. But some brands are added with scents for “fancyness”, and this is not the better to wash clothes or skin actually. but you’re talking about a bottle? so it isn’t real “savon de marseille”, it’s liquid and that changes everything, the product is not the same (especially if the liquid soap is fully transparent).

    I was talking about the squared ones and the petals made from them. the one i use is similar to this one, and it’s totally unscented, no floral or even peach smells :D .

  • Rachel
    November 19, 2007 1:52pm

    What amazes me is how few people, even in the States, are bothered by fragrance. We’ve been fragrance-free for years now, but are often given distrustful looks or told Seventh Generation (one of our favorite products) is akin to washing your clothes in dirt!

    Maybe we need a support group!

    Trader Joe’s also has great, unscented, totally biodegradable detergent for a really good price.


  • sam
    November 19, 2007 2:13pm

    this is particularly hilarious because Fred gets really mad with the smell of “American laundry liquid”. Of course I buy the unscented one, but he confusing the subtle nuances of the green lids and keeps picking up the stinky one by mistake.

    On a better note I am making your sweet potato ice cream for a discerning group that includes food bloggers for Thanksgiving. I hope it will be yummy. Personally I don’t like sweet potatoes but doesn’t ice cream make everything taste good?

  • November 19, 2007 2:57pm

    And I thought it was just me..When I used to go visit my French boyfriend’s family in Bourgogne almost 20 years ago, I couldn’t bear to sleep in their apartment because of the offensive laundry odors. I would spend the night scratching from the smells that the sheets emitted. I begged him to ask her to switch detergents but to no avail.

    Worst thing was, she used to ask us if she could do our laundry!! I did manage to find a brand that wasn’t so bad but I can’t recall what it was. I least you come back to States frequently enough to import your own. Thanks for sharing your stories which remind me of my days in France.

  • good enough cook
    November 19, 2007 3:54pm

    David, American babies don’t have it much better. That “Dreft” stuff that’s specifically marketed for washing baby clothes is really nasty; fortunately, even sleep-deprived new parents can eventually do the math and realize that an unscented brand of regular detergent is probably just as good (if not better) for baby than expensive smelly stuff with lots of pastel colors on the bottle.

  • November 19, 2007 5:37pm

    do you have ECOVER in france? in austria i only managed to find it at the health food shop, but it’s belgian and widely available here. it IS scented, but a mild lavender and something citrussy and it is VERY mild. basically when the clothes are dry, the scent is gone. i can’t stand all the other stuff, and i hate the fact that on the bus, everybody smells the same (well, either ariel or persil) ;-)

  • November 19, 2007 9:17pm

    David, get thee to Naturalia. They carry 7th generation products there (or is it ecover) and it is one of the only places in Paris I have seen it. In any case, your stinky floral detergent problem will be solved.

    Maureen in Oakland

  • November 20, 2007 12:16am

    I remember an I Love Lucy episode where our favorite “hennarinsa” came back from France (I think) on a plane with a giant cheese that she wrapped in a blanket and pretended it was a baby. Perhaps you could do that with an economy sized “Tide Free.”

  • November 20, 2007 2:33am

    Yo, kids. I do know about Ecover—it’s linked in the post…(all that html I had to learn wasn’t for nothing)

    I’m just curious as to how anyone here can stand the heavily-perfumed stuff? Doesn’t it bother anyone? I mean, I couldn’t even sleep in the same apartment with my laundry…

  • mb
    November 20, 2007 7:47am

    I admit I love the smell of clean laundry, soap smell and all, lol! I buy better brands (no generic) and even add lavender softener just because it smells so good although I half the dose. Oh, yeah, and I add bleach tablets which leave a smell too, but at least I know the laundry is very clean. lol I just LOVE all those smells in the freshly made bed or while taking out the laundry, etc. mmmm

  • November 20, 2007 9:45am

    Doesn’t France have people who, you know, care about food? Have they no objection to overpowering perfumes on everything?

  • November 20, 2007 10:00am

    Hi Chocolate Lady: I wouldn’t say France has more perfumed products than anywhere else—I’m saying it’s nearly impossible to find any that aren’t perfumed.

    Just came back from the BHV and looked around. Those noix de lavage were, gulp…18€! They did have petales de savon de Marsailles, but they were made by those malevolent makers of that extra-stinky Le Chat brand detergent and since it was sealed, I couldn’t get a sniff.

    Maureen: And I went to Naturalia (and got the last bag of cornmeal for making cornbread, right before Thanksgiving!), and they only carry Ecover products; I didn’t see any Seventh Generation.

  • Nicole deR
    November 20, 2007 1:31pm

    I can’t believe no one has brought up the other charming Euro-laundry side effect! The joy of having seemingly minimal deodorant residue fused into hard splotches on the underarms of your t-shirts. It is painfully clear which of our family’s t-shirts have done European tours of duty. Of course, it would also be clear with your eyes closed from the “fresh scent”. Ugh.

  • November 21, 2007 12:14am

    Hey, I have this one solved! I go to the Biocoop Marigoule to buy all my household products. If they smell at all, and most of them don’t, it’s usually of lavender or something very mildly pleasant. I’m really allergic to scents, don’t even walk down the soap isle at the Carrefour, and I swear, the good stuff is available here.

  • sam
    November 21, 2007 2:00am

    shall i send you some unperfumed tide?

  • erica
    November 21, 2007 7:10am

    Hey, I have a question? If you hang out laundry to dry don’t you then have to iron for hours? And does that really conserve energy?

    Here in Greece, we also hang our clothes to dry, and no matter how much softner I add, everything comes out bone dry and brittle, so I have to iron everything, including socks, underwear, sheets etc. And even if it did come out softer, I have been told by so many people, that you “must must must ” iron to get rid of the bacteria that might have accumulated drying outside.
    I don’t know, but everyone here is convinced, even my doctor, especially concerning the health of our reproductive organs: underwear has to be ironed, to prevent the cooties!!

  • November 21, 2007 7:30am

    erica: I am so there with you! If someone had told me a few years back that I’d be doing this much ironing, I’d of thought they were nuts! Never thought about how much energy an iron uses. I guess we don’t have to iron, but I think I’d have too many cuts from the wrinkles in my jeans.

    Napkins, dishtowels, t-shirts—yes, I iron them all…except I don’t do socks and undies. But then again, I don’t have cooties (I hope!)

  • m10
    November 27, 2007 1:56pm

    So comforted to see that I’m not alone – I filled my suitcase with 7th generation unscented detergent on my last trip back from the US. You can get good unscented detergents in health food stores in Germany, but even savon de marseille and Ecover can be hard for really scent-sensitive people…

  • Nadine
    January 6, 2008 2:50am

    I absolutely hate anything scented too. I didn’t realize the options were so limited in some countries. I feel so alone in my disgust of the scents from those around me. They think I’m crazy for being SO bothered by the vile stench of artificial baby powderish perfume that lingers throughout the house when they mop with the floor soap. Everyone else praises it as smelling SO fresh and clean! Yuck! Fresh and clean is the smell of the air after a rain storm or of no scent at all. Clean does not have a smell, let alone a chemical one.

    I also can’t stand it when people saturate themselves in perfume or musk. The products I can control and find fragrance free, but how do I prevent my house or car from filling up with these vile scents when they are outgasing off of a relative or guest. How do you tell them to please stop polluting your environment pepe le pu style, and that you can only have fragrance free friends in your house? While I was driving around my in-laws around town, everyone wondered why I had to have my window all the way down even though it was night and slightly chilly out. How do I tell them it’s because I can’t even BREATH and am chocking on their musk filling the air, and if they don’t want me to pass out while driving (not very safe), they better just deal with the breeze.

    Anyways, back to Paris. I’m sure they use so many perfumes there to cover up the smell of cigarette smoke in all their clothes. I don’t remember smelling any heavily perfumed people when I was there but that was likely because I couldn’t smell anything much stronger then le fume. I can’t help wondering if there will be any riots in Paris when the new smoking bans go into effect.

    When we were traveling through France, and the rest of Europe, we carried with us those Laundry Balls. They have no fragrance and are extremely lightweight and small, so perfect for traveling. We use them at home too. They actually do work, and leave the clothes smelling clean with no scent. I also found out that you can use soapnuts to wash laundry and they don’t leave a scent either.

  • Vesper
    November 20, 2008 1:51am

    Not related to scent but to stiff-as-a-board laundry. I found it helpful to get the offending garment and shake it vigorously – or even beat it against sofa (socks especially). This helps when it comes to cotton thingies, especially ones overdried.
    It might look silly, but it works :)

  • SouthernMyst
    November 21, 2008 10:55am

    David, I know this is rather late to the game, but if you haven’t found a better solution than the one you mentioned for your shaving gel, my boyfriend’s face is also super-sensitive, and wanted me to let you know he uses Lush’s Ambrosia shave gel (and it’s the only kind that doesn’t tear his face up). There’s some in France, too, so have a look:

  • Knight'sCastile
    August 23, 2009 5:23pm

    I cannot stand the current range of UK detergents from Procter & Gamble. They all smell as though they’ve had ‘Febreze’ technology transplanted into them. The stench from ‘Daz’ and ‘Ariel’ make me physically wretch. All I want is a subtle smelling detergent that cleans well.

  • Natalie
    November 17, 2009 8:11am

    Well, at least now they have ‘écologique’ detergent which doesn’t make my eyes tear up and my skin break out in itchy bumps. It actually washes out of the clothes too which is a nice change. “Maison Verte” is pretty good, and has very little scent.
    But, seriously, what’s up with the toilet paper? I mean, come on, that has to be scented too does it? And why why why do they still sell toilet paper that comes not in rolls but in impossibly coarse, individual squares? And why do people still use it?! I mean hell, if you aren’t going to put a sink in the same room as the toilet you could at least not dole out the TP one piece at a time.

  • Don
    December 26, 2009 9:10pm

    Interesting. I’ve traveled all over the US over the last 7 years and watched the fragrance problem migrate across the country. In 2004, I remember driving into Ft. Lauderdale and realizing I was driving into a ‘sea of fragrance’. Other metropolitan areas turned out the same. Denver is more than 30% hispanic now, and the level of fragrance in the air just driving down the street is just horrible. Now, I’m in the great northwest and it is horrible here, as well. At first, it was just Glade brand and Febreeze type plug-in air-fresheners emitting fragrance 24/7 out the windows of house. Then, mfg’s startred putting fragrance in laundry detergent and fabric softener, and now it all pours out the dryer vents. Can you imagine thousands and thousands of these going at once? PLUS their clothes stink!!! Once, I smelled a horrible laundry detergent smell, and I looked around and it was someone standing near me!

    When I go into almost ANY store, but particularly GROCERY stores where detergent is sold, I come out with the smell embedded into my clothing and hair! But it’s worse than that. It’s in the food and everything else that you buy at the grocery store. I confirmed that with a researcher who did testing for companies that were trying to keep the fragrances from being absorbed into their products while sitting on grocery story shelves! Fragrances are readily absorbed into and through anything that is carbon based – food (vegetables, meats), plastics, wrappers, bags, textiles, etc. When I had no choice but to shop for my food at grocery stores, I could literally taste the perfume (fragrance) in the meat and vegetables. I tried to feed something to a fox, once, and it refused to eat. It smelled like an empty perfume bottle, and tasted worse – I had to spit it out before trying to unload it on the almost unlucky and too intelligent fox. Now, I shop at a meat store, vegetable produce markets, and whole foods.

    In 2004, the EPA posted a page on their website that stated the plugins caused a % increase in deaths among asthmatics (I don’t recall the %, now). I recently heard NIH studies have shown fragrances cause asthma in children, and – can you believe it – I saw that Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Glade plugins, was sponsoring Asthma Awareness Clinics in LA!!! Wow – talk about hypocrites and the almighty dollar. If you have children, you’d better stay away from these products. The sad thing is that people who are severely allergic to them, or even slightly allergic, have absolutely zero rights to get a neighbor to stop using them, even when it drifts over to someone else’s house.

  • Don
    December 26, 2009 9:12pm

    P.S. I thought it would be easy to find a refuge in Paris or another foreign country, but now I see that it won’t be so easy.

  • William
    January 12, 2011 4:23pm


    I wanted to leave this link in the comment section of the preceding article about the Espresso Granita Affogato Recipe, but the comments were turned off.

    I find it quite amusing.