Laundry scent boosters in high demand but are they worth it?
The latest laundry trend is to add a scent booster to your wash for an extra-fragrant load of washing. But is this trend fab or a fad?
The latest laundry product to hit shelves in Aotearoa are laundry scent boosters. These small, soluble beads are designed to dissolve in the wash and add a burst of fragrance.
What are laundry scent boosters/beads?
About the size of a lentil, these beads are added to your wash alongside detergent and fabric softener. They may also be called in-wash scent boosters or scent beads. They don’t clean your laundry – their only job is to add a perfumed fragrance.
What’s in them?
Well it’s not just fragrance. There are other ingredients to help give them the bead shape and colour, and water softener. The artificial fragrances that are usually in these products are often made up of many chemicals, which could potentially be hazardous. They can also trigger sensitivities, rashes and allergic reactions in some people. The best way to avoid adverse effects of fragranced products is to simply not use them.
The fragrances in these products are very strong; I found the smell overpowering when the bottle was open. It’s also important to note that products such as these can be uncomfortable for those who are sensitive to strong smells.
Counting the cost
A single bottle costs $15, which has between three and seven doses, based on how much you add to the wash (the bottle suggests a half to full cap, depending on how much fragrance you want to add). That adds up to a cost of between $2.16 and $4.89 per wash – ouch! If you add just half a cap scent boosters to two washes a week, that’s more than $220 a year just for fragrance.
Why you shouldn’t use laundry scent boosters
- More chemicals into our waterways
- Scented laundry isn’t necessary
- More potentially dangerous chemicals in your home
- Many detergents already have a strong fragrance
Do laundry beads actually work?
The simple answer is yes, they do add fragrance to your wash, but a better question is, do you really need to add fragrance? They don’t help wash your clothes (they may even add residue to your wash), so why use them?
My experience: I tried out the laundry scent boosters in a wash of out-of-season clothing, hoping to get rid of the slightly musty smell from being in storage. It definitely added fragrance to my clothing, but the smell was so strong it lingered in the washing machine and I had to run two empty hot washes to stop it from smelling like a perfumery. I wouldn’t use scent boosters unless I had washing that smelled particularly awful.
Are they harmful to the environment?
These products contain extra chemicals that just aren’t necessary for washing laundry, and they end up in the waterways. Then there are the environmental effects of manufacturing and shipping the product. The bottles are labelled as recyclable, but again there are environmental costs involved in recycling a product you really don’t need.
What other dangers are there?
The most concerning thing when looking at this product was how easy it was to open the bottle (there’s no childproof cap) and how enticing the small beads would appear to children. They are small and colourful, similar in size and shape to M&Ms or Skittles, and too easy to swallow. Even if a child doesn’t ingest them, they could still be harmed just by playing with this product.
There is a safety warning on the bottle advising to keep out of reach of children, and what to do if ingested or if the beads get in eyes. And the labelling does include a New Zealand emergency number to call (it’s actually the National Poisons Centre, though it doesn’t state that).
Ways to make laundry smell fresh
- Air drying
- Don’t let damp laundry sit
- Make sure laundry is completely dry before putting it away
- Clean your washing machine regularly
- Leave the washing machine door/lid open when not in use
- Make sure you’re using the right amount of detergent (check the label)