How Do You Remove Toxic Fragrance Chemicals from Clothes?

How Do You Remove Toxic Fragrance Chemicals from Clothes?

A long time friend just asked us a really great question and we need your help offering her solutions that really work.  So activate your Non-toxic Ninja superpowers and help us out, will you?

Do you know if there’s anything a person can do to get the toxic fragrance chemicals out of clothing sooner?  If Grandma washes something she brings over for the kids, I end up having to wash it 10 times and still the scent lingers.  What can I use to get rid of the allergy-inducing smell quicker?

We’ve always tried various combinations of vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. But we’d love to know what magic formula have you found to get the job done without having to put the clothes through 10 wash cycles.

Here Are the Helpful Tips We’ve Heard from You

Kathy T. Says:

If the smell still lingers after that many washings and a vinegar rinse, it sounds like Grandma may be using dryer sheets or fabric softener, which are fat/wax-based, and fuse with the fibers of the clothes. She’ll need to strip the oily/waxy residues. I know it isn’t the most wholesome choice, but running the clothes in a hot cycle with 1 tbs (1tsp for HE) of dish soap, followed by a hot cycle with 1/2 cup vinegar, should do the trick. This is the method cloth diapering parents use to remove things like rash cream build-up. Hope it helps!

Betsy of Eco Novice Says:

We have this problem frequently with hand-me-down clothes. I buy a lot of kids clothes in thrift stores as well, and try to avoid the most heavily fragranced ones. But I have two SILs that use the whole arsenal of products on the clothes we get as hand-me-downs. I wash with RLR, which is what cloth diaper users use to strip their diapers of detergent. Then I might wash another time with just hot water until no suds (just like stripping diapers). Finally, I line dry FOREVER. Until I can’t smell or barely smell the fragrance. Some fragrance I never really can remove completely : ( especially synthetics like a fleece jacket, so then I just have to make a judgment call about whether my kids will use it or not. I mention this process in a couple of posts HERE and HERE.

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  • Good question! My mother-in-law uses fabric softener that is so strong that even her trash can and extension cords smell like it! She washed a load of clothes for me almost a year ago and some of them still smell.

    • I believe it, Cindy! My son’s friend accidentally left his sweat pants at our house. I washed them today and put them in my son’s room, not realizing they weren’t his. He picked them up, smelled them, and immediately said, “Oh these are Jack’s.” It’s just crazy how powerful those fragrance chemicals are! ~Alicia

  • Oh, I had a similar experience with a baby sleeping bag I bought on eBay. It *stank* of chemical ‘perfume’. I had to wash it at least half a dozen times and soaked it overnight twice as well, before we could even think about using it.

    • Isn’t is crazy Kirsten? I actually get headaches from people just walking by me sometimes, leaving wafting chemicals in their wake. ~Alicia

      • Deb

        Me, too! My husband just had cancer surgery, and the visiting nurse who came on Monday left a fabric softener smell so strong that we are still airing out the house five days later. I would think they would teach nurses who are going into sick peoples houses not to wear heavy fragrances, including fabric softeners!

        • ProtectrKids

          I agree. There are so many toxic chemicals that they use in anything with a fragrance,except for therapeutic essential oils .Health care professionals should know better, since there is so many potential adverse health effects from fragrance products but they don’t . I am a RN and I had to leave my job with a county health department after developing multiple chemical sensitivities due to my supervisor’s and secretary’s perfume use and all the perfumed products she brought in for everyone at work. After that I became very sensitive to even small amounts of synthetic fragrance.

  • JBA

    Would this work with that “new denim” smell? That drives me crazy… dark denim seems to always have this awful smell.

    • Another great question, JBA! The nasty smell coming off daughter’s black jeans is enough to kill my sense of smell, so I’ll be trying Kathy’s suggestion on them for sure. ~Alicia

  • Betsy (Eco-novice)

    We have this problem frequently with hand-me-down clothes. I buy a lot of kids clothes in thrift stores as well, and try to avoid the most heavily fragranced ones. But I have two SILs that use the whole arsenal of products on the clothes we get as hand-me-downs. I wash with RLR, which is what cloth diaper users use to strip their diapers of detergent. Then I might wash another time with just hot water until no suds (just like stripping diapers). Finally, I line dry FOREVER. Until I can’t smell or barely smell the fragrance. Some fragrance I never really can remove completely : ( Esp. synthetics like a fleece jacket, so then I just have to make a judgment call about whether my kids will use it or not. I mention this process in a couple of posts:

    The RLR plus the line drying really helps a ton.

    • Thanks SO much for your magic recipe Betsy! I’m adding it to our list of solutions now. ~Alicia

      • Regina Ryerson

        Thanks, Betsy! I’ll try your process sometimes. But unless there’s full public disclosure of ingredients ( I can’t find any for RLR), we don’t know if we’re substituting one set of chemicals for another. Fragrance can be any of hundreds of chemicals. And just because we can’t smell fragrance, doesn’t mean fragrance chemicals aren’t there.

  • I bought an antique couch that I didn’t realize that smelled of perfume. No matter what I did to clean it the smell never came out. I had to re-upholster. Same thing happened with a bolt of fabric I bought at a yard sale. I couldn’t get the smell out no matter what I did. I even tried using an ozonator. In the end, I had to give the fabric away.

    • That is UNREAL Anna! These outrageous fragrance chemicals just shouldn’t be allowed. ~Alicia

      • I get sick being around people who have too much perfume on.

  • Organic Baby University

    I will soak in vinegar and baking soda for 24 hours. Then wash in hot water with vinegar several times. Leaving outside to dry helps too! Another option is real old fashioned lye soap. Do one wash with that too!

  • rachel sarnoff

    Amazing how those toxic chemical fragrances last, especially when you stop using them and are desensitized! After washing, I hang them to dry in the sun, that seems to help.

  • Belinda

    Thanks for all of these ideas, this is especially needed since I just had to do a load at the laundromat, I used the dryer and when I took my clothes out I realized my clothes smelled like dryer sheets! I’ve rewashed them now twice and they still smell. Horrible, horrible stuff. There oughta be a law!

  • Thank you for asking this question! All of the comments have been great! Toxic chemicals and fragrances on our clothing and other products are a big concern. I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, so these are things I have to constantly avoid, or else I get symptoms flaring up. Glad to see you all realize how toxic these things are! The more people who start to realize it, the more pressure there would on manufactures to begin making changes to their ingredients. Maybe one of these days these harmful chemicals will be outlawed.

    • Oh boy, you really suffer from those darn fragrance chemicals hoisted on you by unsuspecting people then, huh? We do need to just keep talking about it and pushing for change. Go moms! ~Alicia

    • Deb

      I, too, suffer from MCS. Right now, it is 3 AM. I have been up all night, trying to air out my bedroom, as my laundry room is located in the half bath by my bed. I used tide pods today for the first time, trying to get rid of the smell of the all free and clear. Neither of those products was free or clear! How can I rid my washing machine of the smell? There are no clothes in it and it reeks of the tide. Now my nose and throat are burning, and I cannot sleep!

      • Sorry to hear this. I totally understand. Tide is one of the worst offenders! I recommend looking at the Environmental Working Groups database when shopping for cleaners. They grade products. Look for products with an “A”. I’m not sure what will take the smell away. Maybe try wiping the inside of your washer down (a few times) with vinegar.

        • Based on what another commenter said above about castile soap, try Dr. Bronner’s SalSuds soap. I wish I had some now (I don’t have any right now), but I’m going to try their Almond Oil soap – maybe it will work.

  • Belinda

    Well I feel silly that it took me this long to think of this, but I just put the very smelly pants that I washed 4 times (various methods, vinegar, baking soda, hadn’t yet tried Dawn – I don’t like that smell either – or RLR) in a hot water and castile soap only soak. Washed them out, rinsed them, hung them to dry and the smell seems to be gone. I am going to try this with more smelly Grandma washed clothes and hope my luck continues, thank goodness for castile!

    • Wow, that’s fantastic news Belinda! Who knew something as simple as castile soap could do the trick? ~Alicia

    • Signify

      The chemicals are neurotoxic. A few whiffs and you can no longer smell the chemicals.

    • Renee

      Now my washer smells like the clothes that I tried to get the smell out of.

  • Danika @ Your Organic Life

    I had someone ask me this on Twitter a while back. It seems to be a common problem, and one we are becoming more aware of as we remove toxic chemicals from our lives that desensitize our noses. Most of the time 1 or two washes with vinegar and washing soda will work in the hottest water the clothes can take. However, if that doesn’t work, the comment from Kathy above is likely correct, it’s due to fabric softeners & dryer sheets. However, you may be able to remove the coating by soaking in vinegar or boiling them (just as you do to strip cloth diapers) rather than using Dawn.

    • So true Danika, and thanks for the tips! ~Alicia

    • Signify

      The chemicals cannot be removed.

      • Double

        Even if i can’t smell it, if my pants encounter fabric softener, I get a burning sensation around my waistline along with uncontrolled dizziness—indicators that it’s still in the fabric. I’ve let them soak overnight in a hot 5-gallon water bucket with a cup of vinegar, and have managed to get it out.

        • Signify

          I doubt, based on what I have read regarding the structure of the new chemicals formed when heated, that the chemicals are removed. It’s a matter of refusing to use these products or purchase used clothing on which they’ve been used. People who use spray deodorizers on furniture, too, if experiencing odd symptoms, may well wish to stop using those. I use vinegar for many things, and have tried the soaking method. It doesn’t work.

          • Double

            With thicker materials you kinda have to manhandle them inside the vinegar. You know, stretch them, squeeze them, thrust them up and down like a plunger (create some vacuum suction), whatever you have to do to open up the various pores in the fabric.

            Also, if your washing machine is unclean due to built-up soap residues and mold, you may be confusing one problem with another entirely.

          • Signify

            Right – but not confusing one problem with another. The dryer sheets will also foul your dryer heater core.

          • Double

            I have never read any concerns over the heating element. If anything, the chemicals should burn off with use.

          • Signify

            They don’t. Anyway, the idea is not to use these products, nor have to be subjected to their use.

          • Double

            Well I’m not bothered by the dryer after removing the softener from the clothes in the bucket of vinegar. Do you by chance use vinegar in your rinse cycles?

          • 8Pi

            I do not use vinegar in rinse cycles. I use inexpensive, allegedly fragrance free liquid detergent. I add baking soda to the wash. That’s it.

          • 8Pi

            They don’t. I am sorry I cannot provide the specific reference to machine damage.

  • Dymtro Khrapko

    Some specialised laundromats have pressurised Ozone chambers which gas all mal-odours. DO NOT take garments with elastics or spandex the Ozone will oxidise the rubber.

    Wash them a few times at home, air dry, then take a few in, one garment at time would be expensive. Also, specify that the garment not be dry cleaned afterwards many laundromats do it automatically, and it’s often included in the price.

  • Hi Ladies! I am very comforted to know that I’m not the only one that believes fragranced laundry products and perfumes should be banned from stores. It’s truly toxic and makes life tough for those of us who suffer from asthma/allergies. What can we do to draw attention to this national problem? Maybe the major networks would run a campaign? It feels like thousands of people would love to see it removed from our daily lives, yet the elephant continues to sit in the room. It would seem that a process to educate the public on a major scale is called for? Thank you guys for being here and shining a light on the issue 🙂

    • We’re definitely right there with you on that Marianne! We love what Women’s Voices for the Earth is doing to bring attention the problem of toxic fragrance chemicals. Be sure to check out some of the campaigns they have going on with Glade and other mainstream companies.

    • Rodella

      please do write every time. I get grief from the major manufacturers like Proctor and Gamble because one of their reps literally said that if people are buying the fragrances they are going to keep selling them. However there is the possibility if they knew the fragrances were a problem they could either “re-tool” and come up with fragrances that don’t make people ill (in the long ago past there were such things) instead of the “unstoppable” stuff made today and the way that happens is write emails or call any and every company or store when you find yourself feeling ill in the store or from their products. The American Lung Association is behind you on the asthma issue yet when I bring that up to my local “activists” even the Environmental Health Coalition that fragrances should not be used in public schools due to the incidence of asthma they shrug their perfumed shoulders and keep wanting to rant about industry…I write to somebody every day. A big one is health care, we ought not to be exposed to fragrances at Doctors offices or hospitals and emplyees and other patients should be asked to refrain from wearing them. Carbon and other odor neutralizers can take care of bodily fluid smells so their no reason to have to wear perfume. I went to a ob/gyn office that reeked of perfume, apparently they never heard of morning sickness! We pay for our health care, we are legally required to purchase health care plans so we ought to have access!

      • Renee

        My dermatologist leaves a recorded reminder for appointments, requiring that patients wear no fragrances or perfumes. It doesn’t mean people will think about their laundry detergent, hand cream, ect., but it’s a start. I walked into a Dr. office where they have scented candles burning, told them I would not stay, nor would I pay their fee, and sent them information sp they know what they are doing to their patients.

  • Dayna Colvin

    Ok here’s one for you, you buy a used appliance like a pc/tv monitor, plug it in and it starts to outgass a fragrance, hard to believe but this happens all the time when we buy used appliances like from Goodwill, we figure the previous owners sprayed themselves near the appliance and it somehow entered through the vents, since it pours of them, the latest smells like euphoria, get a perfume jag from this one and your brain takes to the hills, that’s how they used to say it back in the 50’s. Had to take it out of the house and put in the garage, any ideas how to get fragrance out of an appliance, clothes is hard enough, sheesh!

    • Wow Dayna, that IS a good one! I’ve never experienced that before, but surely some of our friends have. We’ll ask everybody in a new post here soon, so keep you eyes (and nose!) on the blog, okay? ~Alicia

    • Rodella

      I find that rubbing alcohol to clean parts helps, though I started to buy new stuff not knowing whether bed bugs or something worse was coming along for the ride with used stuff. The new stuff off gases for awhile but I keep bags of zeolite around, always have a window open no matter what the temp and use hepa filters with carbon pre filters. I just wrote to the Goodwill and I recommend you do and explain your problem. They can’t remedy what people bring in but the more they hear from persons who can’t work for them or buy their stuff due to fragrance sensitivities the more likely they will start asking people to clean stuff with fragrance free before they donate it…after all they are supposedly helping certain parts of the disabled community and chemical sensitivity is now being recognized particularly for persons who are getting migraines or asthma from the fragrances.

    • Signify

      You have to get rid of them. This is a permanent odor and toxic.

    • Klancee Call

      IT’s the thrift stores that put that smell in. I found it inside a coffee cup I bought once from Salvation Army, Why spray a coffee cup? duh how stupid. Had to get rid of it.

  • Donna

    Forgot that my Ocuvite 50 pill was left in my flannel jacket pocket – I washed & dryed it. It had melted in the pocket and my husband got all of the hard crusted residue that was left behind out BUT NOW HAS LEFT A NASTY SMELL BEHIND!!!! Have washed it several times. This is my favorite keep warm jacket – the smell is horrific!!! Is there anything I can use other than regular detergent to try & get this TOXIC SMELL OUT!!! Thanking you in advance !!! Needing your help!!

    • Signify

      The smell is not “toxic.” People here are dealing with serious chemical toxicity. Heh. Contact the Ocuvite 50 manufacturer and demand they clean the jacket.

      • Renee

        I just looked them up, fish oil and sardines, very smelly, but not toxic.

    • Renee

      If it is something that you are ingesting, it shouldn’t be toxic like the synthetic fragrances that contain phaylates and hundreds of other toxins. If it is, indeed toxic, you should not ingest them.

  • E.

    Dawn dish soap CONTAINS toxic fragrance chemicals. So you are just adding more perfume to your clothes, this is not good advice.

  • Laura Yoerger

    Do these washing tricks work to rid our clothing of the other toxic chemicals in our clothing?

    I’ve just been reading about how synthetic fibers, like polyester, acrylic, rayon, nylon, etc…and the chemicals used to make even natural fiber clothing, like 100% cotton, are toxic, mess up our endocrine system, and cause disease and cancer.

    We are a single income family with 5 our 9 children still at home. We can’t possibly afford to ravamp all of our wardrobes to completely organic clothing. I’ve read that there have been studies showing that at least some of the pesticides can be removed via washing but what I read didn’t explain how this was accomplished. I would appreciate any help you could give me in learning how to neutralize as much of the chemical backlash to my family as possible.

    ~ Laura

    • Signify

      The best you can do is prohibit all clothing that has been exposed to scented dryer sheets.

  • Thank you for the information. Our neighbor found that her dog had stolen our child’s stuffed animal, so she washed it for us. Now, I’m afraid I’ll never get that smell out of his favorite bunny. I’m going to try every one of these ideas until something works.

    • Did anything ever work? Why oh why do people use these terrible products?

      • Well, sort of. I washed the little guy about 8-10 times in the washing machine with combinations of my regular unscented 7th generation detergent and sometimes dr bronners liquid soap. I did soak it in vinegar as well, but I did not find that to be helpful. I am positive she used a liquid fabric softener. It took a long time of him saying,this smells like C’s mon” before he stopped noticing the smell. Even now, if I wash it again, and the kids grunge gets washed off, you can faintly smell it. It just took lots and lots of water and soap.

        • I got rid of most of the smell by running through the wash cycles 3x with a soak in between (without letting it go to rinse) with 2 cups of vinegar, 3/4s of a pound of baking soda, 2 squirts of organic dish soap (to cut the oil they use that makes that gunk stick to the fabric), the normal amount of Seventh Generation laundry soap, and a big squirt of Dr Bronner’s almond oil castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds soap would have been better, but I was out).

          That actually worked pretty well – only a little residual smell. Then I ordered some RLR laundry treatment and that worked best off all. Still some residual smell, but tolerable – so I ordered more of it. I got mine on eBay

          • Double

            I wouldn’t use the vinegar with your clothes in the washer at all, you might be inadvertently putting the washer’s soap scum back into your clothes. If your clothes need vinegar, do it outside the washer in a bucket.

        • Signify

          I’m afraid it is toxic. Buy another bunny.

  • happyhedonist

    Drat. Like everyone else I was hoping for some magic chemistry trick. Ha ha ha!

    I bought a steel cup with a silicone-and-plastic lid, new, at a store that stocked them near the candles, though I didn’t realize until I got it home that the lid would always smell like the candles, gak. Goodbye, lid. I have tried everything I can think of and nothing will get that stink out.

    The same problem comes up all the time with secondhand clothes. If it didn’t save so much money, I would give up on thrift shops. I’ve also washed the stinky laundry soap clothes in everything I can think of many many times, and the only thing that works reliably on every fabric is to hang it outside for. ever. Sun is great if you have it, but it’ll work either way. It just takes a long time. I feel sorry for the outdoors, that it has to absorb the stink. :./

    I did notice a difference when I got a spin dryer to extract more of the water from the clothes than the washing machine does, especially synthetics like fleece that take the longest to de-stink. I hang them outside for a few days first, to spare the washing machine. Then a wash with unfragranced detergent, run it through the spin dryer, and then hang it outside until I can’t smell it anymore. There have been a few synthetics that I can’t ever get the stink out, and those I just had to throw away.

  • I came here looking for a solution to removing detergent or fabric softener smells in some shirts I bought on eBay. I washed them in organic, scent-free laundry soap in hot water; then soaked them in that soap; then washed them again and they don’t reek any less now than they did AND now the 2 pairs of new jeans I washed with them because they had a little laundry smell now reek as bad as the shirts. Whatever you do, don’t wash them with anything else until you manage to get the stink out.

    • Renee

      I’m working on 4 loads of clothes that my husband washed while he was on the road. I’ve soaked them with OdorZout, put them in bags tied up with a Bad Air Sponge, then washed with my fragrance free detergent, baking soda, and Borax; they still smell. Now I covered them with alcohol, I figured it would break down the binders in the scent; those detergent smells are designed to last through multiple washings. It would have been much easier for me had he brought home dirty clothes. I could have washed them once.

      • The only thing I found that REALLY worked is RLR Laundry Treatment many people use to get the ammonia smell out of diapers. I bought mine on eBay.

        • Renee

          Is the RLR fragrance free, Gail?

          • Yes. It took out the detergent smell that was so strong I put the clothes in another room. I couldn’t stand to be around them. One wash in RLR took 95% of the smell out. If any lingered, I used RLR one more time and that resolved the issue.

            And I had already soaked them in vinegar, dish detergent, baking soda, Dr. Bronners – everything I could think of trying to get that horrendous smell out. Now I keep RLR over the washer. I was able to buy it in varying quantities on eBay for a good price.

        • Klancee Call

          I can’t use laundry mats at all because my clothes then make me sick.

          • I suspect you mean dryer sheets? I never use those or any non-organic laundry product.

          • Klancee Call

            No I mean laundromats, where you take your cloths to wash them. I can’t use any kind of dryer sheet or softener.

    • Klancee Call

      You have just desensitize yourself to the smell after a few hours or days you will smell it again. The smell never comes out. People give me clothes that they say has never been in a thrift store, YeA bet me, I can smell it, My sister has had to change clothes because she had something on that she bought in a thrift store and said she had washed it so many times that it didn’t smell, but well it did. WE kinda had a few words over it, but if it makes me sick I don’t want to be around it. What are all your symptoms? I get headaches muscle, tendons ligaments ache feel like the flu, I get rashes and my throat closes up with a rash. I get Ice pick headaches. It feels like someone is driving an icepick into my head. I get so exhausted that I cant move because my muscles are so deprived of fresh air. I can’t use anything on my skin because it seeps into my body and cause me to be so sore I can’t move. I hate that my world is poisoning me and I can’t do anything about it. I can’t have people over and I have to be careful where I go.

      • I don’t get symptoms because I can’t stand the smell so I put them in another room. The RLR Laundry Treatment (a powder that people use to get the ammonia smell out of diapers) worked for me. But there are some clothes where the smell is actually part of the fabric. There is no cure for that.

        Part of the reason I have no symptoms is because I have artificially low exposure. By choice I live in an old building where everything is old. No new furniture or clothing. Nothing that isn’t organic from the food I eat to shampoo, Dr Bronner soap, laundry soap, etc.

        Everything new off-gasses for a while. Many people who think they have mold issues end up getting sicker because thy replace everything with newer products that increase their exposure.

        There are some things you can do. Live in remote areas with less towers and wi-fi. Get rid of wireless everything, especially DECT phones and wi-fi. Use wired computers and wired telephones. Don’t use air fresheners of any kind. Don’t use dryer sheets. Only use organic everything.

        Even that won’t solve everything. For that we would probably have to live underground.

        • Klancee Call

          you are so lucky if moving it into a different room works for you, I have to remove all things from my house it permeates the whole air space after a while. I have noticed that the shopping bags I am getting are now being treated with a chemical that burns my throat and my skin, I notice it in my cheeks they get read and very tender. I try not to bring anything into my house but with the fact that the stores are now changing things they buy then it now comes into my home without my knowing it. The smell that is part of the fabric is the formaldehyde that they are treating material with from overseas. I am now trying to keep my buying to all USA made things. Hoping this will help. Thanks for the suggestion of RLR I don’t know what that is but will look for it in the laundry detergent isle.

      • No, it came out. I would never expose myself to clothes if I could not remove the smell. Seriously, try the RLR Laundry Treatment. Nothing else I tried worked – and I tried a LOT of things. But this did work.

  • Signify

    The chemicals remain in the fabric, on skin, and are absorbed by the body. The only thing to do is throw out the clothing.

    • Renee

      My husband did laundry while he was at a relatives, I’m trying to get the fragrance out, and just told him I might have to throw the clothes away. Seriously, I have them in bags outside with a Bad Air Sponge in them.

  • Branch Basics came across our radar several months ago, and we tried to contact them with a couple questions, but we didn’t get a response. The information on their website does look promising though. ~Laura

  • We just received an update about Branch Basics today, Ashley, and it’s not good news. Unfortunately, their products are neither natural or plant-based. Here’s an excerpt from an email we received from Dr. Mitchell, Pesticide Sheriff:

    “Based upon information and belief, from at least mid 2013 to today, Marilee, Allison, Kelly, and Chip sells “Branch Basics” online making a litany of intentional false fraudulent misrepresentations. What was discovered is that:
    -Branch Basics is not a soap, in fact there is no soap of any kind in it;
    -Branch Basics is neither organic nor natural (plant-based is a ruse);
    -There are no enzymes in Branch Basics;
    -There are no actual organic substances in Branch Basics;
    -Branch Basics is a 100% synthetic detergent and oil spill cleanup agent containing:
    · Cocamidopropyl betaine (synthetic surfactant)
    · Disodium EDTA (chelating agent),
    · Alkyl ether C12-15 Pareth-12 (synthetic surfactant / emulsifier),
    · Coco-glucoside (synthetic surfactant / foaming agent / cleanser),
    · Petroleum product Propylene glycol laurate (emollient / surfactant)
    · Petroleum product Propanediol 1,2 (synthetic surfactant / emulsifier / chelating agent).”

    And it goes on…It appears that Branch Basics has suspended sales on their website as well since all of their products are listed as out of stock at this time. ~Laura

  • Diane Keenan

    I’m so glad I found all of you. My own grown children and my siblings families are all sensitive in varying degrees, if not just disgusted at the thirst to pollute everything with scents. I know which days all of my neighbors do laundry just by walking my dog. My favorite thrift store has a machine that sprays scent at intervals. The longer the clothes are there the more they smell. I have them unplug it whenever I shop, which is once a month after my haircut. If it’s sprayed recently, I don’t even shop. I bought a trash can two years ago for a project and use it for recycling, now. It reeked but I had used it enough before I discovered it was responsible for stinking my garage up. I contacted the manufacturer about it. It is made from recycled laundry detergent bottles! People seem oblivious to the situation and now I read why. someone I care deeply about lived in an apartment where the laundry was in the kitchen and the boyfriend smoked. The smells bonded together and found its way into the food. Her nose was deadened to it then and baked goods on the holidays were inedible. Thankfully, all things are changed for her and her ability to smell these things has returned and she has joined our population and is even more fierce than I about matters. Now, how do we convince the masses that they have been polluted into ignorance and insensitivity of chemical odors and the needs of those who aren’t? Meanwhile, you can now buy extra scent to augment your laundry scent so that you reek every time you move for months!

    • Signify

      It isn’t a special sensitivity. These laundry products are toxins. As to spreading the word, this is a multi-billion dollar industry. Government agencies need to ban their use, but it will take quite a fight to get that done. Additional studies other than the one always referenced need to prove the problems, even as the chemicals are known, the effects are known and proven in Material Safety Data Sheets. Word of mouth is about the best option now. But local ordinances can be fought for.

  • Elissa joy

    I am so grateful to hear you all discussing this topic of synthetic fragrance which has been an issue for so long for me ,, and often I feel like I am the only one dealing with it to the degree I am. ( We can’t have people over to visit, because they ‘perfume up ‘ the house and then it is hard to live here!

    I just came back from the second hand store ( which I rarely go to anymore because they all smell awful with perfumes) and purchased some items I thought were ok. When I got home, only one or two were ok. So I have them outside in the sunshine to air out today and will see which are salvageable. ( which may be zero, and it was 5.00 bag day sale so not a huge loss) . I am leaving them out there to see which ones to even bother washing! Laundry detergent/fabric softners are impossible to take out. ( I have left a denim skirt outside on the line for a YEAR and it still smelled.. though it had faded colour. )
    However, I now smell like those icky perfumes just by trying stuff on.. so off I go to the shower.

    The problem is not only in second hand stores, also first hand stores, with the scents people wear walking by, or the bags, or the staff, it is risky in all cases. Plus you have the sizing that is in the fabric and the chemicals that they put on the clothes when they go across the ocean so they don’t get bugs in them. ARRGGG.. What do we do? How can I get any clothes ???

    Please list where you shop for clothes.

    I am down to one pair of pants and one t shirt that is not worn out. It is really taking it’s toll.. 🙁

    • Signify

      The toxic chemicals in scented laundry products are such neurotoxins that I bought three items this week that I thought were clear of them, but it was only when I got them home that I could smell them. This is not due to chemical sensitivity. I have to throw out the items. I won’t pass them on to anyone. They will need to be burnt as part of the trash process, releasing, no doubt, those chemicals into the atmosphere. Wishing that the clothing hadn’t been infiltrated with this stuff does not make it so. I know better.

    • Connie

      Please check out my post (right above yours) for helpful information on how to rid your clothing of all the nasty synthetic fragrances and chemicals.

    • Klancee Call

      I have the same problems as you have. I have had it for at lest 20 years and after my first noticing it it has progressively gotten worse of the years. I used to shop in the thrift stores but it has been over 6 years now because they started spraying cloths with something that lingers forever, I have never found anything that gets the smell out. Dryer sheets detergent smells perfumes everything, I give so much that I buy away. This last week I found that the toilet paper I have used forever now is being packaged in a plastic wrap that chemically poisonous. I am going to try the EnviroKlenz that the lady above mentioned and see if it works. I may have to go buy something because I don’t have anything in the house but I want to see if it works like she says. That would be a miracle. I only hope that it isn’t going to make things worse, I have found that, I bought a product last year that I was told would take out all scents and it was worse than anything I had ever tried, I had to throw away one of my chairs because it never helped and never came out of the fabric on the chair. good luck I am reading all I can about this problem and hoping for some kind of answer.

  • Connie

    For those struggling to remove the nasty laundry product synthetic fragrances from their clothes, I can offer a solution. My exhaustive search for the one product that would do the job has finally ended. The products I found will remove most laundry detergent fragrances 100%. I have MCS myself and needed a solution to a growing problem. I did not want to have to throw away my clothes and I did not want to buy new ones since new ones now have many obnoxious difficult to remove chemical odors as well.

    The product is called EnviroKlenz Laundry Enhancer. The company also has several other products for removing difficult odors. You won’t need anything else.

    • Klancee Call

      I will try this thanks I sure hope it works. But are you noticing that they are now using a chemically treated plastic to wrap products in? I bought Angelsoft toilet paper and had to give it away because the smell in the wrap seeped into the rolls. Yesterday I bought Brew Rite coffee filters and they were wrapped in a plastic that had the scent in it so had to throw them away. Now it is not just the Dollar stores that have that freakish scent but other products also. MY world just keeps getting smaller and smaller.

  • Pepeboy1

    I buy most of my clothes at the cancer center and they wreak of perfume and dryer sheets. It takes about 30 washes with vinegar and 7th generation and air drying before I can wear them without getting a grand headache and weakness in muscles. Due to illness, I keep losing weight rapidly.

    I spent a lot of money on alterations and then gave up and I have no choice but to buy 2nd hand clothing. I think it is sad that Discovery cancer outlets use toxic chemicals and the workers in the store also are drenched in perfume and the whole thing makes me very sick.

    • Klancee Call

      Are you sure you don’t have MCS it sounds like you might have a slight case of it, no matter good luck finding a solution for washing your clothes and let us know if the EnviroKlenz actually works.With the formaldehyde that is being added to all our new cloths and other chemicals I am always looking for answers.

  • Ecostuff

    So glad to know I’m not alone! I feel so neurotic every time I complain about this type of thing. I don’t have MCS but the smell of anything synthetic is very nauseating to me and gives me headaches.

    My in-laws just left after visiting for a few days and now my sheets (and my entire house) reek of their laundry detergent or fabric softener or whatever laundry product they use that smells (to me…it’s smells like rotting meat sprayed with Febreze!). But I also frequent thrift stores and that stuff is equally overpowering — and too much for vinegar, baking soda and a week in the sun. I’m curious to try the EnviroKlenz, especially since we’ll be visiting them for the holidays and everything we take will smell when we leave!

    • Connie

      I have a great deal of sympathy for you, Ecostuff. The same thing happened to me. My nephew and his kids, whom I had not seen in several years, came to our then scent-free home for a two day visit. The minute they came through the front door I knew the sanctity of my home was about to change. Within seconds I was overwhelmed with the laundry fragrances that emanated from these individuals. All of my MCS symptoms began…the worst being chronic nausea that lasted the entire visit. After they were gone I was left with a house that no longer felt like mine nor was my safe place anymore. Everything smelled of strong laundry product scents, especially the sheets and towels, and every chair they sat in which were mostly cloth covered stuffed chairs. At that time I had no idea how long these fragrances could last nor did I fully understand how difficult it was going to be to get rid of them.

      It has been a little more than a year now and I am still cleaning up that fragrance they left for me. I am so happy to have found the EnviroKlenz products, in this case, the Everyday Odor Eliminator. I used it to clean my stuffed furniture and carpet. I used it to eliminate the odor on washable surfaces throughout my house. It is amazing how the new stronger fragrances can spread and permeate everything! And, they last a very long time!

      I have discovered that these fragrances can permeate most plastics. That is why you can smell them so strongly in the laundry products isle in the grocery store. The fragrance molecules can pass through those soft plastic containers they are sold in and pass into the air where they are picked up by the air distrubution system in the store and dispersed throughout the store and land on the food items nearby and often on food far away at the other end of the store. I spend a good hour putting away my groceries now since I have to move many items to my own containers to avoid fragrancing my refrigerator and I have to air out produce in the basement for a while before I can use it. Apples that are covered in fragrance molecules really do not taste like apples should taste!

      Tyvek plastic seems to be the best at holding back the fragrance, so I use it to cover the car seats and I make plastic bags with it to put in the suitcase to put fragrance tainted clothes into I have worn so the entire inside of the suitcase does not become forever fragranced with laundry product scents.

      I am so grateful to have found the EnviroKlenz products. Life has gotten easier for me since I now know I can rid my clothes of those nasty scents! I hear you Ecostuff…”smells like rotting meat sprayed with Febreze!”

      • brjarrard

        Thank you, Connie! You just won the dubious honor of greatest superpower in olfactory and taste categories. I feel your pain. Thank you for the Tyvek plastic and EnviroKlenze recommendations! What do you use for non-washable surfaces? We cannot get the chemical smell out of our new luggage (sitting in garage with retail tags on) and my daughter just let her college roommate borrow MY suitcase that was off-gassed. That young lady is not fragrance-free! I have zero confidence I will ever have the use of that case again. I can no longer travel in my husband’s vehicle that is 2 years old-still smells like leather tanning chemicals. If you can help please email me at

  • Hillary, Sorry to hear of the health concerns you’re having:( It’s great to know your not alone

  • Connie

    Sue, the EnviroKlenz product is designed to be used in the washing machine, top-loading or front-loading or you can use it to hand wash items in a utility sink. On the back of the bottle it suggests starting with 1/4 cup of the product for a small load and 1/2 cup for a medium to larger load. You want to have enough of the product in the water to contact all the clothes in the washer during agitation. It may take a few trials to establish how much you will need to use to accomplish the task. So, if the amount you try the first time does not completely remove the scent, do not despair. There probably was not enough of the product to reach all the clothing fibers. Wash the load again using more of the product. If you started with 1/4 cup, then use 1/2 cup and see if your load comes out scent free. When you get the right amount of the product on board then your load should come out scent-free.

    Use warm water and use a scent-free detergent or one of the environmentally safe detergents that has no scent along with the EnviroKlenz. The EnviroKlenz will work better with the detergent in the mix and will also rinse out more easily if the detergent is present. Be sure to always shake the bottle vigorously with each use to keep the ingredient particles suspended. The back of the bottle will tell you when to add the EnviroKlenz during filling of the machine.

    I personally like to hand wash my scented clothes, since I don’t have very many at any one time. I will typically use about 1/2 cup of EnviroKlenz to about 5 gallons of warm water in my utility sink along with a small amount of unscented detergent. If the items are only lightly scented I may only need 1/4 cup. (Using more of the product than needed will result in extra rinses to remove it.) I only wash a few items at a time and hand agitate them for 5 to 10 minutes. I rinse a couple times and then check each item for any remaining scent. If needed I repeat the process to eliminate all the scent. Synthetic items like polyester, nylon, and rayon may take more of the product and longer agitation to fully remove the scent. It seems cotton items loose their scent more easily.

    The EnviroKlenz does work. It may take some time to learn how much to use. But, ultimately, the scent will be gone. Please do not hesitate to ask for help if you are having any problems using this product.

  • Lynn True

    Eddie, have you been checked for mineral imbalance? One of the main symptoms of low minerals is body, especially foot odor. I recommend that you find a functional medicine chiropractor / Applied Kinesiology practitioner to discern what you need to change or add to your diet. I know of quite a few people who have been able to change their body chemistry and get rid of the embarrassing odors.

  • brjarrard

    Jeanne, I am SO SORRY. I am a passenger in the same boat and have tried the silicone nasal filters, the 3M voc masks (mine arrived with awful odor and I actually returned them to Amazon). Thanks for the recommendation for “I Can Breath” masks. I have experienced some benefit from enzyme supplements and take Allerase from Enzymatica. Hope you are investigating food sensitivities and gut permeability.

  • brjarrard

    I wanna join your meet up group! It is a balm to my soul and sometimes my olfactory to find tips for coping. I intend to lobby in Nashville for fragrance free public restrooms, but need to achieve some healing before I can rally. Thank you for the soaking tip. I suspect that would be harmful to the lycra in several garments that have been outside since Christmas, but there are other fabrics that did not pass my screening after the vinegar and washing soda as additives cycle. Are you using Seventh Generation free and clear dish liquid in your washer? I’m not online very often, but would welcome a reply. Brenda

  • Suzanne Craig

    Hi – I’m really glad I found this Forum. I had a sinus infection years ago from a bad tooth extraction and since then, my sense of smell has been severely heightened. I’ve done the detox / chelation and have topped up my minerals for years (which I highly recommend doing both to everyone – esp if you’re planning a pregnancy).

    I buy used clothes for my baby online / at secondhand shops and can’t stand the detergent fragrance that comes with some of them. I’ll definitely try EnviroKlenz Laundry Enhancer as suggested.

    For my two scents, I use soapnuts which are a natural product (no detergent), renewalable and recyclable. And best of all, have no scent and don’t pollute the environment !! Yes, they do work. We even use them to wash cloth nappies and they come out great (no pre-soak needs!). And the bag lasts years. We do a load of laundry everyday and I haven’t topped up our supply for over a year now.

  • brjarrard

    Eddie, hope you have made progress since your post. Minerals check is great starting point. I have periodically experienced whole body odor that was unmanageable. Especially rank when going through detox or after eating “culprit” foods that were sources of new toxins. Gut dysfunction (sorry, that is not an easy fix) is very likely a root cause, especially if you experience food and/or chemical sensitivities. Isn’t that what led us to this article? If so, try muscle testing products and foods (the lean test is easy to learn-done as I go through the grocery) and consider IgG (delayed response) and/or ALCAT allergy testing.

    Right away try adding increasing amounts of magnesium (until stools are loose, then back down). Most oral forms are poorly assimilated, so I include magnesium oil topically. Eliminate antiperspirants (try Dr. Mist deodorant, water-based w/zero fragrance, it can be misted onto ANY body part). Green Tidings deodorant worked underarm for almost a year, but product is heavy). Don’t despair when a product works for a period then fails you. It happens because YOU changed.

    In past year a suspected fungal overgrowth was likely culprit of whole body odor now managed w/ a specific probiotic, lactobacillus plantarum in addition to spectrum probiotics and myriad supplements AND dietary restrictions. Later, a secondary yeast “infection” was diagnosed by GYN. RX Nystatin cream eliminated symptoms and odor (that seemed to not wash away).

    I understand the implications of “buy new clothes all 3 times,” but want to remind others that “clean” laundry can hold organic odor which body heat and new perspiration will activate. (Detergents and softeners build up in clothes and washer and make it difficult to remove odors and fragrances.) For organic odors try a test spray of hydrogen peroxide (and listen for fizzing.) You may spray directly onto target areas of MOST colors and synthetics immediately before washing and/or add up to 2 cups of brown bottle peroxide per load. Seventh Generation non-chlorine bleach is a concentrated form of peroxide. Both are cheaper than buying new clothes 🙂

    If you are using a harsh cleanser (hope it is not anti-bacterial soap) you may be exacerbating problem. Try a paraben-free, fragrance-free gentle cleanser. I presently use Vanicream facial cleanser for whole body because EVERYTHING else causes stinging. Expensive, but a half pump goes a long way! I tried two new topical probiotic products, but without success. (Perhaps they got hot in transit or in my toasty bathroom.)

    Get well. Even if you have access to a kinesiologist or integrated medicine practitioner I hope you will also see a trusted medical doctor-lots of things to rule out. Don’t hesitate to inquire about gut permeability. Many GPs are learning of it’s implications, and may be able to refer you to a practitioner if that seems appropriate.

  • Marilyn Scragg

    I am asthmatic and just bought two pair of jeans and two tops from Macy’s. They reek of perfume, what can I do?

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