These are the 12 best smelling laundry detergents

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There are very few fun things about doing laundry: it’s a chore. Once the basket is full, it’s a game of chicken between partners to see who will do it. There is the separation of light clothes and darker ones. Then there’s the balancing act of keeping the wet clothes balled up intact long enough to reach the dryer. After drying the mass, there is the folding, the pairing of the socks into a ball and the unrolling of the fitted sheet into an ambiguous shape (somewhere between a rhombus and an armadillo). And, finally, the dreaded hangers come out. All in all, it’s a fairly unglamorous chore.

But there’s one thing I love about laundry detergent: its smell. God, I love this just-washed-in scent. I love it so much, in fact, that when I was working at a resort one summer, I used to take a specific route to the cafeteria just so I could pass the cleaning quarters, blowing a puff of laundry just in a hurry when I passed.

But that’s not just me: scented detergents have been around for over 200 years and are now a $7.91 billion industry in the United States alone. It seems I’m not the only one who loves that smell every time I put on a t-shirt fresh out of the dryer.

Why Scent Matters

Most laundry detergents on the market have fragrances added to their formula. We have become accustomed to laundry smelling a certain way. That’s because fibers, even when clean, tend to cling to the smells around them: your hard water, your sneakers in the closet, your cigarette smoke. Fragrances help mask the everyday smells we come into contact with, without being irritating or competitive with our natural perfume or favorite cologne.

Industry Innovations

While scented detergents have been around for generations, it’s only recently that new innovations have been made in the field of detergents. Brands are taking a closer look at naturally-derived ingredients, focusing on hypoallergenic formulas, and using new technologies in the detergents themselves to keep clothes smelling better for longer. (There are even scent boosters that enhance the signature scent of fresh laundry.)

The Best Smelling Laundry Detergents

With that, here’s a roundup of the best detergents that are almost worth it…almost. From new and intriguing to reliable and traditional, you’re sure to find one that works for you.


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      The Best Smelling Laundry Detergent

      Liquid Laundry Detergent with Essential Oils (Le Parfum Zen)

      In my opinion, this is the smelliest detergent on the list. If you’ve ever been to a spa or sauna and wondered, “What’s that amazing smell?” it was more than likely eucalyptus. Slightly pungent, even a bit medicinal, eucalyptus has a unique smell that is not often replicated well in other laundry detergents. The addition of mint makes it as soothing as it is fragrant, perfect for the next time you wash your bedding.

      • Incredibly fresh and unique scent
      • Better on stains and heavy scents compared to other brands
      • Dosing cap not on this bottle
      • Bottle design has no handle
      • Not hypoallergenic

      The Best Smelling Laundry Detergent

      Detergent 01 “Taunt”

      Extremely fancy brand DedCool packs its formula in one of the best detergent containers out there, but it’s what’s inside that we’re here to review. Their Dedtergent 01 Taunt is a blend of bergamot, vanilla, and rose, which is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy for anyone’s apparel. Floral without being fragrant, lemony without being sour, Dedcool balances a fine line between its scents – and does it well.

      • Hypoallergenic
      • Comes as a convenient subscription offer for an additional 10% off
      • Reviewers comment on the long-lasting scent
      • The container can be difficult to handle
      • The price is significantly higher than the others

      Best Smelling Affordable Laundry Detergent

      Liquid Laundry Detergent (Original Scent)

      Tide is what laundry should smell like. It has that fresh scent that just can’t be replicated by other detergents. Strong smelling with a decidedly ‘clean’ scent, no one can mistake this multi-generational favorite that comes in its signature orange bottle. More. it’s super effective.

      • Long lasting fragrance
      • IRL easy to find
      • Multiple size options for households
      • Not hypoallergenic
      • Made with chemicals vs. naturally sourced options on the list
      • The bottle can be bulky and even heavy

      Vegetable Laundry Detergent (Orange Blossom and Citrus)

      Very few odors signal cleanliness like citrus. Orange Blossom Citrus Leaves scent from Botanical Origin has the natural bite of fresh oranges without the antiseptic goodness of many other competitors. It is also a floral touch to counterbalance the natural sweetness of citrus scents. Plus, as the name suggests, it’s derived from plants, so it’s a great choice for environmentally conscious launderers.

      • Pleasant floral smell all around
      • Easy-to-use bottle and dosing cap
      • Hypoallergenic
      • The smell fades quite easily
      • Not as resistant to tough stains or odors as other detergents

      The Detergent

      Frey gets marks on this list for being a real disruptor in the otherwise sleepy laundry space. First, they donate 10% of sales to their Wash for Wash charity. Second, Frey detergent is made from coconut shells, a first on this list. And finally, the scents themselves are unique enough to be included. From sandalwood/bergamot/clove to jasmine/rose/white cedar, these natural scents are not common; but, boy, they should be. Frey gives us hope for a new future in detergents, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

      • Coconut-derived formula with no parabens, sulfates or colorants
      • The Frey company initiative includes a charitable arm
      • Convenient 16 ounce bottle size
      • Must order online
      • The charge per cost is higher than some alternatives on the list
      • Difficult to get the correct dosage with a pump bottle

      Liquid Laundry Detergent (Lavender)

      Seventh Generation is known as a leader in the natural cleansing industry and has some amazing products in its line. Their detergent is one of my favorites, especially the lavender. Reviewers agree that while lavender can be overwhelming at times, Seventh Generation balances it well to have a subtle freshness against your clothes that smell like grandma’s house.

      • Easy-to-handle dosing cap and bottle
      • Hypoallergenic
      • 97% of natural origin
      • The smell can fade easily
      • The perfume has a fragrance quality that is not appreciated by all

      Yuzu Scented Delicate Laundry Detergent

      Inside this lovely packaging from Tangent GC is one of the most unique scents on this list: yuzu. East Asian citrus is not well known in the US market, and that’s a shame. It’s a bit like an orange, lemon and grapefruit mixed together, but less acidic than the latter. Tangent GC’s Detergent is subtle, but deserves a spot on this list for being one of the few scents to explore in detergents – everything else feels like it’s already been done.

      • Complex fragrance
      • Ideal for the delicate
      • naturally derived
      • Expensive
      • IRL rarely available
      • Bottle and dosing cap are difficult to hold and use

      Clean Laundry Soap (Patchouli)

      Patchouli, as a perfume, is a bit divisive. But for me, it’s one of the best smells: both woody and masculine, but not pungent. All of Zum’s scents in their laundry soap line are fantastic, but this one has that balance of being a unique offering that leaves others saying, “What’s that cologne you’re wearing?”

      • Great scent, almost like a cologne
      • Ultra-concentrated
      • Easy-to-use dosing cap and easy-to-handle bottle
      • The smell can fade easily
      • IRL hard to find

      Downy Liquid Laundry Detergent

      You can’t beat the classics, so it’s impossible to ignore Tide as one of the best scents. But when you add Downy’s April Fresh scent, it’s a whole new ballgame. Simple and clean, the addition of Downy gives the detergent a subtlety that the original Tide lacks, but doesn’t take away from its general “laundry” smell. And an added bonus: Downy helps retain color compared to traditional Tide, which means clothes last longer and look brighter with continued use.

      • Long lasting fragrance
      • Ideal as a stain remover
      • Easy-to-follow dosing bottle
      • Unnatural ingredients
      • The smell can be overpowering
      • Not hypoallergenic

      Liquid Laundry Detergent (Honeysuckle)

      Described online as a “sweet and tempting scent”, who are we to disagree? Honeysuckle is one of those scents that reminds me of open windows, daffodils and buzzing bees. (And now, clean laundry.) It has a sweet, herbal scent that isn’t easy to copy, but, considering it’s Mrs. Meyer, they nailed it perfectly.

      • Of vegetable origin
      • Common in IRL
      • Very concentrated
      • Made with essential oils, so may irritate very sensitive skin
      • The smell fades easily
      • Not as good as the others on the list as a stain remover or for masking strong odors

      Laundry Detergent Pour

      Ginger and mango may seem like ingredients for a dish, but they work just as well in a detergent. Method’s Ginger Mango Laundry Detergent balances the spiciness of ginger against the sparkle of mango in a subtle dance in between. Neither is in competition, and neither becomes overwhelming.

      • Spicy fragrance closer to a cologne
      • Nice ergonomic bottle and easy dosing cap
      • Great for stain treatment too
      • Not as economical (price per charge) as other brands
      • Scent fades faster than others on the list

      Powerful laundry detergent to eliminate odors (Zen Fresh)

      If you’re the type who wears as many wears as possible on a garment before condemning it to the rinse cycle, or if you play a high-intensity sport that makes you sweat through your shirts, get yourself a bottle of detergent. odor remover from Nonaste (pronounced not nasty). I use the Zen Fresh scent on my jiu jitsu gi, as well as my more delicate vintage t-shirts, and Nonaste’s detergent has eliminated the stink, gently cleaned my clothes, and removed sweat residue, all without any harsh or nasty chemicals. -Hayley Helms, Personal Outdoors and Fitness Editor.

      • Fresh scent is soothing to even the most sensitive noses
      • Biodegradable, phosphate free
      • With regular use, you’ll quickly get through the 32 ounce bottle
      • More expensive than other options

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