Colorful laundry scent booster beads in an open bottle beside a washing machine, illustrating their use and potential impact on indoor air quality and environmental health

Laundry Scent Boosters: A Fragrant Addition with a Hefty Price


Laundry scent boosters have recently hit the shelves in Aotearoa, catching the eyes of many with their small, colourful beads. These lentil-sized beads are designed to dissolve during the wash cycle, releasing a burst of fragrance into your laundry. While they don't clean your clothes, their sole purpose is to enhance the scent of your wash.

What Are Laundry Scent Boosters? Also known as in-wash scent boosters or scent beads, these products are added to your laundry alongside detergent and fabric softener. Despite their appealing look and smell, they consist of more than just fragrance. The beads also contain ingredients that maintain their shape and color, along with water softeners. However, the artificial fragrances in these beads are typically made from a mix of chemicals that could be hazardous. They pose a risk of triggering allergies, rashes, and other sensitivities.

The Potent Fragrance The strength of the fragrance in these products can be overwhelming. Opening a bottle of laundry scent boosters releases a very strong smell, which can be uncomfortable for those sensitive to potent scents.

Cost Considerations The price of a single bottle of laundry scent boosters is around £15, offering between three to seven uses, depending on the amount added per wash. This equates to about £2.16 to £4.89 per wash—a significant cost, especially if you’re using these regularly. Adding just half a cap to two weekly washes can total more than £220 annually just for some extra scent.

Why You Might Reconsider Using Laundry Scent Boosters

  • High Cost: These products are expensive per use.
  • Environmental Impact: They introduce more chemicals into our waterways and add unnecessary waste.
  • Potential Hazards: Many detergents already contain fragrances, and the additional chemicals in scent boosters may pose further risks in your home.

My Personal Experience I tried using laundry scent boosters to refresh a batch of seasonally stored clothes. Although they did add fragrance, the scent was overpowering and lingered in the machine, requiring multiple rinses to eliminate the smell. For me, the hassle and the overpowering fragrance make them less appealing.

Environmental and Safety Concerns

  • Harmful to the Environment: The extra chemicals in these beads contribute to water pollution and involve significant environmental costs in terms of production and shipping.
  • Safety Risks: The packaging is easy to open, and the attractive appearance of the beads could pose a risk to children, who might find them similar to candy.

Alternative Ways to Keep Laundry Fresh Instead of relying on chemical additives, consider these natural approaches:

  • Air dry your laundry to maintain a fresh scent.
  • Ensure laundry doesn’t remain damp after washing.
  • Regularly clean your washing machine.
  • Keep the washing machine door open between uses to prevent mold and mildew.

Laundry scent boosters might seem like a simple solution for fresher clothes, but their drawbacks suggest considering more natural, safer ways to achieve the same result.

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