Nov 29, 2023
Love The Smell Of Clean Laundry? These Are The Perfumes For You
We may receive a commission on purchases made from links. Burying your face in a
We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.
Burying your face in a fresh, warm pile of clean laundry is one of the best scent experiences around. Why not take it to the next level and use a perfume that makes that specific, comforting smell portable and leaves you smelling amazing in the process?
In 2020, per The New York Times, researchers published a study in the journal "Environmental Chemistry" that examined the reasons why people find the smell of line-dried laundry so particularly pleasing. Lead researcher Silvia Pugliese from the University of Copenhagen told the Times that the line-drying process produced organic molecules called aldehydes and ketones, including spicy pentanal, citrusy octanal, and nonanal, which is reminiscent of roses.
According to Alpha Aromatics, aldehydes and ketones are also used in perfume, and those that call to mind the scent of clean laundry tend to be fresh, of course, and are scented like white flowers, citrus, herbs, musk, soap, and skin. If you're ready to add some of these cleaner-than-clean scents to your fragrance wardrobe, read on for some of the best.
When we decided to put together a list of the best laundry-like fragrances available, we considered a variety of moods that such a perfume might contribute to and make a little more pleasurable thanks to the power and allure of scent. For example, you might want a scent to be especially cozy and warm as you snuggle up on the couch with a cup of tea, a fluffy blanket, and an evening of '90s rom-coms ahead of you. Other times you might be headed out for the night and you want something fresh and casual but still a little bit sexy, too.
We wanted to include a wide range of options at a variety of price points, including perfume, cologne, eau de toilette, oil, and even body spray to allow for a full wardrobe of laundry-smelling scents from which to choose. In the words of Vogue editor Janelle Okwodu, "They don't need to be esoteric niche creations or designer exclusives that break the bank; they just have to be original."
Finally, several of us are laundry perfume fans ourselves and so we went to our own vanities to pull out some tried-and-true favorites and include them in the rundown.
When it comes to offering scents that evoke the smells of everyday life, Demeter was the first and continues to be a classic. Originally founded in 1993, the line offered an alternative to the heavy, brash fragrances that were popular in the 1980s, and its unusual concoctions range from Dirt to Vinyl. Today, the brand has 250 scents in its library.
Laundromat is described to be "the freshest scent imaginable." One reviewer wrote, "It smells absolutely fresh, like clothes that were just dried. I wear it every day and if someone gets close enough to catch the scent they always compliment me."
Purchase Laundromat at Demeter for $37.80.
A perfume that evokes the smell and mood of linen is a classic and, of course, Demeter has its own almost eerily literal, perfect version of the timeless classic, simply named Linen. Of the scent, the brand writes, "Think of the best crisp, linen sheets you ever experienced on a warm summer's eve. That is the experience we sought to capture here." Few experiences sound better, honestly, and being able to get there via a spritz of cologne is the next best thing.
Purchase Linen at Demeter for $37.80.
White Linen by Estée Lauder could be considered a triple threat — the smell that evokes linen is the epitome of classic, while the perfume itself, which premiered in 1978, is described as being pure, sun-dried, and elegantly cool with notes of white and green flowers. Ms. Lauder herself sought to offer a scent for someone "fresh, crisp, and clean" and White Linen, with its notes of Bulgarian rose, violet, orris, and moss, was the gorgeous outcome.
Purchase White Linen at Estée Lauder for $78.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has been providing weird and wonderful hand-blended perfume oils to loyal frag heads since 2002. The brand uses all sorts of inspirations from mythology and literature to nature, and always with cool Gothic vibes and a wicked sense of humor to boot. Take Dirty, the ironically-named perfume oil that serves as a "wonderful antidote to an all-nighter." One reviewer noted it smelled of "freshly laundered clothes swaying in the breeze that have been scented with a floral detergent."
Purchase Dirty at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab for $19.75.
Frau Tonis Parfum is based in Berlin and founder Stefanie Hassan creates scents that are "unisex, cruelty-free, and handcrafted with great attention to detail." We love to see it. Niche Beauty is their American distributor and the place you can find their stunning No. 17 Laundrette perfume, which is described as "almost minimalist" with top notes of white freesia, iris, and blackcurrant over base notes of French cypress, amber, and white musk. Smells like the fanciest load of laundry ever.
Purchase No. 17 Laundrette at Niche Beauty for $129.
The Replica line from Maison Margiela Paris has quickly become a cool girl staple when it comes to perfumes and Lazy Sunday Morning is one of their most popular offerings because it's one of the best. It smells good on everyone and with its notes of lily of the valley, iris accord, and white musk, it's meant to evoke "waking up wrapped in fresh cotton sheets while the sun's morning rays warm your skin." It's just the thing to take you away to a better place on a cold, gray Tuesday morning when you have to be up far too early and would rather stay in bed.
Purchase Lazy Sunday Morning at Maison Margiela for $35 – $160.
What's better than fresh, clean laundry? Fresh, clean, WARM laundry, and thanks to the geniuses at Clean Beauty Collective you can smell that gorgeous scent any old time with their Clean Reserve Warm Cotton perfume. With top notes of aldehydes, ginger, and water accord, middle notes of mint, pepper, and flowers, and base notes of musk, incense, and vetiver, it's got that cozy-clean luxury feeling on lock and keeps you feeling like you're wrapped in a warm blanket even when you're out and about.
Purchase Warm Cotton at Clean Beauty Collective for $29 – $110.
You want that fresh, clean laundry scent but you also want to get a little weird? Comme des Garcons has your back, as always, with their infamous Odeur 71, which they describe as an "anti-perfume" and Lucky Scent describes as "hot laundry right out of the dryer served up on your clean, sexy Xerox machine." Did you even know that combination was possible? Wearable, refreshing, soapy, strange — it turns out that everyone needs this kind of scent in their fragrance wardrobe.
Purchase Odeur 71 at Lucky Scent for $135.
When it comes to just plain pretty scents, no one does it like Philosophy and their Grace perfumes are a classic for a reason. "Soap and water simplicity" is sometimes just the ticket and Pure Grace is just that with its fresher-than-fresh notes of water lily and leafy greens with musk to keep it grounded and blended well with your skin. One reviewer notes, "so many compliments on the fresh, clean, light smell" while another calls it "a beautiful, clean scent that you'll want to use every day!"
Purchase Pure Grace at Philosophy for $68.
Gender is a construct but sometimes it's helpful to seek out a "masculine" perfume when you want something a little stronger and fresher than the rest, and it can be especially helpful to look in the men's section when it comes to clean, laundry-like scents. Tiffany knocked it out of the park with Tiffany & Love For Him scent, which has a base of blue sequoia, sandalwood, and vetiver; middle notes of juniper-cypress, geranium, and lavender; and top notes of cardamom, ginger, and mandarin. It's all the most refreshing and clean aromas expertly blended into one beautiful, aromatic package.
Purchase Tiffany & Love for Him at Tiffany & Co. for $106.
All scents can be unisex, but this laundry-reminiscent eau de toilette was created with all genders in mind and it shows. Aqua Universalis from the brilliant noses at renowned perfumery Maison Francis Kurkdjian has notes of Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian citrus, white flowers, light woods, and musk. Its American retailer Lucky Scent calls it "possibly the most refined interpretation ever of the fresh-out-of-the-shower, fresh-out-of-the-dryer smell." So much sophisticated brightness and joy in one bottle!
Purchase Aqua Universalis at Lucky Scent for $135 – $415.
Sometimes you want to smell like, say, fresh clean sheets but with some flowers strewn around the bed. You're in luck because French newcomer Solinotes has just what you need with its Cotton Flower eau de perfume, available from Amazon. The scent notes include bergamot, rice powder, jasmine, violet, rosebuds, musk, and vanilla. Fresh with a natural floral underpinning? Yes, please. One reviewer wrote, "nice and light. I feel clean and fresh when wearing it." Like a crisp white shirt, just put it on and go effortlessly impress everyone.
Purchase Cotton Flower at Amazon for $20.
Looking for something that has that fresh laundry scent but is also a little tropical, maybe with a little gourmand? Your middle school fave is here for you once again. Yes, none other than Bath & Body Works. The brand is still around and better than ever with its Fresh Coconut & Cotton fine fragrance mist. It has notes of coconut, coastal breeze, and beachside cotton, and is described as "laundry day on the islands." A reviewer writes, "This scent smells so fresh...like the evening breeze from the ocean." Bath & Body Works, take me away!
Purchase Fresh Coconut & Cotton at Bath & Body Works for $16.95.
If it's a pure soap scent you seek, but, like, the fanciest, most luxurious soap possible, let us recommend Exit The King from the ever-fashionable Etat Libre D'Orange. The brand has been schooling the fragrance world for years on how to make inventive, experimental, cooler-than-cool scents. Exit The King is an ode to "the fall of (Patriarchal) power" (Hell yes!) and features notes of soap foam, pink pepper, Timur, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, patchouli, moss, and sandalwood. Freedom never smelled so gorgeous.
Purchase Exit The King at Etat Libre d'Orange for $105 – $159.
Fun fact: lots of laundry-esque scents have musk in them, but it's usually in the background, grounding things, while fresher, greener top notes take their moment to shine. In the case of Pure Musc by eternal cult fave Narciso Rodriguez, musk is at the forefront but there's still that ever-popular super-clean profile. It's more of a clean cashmere sweater than fresh linen sheets. Notes include orange blossom, heart of musk, and cashmeran, and according to one reviewer, "It smells so yummy and lush, it lasts a long time, and I've had nothing but compliments from others."
Purchase Pure Musc at Sephora for $108 – $138.