Navigating a pandemic has changed many of our habits and routines. I noticed this the other day while hand washing my delicates and woolens with detergent from the LA-based fragrance company Dedcool. Previously, I generally understood tags that read hand wash only as hand wash rarely. However, the incentive of a delicious fragrance and well-made, clean soap made setting aside time to care for my most special garments feel natural and necessary. I'm not alone. With more time spent at home, many people have invested more time into household projects and small touches that bring ritual to daily life.
I recently spoke with Carina Chazanas, Dedcool's founder, and true to its name, the company is very cool. Stark branding and extremely wearable, comfortable scents make the brand desirable but not exclusive or insider-feeling. So it's fitting that one of its newer offerings, Dedtergent, is a laundry detergent perfumed with their beloved fragrances. Dedcool launched the detergent intending to let wearers customize how they interact with fragrance in their lives, Chazanas explained. With the option of infusing a loved aroma into a humble weekly routine, Dedtergent adds personality to a chore and more ways to wear a signature scent.
While the practice of bringing more care and specialness to laundry might be ramping up in popularity, the trend is not new. The Laundress, a luxe fabric care company, partnered with Le Labo in 2008 for a line of detergents in the cult scents Rose 31 ($50) and Santal 33 ($50). "We wanted to create the best in fabric care paired with the ultimate fragrance experience," Laundress CEO Brendan Taylor says. "Le Labo was the first and only answer."
Much like Dedcool's line, the Le Labo Laundress detergents lend a sense of ritual and specialness to doing laundry and the lingering smell that lives in our wardrobe. Santal 33 is ubiquitous these days, but by incorporating the fragrance into more delicate facets of the closet, The Laundress has built a new category of wearability. In the way deodorant, shampoo, and Tide can give someone a mellow, can't-be-placed, personal scent, incorporating something innovative in an ordinary way lends an element of surprise and differentiation.
There's equal emphasis on preciousness and normalcy, an appropriate shift for the moment of investing in home life and unique experiences. When I washed my delicates in Dedcool's Spring Dedtergent ($35), I enjoyed taking care of my things more intentionally. I felt reminded of that care as I smelled the incensed, citrusy, amber scent lightly on my wardrobe all week.
"Fragrance is so personal and unique. It gets tricky when you're adding a layer of having to last through laundering," noted Royce Russell, the Chief Marketing & Creative Officer at The Laundress. "We've started looking at our fragrances truly like fine perfumes and colognes, seeing where they fit in olfactive families and pairing them with traditional note classifications."
The recent boom of "skin scents" might be working in their favor. Clean scents that layer well and wear close to the skin are more popular as perfume lovers begin to incorporate fragrances across their daily life. Consumers can find themselves trying to pair several scents at once, from Eau de parfum to candles, body washes, and hair products. Earthy, mellow fragrances like Dedcool's Milk ($90) and Le Labo's Santal 33 ($88) are essential options for scents worth incorporating into a more extensive fragrance system.
Dedcool and The Laundress span a wide range of consumers, from E-commerce enthusiasts and climate-conscious Zoomers, to professionals seeking the creme-de-la-creme in their homes. Both brands have built cult followings accordingly. Even John Mayer, who has become notorious for canny brand collaborations (like his sold-out partnership with Online Ceramics), recently debuted a collaboration with The Laundress. The duo launched a scented detergent and spray called Way Out West, with notes of leather, fresh air, and powder. The scent is formulated to induce feelings of nostalgia, presence, and care. "When you open a bottle and pour a bit out, you aren't just doing laundry; you are getting a therapeutic and transporting experience," said Taylor.
Household classic fragrances like Tide and Gain are also so well-loved that scents mimic their iconic perky notes. Byredo's refreshing Blanche ($276) and Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Aqua Universalis ($225) are clean, breezy, and evocative of fresh linens. While neither is available as detergent (at least in the United States), they'll bring that laundry feeling to even your dirtiest t-shirt.
The laundry aisle as we know it has gone from a place where folks go to do chores to a place of endless possibilities. You can tailor your load of linens to your home, mood, and overall vibe to make doing laundry a genuinely transformative, restorative, and enjoyable experience. Who knew we'd end up here.