What IS that smell? (chemicals in soaps)

In the last two or three years I’ve started noticing a smell in some soap products (shampoo and dishwashing soap) that I think might be the chemical carrier for scents and that I suspect is a new addition to the scented soap repetoire.

I first noticed it in a bottle of dishwashing soap. I found the smell overpoweringly unpleasant and that bottle went to the garage for **Fetchund **to use in outdoor stuff (don’t ask, 'cause I’m not sure). Next was some shampoo that my hairdresser used on me. I ended up washing my hair with three different shampoos afterwards to get that icky scent out. The breaking point was when a new bottle of my favorite cheap shampoo came out with that smell. I’ve been trying ever since to find a good (and still relatively cheap) new shampoo but everything I’ve tried has that scent (albeit not as overpowering or lingering).

Weirdly, I can’t smell it in the store when I open a bottle to test the scent – only when I actually use it. The chemical background smell is the same regardless of the actual scent (I’ve smelled it behind lemon and lavender scented dishsoaps and in a couple different generic shampoo scents).

Does anybody know of a new chemical now in common use? If so, will it appear in the ingredients and under what name or names.

(I’m not completely crazy. **Fetchund **smells it too, but it doesn’t bother her as much.)

I don’t know specifically the answer to this but do you have an old bottle of the shampoo you can compare with the new and see if the ingredients are different? Most of the products have a phone number on them that you can call. I’ve always wondered if anyone answers those numbers. Call them up and ask if they changed the scent in their product.

Could be a brain tumor. I’m not kidding. When I had smelling problems they gave me a CT scan to check for that. I’m okay, but still have smelling problems.

I don’t know how helpful I can be, but a few months ago I started using a neti pot to clear up my constant sinus trouble, and it has worked so well for me that I can now smell all kinds of subtle things that I never used to notice. I have a bottle of Softsoap Wild Lavender in my bathroom, and it has that smell, which overpowers the floral scent with an acrid plastic overtone. Here are all the listed ingredients except for the dye:

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, CocamidopropylBetaine, Decyl Glucoside, Fragrance, DMDM Hydantion, PEG-120 MethylGlocose Dioleate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Sulfate, Polyquaternuim-7, Polaxamer 124, Citric Acid, PEG-7 GlycerolCocoate, Benzophenone-4

I’m not a chemist, but maybe someone here can identify if one of these is used to amplify scent. Some of them are old, familiar and obviously not it. But one one them might be the culprit that makes that strange odor that fights with the fragrance. Or it could be the fragrance formula itself is just icky-smelling to a few of us with good noses.

I’ve started using more household products that are scented with essential oils, like the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products, because they don’t have that smell.

I notice it in cheap shampoos, too, but mostly in the floral ones, and sometimes in strawberry or watermelon scented kids shampoos from the dollar store. I hope this helps you narrow down what it might be. I hate it too. :slight_smile:

Every shampoo I’ve bought since I first noticed it. Most notably, two different formulas of Suave Daily Clarifying. I also remember a Target knockoff of Pantene had it and a current bottle of TresSomme has it. My current bottle of Ivory dishwashing has it and a couple other brands that I don’t remember had it. That’s what I remember off the top of my head.

Different kinds of plastic bottles – some clear, some colored.

I have MS, and it cause me to have bouts of “phantom smells”. Smelling strong odors that others don’t smell should always be checked out by a doctor.

Of course, this is a bit of a hijack, since your friend smelled it, too. Sorry 'bout that.

Well, water is water. Sodium laureth sulfate is a detergent and surfactant; decyl glucoside is a surfactant; cocamidopropyl betaine is another surfactant; DMDM hydantoin is a preservative; PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate is yet another surfactant and emulsifier; tetrasodium EDTA is a chelating agent for a number of metal ions such as Fe(III) and Ca(II); sodium sulfate can be used as a filler, but probably not in this case as your product is a liquid, so I’m not sure what it’s doing since I’m not a formulations chemist. Polyquaternium-7 is a conditioner and thickening agent, poloxamer 124 is yet another surfactant, citric acid is used as a preservative, PEG-7 glycerolcocoate is a self-emulsifying emollient and cleanser, and Benzophenone-4 is actually sulisobenzone, which is used to absorb UV rays. Fragrance is probably protected.

I don’t know what you are smelling, but I have been using up a very old (over five years) bottle of Infusium 23 conditioner that apparently has had all it’s aromatic fragrances evaporate away. What is left is an unpleasant waxy odor, that I take to be the smell of the conditioner ingredients without the fragrance masking it. The conditioner works fine, though.

There is an undersmell to me in a lot of cheap candles so I know what you mean but it’s going to be hard to find out what it is because smell is such a personal thing.

I will see if I notice the smell in some of my Suave shampoos.