When I was young clean had a very distinct smell to it. It smelled like bleach or a certain “pine” product. It also smelled like my sheets when Mom hung them out on the clothesline. To this day I still love the scent of clothes that have been hung out on the line. That said, I have yet to smell a cleaning product labeled “fresh linen” that replicates that scent.
As I got older, I developed my own idea of what clean smelled like. This was a good example. The older I got the more I began to realize the truth. Clean does not have a smell.
Manufacturers of cleaning products spend billions of dollars every year to come up with scents that will make you believe your home is clean. There is a lot of research that goes into creating not just a pleasant scent, but an olfactory experience as described in this excellent WSJ piece.
Ok, so we’re all being conditioned to accept what the manufactures tell us is a clean scent. Are those smells hurting us, though? There is growing concern that fragrances added to pour cleaning products and air fresheners can trigger allergies and worse. Also, most fragrances include phthalates which are used in fragrances to stabilize synthetic perfumes. There is an excellent article on the Norwex site, here.
So, with all of this information, what are we the cleaning service supposed to do when asked by a client if we can use something to make their home smell clean (even though they admit they can see it is clean)?
Our primary responsibility is to the homeowner and the list of things that we would not do to keep a client happy is short. In a recent case, we had some Caldrea All Purpose cleaner with a Ginger Pomelo scent that we used in certain rooms.
There are a number of demonstratively green or Eco-friendly cleaners out there that produce products with wonderful scents; Mrs. Meyers and Method come to mind, but to a small cleaner who can’t buy in quantity the cost may be prohibitive.
All we can do is try to educate the public that the smell of clean is…nothing.