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The Race to Become the Next Status Laundry Detergent Is On

In the wake of the downfall of The Laundress, beauty, lifestyle and fragrance brands are clamoring to fill the luxury laundry white space and become the next big name in fancy suds.

A signature scent is part of one’s personal style. It has the ability to communicate someone’s essence with a unique kind of nuanced subtlety, not to mention layers of complexity that can elicit nostalgia and a sense of familiarity. 

With the leaps in technology, staying power and natural ingredient sourcing the fragrance industry has made in recent years, there’s now a wide variety of ways to showcase your preferred scent profile, far beyond the confines of your wrist. Don’t want to commit to a $325 bottle of Baccarat Rouge 540? You can still enjoy its popular bouquet via the scented candle version for $110. 

While many fragrances now have lotion, hand soap, candle and even “hair perfume” counterparts, one somewhat untapped category remains for brands looking to create a cohesive lifestyle sensorial experience: laundry detergent. 

In the wake of the downfall of The Laundresswhich faced mass recalls last fall due to contaminated products —  beauty, lifestyle and fragrance brands are clamoring to fill the luxury laundry white space and become the next big name in fancy suds. On Friday, Dedcool (the ultra-cool unisex, vegan fragrance brand) and Ouai (Jen Atkin‘s luxury hair-care line) unveiled a collaboration high-end laundry detergent that’s made to wash everything, with a scent made to be worn everywhere. It’s the latest example in a string of beauty brands delving into the wide world of washing machines.

“For so long, we’ve had one option: Tide,” Dedcool founder Carina Chaz tells Fashionista. “By introducing new inventions in the laundry space, people can finally experience something more authentic.” 

The brand already sells “Dedtergent,” a biodegradable detergent scented with its existing perfumes. But the new Ouai offering marks a step toward expanding both brands’ presences in this burgeoning market. With aesthetically-pleasing packaging and plant-based ingredients, the Dedcool x Ouai Melrose Place Dedtergent line promises to transform a dull wash day into a literal bed of roses, thanks to notes of rose and jasmine, blended with white musk and sandalwood. 

Expanding fragrance beyond a bottle becomes a holistic part of one’s everyday routine, allowing consumers to fully immerse themselves in a brand’s scent profile. By infusing fragrance into the clothes we wear every day, it creates a personalized and authentic sensory experience. And there’s certainly a business opportunity in the cleaning space right now: Fortune Business Insights estimates that the market for household cleaning products will grow to at least $334 billion by 2029. It’s only natural that growing lifestyle brands would want to get in on that.

Photo: Courtesy of Dedcool

But it’s not just authenticity consumers crave: Sustainability, luxury and quality are also top of mind as the public becomes increasingly curious about the ingredients in their products. Where The Laundress faltered, newcomers like L’Avant Collective, Blueland, Dirty Labs and even linens company Brooklinen are ready to offer elevated, gentle alternatives to the longstanding staples of the mass laundry market.

“After The Laundress became discontinued, we knew that there was a huge void in the market for luxury detergent with high-quality ingredients,” says L’Avant Collective’s Lindsay Droz. Inspired by the “clean” beauty movement and the rise of mindful consumption, Droz and co-founder Kristi Lord developed a line of high-performing, plant-based cleaning products designed in beautiful refillable packaging.

“We always ask: How does it make you feel?” says Lord. “We want our products to evoke an elevated feeling in the home, with beautiful aesthetics and ‘non-toxic’ ingredients that work. Clothing touches your skin all day long, so your laundry detergent has to be void of irritants.”

Many popular laundry detergents on the market contain petroleum, phthalates, preservatives, dyes and emulsifiers that may have potential to inflame rosacea, eczema and even trigger contact dermatitis

“Natural fragrance is meant to fade away, not stick around for days and weeks,” says Droz. To this end, New York state recently set new environmental standards for laundry detergents, banning those that contain three parts per million (PPM) of the chemical 1,4-dioxane, a probable human carcinogen. 

As consumers are becoming more mindful, so are brands. In the race to be the next status laundry detergent, beauty, fragrance and lifestyle companies are catering to those willing to pay a premium for a high-quality product that not only cleans effectively, but also leaves their clothes smelling naturally fresh without a cocktail of potentially “suspicious” ingredients.

The makers of these high-end products are quick to point out other purported benefits of their formulas, like that they’re generally gentler on fabrics, which helps to support sustainability by enhancing the wear of a garment.

“If you care about the longevity of your clothes and the pieces that you invest in, you’re going to want to care for them by mindfully washing them with products that won’t ruin them,” says Lord. 

Many designer detergents boast highly-efficient, plant-based and hypoallergenic formulas that promise to extend the life of fabrics, in addition to being gentle on skin (and prettily scented). The longer your garments stay intact, the less need there is to replace them, and as a result, in theory, there’s less clothing waste. 

For brands looking to expand their presence in consumers’ homes and daily routines, laundry is an attractive arena. And for shoppers looking to trade up their Tide for something a little more opulent, gentle or just aesthetically pleasing, there have never been more ways to do so.

See (and shop) a handful of the latest fancy detergents on the market ahead.

L’Avant Collective High Performing Laundry Detergent in Fresh Linen, $32, available here

Dirty Labs Bio Enzyme Laundry Detergent in Murasaki, $14, available here

Dedcool x Ouai Melrose Place Dedtergent, $35

Brooklinen The Complete Clean Bundle, $66, available here

Laverée Forest Laundry Detergent, $45, available here

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Bright Colors Laundry Wash, $45, available here

Blueland Laundry Essentials Kit, $48, available here

Tangent GC Kiyomi Everyday Detergent, $30, available here

Dedcool Taunt 01 Dedtergent 01, $35, available here

Frey Liquid Laundry Pack in Bergamot Beach, $56, available here

Steamery Laundry Kit, $99, available here

Please note: Occasionally, we use affiliate links on our site. In no way does this affect our editorial decision-making.

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