Notes from the Green Party Candidate for South Norfolk, for General Election 2015. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Saturday, 10 February 2007

The smell of clothes brought in from the washing line

Sometime last week the breakfast show on Radio Norfolk indulged in a bit of reflection on what are the nicest smells and the ones that make you say "ah" when someone reminds you. Listeners were invited to phone in. A number of "ah" smells were mentioned, including (some I remember) the smell of lighting a match, the smell of rain on hot tarmac, the smell of newly mown grass, and the smell of pigs. I forget what the excuse was, though it might have been the fact that the scientists at UEA have decided that they've worked out what causes the smell of the seaside.

One smell that was mentioned, which I also agree is very special, was the smell of washing when it is brought in from hanging in the garden. I mention this here, because it is a smell that can't be achieved any other way, and it's not obvious that it would strike you as a lovely smell if you hadn't learnt to associate it with a particular set of positive experiences. I also mention it because it bears no resemblance whatever to the acrid and pungent scents that those who market washing powders and fabric conditioners describe as "laundry fresh" or "sunfresh". In fact it is a rather mellow and blunt kind of smell, with no sharp edges.

It's not clear to me whether you'd get this wonderful pure smell of fresh air and clean cotton in your laundry if you'd washed it in the detergents and conditioners that have those powerful pungent artificial scents in, the ones that cling to the laundry both wet and dry. Indeed the conditioners seem designed precisely to do that: they are made deliberately not to wash out at all.

Sometimes if I buy second hand clothes it takes several washes to get rid of the terrible smells of other people's washing powders. even blowing in the garden is of no use at all. You can't wear a garment until that smell has gone. It drives you mad.

I'm not sure how some people live with the terrible smell of the clothes and sheets and pillow cases and towels and all that, if they wash them with those pungent products. I used occasionally to stand next to someone in the choir who must have washed her clothes in that kind of stuff. Fortunately she's left now, but even the incense was not enough to smother the acrid pong. I presume that if one lives with that smell in the house and one's bed and one's wardrobe all the time, the brain shuts it out and no longer finds it offensive.

But does it inhibit sexual attraction? More on this anon.
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