The Benefits of Fragrance in Household Products

While “fragrance-free” might be trending in the beauty world, most consumers still prefer their cleaning products, air fresheners, and dish soaps to smell good. According to the latest P&G data, scented products represent 89% of laundry, 79% of surface cleaning, and 99% of dishwashing product sales in the US.
The preference for natural fragrances over synthetic ones is also on the rise, and more brands are using botanical ingredients to create unique scent profiles for their household products.
The Science of Smell: Why Humans Like Scents
Have you ever come across an aroma that takes you back to a memorable day during your childhood? The sense of smell is deeply connected to the brain’s emotional centers (limbic system), which is why scents can evoke memories and moods.
Our experience of fragrance is based on a process known as associative learning. When you smell an unfamiliar odor, your brain remembers it and will always connect it to the mood or emotional state you were in when you first experienced the scent.
Cross-cultural studies have shown that everyone understands fragrances differently – odors some people consider pleasant may be unbearable for others, based on personal experience.
The Function of Fragrance in Cleaning Products
Why do we add fragrance to cleaning products? While these ingredients may not play an active role in disinfecting your home, they have functional benefits in household products. Fragrances mask the harsh scent of chemical cleaners, creating a more pleasant in-use experience and positive brand opinion.
Cleaning clothing with scented detergents or spritzing a fragranced air freshener also enhances the perception of cleanliness. In a recent P&G market survey1, 64% of respondents said having a home that smells “good” makes it feel cleaner, while 76% said they use smell to determine how well clean laundry was washed.
How Fragrance Improves Your Well-being
Disinfecting your space with a fragranced product or using scented air fresheners leaves an aroma in the room that you can smell long after cleaning. Here’s how these lingering scents can affect your daily life and emotional well-being:

  • Fragrance influences your mood.
    Research shows that people express positive emotions and better overall moods when exposed to odors they like versus those they dislike. Various studies also show that smelling pleasant, nostalgic scents can lower your heart and respiration rates, reducing stress over time. Fragrance can make you feel comfortable and secure during tense situations, and many laundry detergent brands saw a spike in scented product sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Fragrance can boost work performance.
    Mood has been shown to influence cognitive functioning. Improving your mood by exposing yourself to pleasant ambient scents can affect your memory, motivation, and creativity levels. It can also boost your physical performance and reduce feelings of fatigue. One study2 found that athletes ran faster, did more push-ups, and reported a heightened sense of vigor and perceived performance when exposed to peppermint aroma.

  • Fragrance affects social behavior.
    Various studies have shown that experiencing pleasant scents can improve agreeableness and cooperation. Scents associated with cleanliness, such as citrus or pine, can promote prosocial behaviors, including trusting others and being more charitable. Wearing clean-smelling clothes can boost confidence and enhance self-esteem in social settings.

The sense of smell is a powerful tool humans use to navigate the world that helps us develop richer memories and preferences, contributing to our identities. Household products that include fragrant ingredients are more enjoyable to use and leave lasting scents that can boost emotional well-being and quality of life.
Advanced Biotech is a leading supplier of natural aromatics and fragrances for the food, beverage, cosmetics, and personal care industries. Please contact us for more information.