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Going fragrance-free, a men's guide

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I did this, so now I'm passing on the knowledge to you.

A clarification to start with: "Fragrance-free" means "no fragrance added". Some things will still have a scent to them. An example of that is bleach. Unscented bleach doesn't have any fragrance added to it, but of course will still smell like bleach. Other no-fragrance things won't have any scent at all.

Why did I go fragrance-free? As a middle aged man, my skin prefers the no-fragrance stuff.

Here's the stuff I use:

Deodorant

What I use: Baking soda

I stopped using deodorant years ago and switched to baking soda because it does the same job. Wet the armpit first, dab wet fingertips in baking soda, rub into armpit using a wide circle, pat dry with towel, done. If it doesn't work the first time, you missed a spot, do it again.

This is one of those "smells like nothing" things.

How long does it last? Anywhere from 8 hours to 2 days.

Laundry soap

What I use: White vinegar or bleach

For vinegar, 1/4 cup for small loads, 1/2 cup for regular loads, full cup for large loads. For bleach I use much less because not much is required for it to clean whites properly.

Both of these things have a scent to them, but no added scent, meaning no fragrance added. Vinegar smells like vinegar and bleach smells like bleach.

Here's a tip if you have one of those stupid "modern" clothes washing machines: Don't use the pull-out tray for either vinegar nor bleach. Get a measuring cup and fill to desired amount. Put the clothes in the washer first. Pour the desired amount out of the measuring cup directly on the clothes, close the door and start the wash cycle. If you try using that stupid pull-out tray instead, you'll get vinegar or bleach all over the place. Pour directly on the clothes instead.

Dryer sheets

What I use: Nothing

I stopped using dryer sheets altogether, because scented or unscented, they leave behind a residue.

Yes, I deal with static electricity on my clothes out of the dryer and don't care because it goes away on its own.

Yes, I know about the tennis ball wrapped in aluminum foil thing to stop static a dryer cycle generates. The constant thumping noises those make while the dryer is running drove me nuts, so I deal with the static instead.

Shampoo

What I use: Vanicream

This looks like something out of a doctor's office, but it is a truly 100% fragrance-free, dye-free shampoo for hair.

Conditioner

What I use: Nothing

Vanicream does make a fragrance-free conditioner just like they do with shampoo. I did buy some and try it out.

The conditioner works, but I found I really didn't need it, so I just use shampoo alone.

Bar soap

What I use: Kirk's Castile Fragrance Free

Men like simple bar soaps, and I'm no different. I wanted something simple with no fragrance added, and the no-fragrance version of Kirk's is it.

This soap is nothing more than a big white bar that does what soap is supposed to do, and is truly unscented.

Only 5 ingredients to this soap, which is really short, and that's fine. This soap only has what you need and nothing you don't.

Cologne

What I use: Nothing

Regardless of cologne I try, my skin doesn't agree with any of them, so I don't use it.

If I absolutely had to add a scent, I wouldn't use cologne at all. I'd use Pinaud Clubman talc instead. The scent of that is "smells like men's barbershop", and yes it's good as I've used it before.

The liquid version is Pinaud Clubman aftershave. Technically not a cologne, but basically acts the same way. I've also used this before as well. Good stuff.

These days I just use no added scent whatsoever, but if I had to add something, it would be one of the two above.

Where I make exceptions for scented stuff

Dish soap

While true Palmolive Fragrance Free exists, I still use Dawn Ultra because it doesn't seem to bother my hands and the scent is light.

Spray bottle bleach cleaner

It's easy to find unscented bleach cleaner in a spray bottle, but the straight bleach scent is a bit harsh (especially when cleaning in a small room like the bathroom). For this reason, I do use a spray bleach cleaner with added scent. The scent is light and the cleaning solution isn't touching my skin, so no issues there.

Car wipes

I use Armor All Protectant Wipes in the car. Obviously, these have added scent to them. In fact, I don't think there's any automotive interior cleaning product that doesn't have a fragrance added. These wipes don't seem to bother my skin, so I'm okay with them.

If I absolutely had to go fragrance-free with interior car cleaning, at least for plastic surfaces, I'd just use diluted white vinegar and paper towels to apply. The only reason I don't is because the Armor All stuff gives the plastics and vinyls a better look to them once cleaned.

Published 2023 Sep 19

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