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Classic Fragrances for Your All-Purpose Cleaner
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The word “Fragrance” evokes different thoughts in different people. For me it evokes beautiful images of the Routes de la Lavande, or the Lavender Route – one of the most photographed regions in France. Rows and rows of fragrant lavender flowers; the soul of Provence!

During such musings, has the scent in the ubiquitous all-purpose cleaner ever captured your fancy? The answer to that is probably… “Never!”

Fragrances for cleaning solutions are rarely viewed in the same way as a world-renowned fine fragrance. But, make no mistake; the scent of an all-purpose cleaner is very important to consumers.

A $300 bottle of perfume or trendy shampoo cannot impart that important  “clean” feeling of kitchen counters, sinks, or floors.

Although cleaning fragrances are evolving, the “feeling of clean” is often rooted in nostalgia – such as the types of smells and cleaners used within one’s childhood home.

Remember when you came home from school, and it was obvious Mom had been home cleaning? Many times, THAT is the smell of clean – even into adulthood. For this reason, classic cleaning fragrances will always have their place.


The smell of various citrus fruits is synonymous with “clean”. Most brands market products focus on this tart, fresh olfactive direction. But why is citrus so popular? Citrus fruits are naturally good for cleaning stains, are anti-bacterial, and have the power to neutralize bad odors.

So, the average consumer already has “citrus = clean” etched into their mind. One of the most popular citrus variants for cleaning products is lemon. Bergamot is the exotic cousin of lemon and its peel is used in fragrance oils.

The original Eau de Cologne composed by Farina at the beginning of the 18th century in Germany had bergamot peel as one of its ingredients. 

Orange is another citrus variant used within cleaning products, as it has positive associations for being within the citrus family; however, it imparts more “fresh-sweetness” than lemon.

Both orange and lemon combine well with other citrus scents to make a beautiful fragrant blend that remains “clean” without being overpowering. Lime, grapefruit, mandarin, bitter orange, pomelo, and blood orange are other citrus fruits used with fragrances for all-purpose cleaners, as well as many other products. 

The citrus family can alone provide so many scents and combinations that work great in any home or industrial fragrance cleaner.

Eucalyptus and Pine

1-8-cineole or Eucalyptol in Eucalyptus oil is generally a top note in fragrances and provides a cool, crisp freshness. For example, a fragrance created with the 1-8-cineole as the top note, rose as the middle note and a complex note like cedarwood as the base, can provide a delightfully clean and pleasant fragrance for a cleaning product.

Pine is a fresh clean scent that can remind us of the holidays and the great outdoors. The scent of pine comes from a chemical released by the tree called terpene. The oil derived from the needle-like leaves is very effective against germs. For this reason, pine was used in some classic cleaners, and can have nostalgic associations for many consumers.

Rosemary and Thyme

Herbal notes have risen in popularity across several consumer segments, including all-purpose cleaners. Rosemary has an energizing scent. It is said to boost brain activity, improve memory, and help clear the air of malodors.

It is also an effective antidote for stress and anxiety. Rosemary combines well with citrus, lavender, sage, thyme, and eucalyptus to create a fragrance that can equally delight the senses and combat germs.

Rosemary is generally used in the middle, or heart notes to balance the fragrance between a top note such as citrus and a base note such as patchouli, sandalwood or amber. 

Thyme is another effective spice that works against bacteria and fungus. The scent of thyme is herbaceous and is quite strong. Other classic herbs – such as peppermint, lavender, tea tree, sage – may signal “clean” when used in all-purpose cleaners.

Importance of Fragrance in All-Purpose Cleaners

Fragrance can be a primary factor differentiating cleaning products in the market. Fragrance may even have the ability to “make or break” a product.

A discerning consumer wants many things from the humble cleaning product – and in many cases, it’s a wonderfully “clean” scent.

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