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You're really choosing soap over your grandkid?

Dear Prudence,

My son and his wife are upset with me for the scent my laundry soap leaves behind when I visit their house and/or hold my granddaughter. They’ve mentioned it before to me, that it’s strong and to not use so much, to which I’ve replied it’s very concentrated and I only use a tiny bit. I use Zum, it’s a clean, non-toxic laundry soap made with essential oils. I also use the bar soap in the shower. Everyone else around me, including strangers, have gone out of their way to tell me how great it smells and ask me what it is. People have stopped in front of my house just to smell the air when I’m doing laundry. It’s clearly a matter of like/dislike.

I recently babysat my granddaughter in my son’s home while they were working from home. My daughter-in-law’s mother usually watches her two days a week there, but she is away on vacation. I was the fill-in. My son messaged me two days after I was there that his couch still smelled like me and he made it clear he was unhappy about it and that I was being stubborn and inconsiderate for still using this soap that they’ve told me before they didn’t like. I offered to use a different laundry soap on an outfit to wear to his house the following week when I babysit, but he replied “I don’t think it works that way, LOL. You can’t just use a different detergent that doesn’t leave an odor that hits you in the face when you walk in the door of someone’s house.” My son was very confrontational in his message. He said when I sit on his furniture it leaves a smell for days.

I offered a solution of keeping separate clothes and yet he mocked me. I said I’m not sure what you really expect me to do then? He ended our conversation by telling me that he didn’t need me to babysit the following week.

I am so hurt now that they’re going to keep me from my granddaughter to force me to change my products. I use this soap because it has no harsh chemicals, and I learned about using safer products when my sister had breast cancer and we attended a seminar about household products and chemicals. I do think they’re having unrealistic expectations and are being disrespectful to me in their ask.

I could clearly switch to laundry detergent to appease them, but at this point I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. Am I wrong? Is it because I’m the paternal grandmother? I know we usually are the punching bag but this just seems silly to me. I don’t know, I’m at a loss here and not sure what to do.

—Heartbroken Grandma

Re: You're really choosing soap over your grandkid?

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    Heartbroken?  Over SOAP!?! 

    FFS how swept up into the essential oil craze are you that you actually think this stuff is essential??  

    An immediate family member is telling you how he loathes that scent, how it's an issue and how the VERY EASY remedy is to find something else.  

    How obtuse can you be?  He and the family find the scent overpowering.  So stop using it.  If you need it that badly then get a spray bottle of that essential oil and use it on your sheets before you go to bed.  

    Also, if your laundry smells so much that people know you're doing it from outside, it's obviously overpowering.  

    You have a very real option in front of you that can be sought from the very keyboard you used to write this letter.  That you refused to even look into it means that you're not only guilty of refusing to see that you're the problem it also means you lack the intelligence where your son trusts your judgement. 
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    I think there is something else going on here. I understand that LW wants a non-toxic laundry detergent - there are many out there. She has offered solutions to her son and he has mocked her (according to LW). In my experience, essential oils don't hang around that long (for days). I'd be interested to hear the son's side of the story. However, I would not start using a main stream detergent  just because he says so - I'd want o know what is really going on here.
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    I think there is something else going on here. I understand that LW wants a non-toxic laundry detergent - there are many out there. She has offered solutions to her son and he has mocked her (according to LW). In my experience, essential oils don't hang around that long (for days). I'd be interested to hear the son's side of the story. However, I would not start using a main stream detergent  just because he says so - I'd want o know what is really going on here.
    My experience is that you can't smell that someone is doing laundry from outside to the point that it stops walkers.  

    So....something the LW is not passing my smell test. 
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    but....but....i smell so good!?
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    My experience is that you can't smell that someone is doing laundry from outside to the point that it stops walkers.  

    So....something the LW is not passing my smell test. 
    I have smelled fabric softener sheets when I've walked outside. I've never stopped and commented but maybe some people do.
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    For real though - buy a lot of 2nd hand clothes for both myself and the boys and it is amazing how long a scent can linger from someone elses laundry soap even after i've washed multiple times. It gives me a headache and is likely just those scent beads or mainstream detergent. I can't imagine having something this potent. I actually think her suggestion of separate clothes is a decent one, but she'd have to keep them at sons' house otherwise they'll smell like her anyway. Idk, i can't imagine my kid having an aversion to something, the consequence of not changing is not seeing my grandchild, and i'm fighting that? Just use a different soap. 
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    Casadena said:
    For real though - buy a lot of 2nd hand clothes for both myself and the boys and it is amazing how long a scent can linger from someone elses laundry soap even after i've washed multiple times. It gives me a headache and is likely just those scent beads or mainstream detergent. I can't imagine having something this potent. I actually think her suggestion of separate clothes is a decent one, but she'd have to keep them at sons' house otherwise they'll smell like her anyway. Idk, i can't imagine my kid having an aversion to something, the consequence of not changing is not seeing my grandchild, and i'm fighting that? Just use a different soap. 
    Yes but those high scent detergents/softeners aren't marketed as non-toxic, environmentally friendly because those scents are usually what is considered toxic. That is why I think there is something else playing out here.
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    My experience is that you can't smell that someone is doing laundry from outside to the point that it stops walkers.  

    So....something the LW is not passing my smell test. 
    I have smelled fabric softener sheets when I've walked outside. I've never stopped and commented but maybe some people do.
    But if the scent is that overpowering she can't be both using not a lot and smelling up the neighborhood.  And dryer sheets and the laundry scent are different.   The dryer vents to the outside and the dry sheet is put in the dryer.  If people are smelling her soap while the product is drying what she's saying is that the smell of the soap is so powerful that once its rinsed off the clothing it remains so potent that its venting to the outside. 

    And the point is that she hasn't looked into other options.  She's only looked at 'how little she uses' and essentially stating that the son is the problem.    It's soap not a kid.  She needs to be better. 
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    Casadena said:
    For real though - buy a lot of 2nd hand clothes for both myself and the boys and it is amazing how long a scent can linger from someone elses laundry soap even after i've washed multiple times. It gives me a headache and is likely just those scent beads or mainstream detergent. I can't imagine having something this potent. I actually think her suggestion of separate clothes is a decent one, but she'd have to keep them at sons' house otherwise they'll smell like her anyway. Idk, i can't imagine my kid having an aversion to something, the consequence of not changing is not seeing my grandchild, and i'm fighting that? Just use a different soap. 
    Yes but those high scent detergents/softeners aren't marketed as non-toxic, environmentally friendly because those scents are usually what is considered toxic. That is why I think there is something else playing out here.
    I bought a non toxic cleanser from an EO company.  The scent was so powerful that DH outright said, "I hate that.  Please stop using it."    So sure Tide and Gain are known for using the toxic scents but plenty of the other companies are guilty of using potent scents. 
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    OMG.  I get it.  The LW likes Zum.  But apparently it has a super strong odor that lasts for days that the son and his family don't like.

    Find a different soap and laundry detergent already.  There are hundreds of non-toxic versions.

    @mrsconn23 could have titled this post "More than four laundry detergents in the world"
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    @banana468 I get what your saying. I'm saying there may be something else going on too! That is why I'd like to know the other side of the story. 
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    mrsconn23 said:


    I could clearly switch to laundry detergent to appease them, but at this point I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. Am I wrong? Is it because I’m the paternal grandmother? I know we usually are the punching bag but this just seems silly to me. I don’t know, I’m at a loss here and not sure what to do.

    —Heartbroken Grandma

    I agree there's more to this whole 'fight'.  The bolded is why.  I think a request was made and LW took massive offense to it and is now walking up the hill with the cross and going to nail herself to it and be all, "Y'all KILLED ME!"  
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    My experience is that you can't smell that someone is doing laundry from outside to the point that it stops walkers.  

    So....something the LW is not passing my smell test. 
    I have smelled fabric softener sheets when I've walked outside. I've never stopped and commented but maybe some people do.
    My mom has an extreme reaction to most chemicals.  One of her neighbors uses a fabric softener that will set her illness off.  She can only slightly smell it when they use it.  But as soon as she does, she has to make sure all the windows are closed to keep as much of the outside air from getting into the house as possible.

    She always tempted to ask them not to use fabric softener.  But knows it's not a fair request to them.

    When my H and I go to visit her, we pack our suitcase and what we will be wearing a couple days ahead of time so we know exactly what clothes we are bringing.  Then we wash everything in whatever laundry detergent she is currently using, so we know she won't have a reaction.

    Cleaning products are some of the worst for her.  It's gotten to the point where she can't fly or stay in hotels anymore because she will feel sick for weeks from the wide variety of cleaners/chemicals in those industries.  Her and her H only travel nowadays with their own RV.  It's made her world so small and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
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    MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot member
    First Comment First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited February 16
    My MIL wears way too much perfume. She was here last weekend and I can still smell it, even though the sheets have been washed and the floors have been mopped. It's not really relevant, I've just been noticing it all week.

    But anyway, I don't think this is really about the soap either. LW comes off as a bit of unreliable narrator, but if the son really responded as she phrased it, he's digging his heels in about something else too. 
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    I looked this laundry up and the scents are patchouli, frankincense, and myrrh. Those are some STRONG scents even in small quantities. I’d have a hard time being around those all the time. 

    It sounds like LW is looking for something to be upset by and this it. 
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    I looked this laundry up and the scents are patchouli, frankincense, and myrrh. Those are some STRONG scents even in small quantities. I’d have a hard time being around those all the time. 

    It sounds like LW is looking for something to be upset by and this it. 
    Yeah.  It absolutely reads as "Everyone else likes it so what's his problem and why should I have to change for him?" 

    I have had conversations like this with Chiquita.   And for her it's pin pointed at behavior.  But she's said things like, "You tell me I shouldn't have to modify who I am to please other people so why do I have to do that now?"  And I have to tell her, "Sweetheart there's a difference between being quirky and people telling you that something you do is pissing them off so you continue to do that.  Then that stops being a part of your behavior and you've moved onto being a jerk. "  

    This is the LW for me.  People close to her have picked this battle and her answer is that they're wrong for having picked it.  They're sticking to their guns and she is too but the end result is reduced time with her son and grandchild.  She gets to figure out what is more important as the son doesn't budge: soap or your grandkids.  


    And at this point if I was the son I'd likely see it as a pattern of behavior that "Mom never thinks that what she does could be viewed at as anything but fantastic by others so when I tell her that it bothers me it's my problem."  And suddenly she gets to face the consequences of that approach. 
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