Keep Laundry Fragrance Booster Pellets out of Reach of Kids and Pets

kid sitting in laundry basket next to mother putting clothes in the washing machine

The Bottom Line

Laundry fragrance boosters are scented, dissolvable beads intended to extend the smell of fresh laundry for weeks beyond the wash date. Currently available products are relatively safe even when swallowed by children.

stack of towels in front of washing machine

The Full Story

Laundry fragrance boosters are fairly new to the market. They promise to extend the smell of fresh laundry for weeks beyond the wash date. This could mean that a towel washed 3 weeks ago and sitting in a linen closet smells fresh when you take it out to use.

The technology behind these products works in multiple different ways. They are primarily made from something that will dissolve quickly and also adhere to or incorporate into the fabrics that they touch. They have fragrances that are immediately noticeable but are also slow release to persist for weeks.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 8000 is a common ingredient in laundry fragrance boosters. Polyethylene glycols can be found in many everyday products. For example, PEG 3350 is a well-known laxative that is taken prior to a colonoscopy. The number after the name stands for the average molecular weight of the PEG in a product. As the number increases, the toxicity of the product actually decreases. Numbers higher than PEG 3000 are not readily absorbed.

When a taste of a laundry fragrance booster is swallowed, there is no need for concern. There can be some minor irritation in the mouth. A drink of choice should be given to dilute it—no more than 8 oz for adults and 4 oz for children is enough. Even a mouthful in a child will likely be safe enough to be managed at home; however, it is likely that there will be stomach upset, nausea, and perhaps some vomiting. Never try to make someone vomit.

If someone has swallowed or tasted a laundry fragrance booster, please log onto the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool for guidance or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. Whether you log on or call, expert assistance is available 24 hours a day.

Pela Soto, PharmD, BSHS Pharmacogenomics, BS Microbiology
Certified Specialist in Poison Information

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • These products can have vibrant colors and pleasant scents that are attractive to children. Keep out of children’s sight and reach.
  • Fragrance booster pellets are meant to be poured right from the container. They will dissolve in your hand. If you or a child touches or picks up a pellet, wash hands with soap and water. 

This Really Happened

A 4-year-old girl took a laundry fragrance booster bead and stuck it up her nose. Her father could no longer see the pellet and was worried so he called Poison Control, which advised him to have his daughter blow her nose and have a drink of water. Since these products dissolve quickly, Poison Control felt that it would dissolve and run down the back of her throat. The father was advised to call again with any problems. Poison Control called back 6 hours later and was told that the girl had no symptoms after blowing her nose and drinking water.

For More Information

Downy Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster (Safety Data Sheet). Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble; [revised 2015 Mar; cited 2021 Aug 30].

Dreft Blissfuls In-Wash Scent Booster (Safety Data Sheet). Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble; [revised 2015 Mar 25; cited 2021 Aug 30].

Gain Fireworks In-Wash Scent Booster (Safety Data Sheet). Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble; [revised 2015 Mar; cited 2021 Aug 30].


References

Fruijtier-Pölloth C. Safety assessment on polyethylene glycols (PEGs) and their derivatives as used in cosmetic products. Toxicology. 2005 Oct 15;214(1–2):1–38.

McKenna T, Macgill A, Porat G, Friedenberg FK. Colonoscopy preparation: polyethylene glycol with Gatorade is as safe and efficacious as four liters of polyethylene glycol with balanced electrolytes. Dig Dis Sci. 2012 Dec;57(12):3098–105.

Wei M, Pan X, Rong L, Dong A, He Y, et al. Polymer carriers for controlled fragrance release. Mater Res Express. 2020;7:082001.

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • These products can have vibrant colors and pleasant scents that are attractive to children. Keep out of children’s sight and reach.
  • Fragrance booster pellets are meant to be poured right from the container. They will dissolve in your hand. If you or a child touches or picks up a pellet, wash hands with soap and water. 

This Really Happened

A 4-year-old girl took a laundry fragrance booster bead and stuck it up her nose. Her father could no longer see the pellet and was worried so he called Poison Control, which advised him to have his daughter blow her nose and have a drink of water. Since these products dissolve quickly, Poison Control felt that it would dissolve and run down the back of her throat. The father was advised to call again with any problems. Poison Control called back 6 hours later and was told that the girl had no symptoms after blowing her nose and drinking water.