Odorless Cleaning Products for the Scent-Sensitive Migraineur
Last updated: December 2022
For the scent-sensitive migraineur, finding cleaning products that won't trigger an attack can be difficult. In my years of searching, I've found some excellent products, both store-bought and homemade, that are free of migraine-triggering odors. Most are low in chemical risk as well, according to the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Healthy Cleaning. While I'm not strictly anti-chemical, I do wonder if it isn't the scent of a product I react to but the chemicals that make up the product. Since I'm all about minimizing every possible trigger, I play it safe by checking EWG's database.
Which laundry and dish soap do I recommend?
Seventh Generation's unscented products are my go-to recommendation. I personally use their laundry detergent, fabric softener, dish soap, and dishwasher detergent. They are more expensive than conventional cleaners (though they are less expensive ordered online than purchased in a store), but are odor-free and low-chemical risk, according to EWG's database.
Which surface cleaners would I recommend?
Bon Ami and Bar Keeper's Friend, both of which can be found at most grocery stores, are inexpensive, odor-free choices for cleaning all surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, including toilets. Baking soda is also a good option, but requires a little more elbow grease. If your toilet has a special coating on it, check the manual to make sure it's OK to use an abrasive cleaner (I learned that the hard way).
What's a good disinfectant and stain remover?
Hydrogen peroxide, which you can dilute with water, can be used as a bleach or stain remover for white clothes and as a disinfectant. I put it in a spray bottle for cleaning up after prepping meat in the kitchen.
Which oil or polish would I recommend?
Jojoba oil is an excellent unscented option for oiling wood and polishing leather shoes. It's on the expensive end, but I've found it for a reasonable price at Trader Joe's and from online sources. Mineral oil might be a less costly option, though I don't have firsthand experience with it. Cooking oils are not a suitable substitute as they will go rancid after a time and smell stale.
What about homemade cleaners?
Making your own household cleaners is easy and inexpensive as long as you can tolerate the smell of white vinegar or lemon juice. Annie Berthold-Bond's book Better Basics for the Home is a comprehensive guide to homemade cleaning products, though an internet search will also yield tons of suggestions.
Do I trust fragrance-free or unscented cleaners?
If you're only concerned about odors and not chemicals, conventional cleaning products labeled "fragrance-free" or "unscented" are available at many grocery and big box stores. Although there are no legal guidelines for whether a product is called "fragrance-free" or "unscented," common wisdom is that "fragrance-free" is naturally without scent, while "unscented" means chemicals were added to mask the scent. In either case, it's best to smell them in the store to be sure you're OK with even a faint odor.
Which low or no odor cleaning products are your favorites?
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?