Soap / shampoo that doesn’t stink

I’ve long detested the way that just about every personal cleaning product that is sold has some added “fragrance”. I want to wash away odors, not mask them; but the people who bottle and sell such products don’t cater to my wants. Perhaps they live in some marketing bubble where they don’t know anyone with spartan tastes and so never consider us as potential customers. Notable in this regard is one shampoo I recently encountered which claimed to be “fragrance-free” but had a definite smell. Inspection of the list of ingredients revealed “burdock root” near the end; that substance is noted for its odor. The product seems to have been made for people who want their shampoo to be “fragrance-free”, not for people who want their shampoo not to stink.

But recently the realization finally hit: this is the Internet age; I can just buy sodium lauryl sulfate and mix it with water. And so it was: the stuff is cheap, and when mixed with about ten times as much water (by weight), it gives a clear solution which is absolutely odorless and works quite well for cleaning oneself. (I’ve long neglected the distinction between body wash and shampoo; as far as I can tell, either product works reasonably well for either purpose.) People with dry skin or delicate hair might find it too harsh, but for me it’s been fine. And of course there are plenty of alternatives; I chose sodium lauryl sulfate not after any real research but because I’d often seen it in ingredients lists for cleaning products and because I knew it was a detergent. There are real experts in this, whom one should consult if one has more refined needs; I’m not one of them.

The one drawback that seems worth mentioning is in the handling of the stuff. It came as a fine powder; when handling it some got into the air and mildly irritated my nose (though it still didn’t have any odor; the sensation was just of discomfort, not smell). Transferring 3 pounds of it to a storage container was unpleasant enough that I resorted to a dust mask (though doing it outdoors would also have worked; it wasn’t that bad). And although it dissolves pretty readily, it did still take some mixing. The stuff I got is supposedly food grade, at about $5/pound — yes, the government allows adding small amounts of detergent to food, though I sure won’t do that.