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Why do your favorite cleaners smell so awesome? It’s science! (Mostly.)

Would a rose by any other name really smell so sweet?

Why do your favorite cleaners smell so awesome? It’s science! (Mostly.)
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Seventh Generation

Smell may be the most undervalued of all of the senses — but it shouldn't be.

A McCann Worldgroup study even found that some millennials rank their sense of smell below their phone and laptop in terms of importance. But we actually pay attention to smells a lot more than you may realize, especially when choosing items that go in our homes.

Consumer data shows that we buy A LOT of scented cleaning products. In a 2014 study, a polling company found that 40% of American consumers considered whether a dishwashing detergent had "a pleasant fragrance" when buying it.


And it makes sense — our olfactory cells feed information to our brains about things we might not be able to see. According to some doctors and researchers, what we smell may even directly affect our moods and our minds.

GIF from "Broad City."

Next time you're picking up a new cleaning product, here's what three of the most common scents mean to your brain — and one scent you won't find in the cleaning aisle.

1. For our noses, lemon-iness is next to cleanliness.

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Even on their own, lemons are a popular tool for housecleaning. The juice of this lovely citrus has astringent properties for cleaning, and its oil is a powerful moisturizing wood cleaner and polish. Plus, it smells absolutely divine!

In aromatherapy, lemon oil is called the "rational" oil since it is believed to aid in the decision-making process. A study of lemon balm found that it may help improve mood and memory.

2. Lavender is loved for its calming powers (even when it doesn't really smell like lavender).

Image by iStock.

Like vanilla, lavender has become a very popular scent for cleaning products. Extracted from the flowers of the lavender bush, this gentle scent is flowery, woodsy, and slightly sweet.

When it comes to its use in cleaning products, you might not want to believe your nose. According to a scent specialist interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, many of the supposedly "lavender-scented" products on shelves today don't really smell like it. Since some consumers don't like the smell of lavender by itself — but really like the idea of things smelling like it — the products may be scented with things associated with the flowering shrub, like fresh fruit, vanilla, florals, and wood.

3. You don't need to speak the language of flowers to understand their scent-sual benefits.

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There's a reason so many lifestyle gurus recommend keeping a bouquet of fresh flowers in the home at all times — they really do make things feel special. One of the most popular scents in the world, rose is lauded in the aromatherapy world for its many health benefits. Devotees say the scent of roses can improve moods, boost libido, and improve circulation, and rose oil can do double duty as an astringent and antiseptic. One study by The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation even found that the presence of a floral aroma increased speed on a memory test.

4. One scent you won't find in cleaning products, even though you probably love it? Chocolate.

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Chocolate is one of the most delicious and recognizable smells. But despite all its enticing qualities, it's unlikely you'll find it in cleaning products anytime soon.

Products that smell like cooked food may get confused with actual cooking smells, and products that smell too sugary can make consumers think of sticky fingers — the last thing you want associated with a cleaning product.

When it comes to our happiness, pleasing scents can pack a powerful punch. But not all fragrances are made of safe and healthy chemicals.

For the most part, I don't mind being emotionally manipulated by nice-smelling cleaning products because it really does make the chore of tidying up feel less like one. But, at the same time, I want to know that the chemicals that make my house smell amazing aren't having adverse effects on my health. And for some fragrance additives, there's a chance they might do just that. Here's what Physicians for Social Responsibility found out:

"In 2008, in an effort to improve transparency, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) released a master list of over 3,100 chemicals that are used by the fragrance industry. Among the chemicals on the list are carcinogens like p-dichlorobenzene and styrene oxide; endocrine disruptors like galaxolide and tonalide (both synthetic musks); the phthalates diethyl phthalate (DEP) and di-isononyl phthalate (DINP); and problematic disinfectants like triclosan and ammonium quaternary compounds. Not surprisingly, numerous allergens are also included in the list. Unfortunately, there is no data provided on how commonly these chemicals are used, by amount or even by type of fragranced product."

Yikes, right? Plus, fragrance ingredients are often considered trade secrets and are not required to be disclosed on cleaning product packaging, so it's really hard to know what you're getting.

If you're worried about potentially harmful additives pumping up the sweet scents in your cleaning products, the smartest and easiest way to be in the know is to buy from companies that tell you the whole story of what they put into the products they sell you — no matter how delicious or soothing or sweetly they smell. Read up, buy smart, and then breathe in deeply!

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.