Pregnancy can bring about cravings from cliche comfort foods all the way to things that you normally don’t eat or smell. Cravings are not limited to food but also smells that you might have the urge to sniff. One of the smells that you might be craving is the smell of laundry detergent and soap.
Craving the smell of laundry detergent and soap during pregnancy is normal and is linked to pica and desiderosmia, both of which are linked to iron deficiency (which is common in pregnant women). However, there are chemicals in laundry detergents that may be harmful to you and your baby so it is best to opt for natural and gentler cleaning options.
Keep reading as we discuss why you have the urge to smell laundry detergent or soap while you’re pregnant and the different safety concerns that might arise from this craving.
Is it normal to crave smells during pregnancy?
Cravings are not only limited to food cravings during pregnancy but can also include craving for specific smells.
The desire to smell laundry detergent and soap is fairly common because the odor of cleanliness brings some sense of comfort to people. This craving is completely normal and can be related to pica and desiderosmia. These two conditions are common in pregnancy and are somewhat attributed to iron-deficiency anemia which is common especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Pica and desiderosmia can happen during any pregnancy and are not a sign that anything is unusual. Despite being two different conditions, they are both related to iron deficiency and are often related. These two conditions can affect you at the same time but the presence of one condition doesn’t necessarily mean that the other condition will also be present in your pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you will experience a surge in hormones which can cause you to react differently and feel different things that you don’t usually feel. This leads to cravings because your body is seeking comfort to help with the changes that it is undergoing.
If you experience cravings during your pregnancy, it is thought to be that your body is seeking something that it is lacking in terms of minerals and specific nutrients that are important to keep a healthy pregnancy.
Contrary to popular belief, pica can affect anyone – even if they are not pregnant. It is fairly common in children and studies show that it can be present in 25 to 30% of children.
What is pica during pregnancy?
Craving for the smell of laundry detergent and soap is normal during pregnancy and can be attributed to pica. Prolonged exposure to laundry detergent and soaps is not recommended because they have chemicals that can affect you and your baby.
Pica is an eating disorder that can occur during pregnancy. It is mainly characterized by the craving for objects that are not made for human consumption or non-food objects. Pica is thought of as a result of iron-deficiency anemia which is a common condition that can affect pregnant women, especially in the first trimester.
The origin of the word pica is Latin and translates to magpie, a scavenger bird that typically will eat anything hence the correlation between the bird and the condition. Pica can affect anybody including children, but most commonly affects pregnant women.
Pica does not have any solid scientific research to back up the condition but it is commonly thought of as a result of your body lacking iron and other nutrients that are important to keep your pregnancy healthy. It is considered an eating disorder and can also be attributed to hormonal changes that women face during their pregnancy.
Generally speaking, pica is normal and should not cause any concerns. However, if you think you are having symptoms of pica, you should consult with your doctor to make sure that there are no underlying issues that can affect your pregnancy.
What is desiderosmia during pregnancy?
Another condition that might arise during pregnancy is called desiderosmia. This condition is loosely connected to pica but it is characterized by specific cravings for smells instead of non-food objects.
Craving the smell of laundry detergent and soap during pregnancy is normal and can be attributed to desiderosmia. If you are having these cravings, you have to be careful because prolonged exposure can lead to increased risks in chemicals and toxins that are present in its chemical composition.
Like pica, desiderosmia is also connected to iron-deficiency anemia.
Is smelling laundry detergent bad during pregnancy?
The craving for the smell of laundry detergent during pregnancy is normal and fairly common. It is closely tied to pica and desiderosmia, both of which are conditions connected to iron-deficiency anemia. You have to be careful in exposing yourself to laundry detergent for longer periods of time because there are chemicals that can affect you and your baby’s development.
You should be careful whenever you are smelling laundry detergent during pregnancy because you might get exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate that can cause damage to internal organs and inflammation to your eyes, skin, and lungs.
The major component of commercial laundry detergent is typically an alkaline, which is a soluble salt. They are effective in removing stains from fabric and dirt without rubbing the fabric too much.
There are a plethora of chemicals from laundry detergent that can pose an increased risk to you and your baby, including:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Chlorine Bleach
- Ammonium Sulfate
What happens when you smell laundry detergent?
The craving for the smell of laundry detergent and soap during pregnancy is normal and can be caused by pica and desiderosmia which are conditions brought about by iron-deficiency anemia.
You must be aware of the risks that come about with smelling laundry detergent and the different effects that it can have on you and your baby. Many laundry detergents contain synthetic fragrances which can be toxic.
There are reports of people who feel sick after inhaling laundry detergent scents, which can also cause headaches, shortness of breath, and even cancer. Many synthetic smells are available but even if they smell pleasant to you, the organic compounds can turn into harmful gases.
Is the smell of laundry detergent toxic?
During pregnancy, it is normal to have a craving for the smell of laundry detergent and soap which can result from pica and desiderosmia. Both conditions are connected with iron-deficiency anemia.
Laundry detergent and dryer sheets are great tools to make your clothes smell great but scented laundry items can contain carcinogens. Because we don’t know the actual effects of smelling laundry detergent, it is best to avoid prolonged exposure to it. If you want to avoid any toxic chemicals from entering your system, you should opt for gentle and unscented laundry detergent to use.
Popular laundry detergents can contain more than 25 volatile air pollutants that can include acetaldehyde and benzene which are both not good for your health. Benzene can cause leukemia and blood cancers while Acetaldehyde can cause nasal and throat cancers in animal studies.
Are there pregnancy-safe laundry detergent options?
Since there are not enough studies that can assess if regular laundry detergent is safe to use during pregnancy, it is best to avoid prolonged exposure to it and choose gentler options. You can try making your handmade laundry detergent which skips all the chemicals and the overly-processed ingredients that can cause harm.
Here are some pregnancy-safe laundry detergents that you can use:
- Tide PODS Free & Gentle Laundry Detergent
- All Liquid Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin
- ECOS Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent
Is smelling soap bad during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, it is normal to have a craving for the smell of laundry detergent and soap. This specific craving is tied to pica and desiderosmia both of which are caused by iron-deficiency anemia.
Even though this craving is normal, smelling soap is not bad during pregnancy except for antibacterial soap. The main ingredient in regular soap is Sodium Hydroxide which is a traditional ingredient in soap-making. Low-level exposure to Sodium Hydroxide is not expected to be harmful to your unborn child.
On the other hand, you should completely avoid antibacterial soap when you are pregnant because it contains Triclosan and Triclocarban. These two chemicals have been found to negatively impact reproductive development in animals and potentially in humans as well. According to ACS, pregnant women and fetuses who were exposed to antibacterial compounds can face health risks.
In 2017, the FDA banned two dozen ingredients including Triclosan and Triclocarban and manufacturers are using other chemicals like Benzalkonium Chloride. These new chemicals have not been proven to be safe and are now labeled as “antimicrobial.”
The CDC suggests that to avoid exposure to unwanted chemicals, hand washing with warm soap and water is enough to kill viruses and bacteria that can spread. You can also use alcohol-based sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
Are there pregnancy-safe soap options?
The saying “Less is More” is very applicable to pregnancy. The fewer ingredients that are in your soap, the better it is for you. More ingredients mean that there is a higher chance of exposure to unwanted chemicals that can put you and your baby at risk.
If you are looking for safe soap options, look for unscented with natural ingredients. Here are some of the pregnancy-safe soap options that are available: