Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Call me scentsitive

Living in a condo means living with the occasional sounds & smells coming from your neighbours' unit. Being a largely Italian community, the smell of tomato sauce, onions & garlic is everywhere at lunchtime on Sunday, lol.  That doesn't bother me much, aside from making me hungry, lol.  We can smell the lemony scent of ammonia when the caretaker is mopping the ceramic tile floor outside the elevators, and the occasional smell of dryer sheets when we have the balcony doors open. We've also smelled the odd skunk outside, even though we're four floors up!

I never used to think of myself as particularly scent-sensitive. I used to love wearing perfume, and only gave it up when I started running into too many "fragrance-free" zone signs at work. I have pump bottles of Softsoap Vanilla Brown Sugar in all of our bathrooms.

On the other hand, my mother was never one for wearing perfume. She was an early adopter of fragrance-free laundry products (I use them too -- I had to run several cleaning cycles to remove the sickly sweet floral fragrance from our washer here -- clearly the previous owner used scented detergent).  Mom has walked out of hotels where she's had reservations because the cleaning staff clearly used a scented spray in the rooms. She claims it bothers her sinuses.

I remember the day I realized I was turning into my mother. I was sitting at my desk at work when a very strong floral smell started wafting into my cubicle. My eyes actually started watering & I got a tickle in my throat. I started coughing. "Does anyone else smell flowers?" I called out. I heard footsteps and a door close. The scent died away shortly after that. I later realized it was one of our young interns who sat near me; she must have heard me and gone to wash off whatever lotion or perfume she was wearing. I felt badly if I embarrassed her, but it really was affecting me.

Since then, I've noticed my increasing intolerance of strong fragrances more & more. I rarely wear perfume these days, even though I'm no longer at work. I've had to roll down the window when we've been in BIL's car, because he has one of those air fresheners in it. Lots of my friends rave about Bath & Body Works;  I can only spend so long in one of those stores. I do like some of their products (the White Citrus shampoo & lotion in particular), but I find the mixture of smells overpowering.

The other night, a strong, fruity/flowery smell started wafting into our unit. I was starting to get a headache. Dh finally opened the door & had a look outside. Someone -- we suspect the caretaker -- had installed one of those plug-in air freshener things into the outlet in the corner just outside our door. Dh noticed another one plugged in at the other end of the hallway, near the garbage disposal room (so it wasn't personal, lol). We have noticed they use these things in the main foyer & in the elevator space in the parking garage, but this was the first time we'd noticed one so close to our own unit. 

Dh unplugged it & moved it further down the hall from our door. It's not as strong now, but we can still smell it. I'm thinking of emailing the property manager about it. I can't believe that in a building of 120+ units, I'm the only one who's bothered by this. I'm a little surprised, actually, given the increasing awareness of scent-sensitivities and fragrance-free zones.

Are you scent-sensitive? Do strong smells bother you? 


  1. My boss douses herself in Opium Noir and it literally turns my stomach over. I open all the windows the minute she leaves. In the past few years I've started getting nauseated by a lot of the really heady high-street perfumes like Flowerbomb etc. Someone sprayed SJP Lovely on me the other day and I had to scrub it off. I can only wear recognisable, natural scents with one or two notes like grapefruit, lavender, neroli, bergamot, vetiver; I like men's colognes. Our neighbours are African and fry fish a lot - it permeates our entire house and even clings to fabrics; it smells quite rancid and extremely fishy, I'm not sure why. The other day it turned my guts inside out.
    I guess the answer is yes then! It started over the last ten years and I have a theory that my endometriosis exacerbates this, as I get a lot of nausea in the night for no reason. I burn oils in my house but am very selective about which ones (ginger, lime, cinnamon at Xmas; rose has recently started to make me pukey). Interesting topic, I'm actually a niche perfume freak despite all that!

  2. I can't be around strong synthetic scents. Thankfully with my line of work it's not much of an issue (bleach is the main perfume), but I struggle on public transit and another those who are desensitized.

    I would write management if it's bothering you. They likely don't know and if the point is to mask an odor, then they should be addressing the odor instead. I don't think you're the only one but you will likely be the first to report as most tend not to.

  3. I am! I cannot be around scented candles, car/house fresheners etc, their smell makes me sick. I still can wear perfumes but not all of them so I need to be very picky. One time I got a sample of Angel fragrance and sprayed it on my wrist. That night I had an acute bronchospasm and I thought my airway would close and I suffocate, it was so bad... Next day I went to my doctor who became very mad at me for not going to ER because it was a medical emergency. Now I'm very careful with fragrances and take people who claim allergies very seriously!

  4. Now what a coincidence! After writing my posting a BDay gift got delivered, a fragrance set! I really hope I will do well with it because it's such a lovely scent and gift. :)

  5. I'm not allergic to perfumes, but I can't stand strong scents. My mother was the type to bathe herself in perfume. I can still smell it on some of her things over 3 years after her death.

    Mom also lived in a condo, and her neighbors were smokers. So she would put the plug-in air freshener in the hallway - and the smoking neighbors would complain about it! They used to have such drama in that building - it was hilarious for me to watch, since I didn't have to live there. Parking, renovations, snow plowing, air fresheners, pets, noise, children - someone was always complaining about something.

  6. I am very sensitive to scents too! Best case I get a whopping headache and worst case I have an asthma attack. I rarely wear any scents of any kind and there is only one scent that hubs can wear that doesn't make me wheeze. Planes are the absolute worst for me because it seems like there is always at least one person with a strong perfume/cologne on.

    1. When someone orders a mini tube of Pringles on a plane my heart sinks. The smell of Sour Cream and Chives is then blasted around the plane - pure vom.

  7. I have a sensitive nose, as well. However, I do love Bath and Body Works. I am a sucker for a man wearing cologne and love when my husband wears it. I think I am more sensitive to industrial or chemical kind of smells. If we eat tuna or sushi, I either take out the trash after we eat or wrap it up with other trash and buddy it in the kitchen trash can. Hope management at your condo is understanding!