A scent journey by Artist Devon Baur


Laundry Detergent. 81.1% of survey takers reported this scent brought on memories immediately. The memories for 61.1% of all survery takers were general as opposed to specific.

The wordcloud presented was generated using the narratives written by the survey takers when prompted to smell laundry detergent. The most commonly used words were clothes, mom, mornings, and folding.


“It reminds me of the time I hugged my friend and their clothes smelled so good. Ever since then, when I smell this specific laundry detergent, I remember that time.” Date Unknown
“Running late to a soccer game and drying my clothes last minute-- I was about 14 years old. It makes me feel rushed and comforted at the same time. It is a pretty vivid memory because it still happens. One small detail I can remember is the garage (where my dryer is) being really hot and the clothes I grab also being warm.” 2017
“The laundry detergent reminds me of folding the piles and piles of laundry in my home. At times, I feel happy being able to do my family's laundry, and other times I feel like it's so laborious! But mostly, I feel grateful that I can fold my family's laundry in the morning where I don't have to be in an office or classroom.” Date Unknown
“Laundry detergent reminds me specifically of when I did my own laundry. My mom did all our laundry when I was living at home, because she did the whole family's together, but when I finally moved out and could do it on my own, it made me feel like a new chapter of my life had started. Something as simple as laundry allowed me freedom. The smell is also unique to me because my mom never used any detergent with a specific smell I could pinpoint because my brother and dad's skin were sensitive so then I got to finally wash my clothes with whatever smell I wanted.” September 2018
“I remember learning to do laundry with my mother the summer before I came to the Academy. She was very protective with her laundry machine but wanted to be sure I knew before I left. I remember being very prideful and feeling trusted as she let me load the machine.” Date Unknown 
“I always associate certain detergent smells with certain people. I have had friends who use strong smelling detergent and whenever I smell that detergent on someone else, I think of those people/friends. I am allergic to different scents so my detergent is typically scent free.” Date Unknown 
“This reminds me of summer mornings spent with my ex-girlfriend in the first house we lived in together. We were both in our early 20's. We would make bagel sandwiches and lavender lemonade for breakfast most mornings. The mornings were growing cooler as fall approached, and we would wrap ourselves in a large blanket as we ate breakfast on our back deck. Although we don't speak anymore, I look back on the memories from those mornings fondly.” Summer 2018
“I remember folding laundry with my mom for the first time. I remember playing some music in the laundry room while my mom and I danced around and folded pants and shirts. My mom showed me the proper way of folding towels and jeans, which I found to be less than interesting but was happy to be dancing around to music. By the time all the laundry was folded, my mom had a much larger pile of clothes folded than I, but I still enjoyed our time together.” October of 2010
“Whenever I walk past the laundry aisle in a store, I stop in the aisle to smell the powder laundry detergent.” Random times throughout the years
“Going to the laundry when I was 17. I asked my mom how much detergent I needed to pour. It was supposed to be a specific amount but I got it. I was relieved because my favorite shirt was part of the pile.” 2021
“The memory that came to mind was when I was 6 and would walk with my mom to the nearby laundromat to wash our clothes. I got a really happy feeling and the memory is sorta vivid. I remember playing the arcade games at the laundromat while waiting.” 2011
“Every morning during elementary school I’d sneak into my parents bed and watch tv at like 5:30 in the morning before school and just lay underneath the warm covers breathing it in. It reminds me of comfort and earth. It’s not super vivid but I remember watching phineas and ferb and fairly odd parents.” 2010-2015
“I learned how to do laundry as early as the age of 4. I always wanted to be the one that poured the soap into the washing machine. I would sit on top of the dryer while I watched my family member put a load into the machine. I felt emotions of curiosity and excitement when I smelled detergent. I still feel excitement when I smell laundry detergent because it's a pleasant smell.” 1999
“I was/am 17 years old. This was a recent memory of me washing clothes with my mom. It is quite vivid. Some small details are the cold, seemingly refreshing water running in the washer and the cold wet clothes being moved into the dryer.” Date Unknown
“My mom kept durable plastic containers from Costco that used to hold laundry detergent, and she directed me to use them when I needed to clean my fish tank and hold water. When I researched, prior to getting my fish, I knew that soap and soap materials were harmful to my fish. The container still held the smell of the detergent, which was in powder form, even after rinsing multiple times, so I was scared to use it. I did end up using it, without another bucket, but I felt guilty and only did it once, finding another that had been used more for reasons other than holding detergent and lost the same smell.” 2018


Laundry Detergent
Old Books


Smemory Theater is a short film that offers an abstraction of the survey results melded with personal experience. The narrative explores the gaps in memory that emerge from anosmia.