Public bathrooms are a dicey affair. So rarely are they well-appointed enough to be comfortable, by the time you get to the sink, you’re just glad if there’s enough soap left for a good scrub. Generally, the soap smells fine. Or at least it’s inoffensive and gone soon enough.
Then there are those bathrooms–stocked by some batty, misguided fool–that contain, not just soap, but Soap. Imagine the olfactory equivalent of being followed around by a close-talking Ethel Mermen. If you’re trying to enjoy a meal, forget it! You’ll be stuck smelling that fruity/floral nonsense every time your hands get near your face. Dear IFRA, when you’re done “eliminating allergens” from our favorite classics, you might turn your attention to the real problem: compulsory hand soap smell tattoos.
Here are the few praiseworthy outfits that get it right…
Their standard stuff with the blue label is my favorite. It smells exactly as soap should, with a jolt of peppermint. There’s a depth to the low end notes that remains ideally crisp, even as it fades. The hunt can end here, my friends.
Sure, it smells chemical and industrial. It also isn’t trying to pretend to be anything else. If you’ve just had to hunt for your keys in a sewer drain or cope with a burst trash bag only this smell will convince you that your hands are now good and clean. And really, shouldn’t the smell of hand soap only ever serve as proof that you’ve washed properly?
Southwest Airlines lavatory hand soap
This one blew my mind. I was having a stressful visit to the airplane lavatory–timed just before the turbulence got bad enough to get me forcibly pinned to my seat–that I smelled something familiar. From the tiny steel sink came wafting a sweetly aldehydic smell not unlike Lutens’s La Myrrhe. Yes, it’s a bit like hearing Wagner coming out of a flip-phone, but it’s also a good bit of fun at a fraction of the cost.