Neighbour Wants Us to Change Laundry Detergent

Hi all,

Happy new year!

Wondering what everyone would do in my situation. Would you agree/comply? Or would you ignore the email hoping to never bump into them in person? Would you stand your ground and not switch (probably damaging the relationship)? Would you do something else?

Brief background:
I live in a 4 unit block where the shared laundry is beneath Unit 1. The owner of Unit 1 has emailed us on NYE asking us to change to a sensitive laundry detergent (eg OMO Sensitive) as it supposedly has no added/artificial fragrance. She states she has become extremely sensitive to artificial fragrances and it is impacting her health… Something called "second hand fragrance".

We've already as a group agreed to restrict the times we are allowed to use the laundry room and spent a few grand of strata funds to renovate the laundry to reduce the noise from the dryers. The other two units seemed to have changed their detergents, so I am thinking it is probably just easier to just switch to avoid any further conflict…despite my reluctance on principle.

This is the most recent complaint of many since we bought out unit…she has complained about multiple things impacting 3 of her 5 senses in that time already… Just waiting on complaints relating to taste and touch now…

Whilst we are not close for other reasons, we are civil to each other and I have nothing against her (apart from the regular complaints about various things), so I wouldn't want it to turn into an ACA exclusive story. On one hand I feel sorry for her if smells and sounds from the laundry room is reducing her quality of life, but on the other I feel like she has no right to dictate what detergent we use… We have already compromised and restricted when we can use the laundry room (which is very inconvenient at times), so I feel like this is pushing the limit somewhat.


For the last couple of months I have noticed you have changed your laundry detergent to a brand or type that is stronger smelling together with the fact that you are now using your dryers a lot more. This was previously only a problem with unit 3, so I had to speak to them again and the difference since they changed has been a significant improvement.

I have become very sensitive to strong smelling artificial fragrances and can not stand my bedroom and apartment smelling like a steamy laundry, so further to the email I sent previously below, which at the time was essentially directed to unit 3, can you please change your detergent to a 'sensitive type' preferably all the time but especially when using dryers as I am unable to open my windows for fresh air, which is essential for my health and well being. I understand detergents are expensive so I always stock up when on sale at half price, Woolworths currently have half price sale of OMO sensitive, but most brands also has a version.

I can post the original email she sent to all units in May also if anyone is interested.

EDIT: Thank you all for your input, at least I'm not the only one thinking it is unreasonable in some respects.

Was just at my cousin's place telling her about my predicament and she gave me half a bottle of liquid OMO sensitive! She said she doesn't like it or use it, prefers the powder Aldi one. Winning!

So I think I will send her something along these lines:

Hi <name>,

Firstly I just want it on record that I dispute that we have been using "our dryer a lot more". I always try to use the line where possible to save money on electricity and because the dryer damages the clothes. I would think if our laundry usage has increased (on average), then it would have been since our daughter has been born?

Having said this, we will start using sensitive going forward when we know we will be using the dryer. Please be aware there will probably be a period of transition whilst we finish up our current detergent and are able to buy the sensitive detergent on sale.


Poll Options

  • 14
    Change Detergent
  • 79
    Don't Change Detergent
  • 15
    Other (e.g. Change with but with conditions)


  • +110

    I would tell her to piss off.

    Her symptoms are real but psychological. If she cannot get over them then she should move house rather than micromanage other people's lives.

    Or if you want to be nice tell her you've changed detergent but don't, her symptoms might clear up mysteriously.

    • +68

      She can't move in the current market I assume?

      We all keep our detergents in the laundry room, so even if she couldn't smell the difference, she would see it was the same. My wife suggested we use our normal detergent in a sensitive bottle…so along the same lines hahaha

      • +85

        Tell her you are willing to switch if she is willing to foot the differance in detergent price, ie she buys and you pay her what you would for current.

        It is unreasonable for her to expect you to wear higher cost to satisfie her needs.

      • +34

        My wife suggested we use our normal detergent in a sensitive bottleā€¦so along the same lines hahaha

        Your partner is right . Try as an experiment on plasibo.

        • +26

          The word you are look for is placebo.

        • +26

          You should correct the above sentence to "The word you are lookING for is placebo"!!

        • +3

          @lahiruwan: Yeah, i remember typing "looking", don't know why it come out as "look".

        • +1

          @highdealer: When we all know what we are looking for, who are we looking for then? :-P

        • +5

          These aren't the words you're looking for.

        • @highdealer:
          i blame the autocorrect, or is it spell checker? is there a difference?

        • These are not the smelly detergents you are looking for.

      • +1

        i only reson she need or want you to use sensitive detergents is skin rash or skin problem. i live in unit block rule every body used sensitive stuff one person skin rash problem if i was i put normal detergent is sensitive bottle

        • +2

          Just wait till a hippie comes along and demands everyone do green cleaning and hunt down soap nuts to make their own washing stuff XD

      • +4

        If anything, it would be an interesting experiment to see if she's full of shit or not….

      • +3

        that is her problem not yours.. you just keep washing your clothes.. she really shouldn't live a unit if she has special conditions.. i wouldn't even respond to the email..

      • +7

        John I've written your reply for you:

        Dear insanely sensitive and painful neighbour,

        I'd like to take this opportunity to explain to you that my laundry habits are about as much business of yours as my bowel movements. If you have a future grievance which doesn't involve some form of legal obligation for others to comply then kindly mind your own business.

        The next time you feel the need to complain about the personal preferences of others residing in this shared community, I suggest you revise your living arrangements first. You are not forced to live here or bound to this residence by law, but you are however required to tolerate the human habits of many others however distasteful, disgusting or irritating you find them. Just as I am required to tolerate you.

        Yours in complete discombobulation


    • +23

      Her symptoms are real but psychological.

      It might be a tumor.

      • +40

        It's nut a tooma!!!

        • Detective John Kimble agrees!

      • +9

        It's Lupus.

    • +9

      I`d tell her to buy you the better detergent if she wants you to use it..Her "problems" might end up saving you some $dollars

    • +7

      I don't think psychological is the right word. Sensory is a more suitable word and these types of conditions can't be resolved by just thinking a different way. Sesory issues are not something that can be resolved by just getting used to things.

      It's unfortunate that the person living in the unit can't move into accomodation where they have their own laundry and plenty of ventilation around their home. I hope they are able to find a suitable living space in the future.

      • +1

        'Psychological' could perhaps be a valid all-encompassing and non-specific term. 'Psychosomatic' may be more appropriate in this case.

        This sounds somewhat like 'electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome' whereby people believe they are affected by WiFi and other electromagnetic emissions which have been around for about 14.3 billion years. Or even 'wind farm syndrome', which mysteriously disappears when 'sufferers' are compensated compared to 'sufferers' who are not?

        In many cases the symptoms are quite real, but no real environmental factor can be scientifically ascribed. And when control tested the symptoms don't occur. (Also like water diviners and psychics' who cannot perform under controlled circumstances.)

        I don't doubt the neighbour has some symptoms, and that they believe they are caused by detergent. If the entire apartment complex was very close, friendly, lovey-dovey, just for the sake of harmony I would change. I would fear that if you do change what you use, perhaps some other factor would soon take its place. (Turn off your WiFi perhaps?)

    • +7

      Buy your own washing machine and run it during the middle of the night
      We had a persons like this in our complex. Cost the body corp a heap of money and then 12 months later she moved out. Go figure!

      • We each own our own machines but they are located in a shared laundry room as each unit doesn't really have space to accomodate them. Building was built over 100 years ago…there is nothing stopping us from using the machines any time we please, apart from the "gentlemen's agreement" between all parties to say we will only use within the agreed times for the sake of Unit 1.

        • So there are 4 washing machines in there and nothing stopping anyone from using anyone else's?

        • +1

          @CVonC: Correct! (and 4 dryers)

    • better call saul anyone?

    • Sad how everyone thinks she is infringing on them when all she wants is for them to stop infringing on her.
      I suffer the same reaction to fragrance (chemicals that release odour (or volatile organic compounds VOCs), just like paint does.)
      Others around me pollute the air and i suffer as a result and then they are offended when i try to regain my right to fresh air. Where do people think we should go? A leper colony?
      Is it that beneath you to show a little consideration for another?

      • A leper colony. Hahahah

  • +62

    I would do it as long as she provides the powder for you at her cost.

    • +11

      I did check and there is usually a dollar or two difference between normal and sensitive (even on special) so maybe I could get ask her to pay the difference??? haha

      • +30

        Mate don't bend over backwards for her as it's a slippery slope. You've already been accommodating for her and given her an inch and now she's taking you for a mile. Soon she'll want you to start doing her washing for her as you're using the same detergent.

      • +12

        At the very least she should pay the difference. But since you have some leverage, you could at least try to get her to cover total cost.
        Just reply along the lines that your happy to change however you currently receive laundry powder for free from work/friend/friends work etc, and that she would need to cover the cost of the special sensitive powders as these are not available from your normal source.
        If it really does cause issue for her and isn't just a nuisance, she will pay.

      • +10

        There is no difference in price between the normal and sensitive when it is on sale.
        I always stock up on the sensitive at $10 for 2L, and have never paid full price.
        It's usually half price at Coleworths/IGA every month.

        She might also be suffering from some sort of medical condition, and in hindsight would have probably not live there if she had known.

      • +2

        No, i wouldnt ask her to pay the differencce. I would ask her to provide it, period. If she doesnt want to then you continue to use what you like.

    • +14

      I would do it as long as she provides the powder for you at her cost.

      This, period.

      No splitting any differences or any such bullshit…you just tell her you'll use whatever brand she buys, and make sure she buys enough for what you need, not what she wants you to have…problem solved for her, and you can't be any fairer than that.

      • +16


        Reply stating if the laundry is kept stocked of fragrance free detergent that you are happy to use it to alleviate her perceived sensory invasion. If the laundry is not kept stocked you will have to byo detergent.

      • +6

        That's being nice. I'd just leave a basket of laundry at her door and request it be returned within 24 hours fully laundered using whatever detergent she likes.

      • +1

        Yep, if it's such a big issue for her, she shouldn't mind letting you use a scoop of her detergent every other day. If not tell her the last lot you bought in bulk so you've got another 6 months before you need to buy some more.

  • +36

    I have mildly sensative skin so for several years I have used fragrance free soap and washing powder which has helped. Now if I get in a lift or sit or stand next to someone who uses perfumed washing powder I find it quite overbearing. I understand where your neighbour is coming from, so it would be nice to help out. Perhaps after a while you yourself will notice how heavily scented washing powders are.

    • +32

      Are you his neighbour?

      • +8

        Only moved in this year!

        • When you purchased the unit, was there any report of difficulties with washing times and relationships that your solicitor should have uncovered?

          1. Can the laundry room be split up into 4 compartments, including sinks?.

          3 Perhaps a combination under counter dryer washer combination would solve her problem and the 3 units could buy out her share of laundry for price of a washer/dry combo less key and reno costs lol

    • +8

      I do understand and feel sad on your skin problem.

      However everyone have their living style and how could any one restrict other to use or do whatever because of them? sound a bit selfish but if you are willing to do something in return then I would change the washing powder.

      IMO I just use whatever I am using and happy about it, if you would like me to change to in favor you, then you should pay for this (do something in return) and it will be a win-win situation.

      Everyone pay a same ratio strata to live in the their unit, the shared laundry located close to unit 1 is the fact everyone know about it from day 1, when unit 1 bought their unit they also know(should know this) and whinge about it after they move in will not be accepted.

      They demand more and more but they have no ground on it. I will 100% not change if full cost on the washing powder is covered.

      • +1

        I smell everything too, the solution is to apply perfume right under your nose. Unless it's an awful stench that isn't radiating from someone, I don't expect people to change for me. That's exactly how you find your neighbours taking a dump on your doorstep. - We called the police btw, luckily had cameras.

    • Totally agreed!! As detergent company would like to supply as much cheap fragrant as possible ( as opposed to good cleaning agent) to lure customers to buy their products .

  • +4

    Just tell her to get a life :)

    • +8

      Or give her a clothes peg for her nose.

  • +6

    It really is her problem, she chose that unit and knew about the proximity to the laundry. In saying that, I'd probably agree but ask she buy the first box of replacement powder

    • Yeah, she didn't realise at the time how much it would impact her in sound and smell. I empathise with her, we all make mistakes. We've stocked up on our detergent and always seem to miss the sensitive on special, so maybe that is a good idea. Or I could just use her one until we see it on special again/need more!

      • +8

        Since she mentioned half price sales, tell her to buy lots when half price and you buy off her at that price. That way, not your problem if you're always missing the sensitive on special.

  • +3

    That's her problem if her situation has changed/developed since the initial agreement. She can't force anyone to change their quality of life just because it impacts her and herself only. If she's that sensitive, she should move out and live in an independent house or buy her own equipment.

    There was a similar case in judge Judy, (despite it being under an American laws, it makes sense), the non complainer won.

  • +5

    I wouldnt even entertain this nutcase

    I would tell her to bugger off, you have the right to use any powder you see fit in the shared laundry environment, second hand fragrence, what a crock of sh!t
    She lives above the Laundry and creating dramas over issues with your powder

    It is a "shared facility" if she has any concerns about her health tell her to take it up with strata, I would not be changing my preferred powder for some nutcase
    All it does then is give him / her the ammunition to bully you and the other residents into other matters

    I would simply keep on using the same powder, I would make her pay for the powder at her expense, why should you be inconvienienced over someones "so called" issues wit the powder, I think shes personally on the meth, whats next tinfoiling the windows to keep the UV rays out from her unit.

    Shes a nutter

  • +1

    Stand your ground and not switch, you have done more than enough already what will be the next complaint? Why would someone with these sort of so called problems live in a unit complex?

    • +3

      Most units have their own laundry where you supply your own washer and in most cases dryer
      I agree completely
      I live in a complex of 38 and most of the people here are arrogant p**cks
      Most namely using the visitor spaces instead of the actual allocated parking

      I am dealing with the issue by going to body corporate, the new building managers are useless

      4 units would be so much easier

      • +4

        You would think so, but small block also comes with its downsides :(

  • it's not like you do your laundry every day? surely she can close her windows and door at that time?

    if she doesn't like nice smell maybe she like smell of garbage bin instead? put it open under her balcony lol… sarcasm

    seriously it's her problem, not yours. if she want the convenience to open her window then tell her to pay the difference between sensitive and normal laundry powder.

    or tell her you can't afford to pay for the more expensive powder.

    it's probably because on previous incidents, she "won". That's why she keep asking for different thing suitable for her…
    Next she is going to ask you to change your food ingredient because it's smelly lol….

    • +2

      We probably average 1 or 2 loads a week. I think that is pretty normal?

      But with the other 2 units also, I can see how the laundry room might be used quite often.

      • +1

        I liked the other guys idea, heres what you do, spread prawn paste under her balcony. If she was not insane before tracking the rotting fish smell will make her.

        • +3

          She might love it? Apparently it's only artificial fragrances. Not sure how she copes working in an office in the CBD…

        • +1

          @John Kimble:

          Even on the train to and from office during weekday

        • @John Kimble: That would be hilarious! As to me (I smell all, including blood) the city smells like two things: 1. trash 2. fast food.

        • @anastasiastarz: Relate big - been time used vics at times - but there is always an upside/downside - phenomenal awareness. The later was such fun in adolescent times.

      • +1

        1-2 average is very normal.. wait until you have kids :)

        since your other neighbor already change their powder, her problem is with you using the dryer while using normal powder… so why not mention the fact that it's only 2 x 2-3 hours per week that she need to close her windows? Surely it's acceptable? Who open their windows 24x7 anyway?

        or other solution is : make a vent for dryer straight to the roof so she doesn't need to inhale the "fume" ?

        cost should be be split between all owner, see how she will change her mind if it cost her money for her convenience :)

        i don't know what kind of person your neighbor is, but as said before, i worry that if other owner keep giving in to her demand, she will demand more and more… (which you seems to be concerned with as well).

        good luck with it :) that's why i will never consider live in apartment or similar type…

        • We have a 13 month old who has had a few accidents in the last couple of weeks, so that is the only reason I can think she feels we are using more. I still don't think we are using more in the last couple of months, we would have been using more since she was born so over a year…yeah, unfortunately cannot afford anything other than a unit in the area we want…we only just managed to get this place!!!

        • +3

          @John Kimble: its not your issue its hers.

  • +35

    I think she asked nicely, which is a good start!

    I also think the people who think it is psychological, or that she is a nutter, or needs to get a life are way out of line. Chemical sensitivity is a real thing, and difficult to live with in this society which is full of such substances.

    It is totally up to the OP how to respond, but at least respond knowing that the problem is a real one, and not merely imagined!

    • +4

      moksha, really?

      This person is bullying other residents into doing what she wants
      I wouldn't stand for it

      Yeah there is being nice and then there is being reasonable

      She wants it changed, she can pay for it to be changed

    • +1

      Aquagenic urticaria is a 'real' allergy to water. Would you stop using water to prevent accidental humidification or reduce splash risk?

      • +16

        Not remotely the same thing… I know someone who gets full body rashes from certain detergents - or is your next claim going to be its a shared hallucination?

        Though I can't say I'm remotely surprised the majority on here consider a polite request to be a bullying demand. In my 12 years here I've discovered although the typical Australian seems nice on the surface, there's typically a layer of intolerance and an "I'm alright Jack" attitude not far below. (Of course I'm not saying you're all like that - I couldn't have happily lived here so long if you were!)

        • +1

          Not remotely the same thing? Aquagenic urticaria causes a painful skin reaction on contact with water. What has the complaining woman reported? An inability to open her window lest it smell like a steamy laundry. Heaven forbid a laundry smelled like a laundry, huh? It's no wonder you haven't actually provided any detail of differences, just a vague outright dismissal with no medical or scientific detail, a straw man argument with yourself and an anecdote. How many aquagenic urticaria sufferers do you actually know for your anecdotal comparison? You've spent more effort on culturally stereotyping and disparaging Australians whilst demonstrating your own poor grasp of grammatical contractions.

        • +9

          Thanks Callum, I thought I was going crazy reading these responses. Ozbargain is a pretty nasty place, out of the forum section I go!

    • +3


  • +7

    Take a shit on her doorstep and ask her how many senses that violates. She can get over herself. The way she wrote that email/letter is utterly pretentious

    • +2

      As long as it's a sensitive smelling shit, she shouldn't mind

      • +2

        Well it would be a natural odour so therefore no harm done!

    • This is exactly why I (try to) mind my own business XD Especially as half of my neighbors are human garbage disposals and of that size too!

  • +4

    There is a lady at work with similar issues, strong smelling deodorant causes a serious reaction for her.
    I do not know if your neighbour has real or imagined issues. The cynic in me wonders if she prefers a different brand and wants you to buy it and put it in the communal area so she can use it. What is to stop other people using each other's?
    If she needs for a particular powder to be used than I feel it is fair that she provides it,

    • +1

      Oh shit, I just realized that im similar, every time my partner sprays her deodorant I get itchy sinus and start sneezing with watery eyes. It doenst matter what brand she uses or scents, except lavender I dont think I have a reaction to it, just really hate the smell

      I wonder if not needing to use a deodorant myself is a part reason

    • +4

      If she needs for a particular powder to be used than I feel it is fair that she provides it,

      100% agreed.

      If I was in so much discomfort I would have bought a huge bucket of the stuff at costco and continually refilled a bucket in the laundry room. At 26c a wash, for 2 washes a week, 50c is a small price to pay for my "continual suffering".

      If they're not really keen on paying 50c /week to resolve the issue, you gotta wonder if it was that important in the first place.

  • +9

    Also you are legally entitled to quiet enjoyment of your facilities and apartment / unit
    What she is doing is actually illegal as she should be outling her concerns to the body corp / strata not directing and demanding other residents to change their powder
    She is bullying and I feel this person is someone who is going to make life hell in the next few months to come

    • +1

      I think next step for her would be to raise through body corporate, but as we are a small 4 unit block and know each other more than people on a larger block would, she (and we all) just email each other directly for most non major things. 3 out of the 4 units are already the executive committee haha

    • She wasn't demanding - she was asking.

  • +1

    My advice - don't over react or laugh at her. Probably a real case but she has no right to instruct what you should use. If this continues, she might even instruct you when to eat, shower and go to toilet (and even have some romance with your partner..just kidding). Stand on your ground and tell her you are happy to change the brand for her well-being but would appreciate if she can source it and fund the difference as its costly and hard to find normally. That's it…

  • +32

    Although you are under absolutely no obligation to do anything, and I think she could have asked a little more nicely (and maybe given you a free box to try out), I think you should at least consider it.

    Peace among neighbours in tight living spaces is a valuable thing, and I think it's worth an extra dollar or two every couple of months to have one less little bit of angst in your life.

    If you choose to see her request as you doing something small to help improve someone's life rather than her demanding something unreasonable of you, then everyone wins. Your clothes will still be clean, it costs you very little, she is happier and you can feel good about being a good neighbor.

    And who knows, maybe someday you will need a favour from her…

    • +10

      This is probably what I'm thinking… Karma and all that…

  • -3

    This is absolutely not your problem, let body corp handle it.
    Sending emails around making requests is beyond her rights.

    She'll probably suss out the toilet paper you're buying and make you change towards 1 ply because you're damaging her environmental morals. Just let body corp handle it

    • There's only 4 units so we are pretty much the body corporate haha

      • Have the other unit owners been there longer than you? You could ask them for some background history?

        Easiest thing to do is switch, as she was nice about it. But then wait and see if she complains about something else, then all bets are off as she might be a serial complainer with too much time on her hands.

        BTW you could store your laundry detergent in your unit, instead of the laundry, then she would have no idea what you are using. Then it would be up to you what, you tell her you are using.

        • +17

          From our experience she is a serial complainer. One example was we recently cleaned up the shared backyard so we could host our daughter's 1st birthday (which we invited all owners too also). Part of this involved using a Gernie on the stone chair and decks, repainting the decks the same colour as they were (mind you we asked her and the other owners for permission first) and this was her email:

          Thankyou for the hard work you are doing in the garden, I do appreciate the work you are doing, however I have a couple of concerns, I do not want to have the smell of Blood and Bone and Cow Manure fertilizer outside my & xxxxxxx's bedroom windows and am worried that it might make xxxx sick, I believe that it was the previous owners use of this fertilizer that caused xxxxxx to get Pneumonia when she was 5. I also want to make sure that the existing rambling English style, old world charm of our garden is not lost, eg I am not a fan of the shiny red deck paint, a greyer more natural looking timber stain would have looked better in my opinion and I think that the sandstone looks better with a bit of patina, I am hoping this will fade soon. I also ask that no plastic pots or items are not added to the garden, my Kaffir lime used to be in a charcoal ceramic pot but the previous owner transferred it into a plastic pot, without asking which, will never have that patina and aesthetic that I believe is what makes our garden.
          I hope you can understand my concerns, the back garden is my primary view so I want to make sure it is maintained. You have definitely made some improvements in clearing the debris, but I don't want to come home to any surprises.

          I had to look up the definition of "patina", but after this I read her email as "I like my garden looking dirty/neglected/dilapidated".

        • +11

          @John Kimble: IMHO changing detergents is no big deal, but what is this crap about fertiliser causing pneumonia???
          Woman seems like a hippie with no idea of science. Next she'll probably ask you all to stop using wi-fi…

        • +4

          @John Kimble:

          Ah… she is starting to sound like a serial complainer yes. The pneumonia thing is a big call but given the warnings on bags of compost etc it's perhaps not too far fetched as you might think.

        • +4

          @Gravy: Well tell the kid it's plant food, not human food. She wants a nice view - plants gotta eat too!
          Although I do agree those fertilisers can smell like s**t - it's almost like they're made of the stuff!

        • +9

          @John Kimble:

          If this woman asks for anything else, I wouldn't be giving her an inch. She seems to think that she has the final say on absolutely everything that goes on in your block. F*** that.

        • @John Kimble:
          To be fair I've uses organic fertiliser before and instantly regretted it; smells like $hit for a week. The pneumonia thing is obviously cooky but I do love a good bit of patina on copper or brass…

        • +1

          @McFly: You don't have to eat it, inhaling the dust is the issue.

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