CPG Playbook   //   November 18, 2022

The Laundress tells customers to stop using products, citing bacteria levels

The Laundress is urging customers not to use any of its products after finding high levels of the bacteria Pseudomonas during testing.

The brand, known for premium-priced laundry and cleaning products, posted a “safety notice” on its social media channels Thursday that said the elevated levels of bacteria detected in some products presents a safety concern.

Several Twitter users also shared screenshots of an email with similar language from the brand. The Laundress also issued a stop-sale notice to retailers and wholesalers of its product. The Business of Home first reported on the news on Thursday.

On Friday, the brand updated its Safety Notice FAQ page to say that the bacteria in question was Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can present an infection risk.

“Based on our investigation to date, we are not aware of any adverse health impacts related to this issue,” the Instagram post read. “Your safety and the quality of our products is our top priority. We are working closely with our suppliers to ensure that our products meet our standards and your expectations.”

Customers flooded the comments with questions, like what products are affected, the date range of affected bottles and what they should do with their products.

The Laundress issued a statement to Modern Retail via email confirming that statements had been issued to customers via email, social media and its website.

“We are working with the [Consumer Product Safety Commission] on this issue, and in the meantime decided it would be best to issue a stop-sale notice to our retailers and wholesalers and a safety notice to our consumers,” the statement said. “At this time we do not have more information to provide, but will share more information as soon as we are able to do so.”

The FAQ on the website said that at the levels detected, the bacteria could present a risk of infection. The bacteria can get into the body if inhaled,  or through the eyes or a break in skin.

“People with a healthy immune system are usually not affected by these bacteria,” the website said. “People with weakened immune systems or external medical devices who are exposed to Pseudomonas aeruginosa face a risk of serious infection that may require medical treatment.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says that while there are many types of Pseudomonas and it’s a common bacteria in soil and water, the Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain is most likely to cause infections in humans.

The Laundress is telling customers to expect an update about how to obtain a reimbursement or replacement. It urged customers to hold onto their products for proof of purchase.

The Laundress said the risk of the bacteria on clothing treated with its products is “low,” but customers with wounds or who are immunocompromised are recommend to rewash them using another detergent. It also said customers who want to treat their washer and dryer should run it empty or with an alternative cleanser.

The Laundress was acquired by Unilever in 2019. But it launched as a direct-to-consumer brand in 2004 with a line of laundry and fabric care products. Since then it’s launched into other areas with products like soap, dish detergent surface cleaner and room spray.

The products are branded as eco-friendly and cruelty-free, and sold at premium prices. A 33-ounce bottle of its signature detergent selling for $24. As of Friday afternoon, nearly all products on its website were shown as out-of-stock, save for physical goods like laundry pouches, cleaning cloths and storage bags.

The company on Friday said on its website that it has worked with suppliers to make sure its products in the future aren’t affected.

“We have taken decisive corrective action with our third-party manufacturer and we are confident that our products now meet our high-quality standards and your expectations,” the FAQ said.