Update, November 29: Since the original article was published, the Laundress has updated its FAQ to say that the “bacteria identified in product testing are so-called ‘opportunistic’ pathogens, including Pseudomonas, which occur naturally in water and soil. At the levels detected, these types of bacteria could present a risk of infection.” It has also launched a new website where you can check if your products are on the safety notice list and request reimbursement. On November 24, the Laundress’s parent company, Unilever, was hit with a class-action lawsuit.
Original story follows:
We’ve written about the Laundress many times, glowingly, over the years. So naturally, when the brand issued a statement last week telling customers to immediately stop using all its products, we were concerned. The rather cryptic cause for the alert was, the brand said, “the potential presence of elevated levels of bacteria in some of our products that present a safety concern.” (Exactly what kind of bacteria and safety concerns were not disclosed.)
Of course, we wanted to find out a little more. Vulture features writer Rachel Handler called the brand’s Prince Street location, which is temporarily closed, and was directed to a customer-service email, which sent an auto-reply that directed customers to contact their doctors if they had health concerns. On the brand’s Instagram, several customers have reported experiencing adverse reactions, like rashes and itchiness, that they think may be attributed to the recall. We reached out to several of the commenters on Instagram, and one, Jenna Kennedy, responded, telling us that she and her daughter both experienced a skin rash after she used Laundress products.
While products are still available for purchase through the brand’s Amazon storefront, other major retailers like Bloomingdale’s have removed Laundress products from their sites. Ian Ginsberg, president of C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, said that as a retail partner for the Laundress, it had received the same email customers have seen on social media and on the brand’s website. “The minute we received the email, we pulled all of the product off our shelves and off our website,” Ginsberg said. “It is obviously pretty disturbing. As of yet, we have not received any other guidance and we’re just waiting.”
Nearly all products are currently listed as out of stock on the Laundress site, though you can still buy accessories like its stain brush, sweater stone, and dryer balls. When the Strategist reached out to the Laundress for comment, it replied via email, “We are working with the CPSC 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 investigation is ongoing, so until we hear otherwise, we do not recommend you purchase new products from the Laundress or continue to use the items in your possession. We’ll let you know if and when the situation changes.
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