Skip to main content

Unilever's Laundress Recalls 8M Products Due to Health Risk

A recall involves the Laundress laundry detergent, fabric conditioner and other cleaning products.

The Laundress was founded in 2004 by two New York fashion executives "who set out to revolutionize laundry."

Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd met at Textile & Fiber Science at Cornell, according to the company's website. And after becoming frustrated with costly dry cleaning bills, they left their careers at Ralph Lauren  (RL) - Get Free Report and Chanel "to develop expert solutions for people to care for their clothes as much as they care about them."

In 2019, the UK consumer-products giant Unilever UL bought the eco-friendly Laundress for $100 million. The company gained a large following through the short-form-video site TikTok.

“With its line of beautifully crafted eco-friendly products and fast-growing following in the U.S. and China, particularly among millennials, the Laundress is a strong addition to our portfolio of leading" home-care brands, Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever’s home-care business, said in a statement at the time.

Now the company is facing a recall of 8 million of its products, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission

The recall involves the Laundress laundry detergent, fabric conditioner and other cleaning products. 

The complete list is available at www.TheLaundressRecall.com, with lot codes beginning with a prefix letter F 9354 or less, H and the last four digits 2262 or less, and T and the last four digits 5264 or less. 

'A Risk of Serious Infection'

All products have “The Laundress – New York” printed at the top of the label. The Laundress is recalling all products manufactured at the affected facility through September.

Consumers who have products with these lot codes should immediately stop using them, officials said. 

The recalled products can contain bacteria, including burkholderia cepacia complex, Klebsiella aerogenes and multiple different species of pseudomonas. Many of them are environmental organisms found widely in soil and water, and some may also be found in humans, the agency said. 

"People with weakened immune systems, external medical devices, and underlying lung conditions who are exposed to the bacteria face a risk of serious infection that may require medical treatment," the CPSC said. 

"The bacteria can enter the body if inhaled, or through the eyes or a break in the skin. People with healthy immune systems are usually not affected by the bacteria."

The products were sold online at TheLaundress.com, Amazon.com, and additional websites and in stores at The Laundress, Macy's  (M) - Get Free Report Bloomingdale’s, Container Store, Saks Fifth Avenue, Target  (TGT) - Get Free Report, Nordstrom  (JWN) - Get Free Report, Jenni Kayne, Kith, Peruvian Connection, N.Peal, Brooklinen, and other major retailers nationwide, through September 2022 for between $8 and $100.

The Laundress is also the target of a class-action lawsuit, filed last month, that claims the products contain several different species of pseudomonas. 

A woman named Margaret Murphy says the products caused her family to break out in rashes and hives and come down with respiratory infections, according to the Insider. The site reported that the Laundress told customers on Nov. 17 to stop using all its products because they could be contaminated with bacteria.

The lawsuit, which was filed in a Northern California federal court on Thanksgiving Day, charges that the products contained pseudomonas.

'We Deeply Apologize'

The lawsuit seeks to provide relief on behalf of three classes of customers: a national class; a class for California residents; and a third for residents in 11 different states, including California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington.

Unilever did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"We deeply apologize to all our loyal customers for this situation," the Laundress said on Instagram. "We are undertaking decisive steps with our suppliers to ensure production processes meet our safety and quality standards."

In an earlier Instagram post, the company said it was "working hard to provide as much clarity to you as possible and we understand the concerns you may feel as we await answers."

One type of pseudomonas, pseudomonas aeruginosa, can cause infections in the blood, lungs, or other parts of the body after surgery, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa lives in the environment and can be spread to people in health-care settings when they are exposed to water or soil that is contaminated with these germs, the CDC said. 

"These bacteria are constantly finding new ways to avoid the effects of the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause," the CDC said on its website. 

"In 2017, multidrug-resistant pseudomonas aeruginosa caused an estimated 32,600 infections among hospitalized patients and 2,700 estimated deaths in the U.S."