Scents for your linen

Object of desire While ironing the bed linen may not count among life's greatest pleasures, the sensation of slipping into a bed - all freshly laundered and pressed - certainly does.

September 6, 2010/  Abu Dhabi /  Fish house and home September 6, 2010. (Sammy Dallal / The National)
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While ironing the bed linen may not, for most of us, count among life's greatest pleasures, the sensation of slipping into a bed made up with crisp cotton or linen sheets - all freshly laundered and pressed - certainly does. And all the more so if those sheets have dried naturally in the sun, in a garden rich with the perfume of summer flowers, the scent of which still lingers among the threads. While that's a pleasurable reality in temperate climates, here it's more a case of dream on ?

Regardless of climate, though, there's a little secret that the French have known for a long time: eau de linge (the translation, linen water, is far too prosaic). Adding this magic ingredient to the water in your steam iron - or spraying it onto the fabric to be ironed - imparts a subtle but lasting scent. It even makes the act of ironing a pleasure. (Think what aromatherapy does and you've got the idea. And if you have a housemaid rather than doing your own laundry, let her enjoy the benefits.)

I bought my first bottle of eau de linge in a boutique in St Tropez more than a dozen years ago - and have been addicted ever since. By chance, it was made by Durance, a Provence-based brand that I am delighted to have found again, here in the UAE. Named after the river that runs from the Alps to the Mediterranean through the heart of the Lubéron - thus virtually defining Provence, Durance is a family-owned company that makes all of its products using locally sourced, sustainably (and usually organically) grown ingredients, and working with the help of perfumiers in Grasse.

Its eau de linge comes scented with lavender, orange blossom or tilleul (flowering lime tree or linden), each of them known to be deeply relaxing scents. Delicate, refined and powerfully evocative, they could hardly be more different from the ugly synthetic perfumes that are loaded into most laundry products. Even if you're not ready to fall in love with ironing, what a treat to go to bed with the scent of old-fashioned country gardens and summer holidays in southern Europe.

Durance eau de linge Dh81 (one-litre bottle) at Karma - Creative Living, The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai; 04 424 3764