Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Fabuloso Smells Like My Childhood And That's Why This Recall Hits Close To Home

Four bottles containing a purple liquid have a label "Fabuloso" with a rainbow swish and lavender flowers.
The multipurpose cleaner, now subject to a safety recall of nearly 5 million bottles, is a household staple in the Latino community.
We need to hear from you.
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

As a kid, I woke up on Saturday mornings to corridos — Northern Mexican storytelling songs — and cumbia playing on the stereo, my mom yelling at me to get up and clean the bathroom and the smell of lavender-scented Fabuloso in the air.

About the recall
  • The affected bottles include variations of lavender, refreshing lemon, passion of fruits, spring fresh and ocean. For a full refund, replacement or to see if the UPC or lot codes line up with the recalled products, head to

The fragrance is intoxicating. It reverberates throughout homes and businesses. Even now, when I visit my parents and smell Fabuloso, I get hit with a wave of childhood nostalgia and suddenly want to clean.

So when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said it recalled 4.9 million bottles of some Fabuloso products this week, I immediately called my mom to warn her.

Support for LAist comes from

I'm willing to bet I wasn't the only one.

A Household Favorite

The multipurpose cleaner is a household staple in the Latino community. You’ll find it in prime locations on the end caps of aisles and the cleaning sections at stores like Vallarta and Northgate. It's cheap and readily available at supercenters like Walmart, Sam's Club and dollar stores. And it's one of the top selling household cleaners in the U.S.

Notified of the recall, my mom tossed the iconic purple bottles of lavender, passion of fruits, fiesta orange and ocean scent. And while she was lucky none of the lot codes matched the recalled items, she wasn't taking any chances. The agency recommends people throw the entire bottle, contents included, in the trash.

Why It Was Recalled

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said the recalled bottles could contain Pseudomonas bacteria, which can enter the body if inhaled, through the eyes or a break in the skin ... and cause severe infection in people with weakened immune systems.

That’s because the recalled bottles were made with inadequate amounts of a preservative intended to prevent bacteria growth, according to Fabuloso's manufacturer, Colgate-Palmolive.

Fabuloso’s Origin Story

The low-cost product — which urges consumers to "fill your home with joy!" — got its start in Venezuela in the 1980s. It made its way to Mexico in just three years. By 1996, it landed in the U.S., where the Latino diaspora hooted and hollered over the product.

Support for LAist comes from

But for some, like my mom, it took years for her to embrace Fabuloso. She preferred Pine-Sol and bleach. Still, the Fabuloso smell was unavoidable. She found it at dollar stores, the carniceria — butcher shops — and the houses of friends and family.

In a few years, she transformed from a hater to a lover.

What’s Next

While I was relieved to hear that people with healthy immune systems are usually not affected by Pseudomonas bacteria, I still worried.

My parents are getting older. I think about COVID-19 affecting them more than I'd like. How long can they keep driving and doing household chores? For a brief moment, I added a beloved cleaning product to my list of concerns.

My 65-year-old mom, for now, is benching Fabuloso, and bringing in her benchwarmer, Pine-Sol.

I'm already looking forward to her star player making a quick comeback. I need that smell of my childhood once again.

What questions do you have about Southern California?

Most Read