Unusual odour detected on Hong Kong residents sparks discussion among mainland Chinese netizens


17th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) A recent post on Xiaohongshu, a popular Chinese social media platform, has caught the attention of netizens. The post reveals that mainland Chinese tourists have noticed a peculiar “odour” emanating from Hong Kong residents. Whether it’s in the subway, enclosed spaces, or even on the streets, this distinct scent has left the tourists intrigued and questioning its origin. The post quickly garnered responses from Hong Kong locals, offering various explanations and analysis, resulting in six potential factors being identified. Describing it as similar to baby powder or milk, she found this scent to be more noticeable in the subway or enclosed spaces. This discovery left her wondering if it is a unique body odour characteristic of Hong Kong locals.

Some netizens have analyzed that the scent might be related to lifestyle and dietary habits. Hong Kong residents, known for their meticulous personal grooming, ensure they appear neat and presentable when going out. One explanation shared by netizens suggests that the scent is reminiscent of fabric softener. Given the similarity in fragrance among various fabric softener brands, it is plausible that the scent appears similar across Hong Kong locals. Apart from fabric softener, other suggestions include shower gel, antiperspirant, perfume, laundry scent beads, and even mothballs. The latter is particularly pronounced when people take out their winter coats during seasonal transitions, resulting in a strong mothball odour.

The post sparked numerous responses from Hong Kong locals. Some agreed that there is indeed a noticeable difference in scent between Hong Kong and mainland China. One individual shared that Hong Kong residents often take showers in the morning before heading to work, which could explain the lingering fragrance of shower gel. Coupled with the habit of wearing perfume, it naturally results in a pleasant scent. Another theory put forth by locals is that the scent resembles fabric softener, as Hong Kong’s humid climate limits opportunities for clothes to be air-dried, leading to concerns about musty odours. Therefore, fabric softeners or scent beads are commonly used when doing laundry. Some netizens also mentioned other scents they frequently encounter, such as medicinal oils, disinfectants, and hand sanitisers.