Doing laundry is part of everyday life. While all of us want to have clothes that are clean and smell heavenly, not all of us are completely okay with chemical detergents that are used for laundry products.
Chemicals can be harsh on your skin, leaving you with dry and itchy skin or rashes. It’s long known that babies’ sensitive skin calls for extra-mild detergents. Clothes can also suffer with the wrong detergent, leaving fabrics faded and looking ragged.
Essential oils to the rescue! Not only do essential oils smell nothing short of heavenly, they are also environment friendly and cause less soapy build-up on your clothes.
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure policy here.
In this article, I’ll show you how you can start using essential oils on laundry day!
Best Essential Oils for Laundry
Considering the extensive variety of oils available today, not all essential oils are suited for doing a good laundry job. Also, from the suggested essential oils below, please pick your own favorites. After all, your laundry will smell like it so please make sure you like the scent of your oil of choice!
These 12 essential oils are commonly used in place of detergents and fabric softeners:
From the list above, lemongrass, lime and orange are universal favorites particularly for laundry purposes. Their smell is the freshest, and we have yet to cross paths with someone who doesn’t like laundry that smells of fresh lime! But again, in many of the recipes that we have mentioned below, you can use the essential oil of your choice.
In addition to having the essential oil of your choice on hand, you will also need a few other things like baking soda, vinegar, and salt. So before you start your DIY laundry project with essential oils, make sure you have all your supplies in place (this includes spray/squirt bottles, cotton cloth, and paper towels, too).
Do you have all the things you need? Excellent! Here are a few popular essential oil combinations for you to try:
1. No Stain, No Pain
Despite our best attempts, we are not able to have our clothes completely stain-free all the time. This is especially true when you have kids in the house. The worst part is that most of these stains don’t completely fade away, even though you wash them with a detergent powder.
Different essential oils can be used for removing different types of stains.
If pesky stains are getting you down, here is a quick and easy pre-treatment stain removal recipe:
- Mix 1 cup of vinegar, ½ cup of salt and 3 drops of tea tree oil, and add it into a spray bottle. Liberally spray and soak the stained clothes for an hour to lift the stain(s), and then wash them normally.
NOTE: Instead of salt, you can also use baking soda in this recipe as it helps to remove peskier stains like those of perspiration.
2. Homemade Liquid Detergent
We already discussed some of the perils you end up with when you use commercial detergents that are loaded with chemicals. A better alternative is to make your own liquid detergent at home. All you need is some liquid soap, white vinegar, vegetable glycerin, 3 to 4 cups of water and about 30 drops of any of your favorite essential oil.
- 1 natural bar (5 oz / 140 grams) soap: Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Peppermint Soap works great (get it here). Liquefy it by grating it and then dissolving it into hot water.
- 3 to 4 cups of water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of glycerin (get it here)
- 30 drops essential oil
- ~1 US gal warm water
Use your cheese grater to grate the bar of soap. Add it into a pot with the 3-4 cups of water and heat it up gradually. Stir constantly until the soap is completely dissolved. Let cool. Add the rest of the ingredients, and combine all into a old commercial laundry jug of 1 US gal size (4.43 L), fill the rest of it up with warm tap water, and you’re good to go! Let it sit for 24 hours, the soap mixture will thicken up! Just remember to give the bottle a little shake before you use it. Use 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load, depending on how much cleansing power you need.
3. Homemade Linen Wash
Want the linen to smell as fresh as possible with zero chemical damage? This recipe is for you!
You will need a couple of things for this one though so make sure you have all the ingredients before you get started. You will need 2 cups of liquid castile soap, half a cup of aloe vera juice (not gel), a cup of water, 1 tablespoon of citric acid in powdered form, 1 and a half teaspoon of grapefruit seed extract and about 20 drops of an essential oil of your choice. We recommend opting for lime or lemon since they are perfect for linens. Aloe juice is great for softening cloth whereas powdered citric and grapefruit seed extract will make the color of your linens pop.
Put all these ingredients in a plastic jug and just like you did with the liquid detergent, give this bottle a shake before using it.
4. DIY Fabric Softeners
Homemade fabric softeners do their work efficiently and without damage to the fibres of your clothing. To make your own fabric softener, choose one of these two recipe options. The choice will depend on your personal preferences of whether you’d like to use white vinegar or baking soda (or perhaps you have one but not the other in your house right now).
- Recipe #1: In a 32 oz jug, use 3 cups of vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 12-15 drops of essential oil of your choice. We recommend using lemongrass or orange essential oil because the smell is super fresh. Combine all the ingredients in a plastic container. Use 1/4 cup for High Efficiency washing, or 1/2 for a regular load.
- Recipe #2: In a mason jar, combine 2 cups of Epsom salt with 1/2 cup of baking soda, and 40 drops of essential oils. Try 20 Rosemary, 20 Lemon. Add 2-3 tablespoons to the rinse cycle.
5. Essential Oil Scented Laundry
Now that you know how to make your own detergents and linen wash formulas, maybe you are interested in simpler things: like just scenting your clothes!
All you need are a few dryer balls and drop a few drops of your favorite essential oil on them. When the clothes are in the dryer, toss in these dryer balls as well. Make sure that you have the dryer working on the “low heat” setting.
And that’s it! You may have to experiment a bit with how many drops of essential oils on your dryer balls gets the right amount of scent that you like. Want to know which oils are best to use on your wool dryer balls? We have a list for that here!
BONUS TIP: Drop a few drops of your favorite essential oil on some cotton balls and put these into the drawer where all your clean laundry goes. This is even easier to get your laundry to have that fresh smell. The next time you pull out anything from the drawer, enjoy the amazing smell!
What do you think?
Let us know what you use, love, or hate about essential oils in your laundry? I look forward to reading your comments.