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.
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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 pure essential oils are commonly used in place of detergents and fabric softeners:
- Tea Tree
- Cinnamon Leaf
From the list above, lemongrass, lime and orange are universal favorites particularly for laundry purposes. Their smell is the freshest, and I 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 I 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. Natural Stain Remover
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 Laundry 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 your favorite pure 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.
If you are specifically looking for laundry detergent for baby’s sensitive skin, Mom Loves Best has a great article on that.
3. Natural Laundry Strips
As you can tell from the DIY liquid laundry detergent recipe, laundry soap contains a LOT of water.
Enter: laundry strips!
These nifty beauties eliminate bulky laundry jugs. With that, you can help save the planet one jug at the time. If you don’t buy commercial laundry soap any more, less plastic materials are needed to make them. The landfill thanks you already!
As for the quality and efficiency, I do love using laundry strips! They wash the laundry just as good as any liquid detergent I’ve ever bought. I had actually tried another brand before I had these ones from REVIVE, and the REVIVE brand is much better. They are fragrance-free, which is perfect to add a drop or two of your favorite essential oils and get a superb custom laundry scent!
Also, I like to hang my clothes to dry, especially during these hot summer months. The other brand made my clothes come out grainy… but not the REVIVE laundry strips! It definitely gets my recommendation for quality and usability.
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. Add 40 drops of essential oils. Try 20 Rosemary, plus 20 Lemon essential oil. Add 2-3 tablespoons to the rinse cycle of your washing machine.
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! Instead of traditional dryer sheets, simply use wool balls.
This set of wool dryer balls comes with 2 bottles of essential oils: the “Tumble & Tidy” blend, and a bottle of lavender oil.
To use wool dryer balls to scent your laundry, simply drop a few drops of 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. Do you 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 me know what you use, love, or hate about essential oils in your laundry? I look forward to reading your comments.