Essential oils for laundry

Scented & Clean Laundry with Essential Oils & Homemade Detergents

As popular as Aromatherapy is today, it’s only natural to want to enjoy its benefits everywhere. When it comes to using essential oils for laundry, things can be pretty simple. For that, though, you have to know a few tips and safety precautions. Plus some new recipes to try them right away, of course,

In this post, you’ll read about:

  • The benefits of using homemade detergents for yourself and your family.
  • The benefits of adding essential oils to your laundry in the washing machine or dryer.
  • Lists of essential oils you can use for laundry and essential oils you shouldn’t use.
  • Safety tips for a safe use of Aromatherapy for laundry.
  • Tips and details on how to use these aromatic essences.
  • Steps for making and adding essential oils to laundry detergent, if you want to try a homemade one.
  • Laundry essential oil blends to try whenever you’re ready.


Best Essential Oils for Laundry, Safety Tips and How to Use


Before telling you what essential oils are good for laundry, let’s see why are homemade detergents becoming so popular.


By now, it’s no secret that commercial cleaning products are full of synthetic and chemical derivatives. On a long-term, some have the potential to damage our health.


This is possible externally, by contact with the substance(s). But the damage can be done internally too, either by inhalation or ingestion.


They are not very biodegradable either. This means that they can harm us, as well as the environment. These harmful substances become toxic in nature. That can be dangerous because they can make it into our drinkable water.  


DIY detergents can protect you and the environment from all that. You’ll be using only non-toxic and biodegradable substances. One of those substances is essential oils.


Essential oils for laundry


Benefits of Using Essential Oils for Laundry

Essential oils are concentrated liquid plant essences. They have a long history of being used as medicine and beauty products. In ancient times, they were also used for their scents in perfumes for those who afforded them.


These aromatic essences are extracted from various plant parts. People can use the roots, the leaves, and the bark for extraction.


Also, we can extract essential oils from the seeds and the blossoms of flowers and fruits.


Essential oils are steam – distilled and are not oily. They are not true oils like vegetable oils are. They don’t contain fatty acids, which is what gives them that greasy consistency you feel on the skin.


Aromatherapy oils are volatile, meaning they evaporate in the air very fast. That is the reason why they are so scented in the first place.


There are over a hundred different plants from which we extract essential oils. Each plant smells and behaves differently than the other.


Our sense of smell plays a very important role in our lives. As soon as we smell something, whether pleasant or not, the brain makes connections.


The sense of smell is tightly connected to the limbic system of the brain, the memories center. This is one of the main reasons that Aromatherapy works. The scent of a flower you like very much can make you feel happy, confident, energized, etc.


The other reason is that essential oils have certain therapeutic effects. Research is still lacking in this department, but the few studies that we have on them, show a lot of promise.  


Aromatic oils have many benefits. They can be used as:

  • Anti-inflammatories.
  • Disinfectants.
  • Stimulants.
  • Digestion promoters.
  • Anti-anxiety and stress.
  • Diuretics (to promote urine production and toxin elimination).
  • Skin enhancers.
  • Etc.


They are especially good at improving the aspect of the skin. Regardless if it’s a rash, acne or wrinkles, there is at least one essential oil good at dealing with these problems.


When used for laundry, they can scent the clothes and disinfect them.


You can also clean the washing machine with essential oils. How? It can be done by adding a few drops in the detergent compartment and running a small cycle without clothes.


That’ll disinfect most of the bacteria left in the stale water and de-grease the pipes, etc.


Can you put essential oils in your laundry detergent? Yes, you can and very soon, I’ll show you exactly how.


Essential oils for laundry


Essential Oils to Use for Laundry

What essential oils are good for laundry, is what most people want to know. Well, there are many oils you can use. It usually depends on:


  • What your favorite scents are.
  • Whether you have allergies or not.
  • Are you on any medication that may interact with the oil used?
  • Are you prone to seizures or asthma attacks?
  • Do you want an essence more for the scent or for its antibacterial properties?


All these questions are important when you choose your oil for laundry. If you’re not sure, you should talk to a doctor first. Some essential oils can do more harm than good.


I know you want to know what essential oils are disinfectants, among others. So, here you have them, classified by their therapeutic effects, properties, and scent.  Let’s see what essential oils are good for laundry next.


Disinfectant Essential Oils

Why would you want to know what essential oils are disinfectants? The answer is simple.


They can kill bacteria and fungi on the clothes and the inside of the washing machine. This prevents allergies and respiratory problems among others.


Therefore, you can use:

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet Orange
  • Rosemary
  • Camphor
  • Lavandin
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pine
  • Petitgrain
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Rose Geranium
  • Black Spruce
  • Palmarosa
  • Juniper berry
  • Vetiver
  • Etc.


Essential Oils for Laundry Softener

Because the laundry softener is the last step of the washing process, your options are a bit limited. They are limited to the most fragrant essential oils.


Why? Because, at this point, they can only soften and scent the clothes. You can choose from:


  • Vanilla
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Neroli
  • Jasmine
  • Amber
  • Ambrette
  • Labdanum
  • Rose
  • Etc.


Essential oils for laundry - Rose Oil for fabric softener


Essential Oils for Smelly Laundry

Smelly laundry can become clean and fresh using a disinfectant oil. But, you can take away their smell with an essential oil for softener too. You can choose from:


  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Bergamot
  • Rose
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Etc.


Best Essential Oils for Laundry Balls (in Dryer)

You can pour a few drops of essence inside the laundry ball, on a piece of cotton, before throwing it into the dryer. Or you can pour a few drops on a small cloth and put it among the laundry while drying them.


You can thus reinforce the disinfection effect or you can use an oil just for its strong scent. Just make sure they have a high flashpoint to avoid potential fires. More on this next.


  • Juniper
  • Vetiver
  • Rose Geranium
  • Petitgrain
  • Grapefruit
  • Cedarwood
  • Tea Tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rose
  • Etc.


Laundry Essential Oils to Avoid

Not all essential oils can be used for laundry. The reason can vary. They can either be too expensive or not so great smelling. But, do essential oils stain clothes too? Some of them can indeed do that.


Staining essential oils are usually very dark in color:

  • Patchouli
  • Blue Tansy
  • German Chamomile
  • Yarrow
  • Benzoin
  • Myrrh
  • Frankincense
  • Litsea cubeba
  • Mandarin
  • Cinnamon
  • Etc.


There is also the matter of their flashpoints, which is very important. This matters greatly when you choose the essence you want to use in the dryer.


A flashpoint is a temperature at which a volatile substance can catch fire. This flashpoint is especially known to those who make Aromatherapy candles.


Essential oils are volatile, thus very flammable. The dryer can and had started fires because of essential oils with low flashpoints.


In the UK, the Fire & Rescue Services warn people about using essential oils in their dryers. They can self-combust in the tumble dryer or when you stack the laundry. 


In conclusion, you should avoid adding essential oils in the dryer. Especially if you’re not sure about their flashpoints. By the way, it’s a hard one to figure out.


Essential oils for laundry


More Safety Tips for Using LaundryEssential Oils

Now you know why using essential oils in the dryer is very dangerous. Luckily, if you want to add a fresh scent to your laundry, you can do it in the washing machine.


However, as a general safety rule, you should add them only when you wash at high temperatures.


According to the fire safety warnings in the UK, a safe temperature would be 104 F (40 C). High temperatures and detergents can break down the oil molecules and wash them away.


This removes a great deal of the risk of self-combustion in the dryer. Of course, you could also dry your laundry naturally, on a rack, like Europeans do.


Remember! Add essential oils for laundry only when you wash at high temperatures.


Avoid doing so when you wash at low temperatures, like 59 F – 15 C. The fire hazard is too high, especially if you put them in the dryer afterward.



  • Make sure you’re clear to use those essential oils you like. Some may trigger asthma attacks or even seizures. Peppermint is one such oil.
  • Seek medical advice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Also, most aromatic oils are dangerous for babies and kids. Talk to a pediatrician before doing your baby’s laundry with essential oils.


How to Use Essential Oils for Laundry

When you do use them for this purpose, it’s quite easy. Using essential oils in the washing machine can be done in two ways:


  1. Mix them with some commercial or homemade detergent.
  2. Pour them in the softener tray. Here you can also mix essential oils with your usual fabric softener. Or, you can give the softener up and mix the oils with some floral water.


Floral waters are also known as hydrosols. They are the byproducts of the steam distillation process.


They smell just like the plant from which the essential oil was extracted. But they contain only trace amounts of volatile oil molecules (0,1 – 2%).


For example, add a few drops of Rose Otto/absolute in some rose water. Put it in the softener tray before the final rinse of the washing machine.


Depending on how powerful the scent is, you can add between 1 – 3 drops of essential oil per kilo (2.20 pounds) of laundry.  


Other ideas to use hydrosols for laundry:

  • Replace the normal water in the steam iron with hydrosols. They can lend the laundry their great refreshing and uplifting smell while you iron them.
  • Spray some hydrosol on your already dry and stacked laundry.  


You can also place Aromatherapy sachets in the closet to keep your clothes smelling fresh and nice all the time.


Steps to a DIY Detergent and Scented Essential Oil Fabric Softener


Now you know all the basics and safety precautions. When you’ll be doing laundry with essential oils next time, you can do it safely.


And because homemade detergents are so in right now, I thought of giving you the steps to a simple recipe.


You can add your favorite essential oils and have your clothes smell like you want them to. Plus, the health and environmental benefits of such a product are huge.


Essential oils for laundry


Adding Essential Oils to Homemade Laundry Detergent


Ingredients you’ll be needing:

  • Castile soap: 100 grams (3.52 ounces)
  • Baking soda: 100 grams
  • Water or hydrosol: 1 liter (34 fl. Oz)
  • Apple cider vinegar: 250ml (8.45 fl. Oz)
  • Essential oil(s): 20 – 30 drops


Tools you’ll be needing:

  • Cheese grater (for the soap)
  • Protection mask.
  • Whisk.
  • Large glass bowl.
  • A detergent recipient or a tall glass bottle.




Step 1

  • Put the mask on and start grating the soap, then place it in the large bowl.

Step 2

  • Heat the water/hydrosol without boiling it. Pour a small part of it into the bowl, over the soap flakes. Use your whisk to slowly mix the water with the flakes until they melt.
  • Your paste will look very thick and sticky.

Step 3

  • Add the rest of the heated water very slowly, repeating step 2 until you’ve used it all up. It’s ok if it turns foamy. Using slow and gentle movements will prevent big foam accidents. Once you’re done mixing, it’ll disappear and the mixture will become clear again.
  • Add the baking soda and whisk vigorously. You might see some chunks forming, which is normal.

Step 4

  • Prepare your bottle or detergent recipient. You can also use a funnel to pour the contents easier.
  • Heat the vinegar without boiling it. Then, add it to the previous mixture and prepare to see your liquids and solids separate. That is a normal reaction caused by the vinegar.
  • Continue to mix really well until everything is a paste, but hurry. Pour your liquid homemade detergent in the recipient you’ve chosen.
  • Every now and then, shake it really well to keep the ingredients well mixed. A good detergent will look like a white thick paste.


This recipe of essential oil detergent is very concentrated and can last for up to 6 months. You’ll need to dilute a small amount with some cold water before each use.


I recommend making small batches in advance that’ll hold for a week or so. Keep them stored in the fridge. Always shake your detergent well before using it!


Depending on the essential oil(s) you used, the smell of your DIY detergent can be very faint.


However, your essential oils for laundry will actively disinfect and refresh the fabrics. In other words, even if they won’t smell strong, your laundry will be clean and fresh.


Scented Essential Oil Fabric Softener Recipe

You’ll need:


Heat the water/hydrosol to 50 C (122 F) and then mix it with the citric acid. Next, add the essential oil over the mixture, once the acid is melted.


Lemongrass is supposed to have a flash point of 76 C (169 F). This means you can add it over the heated mixture without catching fire.


Transfer all this to a jar or glass bottle and shake it well before each use. Add one tablespoon of this mixture in the softener tray per each washing cycle.


It will soften and scent your laundry in a gentle and clean manner.



Homemade detergents are definitely worth trying. Add some of the best essential oils for laundry too and you get a very good deal.


You’ll have clean and fresh-scented laundry in no time. You’ll also have a healthy family and a protected environment.


If you want to use DIY detergents, it’ll probably be a slow transition. In the end, though, you won’t even miss your commercial detergent.


Have you ever tried an essential oil detergent so far? Have you tried using these aromatic essences for your laundry yet? And if so, what is your opinion now? I’ll be looking forward to your comments.


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