How To Add Essential Oils To Your Laundry (for best results)

The detergent industry is always introducing new and improved products that always seem to include an ever increasing amount of chemicals. With more and more people turning away from conventional detergents and fabric softeners in favour of natural alternatives, it’s time to look at essential oils and how to use them. 

If you want to know more about the best ways to use essential oils in your laundry, keep reading.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are compounds that are extracted from plants either by pressing or distillation. The oils contain the scent and flavour of the plant otherwise known as its “essence”. 

Once the oils have been extracted from the plant, they are mixed with a carrier oil. The way the oils are extracted are important because any chemical extraction makes the product not a true essential oil.

Popular Laundry Essential Oils

Let’s have a brief look at some of the more popular essential oils and their uses.

  • Lavender
    Lavender essential oil has calming, soothing and stress relieving properties and is a popular choice for clothing and bedding.
  • Sandalwood
    Sandalwood essential oil also has soothing properties and is also supposed to improve focus.
  • Peppermint
    Peppermint essential oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
  • Spearmint
    Just like peppermint, spearmint has the same antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
  • Bergamot
    Bergamot essential oil is a great stress relieving oil and is also good for skin conditions. The fragrance is reminiscent of oranges.
  • Chamomile
    Chamomile essential oil is used to lift the mood and is great for anyone who is feeling low.
  • Rose
    Rose essential oil is also a mood lifter as well as being used to reduce levels of anxiety.
  • Lemon
    Lemon essential oil is popular for removing stains and brightening white items. It also has a fresh natural smell that is great for general laundry.
  • Tea Tree
    Tea tree essential oil is a natural disinfectant that kills germs and sanitises which makes it a great choice for towels and bedding. 
  • Pine
    Pine essential oil is a natural deodoriser which makes it a good choice for gym wear and sportswear.
  • Eucalyptus
    Eucalyptus essential oil has antibacterial properties making it great for disinfecting clothes and removing bad odours at the same time.
  • Thyme
    Thyme essential oil is known for its germ fighting properties.
  • Rosemary
    Rosemary essential oil is known for its mood lifting properties.
  • Grapefruit
    Grapefruit essential oil is known for its antibacterial properties and has a fresh, clean smell.
  • Orange
    Orange essential oil is known for its mood improving properties as well as its pleasant smell.

In total there are more than 90 essential oils that are commonly used and all of them are reported to have their own unique health benefits.

However, there are a few essential oils that can stain fabrics so it’s worth bearing in mind that they’re not all suitable for all items of laundry.

Essential Oils That Can Stain

Some essential oils keep the characteristics of the plant they were taken from. This sometimes means they have the ability to stain certain fabrics. Below are a few essential oils we wouldn’t recommend using on clothes. They include;

Naturally Dark Coloured Essential Oils

  • Blue Tansy
  • German Chamomile
  • Jasmine

Naturally Yellow Essential Oils

  • Tangerine
  • Myrrh
  • Patchouli
  • Vetiver

Why Use Essential Oils In Your Laundry?

Essential Oil

With more and more people becoming allergic to the ever growing number of chemicals we’re all exposed to in daily life, many are looking for more natural, chemical free alternatives. The problem with many natural products is they lack any fragrance at all.

This is because it’s the fragrance that is often responsible for so many of those harmful chemicals. Many of which don’t even need to be declared on the list of product ingredients. They are often all contained under the banner heading of “fragrances”.

Whilst most of these fragrance free detergents do a good enough job of getting clothes clean, they lack that fresh, just washed smell. Which is why using essential oils has become so popular.

DimBull Laundry Collection Essential Oil Set | 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Aromatherapy Oil | Use with Wool Dryer Balls or Oil Diffuser | Set Contains Lavender, Tea Tree & Orange.
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DimBull Laundry Collection Essential Oil Set | 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Aromatherapy Oil | Use with Wool Dryer Balls or Oil Diffuser | Set Contains Lavender, Tea Tree & Orange.
  • 🌿【Fresh Laundry Scent】DimBull laundry essential oil collection contains our three favourite oils, which offer fresh laundry scents, with absolutely no chemicals.
  • 🌿【Fresh Citrus】Sweet Orange has a beautiful citrus scent which penetrates deep into clothes and smells sparkling and lively.

How To Use Essential Oils In Your Laundry

Before using an essential oil on your laundry, you need to be sure it will not stain the fabric. We mentioned a few essential oils above that are likely to stain, however, it’s not a comprehensive list.

We recommend doing a patch test on a small inconspicuous part of the fabric before use.

Then always dilute the oil before use and it’s also a good idea to give the laundry an extra rinse cycle too.

There are several ways of adding essential oils to the laundry to get your clothes smelling great. These include;

Method 1: Mixing With The Detergent

All you need to do is add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the bottle of unscented detergent. Add around 5 drops, replace the lid and shake the bottle to mix the essential oil in with the detergent.

Remove the lid and check if it smells strong enough, if not add more essential oil a few drops at a time. Always shaking and rechecking after 1 or 2 drops.

If you want to use a different essential oil for different wash loads, instead of adding the essential oil to the detergent bottle. You can add a few drops to a measured dose.

This keeps the whole bottle fragrance free which means you can change which fragrance you add with each wash.

Method 2: Make Your Own Fabric Softener

Commercially made fabric softeners can cause many problems with your laundry. You can prevent any of these issues and still get comfortable, soft clothes that smell great by making your own.

All you need to do is mix 2 or 3 drops of essential oil into 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Add this to your fabric softener compartment before you start the wash for great smelling clothes.

This might be one of the easiest ways of using essential oils in the washing machine!

Alternatively, you can add 5 drops of your preferred essential oil in with a cup of bicarbonate of soda and add this to the wash cycle.

Both of these will soften your clothes whilst adding a fresh aroma.

For more information on fabric softeners follow this link.

Method 3: Make A Fabric Spray

Some people might not want to add any oils to their washing machine for whatever reason. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from those essential oil fragrances. 

Simply make a fabric spray that can be sprayed onto the clothes either before ironing or before use.

All you need to do is mix 10 drops of your preferred essential oil with 6 tablespoons of distilled water, add 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and pour the combined mixture into a spray bottle.

Method 4: Add Essential Oil To The Water Tank On Your Iron

If you use a steam iron, you can add 2 to 3 drops of your favourite essential oil to the reservoir on your iron. Every time you operate the steam iron you will add that essential oil aroma to the clothes.

Method 5: Add A Few Drops To Wool Dryer Balls

Instead of using scented dryer sheets which use the same chemicals as fabric softeners, you could switch to wool dryer balls. These wool balls bounce around the drum of the dryer and collide with the laundry bashing many of the hard clumps away.

This softens the clothes without adding potentially harmful chemicals to the laundry. To add a refreshing fragrance simply add 3 to 5 drops of your preferred essential oil onto each dryer ball and dry on a medium heat setting.

An added bonus of using drying balls is they reduce drying times by at least 25%.

Method 6: Scented Drawer Balls

You can keep your clothes smelling fresh even once they’ve been stored away in the drawer by putting a couple of drops of essential oil onto a cotton wool ball or small fabric sachet.  

Over time the clothes will gently absorb the fragrance from the oil.

Lavender Oil

Popular Essential Oil Combinations

With more than 90 essential oils to choose from, there is always one or two that are good for your laundry. However, combining two or more can add even more dimensions to your laundry.

Some of the more popular combinations include;

  • Lavender, Rosemary & Lemon
    This combination creates a fresh and clean fragrance.
  • Chamomile & Lavender
    This pairing creates a calming, restful fragrance.
  • Bergamot & Lemon
    This combo makes clothes smell refreshingly citrus-like.
  • Sandalwood & Pine
    This pairing gives a woodland, earthy fragrance which puts you in mind of a walk through a forest.

Are There Any Essential Oils That Shouldn’t Be Used On The Skin?

There are a few essential oils that have the potential to irritate sensitive skin. These include; thyme, oregano & cinnamon

These should never be used on clothing that’s going to be placed on bear skin especially for baby clothes, young childrens clothes or any clothes for someone with skin allergies.

How To Make A Natural Pre Wash Treatment

If you have decided to remove chemicals from your washing and drying process on laundry days, you might find you need some extra help removing stubborn ingrained stains. You will find that this natural solution is a great way to remove impacted stains:

Just mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar with 5 to 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and ½ a cup of bicarbonate of soda. Apply the mixture to the stain and allow to soak for 45 to 60 minutes. 

Then wash the item in the usual way using your preferred essential oil scented detergent.

Take Care When Using Essential Oils

Most essential oils are safe to use however, if you get too high a concentration of essential oil on your skin, there is the potential for some reaction. If you accidentally spill any neat, undiluted essential oil onto your skin, you should wash immediately in hot soapy water.

This shouldn’t be problematic once diluted and used in the wash although it’s worth remembering that some essential oils are likely to be flammable.

It’s also better to select a 40 degree C or above wash cycle to ensure that the oils get broken down and dispersed before the wash load is put into the dryer. It’s also a good idea to dry on a low or medium heat setting just in case.

You also need to take care when using any essential oils around pets as some can be toxic to animals.

Can Essential Oils Be Used In Other Homemade Cleaning Products?

Once you get into these natural laundry products your thoughts might turn to other cleaners and the chemicals used to produce them. Let’s take a brief look at some of the other cleaning tasks around the home and the ways essential oils can be incorporated into them.

Floor Cleaner

To make a natural alternative to commercially produced floor cleaner simply add ½ a cup of white vinegar, ¼ cup of bicarbonate of soda and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil to 1 gallon of hot water.

General Purpose Cleaner

To make a general purpose cleaner that can be used on many surfaces around your home, all you need to do is mix ¼ of a cup of lemon juice, 2 cups of hot water, 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and 10 drops of tea tree essential oil. 

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray onto any surface that needs cleaning. Wipe off with a microfibre cloth.

Lemon and Orange Oils

Best Oils For use Around The Home For Cleaning

All essential oils can be used in conjunction with white vinegar etc for cleaning around your home. However essential oils made from the following leave the most pleasant fragrance behind;

  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Sandalwood
  • Lavender
  • Pine

Tea tree is a great disinfectant as is peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus and thyme.

If you’d like to know more about using essential oils in your laundry or you’d like more info on using them for other household cleaning, let us know in the comments below!

SEE ALSO: How To Use White Vinegar In The Washing Machine (and why!)

Frequently Asked Questions

What essential oil to add to laundry detergent?

You can add whichever essential oil you like, however, some of the more popular essential oils used to add to unscented laundry detergent include; lemon, orange, sandalwood, lavender, rosemary, pine and eucalyptus.

Can you use essential oil as laundry softener?

Essential oils will not soften laundry, however, it can be used in conjunction with white vinegar or bicarbonate of soda to give natural fabric softener a pleasant fragrance. You can also add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to wool dryer balls which are a great natural alternative to dryer sheets.

How long do essential oils last on fabric?

The fragrance from essential oils when added to fabrics tends to last until the next time the fabrics are washed.

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