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Posted November in Household by Rocky Mountain Oils

27 Incredible Essential Oils for Laundry Use

Cleaning clothes is something we all have to deal with every week. Many of the commercial detergents are full of harsh chemicals and strong scents. However, when you work on using natural soaps and essential oils for laundry, you have less soap build-up in your clothing, and less chemicals going down into the sewer system and eventually into the environment. Using essential oils for laundry is a great way to clean your clothes naturally. In our continuing efforts to help you save the environment with more natural cleaning products, we have our next installment in the Cleaning House With Essential Oils series. We have several tips and recipes for different stain removers, laundry detergents, and fabric softeners to give you something new to do to use natural cleaners in your laundry.

Supplies to Have On Hand:

(This list will be the same on each of the cleaning house articles)

Cleaning supplies: Equipment:
  • Borax
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Castile Soap, liquid and solid
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Washing Soda Crystals (L-ascorbic acid powder/crystals)
  • Oil based soap (Murphy's is good)
  • Concentrated Oil Soap Paste
  • Citrus seed extract (different from the essential oil)
  • Beeswax
  • Carnauba wax
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Washing soda, generic name sodium carbonate
  • Powdered Milk
  • Alum
  • Vitamin C Tablets
  • Salt
  • Linseed oil
  • Cornmeal
  • Turpentine
  • Lemon Juice
  • Aloe Vera Gel and Juice
  • Natural Cat Litter
  • Plastic squirt bottles
  • Plastic spray bottles
  • Plastic containers with shaker tops
  • Coffee cans with lids
  • Glass jars with lids
  • Cotton cloths
  • Rags
  • Cellulose sponge cloth
  • Gallon size buckets
  • Mops
  • Paper towels

Essential Oils for Laundry

Lemon, Lime, Lavender, Orange, Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Rosemary, Pine, Spruce, Cypress, Thyme, Palmarosa, Citronella, Wintergreen, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Spearmint, Oregano, Cinnamon Bark, Clove Bud, Sage, Petitgrain bigarade, Vetiver, Coriander, Juniper Berry (This list contains all oils used in all the cleaning articles.)

A Few Points of Interest

  • Pretreat stains! Rinse a stain in cold water first then use a pretreatment formula. (Listed below in recipes)
  • Prewash heavily soiled clothing. It helps eliminate most dirt without it settling into other clothes. Prewash in the hottest temperature the item(s) can handle
  • Presoak old or tough stains -- like grass or blood -- for at least 30 minutes.
  • Always keep a big jug of white vinegar in your laundry room. It dissolves uric acid and helps make blankets light and fluffy. Great for baby clothes. It also works as a fabric softener.
  • Get pure soap flakes for a natural detergent. Or use your homemade soap.
  • Wool should be hand-washed in cool water and a capful of liquid castile soap. then rinsed well in a tub of clean water. Never allow wool to soak. Don't wring-dry. Place on a towel and roll up like a jelly roll. Gently press to remove excess water. Then place garment flat on a dry towel, reshape, and leave to dry.
  • Silk items should be dipped in a solution of warm water and a capful of Liquid Castile Soap. Rinse well and gently squeeze out excess water. Turn the garment inside out and hang until it is damp to the touch. With the garment still reversed, press with an iron on low setting.
  • For a basic Fabric Softener, take one jug of White Vinegar and add 10 - 20 drops off essential oil of choice. Shake well before every use and add 1 cup to the final rinse of your laundry.


Here are a few recipes for various ways to use essential oils in your laundry. This can get you started and help you find ways to develop your own recipes.

Pre-Treatment for Stains

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Salt
  • 3 drops Tea Tree oil

Place clothes in the washer and add enough warm water to cover them. Combine all ingredients and add to the washer. Let clothes soak for an hour or more, then wash as usual.

Lemon & Tea Tree Perspiration Presoak

  • 1 cup Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • 6 drops Tea Tree oil

Combine all ingredients and add to the clothes in a washer ful of warm water. Allow to soak for an hour or two, then wash as usual.

Grease Stains

  • 2 teaspoons Cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda

Mix together and cover the stain with the formula. Let stand for 30 minutes or more to absorb as much grease as possible, then wipe away. Soak the remaining stain in the following formula:

  • 1/2 cup White Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 5 drops Lemon or Orange oil

Soak until stain breaks free. Wash in hottest water the fabric can stand.

Basic Liquid Laundry Detergent

  • 2 1/4 cups Liquid Castile Soap
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Glycerin
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 20-30 drops Essential Oil of your choice

Combine all ingredients into a plastic container or squirt bottle. Shake once or twice every time before adding to wash. To use, add 1/4 cup per average load; 1/2 cup for extra large or heavily soiled loads. The following is a Bleach Alternative Formula:

  • 1/2 cup Basic Liquid Formula
  • 1/4 cup Borax
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice or White vinegar
  • 6 drops Lemon oil

Add all ingredients to laundry load. For extra whitening power, let the clean clothes hang outside to dry in the sun. *This formula makes enough for one load. You can make more but keep lemon juice and essential oils separate until ready to use.

Lemon Fresh Linen Wash

  • 2 cups Liquid Castile Soap
  • 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Juice
  • 1/2 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 tablespoon Powdered Citric Acid
  • 2 teaspoons Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • 15 - 20 drops Lemon (or Lemongrass) oil

Combine all ingredients into a plastic container, preferably one with a pour spout. Give this formula a gentle shake, or just turn upside down once or twice, before every use. For an average load, use 1/4 cup. *This can be used for any type of laundry but it's especially nice for cotton linens that have been allowed to dry naturally in the sun after washing. The aloe vera juice and vinegar soften, while the citric acid and grapefruit extract brighten and sanitize.

Hard Water Formula

  • 1 cup Soap Flakes or finely grated pure Bar Soap
  • 1 cup Washing Soda Crystals
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 2 cups Vinegar
  • 10 drops Essential Oil of choice

Combine the soap, washing soda, and borax in a heavy plastic container. Blend the vinegar and essential oils in a separate container, preferably one with a pour spout. Use 1/2 cup of the soap mixture for washing, add 1/2 cup of the vinegar mixture during the rinse cycle.

Fine Washable Formula

  • 1 ounce Liquid Castile Soap
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 drops Rosemary oil

Add Rosemary oil to the warm water. Place clothes in washer and add soap and Rosemary water. Launder in cold water on the gentle cycle. *Do not use on 100% wool, silk, or satin.

Baby Laundry Formula

  • 1/4 cup Washing Soda Crystals
  • 1/4 cup Borax
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Liquid Castile Soap
  • 2 drops Lavender oil

Mix dry ingredients and vinegar together. Mix Lavender oil in Castile soap. Add the two mixtures to the laundry and launder as usual. The following is a Diaper Whitening Formula:

  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup White Vinegar
  • 6 - 8 drops essential oil of choice
  • Bucket or pail of Hot Water

Add ingredients to water. Soak diapers for 20 - 30 minutes, longer if heavily soiled, before laundering.

Lemony Fabric Softener

  • 6 cups Vinegar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 15 drops Lemon or Lemongrass oil

Combine all ingredients in a heavy-duty plastic container. Add 1 cup to rinse cycle for each load. *You can also use Orange oil or a spice oil or spice blend for the essential oil(s).

Laundry Starch

  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 tablespoons Corn Starch
  • 2 drops essential oil of choice (For light colors, use a clear oil like Tea Tree)
  • 1/2 cup cooled Black Tea (for dark colors only)

Combine all ingredients in a plastic spray bottle. Shake well before every use. Lightly spray the garment and iron as usual.

And Finally

We all love to have clean laundry and it's so much more fun to enjoy fresh clean laundry when you have used natural detergents and the scent of your own choosing. Let us know what you like to do with your laundry. What experiences have you had using essential oils for laundry? Tell us in the comment section down below.