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May 16, 2018

27 Incredible Essential Oils for Laundry Use

When words like pollution, harmful chemicals, and toxic materials come to mind, we typically think about sludge-filled streams, grey water, and piles of industrial waste. But did you know those same substances could be making their way into the fabric of your clothes via the washing machine?

The average American family does roughly 350 loads of laundry per year. That means your body has 350 chances to come into contact with chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate, nonylphenol ethoxylate, and 1,4-dioxane. These substances not only have the potential to cause bodily harm, they can also contaminate drinking water and inflict damage to the environment.

So why not use natural products that clean clothes and leave them smelling fresh while helping revitalize, reinvigorate, and regenerate the body and mind? The following are tips, tricks, and a few recipes that combine essential oils and natural cleaning products to make stain removers, laundry detergents, and fabric softeners.

Essential Oils for Laundry

  1. Lemon – Lemon not only packs a punch with its antifungal, astringent, and antiseptic properties, it also smells delightfully fresh.
  2. Lime – Crisp. Tart. Uplifting. Lime oil works wonders when blended with DIY household cleaners.
  3. Lavender – A calming oil, lavender is great with soaps, bath oils, perfumes, DIY skin care, and linen sprays.
  4. Orange – Orange comes equipped with a medium‐strength citrusy, sweet aroma, and helps stimulate a cheerful mood.
  5. Tea Tree – This strong, yet gentle oil with antiseptic properties mixes perfectly with natural DIY cleaning products, including surface cleaners and soaps.
  6. Lemongrass – The citrusy oil is often in soaps, detergents, perfume, and skin care products.
  7. Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus offers a fresh, clean aroma that can aid in centering and clearing the mind.
  8. Grapefruit – A spray of grapefruit helps lift the mood and purify the air in a house.
  9. Rosemary – A few drops of rosemary may help reduce mental and emotional exhaustion while stimulating focus and improving mental clarity.
  10. Pine – Busts grease and grimy substances that plague your clothes.
  11. Spruce – Similar to pine, spruce cleans dirt and grime while purifying clothes with a clean-forest fragrance.
  12. Cypress – This oil delivers a medium-strength fresh, slightly woody, and evergreen aroma that also encourages peace, harmony, and serenity.
  13. Thyme – Works great for helping to remove dirt and grime.
  14. Palmarosa – Often found in perfumes, palmarosa blends well in linen spray to foster a calm, serene atmosphere.
  15. Citronella – Sure it’s great for repelling bugs, but it also leaves clothes clean, with a lemony-fresh aroma.
  16. Wintergreen – Using wintergreen with natural laundry detergent may provide a soothing sensation for joints and muscles after wearing the washed garment.
  17. Bergamot – Apply a few drops of this citrusy oil to a dryer sheet for fresh-smelling laundry.
  18. Cedarwood – The warm, sweet, woody, and balsamic aroma keeps clothes fresh and discourages pests, like moths.
  19. Spearmint – Spearmint has a fresh and minty aroma and may also calm the mood while promoting feelings of overall wellness.
  20. Oregano – Sanitizes clothing and leaves a warm, spicy aroma.
  21. Cinnamon Bark – Helps to give clothes a warm scent and feel.
  22. Clove Bud – Add the oil to natural cleaners to aid in uplifting and stimulating moods.
  23. Sage – Sage may help mitigate the effects of hair and skin oils on clothing.
  24. Petitgrain bigarade – This is a great natural deodorant that also helps even out oily complexions.
  25. Vetiver – Vetiver serves as a fixative for several perfumes and gives clothing a woody, slightly sweet aroma.
  26. Coriander – The oil’s sweet, spicy aroma can stimulate a positive mood while boosting memory and mental clarity.
  27. Juniper Berry – Another oil that helps combat the body’s natural oils that can actually ruin your favorite clothes.

Supplies You’ll Need

So, you know what oils we recommend, but how in the world should you use them when doing laundry? Keep on hand spray bottles and basic DIY cleaning supplies to mix with the essential oils, including:

Household items like an empty, clean coffee can with lid or an old Tupperware container with a top are great for mixing. Also make sure you have a few cotton washrags or old towels on hand for wiping and applying cleaners.

Dryer Balls

Using a dryer also presents its own list of issues, especially if someone in the family has sensitive skin. Dryer balls offer an economical alternative to expensive single-use dryer sheets.

The 100% Organic New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls we offer at Rocky Mountain Oils allow users to add their favorite essential oil to deliver a clean, fresh scent to multiple loads of laundry while reducing dry times. Simply apply two to three drops of an essential oil into each dryer ball, let the oil dry before use, and toss in one to three balls with a small load, or four to six balls for larger loads.

Go-to Laundry Recipes

Basic Laundry Detergent

Combine everything in 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.

Lemony Fabric Softener

Combine all ingredients in a heavy-duty plastic container. Add 1 cup to rinse cycle for each load.

Baby Laundry Formula

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:

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

Grease Stains

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:

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

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Is the basic laundry detergent safe to use in high efficiency washers?

Alisha Morgan | May 21, 2018 | Reply

    Great question Alisha! These recipes were specifically designed for general washers and dryers. We certainly hope they work for HE washers but we would have to recommend to consult with the manufacturer of the high efficiency washer before using just to be sure it would not be damaging.

    RMO CS | May 21, 2018 | Reply

What’s the flash point of these oils, and how does that compare to the maximum temperature inside a dryer? Is it safe to put them on a dryer ball in the dryer like that?

Amanda | June 14, 2018 | Reply

    Great question Amanda!

    Essential oils do have different flashpoints and dryers should not get hot enough to make oils catch fire. There are no oils that we carry that have a low enough flashpoint to make it dangerous to use this way. However, if there is concern please exercise caution. Thanks!

    Customer Service RMO | June 14, 2018 | Reply

Is the basic aundry detergent safe to use if household is on a septic syptem?

reta | June 14, 2018 | Reply

    Thank you for your question Reta! Yes, the basic laundry detergent can absolutely be used if the household is on a septic system. Thanks!

    Customer Service RMO | June 19, 2018 | Reply

I thought Castile soap and vinegar are not supposed to be mixed together. At least this is what Dr. Bronners website says.

Tami | August 22, 2018 | Reply

    Thank you so much for your comment Tami. While directly mixing these two ingredients can potentially change the consistency of the soap, it is not dangerous in any way to use these two together.

    Customer Service RMO | August 23, 2018 | Reply

Rocky Mountain Oils–you are brilliant for writing articles like this that help to point out multiple uses for essential oils. I was looking for a Facebook icon to share it.

Bernadette | October 12, 2018 | Reply

    Thank you for your feedback, Bernadette! We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed the post. Right now, we do not have an option to share directly to social media but it is something that we are working on.

    Customer Service RMO | October 15, 2018 | Reply

My husband’s t-shirts have a yucky, musty smell to them, even clean. I’ve tried good-smelling oils on dryer balls, but that didn’t help. Any suggestions for getting rid of the smell?

Stacy A | October 13, 2018 | Reply

    Hi Stacy! Something you could try is to use essential oils and blends like Lavadin, Loads of Fun, etc. while drying the clothes. After they are dry and folded, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to 2-3 cotton balls and place the cotton balls in the drawers before putting clothes away. This way, the aroma will fill the drawers and absorb into the clothes even after drying. Hope this tip helps!

    Customer Service RMO | October 15, 2018 | Reply

We are using a free and clear detergent due to some skin irritant issues, but my husband complains the clothes don’t smell ‘clean’ like popular commercial detergents. Do you have any recommendations for blends of Eo’s and how the could be used in the washer and/or dryer to combat this problem??

Lisa M | October 27, 2018 | Reply

Hi, this is an absolutely fantastic post and advice which I’m going to try. My only concern is: if I start adding a few drops of tgese essential oils to my laundry, won’t the oil accumulate over time and leave greasy/oily stains on my clothes? Please advise. Thank you.

Di | January 28, 2019 | Reply

    That is a great question! Pure essential oils are volatile substances and evaporate very quickly so it is not likely for this to happen. If you were to add only carrier oil or fatty oils like coconut oil to the laundry, over time it may cause build up.

    Customer Service RMO | January 28, 2019 | Reply

Thank you for your reply. I’d like to report that I’ve already added lavender oil to my laundry and it smells GORGEOUS but …. only until it dries. Then I can barely smell the lavender anymore. Is there any way I could prolong the lavender scent of the clothes? Should I simply add more lavender drops or mix it with something else? Thank you. 🙂

Di | February 1, 2019 | Reply

    You can definitely add a little more until your desired aroma is achieved. However, something else you could try is creating a linen spray with Lavender that you can use to spritz the laundry lightly after it dries.

    Simple linen spray recipe:
    25-50 Drops EO
    2oz Witch Hazel
    2oz Water
    Combine ingredients in a 4oz bottle and shake. Lightly spritz the clothes or linens.

    Customer Service RMO | February 5, 2019 | Reply

This is incredible! Thank you!!

Carol Theis | March 16, 2020 | Reply