Clean Homes

Best Essential Oils for Laundry and 13 Tips for All-Natural Laundry

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All-natural laundry? Essential Oils for laundry? Really?

Yes, really. Did you know that the laundry room is one of the MOST toxic rooms in your home? Laundry soap and dryer sheet film stay on your clothes to be absorbed into your body ALL day long.

all-natural laundry ingredients

Why is the Laundry Room So Toxic?

Fragrance in laundry detergents can be very toxic. The term “fragrance” is not regulated by the FDA – companies don’t have to disclose the hundreds of chemicals found in their “fragrance” as they are considered “proprietary” information.

A study even suggested that scented laundry detergents contain carcinogens that can be emitted through dryer vents into homes. The study showed that chemical, fragranced laundry detergent emitted 25 air pollutants including some listed as known carcinogens.

“Unscented” chemical laundry detergents can also be toxic and even dangerous, as even more chemicals can be used to mask all fragrance.

Unless a laundry detergent includes an essential oil for fragrance, (and very few do), it’s likely the fragrance it includes is artificial and may skin. It will certainly absorb into our bodies as we wear the clothes, as well.

The average family washes about 5 loads of laundry per week— that’s almost 8 cups of laundry detergent that you’re exposed to every week!

A Truly All-Natural Laundry Detergent

The highly concentrated Thieves Laundry Soap is amazing at cleaning your clothes without harmful, harsh toxic chemicals. Its plant-based formula uses natural enzymes and the power of Thieves, Jade Lemon, and Bergamot essential oils and is free from toxic chemicals like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) (SLS), dyes, petrochemicals, Formaldehyde, phosphates, synthetic perfumes, and optical brighteners.

Less is more! Not only does this soap gently and naturally wash your clothes leaving them truly clean without any chemical or synthetic residue, but you can also turn one bottle of Thieves Laundry Soap into three! Here’s how to hack your Thieves Laundry Soap!

Make THREE Bottles of Thieves Laundry Detergent from ONE Bottle of Thieves Laundry Soap

Add one third (approximately 10.5 ounces) of the Thieves Laundry Soap to each of the pump bottles. Add one capful of Thieves Household Cleaner and plus the essential oils of your choice (I used Citrus Fresh, Purification and Lavender).

Top each bottle with warm water. Warming the water slightly will help the ingredients all melt together—use warm, not hot, water. Close the bottle with the pump lid and gently mix to combine.

When doing laundry, add two or three pumps per load. You can use four pumps for really dirty loads.  Both Thieve Laundry Soap and this “hacked” version can be used in all washers, including high efficiency (which is what we have).

We do about 5 or 6 loads of laundry each week and I’ve only gone through less than 1 ½ bottles of the laundry soap (with the hack) in 3 months!  That’s a lot of money saved!


Adding Essential Oils For Laundry

No matter what laundry detergent you choose (but I HIGHLY recommend the Thieves Laundry Soap!), you can make your laundry smell fresh with no harmful chemicals or added carcinogens, just by adding essential oils to your laundry.

Simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oil directly into the washer or add the drop to your unscented laundry detergent. Your laundry will smell fresh, clean, and lovely.

Some of my favorite essential oils used for laundry are lemon, citrus fresh, purification, lemongrass, tea tree or lavender.

Below, in the all-natural laundry tips section, I’ll share a few other ways to add essential oils for laundry.

Here’s a basic guideline: add 20-30 drops of the essential oil of your choice to your unscented detergent or washing machine. You can always adjust the amounts if the scent is too strong or not as strong as you’d like.

Keep in mind that essential oils are highly concentrated.  Too much could potentially cause irritation on skin.  When it comes to essential oils, a little goes a long way!


Another bonus when using essential oils for laundry?  In addition to the great smell, many essential oils can help kill bacteria and fight viruses. Others (such as lemon) can help in cutting through grease and grime.

Due to their excellent deodorizing, antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, and cleaning properties, many essential oils work great for use in the laundry.  Here are some great essential oils for laundry to add to your next load:

  • Citrus oils including Lemon, Grapefruit, Orange, Citrus Fresh, and Bergamot, are terrific for cleaning dirt & grease, deodorizing, and adding a fresh, clean, uplifting scent.
  • Tea Tree essential oil is great for immune support as well as fighting against mold & mildew.  Tea tree is great to use when cleaning clothes, sheets, and towels whenever someone has been sick.  Due to its antifungal nature, tea tree is also great to use when you’ve accidentally left a load in the washer for too long it’s developed that awful moldy, mildew scent.
  • Purification essential oil is a blend of six essential oils for the ultimate weapon against odors. Citronella, Lavender, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Myrtle, and Tea Tree work together to create a refreshing, bright scent that keeps you and your family happy and comfortable.
  • Lemongrass essential oil has a soothing, comforting spa-like scent. (I love this one in our laundry!)
  • Peppermint essential oil has an energizing, fresh, crisp aroma.  It blends well with most other essential oils listed and will add a clean, cool aroma to your clothes.  It is also thought to have antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
  • Eucalyptus Globulus or Eucalyptus Radiata essential oils has a refreshing clean, fresh scent that’s also very calming and relaxing.  Combine it with lavender or spearmint and not only will your clothes be clean, they’ll also smell like you’ve just been to a luxury spa.
  • Lavender essential oil is very calming and relaxing.  Add some lavender to the wash/dryer when cleaning sheets and blankets for a great night’s sleep.
  • Roman chamomile essential oil – like lavender, chamomile is very calming.  It’s great on its own or combine it with bergamot or another citrus oil for an uplifting, balanced scent.
  • Rosemary essential oil helps disinfect and boost immunity due to its antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties and smells wonderful.
  • Basil essential oil has a fresh, crisp scent that pairs well with lemon.

Mix two or three together (remember no more than 30 drops) to create a laundry scent that is perfect for you and your family.

Click below for a printable PDF of essential oils for laundry to have when you need it.

essential oils for laundry;

Essential Oils for Laundry and Other Great All-Natural Laundry Tips:

  1. Remove Grease Stains Naturally

Drop some grease from Taco Tuesday on your favorite shirt?  Get splatter from the frying pan on your jeans?

Most likely, if you act quicky, the grease can be lifted out.

grease stain on white t-shirt; essential oils for laundry

Drop a few (2-4) drops of lemon essential oil on the stain, then gently rub the essential oil in to start to break up the grease. Toss the clothes right into the wash.

When the clothes come out of the wash, check to see that the grease stain is gone. If it is, throw in the dryer as you normally would.  If not, repeat with a few more drops of lemon essential oil, rub in and rewash before putting it in the dryer.

  • Boost the Aroma of your Laundry

Here’s a simple way to boost the fragrance of your laundry.  We were spending $10 for each bottle of chemical-filled Unstoppables, but no more!

  • Add about 30 drops of essential oil for each pound of ice cream salt (rock salt).
  • Mix well
  • Store in a jar with a lid (like a canning jar)
  • Sprinkle the mixture onto the clothes in your washer at the before you start it. You’ll only need about a 1/4 cup for small to normal size loads and about ½ cup for larger loads.

The ice cream salt helps to soften clothes, an, of course, the essential oil adds a great all-natural scent without adding harsh toxic chemicals.

  • Use All-Natural Fabric Softener

Most commercial fabric softeners are loaded with harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals. This recipe is all-natural and not only softens your clothes but helps to get them cleaner than with detergent alone.  It also removes residue left on your clothes by soaps or detergents.

Unlike commercial/store bought softeners, this homemade recipe doesn’t add a coating or residue to your wash.  Your towels will be soft and fluffy, and your favorite sweater will be as cuddly as when you first bought it. Bonus: it helps to prevent static cling and, of course, smells amazing!

  • fill a quart-size container with vinegar (you’ll want to use a jar or bottle that is safe for use with essential oils such as glass, stainless streel or certain types of plastic – look for PET or HDPE)
  • Add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oils for laundry (see above list for ideas).

You can double or triple this recipe, too.  This way you won’t have to make it as often.

  • Add to rinse cycle of your wash (use about 1/2 cup for small to medium sized loads, about 1 cup for large loads)
  • Oops, I Did it Again.  Left the Laundry in the Washer.

I don’t know about you, but I have forgotten about the laundry in the washer more times than I care to admit.

If you do that, just add a few drops (2-4) drops of Lemon or Tea Tree essential oil to the load of laundry and re-wash.

It will be fresh and clean!

woman taking bright towels out of washing machine; all-natural laundry

5. Make All-Natural DIY dryer sheets

  • Cut reusable cleaning wipes (like these) into squares. We cut ours about 6″ by 6″.  We have also used dish towels cut into smaller pieces.
  • Place the cut-up cleaning wipes in the jar with your homemade fabric softener (above)
  • Keep the wipes in there at least an hour (or you can just leave them there until you are ready to do laundry again) – just make sure that the wipes have absorbed the fabric softener.
  • Add one or two of the dryer sheets in the dryer and dry as usual
  • To help reduce static cling, remove clothes from the dryer when they are still slightly damp.
  • When the laundry is done, put the used dryer sheet back in the fabric softener jar.  It will reabsorb the solution and be ready to go again for a future load of laundry.

6. All-Natural Laundry Bleach Alternative

  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 4 cups distilled water (or good quality tap water, as mentioned above)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (we use fresh lemons to avoid any preservative chemicals in the store-bought lemon juice)
  • 20 drops lemon essential oil
  • Add 1 cup of the mixture to the washer to whiten clothes
  • Store in a large, dark bottle as hydrogen peroxide should not be exposed to light.

All-Natural Laundry Static Solutions

  1. Add Vinegar to Your Rinse Cycle

Rinsing your laundry with white vinegar at the end of the wash cycle reduces static electricity and, as a bonus, acts as a natural fabric softener. 

Fill the fabric softener dispenser in your washer or add 1/2 cup of vinegar at the end of the wash cycle.

You can also add a few (2-4) drop of your favorite essential oil for laundry to the vinegar to make your clothes smell nice and clean.  Remember, citrus oils will help fight stains and brighten whites!

2. Add Vinegar to Your Dryer

Spray a cloth, sock, or old dish towel with white vinegar then toss in the dryer to reduce static.

3. Make DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets

While store-bought dryer sheets work well, they are LOADED with chemicals and toxins.
While you can find store-bought natural dryer sheets, you must throw them away after one use.

Save money and keep the toxins away with DIY reusable dryer sheets. They are easy to make, too!

  • Mix 1 cup of white vinegar and 25-30 drops of your favorite essential oils for laundry in a quart sized jar (we use a mason jar with a lid)
  • Gently shake then drop in wash cloths or cut up towels as used above for the DIY fabric softener.
  • When ready to use, wring out excess moisture and add the cloth to your dryer along with the laundry.
  • When done, drop back in the jar and you are ready to use again!

4. Use Wool Balls in Your Dryer

Toss 4-6 wool balls in your dryer to help reduce static and dry your laundry faster by fluffing clothes and absorbing moisture.  We add a few safety pins on each, as well, as the metal helps to reduce static.

5. Add an Aluminum Foil Ball to Your Dryer

You can also add a ball of aluminum foil in your dryer to help reduce static when drying your laundry.  We do this often as static is worse in the winter, of course.

6.  Add Some Borax to Your Laundry

Wash clothes with 1/4 cup of Borax to prevent static cling.

7. Reduce Drying Time

Over drying your laundry can cause static cling.  When clothes or sheets are completely dry and no moisture remains, it invites static electricity into the clothing. Allow clothes to dry only until they’re not wet anymore—tumbling around for excessive amounts of time in the dry heat increases static and increases energy costs.

Have you tried any of these essential oils for laundry, all-natural laundry tips or reducing static naturally?  Have you tried something else that works? I’d love to hear about it.  Please drop it in the comments below!

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