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essential oil bottle with laundry soap and lavender

How to Use Essential Oils in Laundry: The Complete Guide

For many, laundry is a dreaded chore involving a lot of planning, work, and an olfactory overload that can be tough to shake off. Traditional detergents come laden with toxic chemicals that are not only unpleasant on the nose but may be harmful to health as well. Experimental studies have revealed that detergent chemicals such as formaldehyde, phosphates, and bleach are not only absorbed in the skin, but they can also enter the body through inhalation. 

A natural alternative to harmful laundry products is essential oils. Essential oils are potent plant extracts taken from different parts of a plant, such as seeds, flowers, bark, or fruit. The extraction process generally involves distillation or cold pressing, resulting in a fragrant oil that is free from any additives. 

Essential oils offer a vast selection of choices to explore and can be used in many ways. To make your next laundry day a breeze, this article expands on the best essential oils for laundry and the different ways you can safely use them. 

Benefits of Using Essential Oils in Laundry essential oil bottle with laundry supplies

Using essential oils in your laundry can offer several benefits as they are natural compounds without any synthetic additives. Depending on the plant they are derived from, essential oils can have antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-fungal properties which can help clean and disinfect your clothing. 

Moreover, essential oils fragrance clothing naturally, offering a soothing alternative to scented laundry detergents. Scented laundry detergents are formulated to be long-lasting, which means that they are harsher on the nose. Particularly for people who are sensitive to scent and experience olfactory fatigue, switching to essential oils in favor of fragranced detergent products can drastically improve the laundering experience. 

Using essential oils in laundry comes with the added advantage of enjoying the relaxing effects of an aromatherapy session. As the essential oils waft through your nose into your body, they offer therapeutic benefits ranging from boosting energy levels to reducing stress.

Most importantly, essential oils are environmentally sustainable and are a good way to switch to eco-friendly laundry practices. Most traditional detergents use synthetic chemicals that are non-biodegradable and harmful to the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions: Using Essential Oils for Laundry

It can be tricky to get started with using essential oils for laundry as there are several factors involved. You might wonder about the safety of the process or the amount of essential oils required. The following sections clarify misconceptions and doubts about the integration of essential oils in laundry. 

Are Essential Oils Safe to Add to Laundry?

Essential oils are likely safe to add to the laundry as long as you bear in mind a few key points. Any essential oils that you add to your laundry must be patch-tested. Ideally, you want to patch-test every member in your house in case they come into contact with the laundry. If you have pets, make sure that you only use essential oils that are known to be safe for your pets. 

Despite being natural plant complexes, essential oils are chemical compounds that can affect your body adversely if you are allergic to them. Hence, it is important to ascertain that you can tolerate the topical application of the essential oil you plan to add to your laundry. 

As long as you are careful, integrating essential oils into your laundry routine is not only likely safe but also quite practical. 

How Much Essential Oil Can Be Added to Laundry?

Essential oils can be added to your washing or your drying cycle. However, it is also important that you dilute essential oils before adding them to any step in your laundry routine. For dilution, you can use a store-bought laundry detergent or create your own detergent recipe. 

When preparing your laundry detergent for a regular load, use between 4-5 drops of essential oil, taking care to add slowly. If you feel that your detergent mixture is not concentrated, or if the laundry does not carry enough of the essential oil aroma, you can add a few more drops. For dryer balls, use between 2-3 drops per ball, adding them in the cool-down cycle.

You can also adjust the amount of essential oil according to the size of your load. Just bear in mind that, with essential oils, a little goes a long way since they are concentrated substances that have strong fragrances and potent therapeutic effects.

Will Essential Oils Damage Laundry and Clothing?

When added to the laundry in diluted forms, essential oils are not typically harmful to most fabrics. Essential oils do not usually affect the fiber of your clothing if they are added in small amounts to your laundry. If you accidentally spill essential oil on your clothing directly, it is best to wash it out with dish soap and lukewarm water. 

Another concern that many people have regarding the use of essential oils for washing is that the clothing will get stained. This is rarely the case as many essential oils are clear and have very light color pigments. Additionally, diluting essential oils before adding them to the laundry reduces the risk of stains appearing on the washing. Adding only the proper amount of essential oils can also help reduce the risk of staining.

What Are the Best Essential Oils to Use for Laundry?

With so many essential oils available on the market, it can be tough to decide which essential oils are most suitable for laundry. Certain essential oils may stain your clothing (if they are a dark liquid) or may be too resinous to add to your washing. The sections below introduce a curated list of essential oils that offer unique benefits when added to laundry. 

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

This essential oil has a strong scent that is instantly uplifting. The aroma is fresh, clean, and slightly medicinal, reminiscent of a forest breeze with a hint of camphor. When used in laundry, the minty aroma of eucalyptus essential oil can help neutralize odors, infusing it with a natural outdoorsy fragrance. 

Another advantage of using eucalyptus essential oil in laundry is its strong antibacterial properties. Several studies have been conducted to test the efficacy of eucalyptus essential oil against a range of bacteria. It is found to be effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria when used topically. This makes eucalyptus essential oil a broad-spectrum antimicrobial that can reliably be used to prevent common bacterial infections. 

Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil is an all-rounder when it comes to its application in washing and laundry. It has a bright, zesty scent that embodies the vibrant essence of freshly cut lemons. The aroma is strong and works well to remove malodors while bringing a natural freshness to laundered clothes. 

This essential oil is also suitable to use for stain removal. It can be used to remove grease stains and grime from clothing, no matter how old or resistant. To treat stains with lemon essential oil, mix about 5-8 drops in your liquid detergent and wash your clothes as normal. 

Another advantage of using lemon essential oil in laundry is that it is an antimicrobial and anti-fungal agent, helping sanitize clothing and fabrics. 

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil has a sharp, invigorating scent that feels like a cool breeze. It is an excellent option to add to your laundry as it is colorless and thin in consistency, making it ideal to add to laundry. The aroma is sharp enough to neutralize odors while not overpowering the senses. Since the scent of peppermint essential oil has strong staying power, you can expect a cool, minty scent to linger on your laundry until the next wash. 

This essential oil is also a broad-range antibacterial that is effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. In addition, peppermint essential oil is known to increase alertness and memory, potentially improving mood and performance. When laundering your work clothes, add peppermint essential oil to uplift your spirits and prepare yourself for the work day. 

Rosemary Essential Oil

Adding rosemary essential oil to your laundry will infuse your clothes with a fresh, herbaceous scent that relaxes the senses. The essential oil has a colorless appearance so it does not risk staining your clothing. Its slightly sweet, woody aroma is strong enough to last through the washing yet brings a serene character wherever it lingers. 

Rosemary essential oil is ideal for killing surface germs as it is antibacterial and antiseptic. Apart from this, the essential oil is proven to lower stress levels by inhibiting the hormone cortisol. Using rosemary essential oil in your laundry may help you to de-stress and relax. 

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil has a versatile aroma that is popularly associated with luxury and royalty. Many home products are scented with lavender essential oil as it is a universally pleasing scent. When added to your laundry routine, the gentle scent of the essential oil will have a comforting effect. 

Apart from its widely adored scent, lavender essential oil has several therapeutic properties that make it great for use in laundry. The essential oil has been researched to be effective against several species of bacteria, making it a potent antimicrobial and antiseptic agent. Moreover, lavender essential oil has been studied widely for its relaxing effects. It contains linalool, a component that affects the nerves, and is an anxiolytic, potentially reducing feelings of stress. 

Lavender essential oil is great to use for washing home essentials such as bedsheets, pillows, and blankets. The soothing scent will not only add to your home environment but also have therapeutic effects such as promoting better sleep and relaxation. 

Ways to Use Essential Oils for Laundry

Owing to their potent nature and thin consistency, there are a variety of ways essential oils can be added to laundry. They can either be added during the washing process or the drying process. You can dilute them in laundry products, or use them to create your own organic laundry detergent. The following sections illustrate the multiple ways you can use essential oils in your laundry routine. 

Add Essential Oils to Your Laundry Detergent

This is the easiest way you can incorporate essential oils into your laundry. Before starting the wash, add a few drops of your chosen essential oil to your laundry detergent. Ensure that your detergent is in liquid form and is unscented, allowing for easy dilution of the essential oils. To yield the maximum benefit from using essential oils, opt for an eco-friendly, natural detergent so that you can avoid synthetic chemicals. 

Be sure to introduce a calculated amount as adding too much essential oil can damage or stain clothing. Start with incorporating 3 drops of essential oil into your detergent and mix well. Depending on the size of your load and how strong you want your fragrance to be, you can adjust the amount of essential oil you use.

Make Your Own Essential Oil Laundry Bombs

Simplify your laundry routine by DIY-ing laundry bombs: an all-encompassing product that combines detergent, fabric softener, and fragrance booster. Laundry bombs are simple to put together and can be made in big batches to last you for months. 

To make your own, you will need 1 cup of grated laundry soap, 1 cup of washing soda, ¼ cup of Epsom salt, and ¼ cup of vinegar. Combine all the ingredients in the order listed and stir well. At this point, you can incorporate essential oils into the mix, adding between 15 to 20 drops. 

Finally, scoop out the mixture into any mold of your choice. Ice trays make great molds for laundry bombs as they are an ideal size and shape. Ready your mold and place it in the open air for 10 hours to set the batter and evaporate excess moisture. Once your laundry bombs are dry, store them in an airtight container. 

Using laundry bombs is incredibly easy; all you have to do is drop one tablet into your laundry for regular loads. If you are laundering a heavy load, you can use two laundry bombs. 

DIY an Essential Oil Infused Laundry Detergent

To get a step closer to environment-friendly and health-conscious living, you can make your own detergent at home with simple ingredients. Many of the traditional detergents and scented laundry products contain toxins and human carcinogens that can cause serious harm when used long-term.

While making the switch to homemade detergent may seem like a hassle at first, the benefits make it all worthwhile. A simple, no-fuss recipe calls for ½ bar of grated castile soap, 1 cup of washing soda, and 1 cup of borax. Combine all of the ingredients together by stirring thoroughly, and add 15 drops of essential oil. Once everything is mixed well, store the detergent in an airtight container. 

You can use ¼ cup of detergent mixture for a regular load of laundry. Use this ratio and adjust the amount depending on the size of your laundry load. 

Create a Homemade Essential Oil Fabric Softener

With so many steps in our laundry routines, product costs can add up quickly. You can save on fabric softener by putting together a quick recipe that can be customized to your liking. To make your own fabric softener, you will need 2 cups of vinegar and 20 drops of essential oil. Combine the two ingredients and store the mixture in a non-reactive container.

To use, add ½ cup of the mixture into a regular load and enjoy fragrant, soft clothes.

Add Essential Oils to Your Dryer Balls (As Instructed!)

Dryer balls are made of wool, and are efficient and economical alternatives to dryer sheets. The use of dryer sheets has been discouraged by researchers from a health and environmental standpoint. Like most laundry products, dryer sheets are often coated with harmful chemicals that are released as a result of the heat generated from the drying cycle. They are also single-use, contributing to the waste problem. Hence, switching to dryer balls is a no-brainer if you don’t already use them. 

You can add essential oils to your dryer balls to enhance their softening and fragrancing qualities. To use, start by running the heat cycle in your dryer without the dryer balls. Then, in the cool cycle, add your essential-oil infused dryer balls. For a small load, you can use 3 dryer balls, and for larger loads, you can use 6. 

It is important to keep in mind that essential oils are plant compounds that are flammable and can catch fire easily. Never incorporate essential oils in the heat cycle of your dryer as it can pose a serious fire hazard. 

Ensuring Safety When Using Essential Oils for Laundry

Incorporating essential oils into your laundry routine is a safe and uncomplicated practice as long as you pay attention to a few key factors. 

Firstly, it is important to pick the right essential oil. Choose colorless essential oils that will not stain your clothing. Avoid using darker-tinted essential oils such as tangerine, patchouli, jasmine, and blue tansy.

Then, ensure that you patch-test your chosen essential oils on each person who will be handling the laundry. Also, make sure to dilute the essential oils in detergent or homemade laundry products before adding them to the wash cycle. Incorporating essential oils directly into the laundry may cause irritation to the skin. 

When laundering with essential oils, keep any pets away during the washing and drying process. Additionally, make sure to only use essential oils that are non-toxic to your pets. 

Finally, keep in mind that essential oils are flammable and can ignite in the laundry if used in a heat cycle. Only use essential oils in the washing process and the tumble dry process of your laundry routine. 

Closing Notes on How to Essential Oils in Your Laundry

essential oil bottle with laundry soap and flowers

Incorporating essential oils in your laundry is a fun process that combines the perks of aromatherapy with an enhanced cleaning experience. You can tinker with the recipes and alter them according to your preferences, making your own essential oil blends and adjusting the amounts used.

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