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Top 10 Best Essential Oils for Laundry Use

If you are like the rest of us, you don’t really enjoy dealing with the loads of laundry week after week. You seek quick and easy solutions for removing the stains, washing, drying and softening your garment. Luckily, there are so many different variations of commercial laundry products available on the market today.

However, recent studies have unequivocally shown that store bought detergents, softeners and other laundry products tend to build up on your clothes, causing problems with skin such as eczema and allergies. Moreover, they go down in the sewer system and cause harm to the environment.

As a healthier alternative, using essential oils for your laundry is a great way to clean your clothes naturally, avoiding health issues and saving the environment. Of course, you also get to enjoy a fresh, natural scent on your clothes at the same time.

best essential oils for laundry use

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are chemical compounds naturally occurring in plants. These compounds are very volatile, which means they quickly go from a solid or liquid state, to gas at room temperature.

They move quickly through the air and interact with olfactory sensors in your nose. In other words, when you open the bottle containing the essential oil, you feel the potent aroma right away and you will be able to smell it even from across the room.

essential oils

These aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots and other parts of plants. Plants use them to attract pollinators, to fight against insects and other animals as well as to protect themselves by their antifungal and antibacterial nature.

The producers put various parts of plants through a distillation process to pull out the precious oils, which can be then used for aromatherapy, as well as other applications, including making your own laundry detergent, fabric softener, or natural stain remover.

Choosing One for Your Laundry

As it turns out, laundry detergents are filled with harmful chemicals that can cause skin irritations, poisoning if accidentally consumed and pollute the environment heavily. Even if you choose to use the eco-friendly, hypoallergenic option, you will not be safe from these harmful effects.

The University of Washington has even conducted a study which analyzed the chemical composition of top-selling laundry products. They have reached the conclusion that they contain toxic substances that are not even disclosed on the product labels.

On the other hand, labels are also filled with mysterious substances. For example, the word “fragrance” is actually a collection of hundreds of different chemicals that will come in contact with your skin and be released into the environment after the washing cycle has ended.

Even if you choose the “fragrance free” detergents, you are faced with the collection of synthetic fragrances hiding under this marking.

With all this in mind, switching to essential oils for dealing with your laundry may not be such a bad idea after all.

Essential oils are becoming increasingly popular and can be easily found anywhere. However, if you wish to be completely sure that you have found the “right thing,” you have to look for the “100% pure essential oil” label – these products are pure and don’t contain any carrier oils or other additives.

Other than that, choosing the right essential oil is all about your preferences and the choice depends only on what suits your senses.

If you are not sure which one to choose, you can always start with the classic scents, such as: lemon, orange, grapefruit and lemongrass.

Other options may include some more distinctive aromas, such as: eucalyptus, rosemary, pine, cedarwood, spearmint, oregano, cinnamon bark, sage, lavender and others.

Different Ways to Scent Laundry

Once you have found the scents you like, you are able to use these essential oils in various ways to make your clothes smell great and feel exquisite against your skin. All with no harmful chemicals used.

You are even able to make your own laundry detergent and fabric softener, or just add the essential oils directly to your drier or scent cotton balls to keep your clothes fresh, even when folded away in the drawer for longer periods of time.

You can experiment and find your own ways to use essential oils with your laundry, but we bring you few basic recipes to help you get started.

Basic Liquid Laundry Detergent


  • 2 ¼ cups of liquid castile soap
  • ¼ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of glycerin
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 20-30 drops of the essential oil of your choice

Combine all the ingredients into a plastic bottle and shake it once or twice before adding the detergent to the wash. Add ¼ cup for average load, or ½ cup for an extra-large or very dirty load.

Basic Fabric Softener


  • 6 cups of vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 15 drops of the essential oil of your choice

Combine all the ingredients into a plastic container and add 1 cup to the rinse cycle for each load.

Dryer Use

You are able to simply add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice before every drying cycle and set your dryer to low temperature. You may also add a few drops to reusable dryer balls, as an alternative for a fabric softener.

Remember: Be sure to use stronger aromatic oils or more drops of less scented oils as they tend to lose their strength in the drying process.

Scent the Clothes in Drawer or Closet

Add a few drops to cotton balls and cotton pads and spread them all over your drawers. You will need to replace them from time to time. However, your clothes will smell fresh and nice, even when they are tucked away for longer periods of time.

Another method is to use essential oil scented soaps – cut them into small pieces and put them in socks. Hang the socks in your closet or spread them over your drawers and enjoy natural aromas scenting your wardrobe. Once the soap becomes less fragrant, you are able to either refresh it by adding a few more drops of the essential oil, or just use them for washing.

Essential Oils and Their Different Purposes

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree essential oil is an excellent way to pre-wash your laundry and despite its usefulness, it’s always safer to test it on a small piece of fabric before deciding it to apply to any large area.

If you’re scratching your head wondering why, it has to do with certain materials that are more capable of absorbing the oil rather than using it for cleaning purposes. Once your test is over, you should have a product even capable of removing mildew or fungus from fabrics – making it an out-of-the-box technique for sanitizing your clothes.

Lavender Essential Oil

Regarded as one of the most alluring oils due to its gorgeous fragrance, lavender is light enough to not appear over empowering or too floral.

If you’re into DIY and want to choose your own fragrance laundry formula, note that lavender is commonly used for inducing a calmer and more serene piece of mind.

Grapefruit Essential Oil

Good for breakfast and losing weight, but also for helping whiten and brighten your dirtiest clothes, even from the first wash: grapefruit oil.

In fact, older stains that have not budged in the past can also be treated with grapefruit essential oil, improving their color and making them slightly softer as well. Working as a fine sanitizer, this oil could be used when washing clothes following an illness.

Lemongrass Essential Oil

Stiff fabrics are not a thing of the past and it’s useful to find oil capable of achieving softer results.

Lemongrass is one such example, especially when mixed with fabric softener. It can help better retain the integrity of the fabric and reducing itchiness.

Spruce Essential Oil

Unfortunately, summer brings forward not only gorgeous breezes and beautiful beaches, but also a sometimes unbearable heat that can make you sweaty.

To spruce up your confidence and have a strong yet fresh odor, this essential oil might just be the answer. Ripe smells will surely be a thing of the past, combating any pungent and unpleasant eau de fragrance.

Lemon Essential Oil

Clothing and grease are two words that seem to go together, especially when talking about young boisterous children. This miracle oil can even be applied to older stains, making it a good trick to have in your book.

Take the lemon oil and rub it directly onto the stain, even to clothing items that are greasy or heavily stained. This is a better and non-toxic way to treat your clothes – more suitable for you and even the environment.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll be able to use all of these oils simply by rubbing them in using your fingertips. However, in the event that you don’t want the strong aroma to follow you around for the few next hours, use an old toothbrush guaranteed to do the trick, spreading the solution evenly.

If you’re using baking soda in combination with an essential oil, it’s time to do a bit of manual work and brush for about a minute.

After it has been left untouched for another couple of minutes, the soda will be absorbed. You may then throw your clothes in the washing machine and see the grease stain gone within a couple of minutes.

Will Essential Oils Ruin Your Clothes?

Although it’s not hard to get confused due to the expressive name, essential oils are unable to stain your clothing, making this just an elaborate myth for those who don’t yet know any better.

Simply put, essential oils are not truly “oils” in the full sense of the meaning, being clearer and more diluted than their oil counterparts.

While it is true that some of them are more colored or thickened, pure essential oils don’t have the capability of permanently staining your clothes or leaving oil spots.

To put things into perspective, certain oils can actually remove grease stains or oils from the inner fibers of materials and one example is lemon oil, or eucalyptus. These two can be applied directly to the stain, requiring only a couple of minutes for the clear savior to do its trick before washing.

Other useful alternatives are lime and tea tree, all containing antibacterial properties which make them ideal for parents wishing for a toxic-free washing load.

In other words, essential oils don’t have the same chemical components that normal oils do, meaning that they won’t ruin your clothes or cause further staining.

Top 10 Best Essential Oils For Laundry Use

Woolzies Sweet Orange 100% Pure Essential Oil

The Woolzies brand is known for producing pure essential oils for a number of uses and one of the most popular flavors is the Sweet Orange oil, which is renowned for its citrus cleaning properties. Thus, it makes sense that it would make it on the number one spot of our list of the best essential oils for laundry use.

Woolzies Sweet Orange 100% Pure Essential Oil

Not only does this oil contain antibacterial properties, but it’s also great for removing dirt and it leaves clothes smelling absolutely refreshing. In addition to that, the scent lasts all day long.

To benefit from this oil, simply add it to your laundry dryer balls during the non-heated drying cycle. Be sure to switch your washer to the ‘air’ or ‘fluff’ setting to prevent the oil from evaporating and reducing its efficiency.


  • Your clothes will smell revivifying
  • Does not leave any stains on the clothes
  • Has antibacterial properties
  • Can be used on a gas dryer
  • Makes clothes soft and fluffy
  • The scent can last for an entire day


  • Unlike most essential oils, you have to pour a lot of drops in order to get the citrus scent to come through, preferably five to ten, which is a bit much
  • The bottle itself does not last long, as you have to use more to get the intended effect

This handy bundle from the Kassa brand comes with a soft drawstring bag that contains a 30ml lavender essential oil bottle as well as six large chemical-free dryer balls, which are made from 100% organic cotton.

This set naturally softens the fabric on your clothes, while leaving behind the delicate scent of fresh lavender.

When used in conjunction with the drying balls, this lavender essential oil has the potential to reduce your laundry drying time by up to 25%, which leads to less wrinkles and static on your clothes.

Another awesome thing about this set is that it offers great value for money, as the lavender essential oil only requires a few drops per cycle and you are able to reuse the dryer balls for up to 1000 loads.

It’s recommended to use 5 to 6 balls for large or heavy loads and 3 or 4 balls for small to medium loads.


  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Leaves clothes smelling delicately refreshing
  • The dryer balls are fully reusable and can last for up to 1000 dryer loads
  • The balls are said to reduce static and wrinkles on clothes by up to 25%
  • A little goes a long way with the lavender oil, which means that it can last for a long time


  • There is nothing to complain about with this lavender essential oil and dryer ball set

Pure lemon essential oil leaves clothes with a clean and fresh smell. Although it’s not a fancy or popular option, it’s a powerful stain remover and has great antibacterial properties as well, all thanks to its acidity.

This particular oil comes with an eco-friendly bag and eight dryer balls that are made from 100% chemical-free organic cotton, which can be reused for up to 1000 dryer loads.


  • 100% chemical-free
  • The lemon essential oil leaves clothes with a fresh and clean scent
  • Great for stain removal
  • Has antibacterial properties
  • The dryer balls can be reused for up to 1000 dryer loads


  • You might want to opt for something a bit more exotic if you’re after more than just a ‘clean’ smell

Peppermint essential oil is known for having that invigorating minty smell which instantly awakens the senses, but what makes it ideal for laundry is its antibacterial properties.

You can count on this oil to remove all those pesky bacterial odors that tend to stick onto your gym or gardening clothes, while the wool balls in this bundle will work to reduce the static and wrinkles on your clothes over time.

Try not to use too much of the peppermint essential oil though, as it can get a bit too strong for some.


  • The peppermint essential oil is refreshing and invigorating
  • Contains antibacterial properties
  • Removes bacterial odors from clothes
  • The dryer balls are 100% cotton and suitable for use on baby clothes


  • The peppermint scent can be a bit strong for some

If you’re looking for something that will seriously boost the scent of your laundry with each wash, look no further than this value pack of 7 rosemary mint essential oils from Elegant Expressions.

The combination of these two legendary oils is further enhanced by their concentrated fragrance. What’s more, they’re manufactured using an eco-friendly formula, so rest assured that they’ll be gentle on delicate materials.


  • Made with a combination of mint and rosemary essential oils, which leaves your clothes with a truly unique scent
  • The oils are very gentle on your clothes and can be used on delicate fabrics
  • It only takes a few drops to get the intended effect
  • Provides great value for money, as it comes as a pack of seven


  • A few dryer balls included with the package would be nice

The Zum Clean brand is one of the leaders in chemical and paraben-free cleaners and detergents and this Frankincense and Myrrh essential oil infused washing detergent is no different.

Not only is it made from 100% natural and organic ingredients, it offers great value for money with the capacity to wash 32 loads in a top-loading machine, or 64 if you’ve got a high-efficiency one. Adding just a little of this natural detergent leaves clothes with a subtle but lovely smell and it’s gentle enough to use on delicate fabrics and baby clothes.


  • Wash up to 32 top loads with this natural detergent
  • The Frankincense and Myrrh combination makes for a delightfully exotic scent
  • It leaves clothes feeling really soft
  • It’s powerful enough to remove stains and odors on clothes
  • Made from 100% natural and organic ingredients


  • It’s not as effective as earlier versions used to be

If you want your clothes to smell like Christmas, then try this patchouli essential oil infused laundry soap from Zum Clean.

Although it’s great at removing stains and keeping your clothes soft and colorful, its most amazing quality is the marvelously comforting smell of patchouli that it leaves on your clothes.


  • Smells delectably enchanting
  • Works on high-efficiency machines
  • Made from eco-friendly and natural ingredients only
  • Just a little bit of this detergent is enough to keep the scent on your clothes all day long
  • Lasts for a long time


  • It’s a bit pricey

This liquid laundry detergent from Ecos contains the zesty and stimulating scent of lemongrass, an essential oil that’s known for its antibacterial and naturally relaxing properties.

This oil is so delicate and gentle that your clothes come out two times softer and fluffier after you’ve used this detergent. Moreover, you are able to rely on it to help you remove static on wool and similar fabrics.


  • Contains antibacterial properties
  • Lemongrass has a naturally relaxing and zesty scent
  • Suitable for delicate fabrics
  • Great for use in high-efficiency machines


  • Nothing to complain about with this one

While most people associate basil with its myriad of health benefits and the refreshing flavor it brings to most dishes, the essential oil version is a great addition to your laundry, thanks to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

This means that you are able to use it to get rid of germs and stubborn odors on your clothes and it makes for an ideal laundry detergent for someone who leads an active lifestyle.


  • It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties
  • It’s fully biodegradable and can last for up to a month
  • Can be used for 64 loads
  • It’s safe for use on delicate fabrics and even baby clothes
  • Made from natural and organic materials


  • It starts bio-degrading after 28 days, which means that you have to use it up quick

Any flower lover will tell you that geraniums have one of the loveliest and delicious scents in the world and pouring just two capfuls of this luscious fabric softener will have your clothes smelling like a garden.

In fact, it smells so good that you probably won’t even have to put on perfume once you start using this detergent. Furthermore, it works great when you want to remove static and wrinkles on clothes.


  • Your clothes come out fluffy but not too soft
  • It’s eco-friendly
  • It only requires two capfuls to get the required results


  • There is absolutely nothing bad to say about this softener


Although essential oils are mostly used for aromatherapy healing purposes, they’re also versatile enough to use in laundry and have been known to leave clothes softer and smelling delicious.

That said, if you want to remove stains on clothing while also leaving them smelling good at the same time, we definitely recommend trying out lemon essential oil. This is perfect for those who have children who play around a lot, or even hyperactive pets who might stain your clothing.

If you don’t want to DIY and you want something ready to use immediately, use the Zum Clean, or even Mrs. Meyer’s fabric softener, both of which have essentials oils infused in them.

However, as mentioned, there are all kinds of essential oils with all kinds of purposes. So definitely try using an essential oil of your choice for your next laundry cycle to enjoy the amazing benefits.

For more on uses of essential oils, and different things they can be used for, please check out our complete list of essential oils and what they are used for in this next article.

Melissa Styer

Melissa Styer is the Founder, and long time Editor-in-Chief of With a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Oregon, and a Masters Degree in Biology from California State University, Melissa has been writing and teaching about essential oils and the importance of a maintaining a healthy living environment for over 25 years. === Hi All, I started Wellness Appliances in the Winter of 2014 as a way to and share my knowledge and thoughts on essential oils and the importance of healthful living. As a youngster, I have vivid memories of walking through the large fantastic garden my dad kept for his entire life. It was there I learned about all the plants and the varied, important properties they can offer humanity. A cool morning misty walk down the meandering paths was a child’s delight, and something I still do to this day in my own sprawling gardens. While I have stepped back from the day-to-day managing of Wellness Appliances, I intend to continue contributing articles on subjects that matter to me from time to time. My days are largely filled volunteering at the local co-op, tooling in my vegetable and fragrance gardens (which I attempt to keep as a year-round gardens), writing, and being the leader of the pack to my two dogs Jacko and Lea. Thanks for the years of great readership! - Melissa

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