11 essential oils to make your laundry smell wonderful (& 4 easy ways to use them)

By Alison Angold | Qualified Aromatherapist | CIDESCO ITEC

Essential oils are obviously known for their strong scents, hence the term ‘aromatherapy’, so the oils can be used in many different ways to scent the home, but did you realise that you can use them to scent your laundry – both in and out of the wash! Lets look at how to use essential oils to make your laundry smell wonderful in the washing machine, to freshen your ironing and even to keep your clothes smelling great in storage!

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Citrus essential oils on a table in front of a laundry pile and an iron.  How to use essential oils to make your laundry smell wonderful!

The best essential oils for laundry

Most essential oils have a good aroma, and can be used for your laundry, however some oils have further benefits that can help clean and disinfect too. The best essential oils for to use to scent laundry are;

How to use essential oils to make your laundry smell wonderful

Washing machine

The easiest way to use essential oils for your washing and laundry is to add some drops of your chosen oils to the powder in the washing machine drawer.  However, in my experience you need to add quite a lot of drops to make the scent stick to the washing as it comes out.  It works much better if you mix some oils with the washing powder and sprinkle it straight into the machine drum.

Oils to choose are;

Lavender, tea tree, pine, lemon, grapefruit – for their anti-bacterial properties and fresh aromas.

A laundry basket with a bottle of liquid in.

Linen spray

Use this to spray on items just before you iron them, or to finely mist onto your bed linen to keep your sheets fresh.   Store in an amber tinted spray bottle, and remember to shake well before each use, to disperse the oil particles.

What you need;

  • 100ml Purified water
  • 5 tablespoons of witch hazel (or vodka)
  • 40 drops of your choice of essential oils

Try these oils for your essential oil linen spray;

Lavender – ideal to spray on your bed linen to promote relaxation and induce a good nights sleep

Tea Tree, Lemon & Grapefruit – a fruity, fresh fragrance to spray before ironing

Citronella, Lavender & Peppermint – another fresh fragrance ideal before ironing

Purchase all these essential oils HERE

An amber glass spray bottle with essential oils sitting on a table

Ironing sheets

I don’t know about you, but my pile of ironing really does pile up! I hate ironing! And often the longer the ironing sits there, the more stale smelling it may become.  Make these really easy essential oil cloths to keep in your ironing basket, among the clean laundry, to keep the clean everything smelling fresh, while they wait to be ironed!

These muslin cloths are ideal as they keep the aroma of the oils for a longer time.  Take a few cloths and add some drops of essential oils to them.  Then simply stuff the cloths in among your ironing to allow the aromas of the oils to release and keep the items smelling fresh.

Essential oil drawer fresheners

Much like the old fashioned lavender bags we used to use to scent our underwear drawers, these drawer fresheners with essential oils will have much the same effect.  Use them in any of your drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh, while also keeping moths, and other bugs at bay.

You will need;

  • Cotton wool balls
  • Muslin bags (optional)
  • Choice of essential oils.

Add some drops of chosen essential oils to the cotton balls and place randomly in your drawers.  I like to put the cotton balls in these small muslin bags as the cotton wool balls can pull apart and you can end up getting the strands of cotton wool everywhere! The bags keep the cotton wool balls intact, while still allowing the aromas to be released into your clothes.

Try these essential oils for your drawer fresheners;

Lavender, Lemon & Tea tree

Lime, Peppermint & Eucalyptus

Cedarwood & Grapefruit – this is a good combination for male clothing drawers, a more musky scent

Purchase all these oils HERE.

Which are the best essential oils to use for laundry?

Most essential oils have pleasant aromas, so most oils can be used.  However each essential oil has a variety of therapeutic actions, which include being antibacterial, anti-microbial and deodorising, which not only help scent your laundry but give extra cleansing powers too.


If you had to choose one oil that was the best for using in your laundry I would have to say Pine.  Not only does it have anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, which means that it will destroy and prevent unseen bacteria that linger on your clothes and bed linen, so making it extra fresh and clean, but it is a natural deodoriser so will scent your laundry.

Patchouli & Tea tree

Both of these oils are anti-microbial and antibacterial so give a double dose of cleaning power.  Tea tree has a strong antiseptic scent, so will help freshen the laundry for longer, while patchouli has a deeper, earthy scent.

Citrus oils

Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime and Citronella all have anti-bacterial properties and smell so fresh, so are ideal to use to scent your laundry.  I suggest pairing any citrus oil with a deeper aroma to help the scent last longer.


Lavender is a popular scent already used in many laundry preparations, as the floral scent is a great addition, but it is also antibacterial so gives extra cleansing power.  It is a particularly good oil to use in a linen spray on bedsheets, as lavender is relaxing and soothing.

Peppermint & Eucalyptus

Lovely fresh stronger scented oils that add a freshness to your laundry while adding cleansing anti-bacterial properties.


A more earthy tone, that is anti-bacterial.  Useful for keeping clean laundry fresh in drawers and cupboards.

Is it safe to use essential oils in the washing machine

Yes, despite essential oils being flammable, essential oils are safe to use in the washing machine as the washing machine will be filled with water so the oils will be diluted.

Can I use essential oils in my tumble dryer?

I don’t recommend this at all – even though many articles out there will say that you can.  Essential oils are highly volatile complex chemicals, which means they are flammable.  There have been reported cases – admittedly very few – of essential oils used in tumble dryers that have caused small fires.  I have even heard of one case, when towels that had been used during an aromatherapy massage, covered in essential oils, combusting, after they had been in the dryer, as the heat trapped within the towels caused the remnants of the oils to catch fire.

Do essential oils ruin clothes?

Pure essential oils should not ruin clothes. Usually when you hear the word oil and clothes, there is panic, as we are all aware that when we get an oil stain on fabric, it is very hard – almost impossible – to remove, however pure essential oils are not ‘oily’ and will not ruin clothes.

You may like to read about how to use essential oils in other areas of your home like THE BATHROOM

About the Author
Alison Angold is a fully qualified (certified) beauty therapist, massage therapist, and aromatherapist from the UK. She has over 25 years of experience in this industry and has worked in a variety of beauty salons, spa’s as well as running her own successful beauty and massage business. Her career has allowed her to treat many, many clients, with skincare concerns, medical conditions, and a whole variety of other ailments and issues, which has enabled her to work closely with essential oils, prescribing specific blends for these clients to help with these conditions. Her qualifications in the use of essential oils and aromatherapy, allow her to share this knowledge with others, in a safe, reliable way.