Essential Oils for Laundry Detergent

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Most conventional laundry detergents contain strong synthetic perfumes to add a scent to clean laundry. However, some people suffer from sensitivities to these perfumes. Adding essential oils to homemade laundry soap or to commercial unscented detergents can allow sensitive people to enjoy scented laundry without irritation. Any essential oil will work in laundry detergent, but some are more common than others.

Lavender

  • Lavender is a traditional laundry scent, especially for linens, handkerchiefs and other items that tend to spend long periods in storage. This essential oil has a clean, floral, slightly piney scent, and is used to promote relaxation in aromatherapy. It blends well with other essential oils, such as flower oils and citrus.

Eucalyptus

  • Eucalyptus essential oil comes from the Australian eucalyptus tree, and has a sharp, fresh, slightly medicinal scent. This oil blends well with rosemary, pine and tea tree, all of which have similar odors. It may also help control allergens. According to a study published in February 2011 in "Pediatric Allergy and Immunology," eucalyptus oil used in washing soft toys reduced dust mite populations by 95.1 percent. Dust mites are a major source of irritants for allergy and asthma sufferers.

Citrus

  • Citrus oils, including lemon, bitter and sweet oranges, lime and grapefruit, are popular additives to cleansers. These oils have a bright, fresh smell and are frequently associated with cleanliness. They may also help remove some stains. According to scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy, lemon oil can help dissolve oil-based stains, leaving the fabric clean and smelling fresh.

Mint

  • Peppermint, spearmint and other mints provide a cool, fresh scent to laundry. Peppermint blends well with other oils, including rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus and lavender. According to the Oregon State University Extension, this oil can work to deter ants and other pest insects. Spearmint oil has similar properties, but doesn't blend as well with other scents.

Tea Tree

  • Like eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil is strong smelling, has a slightly medicinal odor, and originates from Australia. This essential oil has some antimicrobial properties, killing bacterial, fungi and other microscopic organisms. It blends well with pine, eucalyptus, lavender and similar oils, and is an important ingredient in many cleaning recipes.

Vanilla

  • This sweet, warm-smelling oil is common in baked goods, scented candles and potpourri. It provides a homey, relaxing feel in laundry detergent, and works well with rose and other floral scents, lime and lavender.

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