How to Scent Fabrics & Denim

Applying scents to home decor items or clothing adds an appealing aroma. For example, a lavender scented pillow can be soothing and help to relax your mind, and citrus scented towels can help energize you in the morning.

Things You'll Need

  • Fragrance-free liquid laundry detergent

  • Essential or fragrance oil

  • Spray bottle, 10 ounces or larger

  • Water

  • Alcohol or polysorbate 80

  • Large towels

  • Fragrance-free liquid fabric softener (optional)

Step 1

Wash the fabric with the fragrance-free detergent. Do not use fabric softener at this stage. Dry according to manufacturer's instructions.

Step 2

Add 2 teaspoons of alcohol to the spray bottle. For a nonalcoholic spray, add 1 teaspoon of Polysorbate 80 to the spray bottle instead. Add 1 teaspoon of the essential or fragrance oil of your choice. Swirl the bottle a little to blend. Add 8 ounces of water. Close the spray bottle securely. Shake vigorously to combine.

Step 3

Spread the towels on a flat surface. If the fabric is a finished garment, turn the garment wrong side out. Lay the fabric on top of the towels. Spray the fabric with the scented water, holding the spray bottle 6-10 inches above the fabric. Spray evenly until the fabric is damp. Allow to dry.

Step 4

Flip the fabric over, and repeat the spraying process. If the fabric is a finished garment, turn it right side out and repeat the spraying process on all sides of the garment. Allow to dry. The fabric is ready to use. If scenting denim, repeat the spraying process one additional time to help the heavyweight cotton fibers absorb more scent.


No process can infuse a fabric with scent that cannot be removed by laundering. The scent will have to be refreshed, depending on how often it is laundered. Reinforce the scent by adding one teaspoon of the fragrance or essential oil to the laundry detergent and fabric softener. Fragrance and essential oils can be blended -- experiment to find the blends you like.


If you are using a dry-clean only fabric, consult with a dry cleaner about what is safe to use on your fabric. Fragrance oils containing vanilla or vanillin can oxidize and turn brown. Look for oils that are specially formulated to remain clear.

References & Resources