Essential oil plant extracts have been used to cleanse and disinfect laundry for thousands of years. Today however, many laundry detergents contain strong artificial fragrances, and other harsh ingredients. If you’re looking for a green alternative, that gets your clothes clean, try adding a few drops of essential oils to unscented natural liquid detergent. There are many different essential oils that you can use for laundry, and for the most part you should pick the ones that smell good to you. The oils below are household basics to help you get started.
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Lavender, a favorite laundry scent, has been used to scent laundry water since ancient Greece and Rome. In fact the herb takes it’s name from “lavare” which means, “to wash” in Latin. Studies show that lavender soothes the nervous system and has disinfectant properties. Essential oils vary widely in potency and most lavender scent will evaporate as your clothing dries. Begin by adding about one drop of lavender oil per ounce of detergent before adding more oil if desired.
Rosemary, a perennial bush can grow up to 6 feet tall outdoors, although most gardeners prefer to keep them cut lower to the ground. The essential oil extracted from rosemary leaves has a piney smell and has been used for its antibacterial properties since the Middle Ages. Rosemary oil can have an overpowering smell but blends well with lavender oil in small amounts.
Most people like the refreshing taste and smell of mint, and the pure oil can be put to good use disinfecting and deodorizing in the laundry room. There are many different varieties of mint, however peppermint and spearmint essential oils are the easiest to find. Use peppermint if you prefer a stronger aroma, spearmint if you want a milder aroma or blend the two types of oil as desired.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree oil has been used by native Australians for thousands of years for it’s multi-purpose healing properties. Modern science also verifies that this oil is an effective against fungal infections as well bacteria and some viruses. Tea tree oil is a widely available essential oil that you can find in most drug stores at an affordable price. Because of its medicinal properties you may want to use add a few drops tea tree oil when you wash bedding after an illness.
You can find essential oil samplers at local health food stores to help you decide which aromas you like. Note that some essential oils may irritate different people, and others may not be safe for pregnant or nursing women, so do your research before you create your custom blend for use around your home.