Using Essential Oils in the Laundry

There’s nothing new about giving the laundry the aromatic treatment. Our Elizabethan ancestors dried their clothes and bed linen on rosemary or lavender bushes to infuse them with the smell, and scented the water with orris root.

ClotheslineWe have many more possibilities, because although most of us haven’t seen a rosemary bush big enough to hang our double sheets over, we do have a multitude of essential oils which can be used in the washer, the dryer, or drawers and wardrobes where we keep our clothes. And it’s not just about making our clothes smell sweet, as we shall discover.

If you have a washing machine put 3-5 drops of your chosen essential oil into the softener compartment. If hand-washing, put 2 drops in the final rinse water and swish it around. Avoid the resinous oils, and some of the heavier oils such as Rose which tend to cling to the clothes in the wash but are fine when drying or storing clothes.

WasherTo add a delicious fragrance to your wash try Lemongrass or Lavender. If you prefer a more exotic perfume, try Ylang-Ylang or Neroli. If winter colds have struck the household, put Eucalyptus Rosemary, or Pine in the wash. These oils are especially beneficial on bed linen to relieve coughs and catarrh throughout the night. If whooping cough is in the house, use Hyssop and Peppermint. If insomnia is the problem, Marjoram, Chamomile, and Orange Blossom will help to aid sleep if used when rinsing the bed linen or nightware.

To infuse clothes with an essential oil when putting them through the tumble dryer, simply add 2 drops onto a piece of fabric no larger than 4 inches square and pop it in with the clothes. Here are some oils you might try.

Fresh

Lavender; Bergamot
Rosemary; Pettigraine

Floral

Geranium; Neroli
Palma Rosa; Bois de Rose

Romantic

Ylang-Ylang; Jasmine
Rose; Vervaine

Ironing BoardYou may also like to utilize the essential oils when ironing. You can either put 1 drop of essential oil in a plant mister and spray the clothes before ironing, or put a drop on a damp linen cloth and place between the iron and the material. You could also put the essential oils directly into the water compartment of your steam iron, but essential oils are not water soluble and could leave a residue in your iron.

Essential oils can be left to infuse the clothes while they are in the drawer or the closet. Put a drop on little pieces of natural material or cotton-wool balls and place them between the clothes. Here is a lovely synergistic blend:

Clothes Sweetener

4 drops Bois de Rose
2 drops Geranium
3 drops Lemon

Mix in these proportions.

To keep moths away from your clothes use 2-3 drops of one of the following oils. These are particularly useful when coats and woolens are stored away during the summer months.

Moth Repellants

Lavender; Rosemary
Lemongrass; Citronella
Camphor

WardrobeSmall cotton balls with essential oils on them can also be put between the clothes in drawers. Drawer liners made with the essential oils are much nicer than their chemical aroma counterparts and are very simple to make. Cut paper to the size of the drawer –blotting paper or other types of absorbent paper are best- and dot with the essential oils. Then brush over orris root powder, which acts like a fixative, shake off and place in the bottom of the drawer.

Rose in the ladies’ underwear drawer would be appropriate, for example, and a relaxing, calming oil like Chamomile in the children’s nightwear drawer, and a stimulating one such as Grapefruit or Basil for the school clothes drawer. When colds are around, get your family to use handkerchiefs that have been left in a drawer with an antibacterial or disinfectant oil.

Shoe RackShoes should not be neglected. To freshen them up inside, put 2 teaspoons of baking soda into an egg cup and add 2 drops of Lemon, Lavender, or Rosemary. Mix this as well as you can, sprinkle into the shoes and leave overnight. Tap it out in the morning and your shoes will be fresh as new.

Sneakers and athletic shoes can get pretty pungent even if you don’t have a foot odor problem. Follow the method above, but use 2 drops of the following synergistic blends of oils to each teaspoonful of baking soda. By morning they won’t be the same wild things you left there.

Sneaker Tamer Synergistic Blend

2 drops Sage
5 drops Rosemary
3 drops Lavender

Mix in these proportions.

This Article was Adapted from:
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood

All images from Google.com

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