This post is the second in a series on cleaning with Essential Oils. To read the first post in the series, CLICK HERE.
Laundry: it’s one of those seemingly never-ending cleaning tasks. I don’t know about you, but I feel a real sense of accomplishment when the laundry basket is empty and the clothes are folded and put away. Perhaps this is a rare or non-existent occurrence in your home – I’ll admit, I have less hope that an empty laundry basket will be a regular occurrence in our home once baby arrives in December, but I relish in those moments now nonetheless.
Whether you have piles of laundry from the family or are just doing laundry for one, the detergents and drying aides you use can have a big impact on your health.
The biggest toxic culprits in conventional detergents and fabric softeners are the artificial fragrances and fragrance-releasing chemicals used to make your laundry smell like ‘cherry blossoms’ or ‘spring rain’ or whatever other scent is popular for the day. Common ingredients in dryer sheets such as camphor, linalool and petroleum based chemicals have been known to cause allergies, irritate asthma, and be a potential cause of a variety of nervous system disorders. Further, these chemicals don’t just affect you but also affect your neighbors as they travel through the air into you neighborhood through dryer vents. (1)
If you just can’t go without scented laundry, a greener and safer alternative is to make your own laundry products and to scent them with essential oils. This way, you know exactly what goes into them!
There are plenty of wonderful natural brands of detergents and reusable dryer sheets/ balls as well, but believe me when I say it is simple, cost-saving and quick to make your own at home.
Here are two recipes:
I’ve been using this detergent recipe for four years now and I LOVE it. I like to change the scent up whenever I make a new batch.
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1 cup liquid castile soap
4 cups boiling water
12 cups hot tap water
30-40 drops essential oils (up to 3 different scents)
In a large container (I just use a big bucket), dissolve the washing soda and borax in boiling water. Be sure to use a wooden spoon to stir and keep borax away from children and pets.
Add the liquid castile soap and stir.
Add the rest of the water and stir, then allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Add your essential oils being sure to count the drops and stir. The best oils to use for this detergent are citrus oils (lemon, orange, grapefruit), and lavender. You could also use peppermint if you like that scent. Tea tree works great in this recipe if you’re washing clothes in preparation for camping or outdoor activities- it helps keep bugs away.
Now you wait! Put a lid on your container and allow it to sit overnight. After 24-48 hours, give the container a shake or a good stir or use an emersion blender to really blend it up. It should have some solidified bits that need to be stirred in. Don’t be worried if some of the ‘chunkier’ parts don’t go away – they dissolve easily in the wash.
Store in saved (and thoroughly cleaned out) detergent containers, glass jars or whatever other storage your prefer.
Use 1/4-1/2 cup per load of laundry, depending on the size of the load. You can also use a concentrated amount of this detergent on stains as a stain remover.
I started using wool dryer balls about a year ago and will never go back. After a few different trial runs, I’ve found the best material to use (if making them yourself) is wool roving.
Here’s a great tutorial from DIY Natural (2) on how to make them!
Using anywhere from 2-6 dryer balls with your load of laundry will help reduce dryer time and limit static as they create air pockets throughout the laundry.
Using safe essential oils (the ones I mentioned above are great options for this, too!), drop 2 drops onto each of 2 dryer balls per load of laundry. The lovely scent will create an aromatic environment in your home and neighborhood without the toxins. I love to use lemon EO on my wool dryer balls.
If you don’t want to make them yourself, Moss Creek Wool Works is a Canadian company making affordable wool dryer balls you can also use with essential oils at home.
Looking to stock up on safe essential oils to make some home cleaners?
Check out the selection we carry at the clinic by NB Naturals, a locally made Aromatherapy line. All are USDA Certified Organic and are packaged in Kitchener, ON. *A source list for the plant material used in these oils is available upon request.