Aromatherapy in the Laundry
by Wendy Mackay MIAAMA
Doing the washing can seem like a thankless, never ending task. No sooner have you washed, dried, ironed and folded that mountain of clothes, then someone has refilled the laundry hamper and it all starts over again!
Aromatherapy can’t make that mountain of washing go away (sorry!) but it can make the whole process of dealing with it so much more pleasant.
Here are a few tips –
Washing You can add a few drops of essential oil to your washing soap or detergent. It is best to choose a liquid and one with little or no fragrance to do this. Use just a very few drops of essential oil and make sure it is thoroughly mixed in the liquid before adding to the machine. You can also do the same with your softener, again making sure it is a no or low-fragranced type. Try lavender for a classic fragrance, lemon for freshness or eucalyptus for the cold winter months.
When hand washing, especially for woolens, I like to use a pure soap, adding some essential oil. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to the final rinse along with a cup of white vinegar, to help remove the last traces of soap. Eucalyptus essential oil will give that classic “wool wash” aroma, or try lavender to help deter moths.
Drying Anyone who dries their washing on a line outside will know how fresh it makes everything smell. I am a great fan of line drying for this reason – plus it is much kinder to both the environment and your power bills! But if you do need to use a dryer, you can also use essential oils to give fabrics a great fragrance. Simply put a couple of drops of essential oil on a price of cotton fabric or an old handkerchief, and place in the dryer with the clothes.
Ironing is for many people one of the most boring parts of doing the laundry! Some people manage to avoid it altogether, but if you cannot, why not incorporate aromatherapy? I do not recommend adding essential oils to the water reservoir of your iron (although I have seen some books recommend it) as essential oils can react with and damage plastic parts of the iron. However you can add the oils to a spray bottle of water. Shake well and simply spray the fabric before ironing.
Storage Essential oils are also great to fragrance and protect your clothes and other fabrics when storing them. The old lavender sachet (a piece of cloth sewn or tied into a pouch containing died lavender flowers) works great. Lavender is good for deterring creatures such as moths than would damage your clothes, but it is not the only one. Alternatives are rosemary, clove bud, cedarwood, sandalwood, geranium, peppermint or spearmint.
Some ways to use these oils are -
- put some drops of oil on cotton balls and tuck these into the corners of drawers or cupboards.
- put drops on sheets of heavy paper cut to size – let dry, then use these to line drawers or shelves
- refresh fabric lavender sachets with a few drops of lavender essential oil.