3 Non-Toxic (& Cheap) Laundry Fresheners to Make or Buy

Get the scoop on laundry fresheners made without toxic artificial fragrances that are bad for your health.

Non Toxic Laundry Freshener | Mindful Momma

I once took part in a mock Febreze commercial. You know the one, where they show a teenager’s messy, stinky room and freshen it by spraying Febreze on everything?

First I was blindfolded, then brought into a room that reeked of extremely strong, artificial floral fragrances – as though they were trying to imitate a fresh spring garden, only failing badly.

Then they asked me – “Where do you think you are?” I said “I have no idea but it reeks of extremely strong, artificial floral fragrances – like you are trying to imitate a fresh spring garden, only failing badly.”

That wasn’t what they expected me to say.

When the blindfold came off, I saw that the setting was a college dorm room with pizza and dirty clothes everywhere. I was supposed to be shocked and delighted.

Instead I was the black sheep, saying (politely) that I didn’t like that fake flower smell and asking questions about the toxic chemicals in their laundry fresheners.

A better way to freshen laundry & stinky stuff

Here’s the problem – the stuff of life begins to stink after a while – and if we don’t want to cover it up with artificial scents – then we need to find safer, more natural solutions.

I’ve stopped buying conventional laundry products because I don’t want my family to be exposed to those chemicals. The laundry detergent I buy is either unscented – like Seventh Generation Free & Clear or very lightly scented with natural ingredients like Biokleen Citrus Essence or Better Life Lavender.

That said, I still want my laundry to come out smelling clean and fresh (for real, not artificially) and sometimes I need a little boost above and beyond detergent.

Wanna be a black sheep too?

Much to the chagrin of the chemical scientists working for enormous companies – here are 3 easy and inexpensive laundry fresheners for clothing and home textiles without the overwhelming blast of artificial fragrances insulting your nose and damaging your health.

(Affiliate links ahead*)

1. Laundry Scent Booster

One way to get a little more of that “fresh laundry smell” without nasty chemicals is to use a scent booster, along with your laundry detergent. Conventional scent boosters are just concentrated amounts of the toxic fragrances you are trying to avoid in the first place. A natural scent booster uses salt as the hero ingredient.

Salt acts to neutralize odors and also softens fabrics at the same time (bonus!) Mix salt with some essential oils and you’ve got a non-toxic scent booster that will give you a light, fresh scent that smells clean instead of artificial.

Non Toxic Laundry Freshener | Mindful Momma Make it:

2 cups kosher salt*

30 drops (about 1/2 teaspoon) essential oil of your choice (lavender, lemon, orange or geranium are all great choices)

Thoroughly mix essential oils into salt. Store in a covered jar to allow scent to infuse into salt.

Use between 1/4 and 1/2 cup per load (a repurposed scoop from laundry soap is the perfect size). Add directly to washer with garments (same for both top and front loading washers).

*some recipes call for epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) but I’ve heard that it hardens rather than softens water, so I opt for kosher salt (sodium chloride).

Buy it:

If you don’t want to DIY, Mrs. Meyers makes a laundry scent booster product although I have not tried it myself.

2. Scented Dryer Balls 

Dryer balls are my laundry savior for so many reasons – they are THE BEST alternatives to chemical-infused dryer sheets because they help prevent static and reduce wrinkles as they bounce around in your dryer. Here’s one more way dryer balls can be of service: infusing your laundry with natural fragrance.

Non Toxic Laundry Freshener | Mindful Momma Make it:

Add 2-3 drops of essential oil on each dryer ball and toss them into the laundry (I usually use 3 dryer balls at a time). The resulting scent will be subtle but will add a nice, fresh scent to your laundry.

Buy it:

My favorite resource for dryer balls is Etsy but you can find them on Amazon as well as Whole Foods or your local co-op grocery.

Expensive essential oils are not needed for laundry use as they are primarily used for scent and not true aromatherapy purposes. Aura Cacia and NOW are both good affordable brands, as is the 365 brand from Whole Foods.

3. Fabric Refresher Spray

For those times when you either don’t want to wash or don’t have time – a fabric refresher spray can be a life saver! Use fabric refresher to freshen laundry and other household items like these:

  • clothes that have been used but are not dirty enough to wash
  • seasonal items coming out of storage
  • pillows and bedding
  • couches
  • shoes
  • stinky kids rooms or musty basements

But please don’t use that awful Febreze I was telling you about – ewww! Instead, use vodka to make a non-toxic fabric refresher. Why vodka? It allows the spray dry quickly and helps reduce odors.

Non Toxic Laundry Freshener | Mindful Momma Make it:

Mix these ingredients in a spray bottle:

1 cup water

1/4 cup vodka

20 drops essential oil

Spray on smelly items and allow to dry.

Buy it:

Not into DIY? My go-to fabric refresher is Eco Breeze by Earth Friendly Products. All the ingredients, including the fragrances are all naturally derived (the Lemongrass scent is my fav!)

My run-in with the Febreze people was a wake-up call. They listened to my feedback but I doubt they really cared – they have product to sell! Meanwhile, the stinky room commercials continue, and millions of people spray toxic fabric refresher on on their clothing and home goods every day.

Will you be a black sheep and stop using toxic laundry fresheners?


Psst! Please pass along this post to anyone you know who might appreciate learning about non-toxic laundry fresheners! And for more non-toxic info and freebiessign up for my mailing list!

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(*There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no extra charge to you. Thank you for supporting Mindful Momma if you do!)

About Micaela

Micaela Preston is a marketing and communications consultant specializing in natural, organic and eco-friendly products and the health and wellness space. Micaela is available as a social media manager, green lifestyle writer, public speaker, brand ambassador and marketing manager.


  1. Gabrielle Horner says:

    GREAT POST! Thank you Micaela. I always discover new things that I wasn’t even thinking about til you raised the eco-alternative. LOVE your blog.

  2. I love our dryer balls especially with a little essential oil on them. I never thought of using salt in the washing machine. Would that also help with static cling?

  3. These are great ideas! I too hate the smell of any artificially scented products, so have been making my own a lot, or buy the unscented, dye free version. I’m also in Marketing Communications, too 🙂

    • Oh thanks Malisa! I find that DIY is often the way to go – you get exactly what you want, you know all the ingredients and it generally does not cost much!

  4. Hahaha! I love that you disappointed them – what a neat thing to be a part of, though!

    We’ve been using dryer balls for a couple years now and LOVE them! My husband is a freak about laundry scent and doesn’t care a bit about all the chemicals, so I’ve been working slowly for years to change him and get closer and closer to completely natural. We’ve been making our own laundry soap for a while, but still adding a scent and I now have a good collection of essential oils so the next batch should be much better.

    Pinning these tips so I know how to make these great things! Thanks!

    • Ha – I’ve talked with so many people who say their husband doesn’t like the healthier options – whether it’s food or personal care or cleaning products. Good for you for being persistent! Hope these tips help!

  5. These are great! I’ve just started using essential oils for laundry and I love your ideas!

  6. I love these ideas! I’ve moved away from chemicals as much as possible in the last 10 years, to the point where I can’t even walk down the cleaner/detergent aisle in Target because I’m too sensitive to the chemical smells. I usually use Seventh Generation drier sheets but I’ll have to look into the drier balls. Thanks!

  7. I have yet to dry adding EOs to my dryer balls. I should, b/c my daughter LOVES scented laundry. She loves getting hand-me-downs and second-hand clothes b/c they still reek of laundry detergent : P

  8. I love that we share this interest! I have yet to make laundry detergent but I will definitely try your recipe.

  9. That story is HILARIOUS! lol I’ve never been a big fan of Febreze myself. Although, I do use scent boosters for my laundry (I know, I know…) but I am totally going to try out your recipe!

    • Ha! It was a bit strange being in that situation – but they need to hear the other side of the story! Let me know how you like the salt-based laundry freshener. It will not be a strong as the stuff you buy at the store – but I actually prefer it that way!

  10. Dora De Zubiria says:

    Love the idea of the dryer balls with an essential oils scent. For Laundry I use the ENJO laundry soap it is made with all natural ingredients and has aloe in it so no need for fabric softener. It’s also great because 10ml is all I need for a full load of laundry so it lasts me for 100 washes.

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