Natural Laundry Scent Boosters to Make or Buy

Learn about natural laundry scent boosters, laundry fresheners and fabric softeners that are made with non-toxic ingredients instead of harmful chemicals and artificial fragrances that are bad for your health. Includes a recipe for a DIY laundry scent booster, plus some safer store bought scent boosters as well. 

Homemade natural laundry scent booster

At some point while I was raising my kiddos, I realized that conventional laundry detergent and dryer sheets were not healthy options. So I made the switch over to natural and non-toxic laundry products so that I would not be exposing my family to those harsh chemicals. 

Now, the laundry detergent I buy is either unscented or very lightly scented with natural ingredients like essential oils. In fact, I’ve got an entire blog post about my favorite eco-friendly laundry detergents

That said, I still want my laundry to come out smelling clean and fresh and sometimes I need a little boost above and beyond my laundry detergent. Instead of opting for scent booster products that are full of potentially toxic chemicals, I started making my own laundry scent booster out of safe and natural ingredients.

toxic laundry scent boosters

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Why Most Scent Boosters Are Bad

You may be wondering – what’s wrong with most laundry scent boosters sold in the laundry aisle? Let’s take a look!

Most commercial laundry scent boosters are made with a bunch of chemicals that are linked to negative health effects like reproductive toxicity, skin irritation and allergies, asthma and even cancer. The scents in these products come from synthetic fragrances, which are not only super strong and annoying in my opinion, but can be a mix of many undisclosed chemicals that trigger allergic reactions in many people. 

One of the most popular scent boosters, Downy Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster, is given an F rating in the EWG’s Cleaning Database. Bottom line, most scent boosters are NOT a safe addition to your laundry routine. So I recommend ditching the Downy scent booster, and either making a homemade laundry scent booster, or opting for a natural laundry scent booster from the store.

(learn more about the health risks from conventional laundry and cleaning products)

Green Cleaning Shopping Guide

Why Homemade Laundry Scent Boosters Are Better

Much to the chagrin of chemical scientists working for enormous companies, there ARE ways to remove odors and make fabrics smell good, without an overwhelming blast of artificial fragrances insulting your nose and harming your health.

A homemade scent booster will infuse your laundry with just enough natural scent to make it smell fresh and clean without being overpowering. 

Here’s why I love my homemade scent booster for laundry:

Easy to make – Don’t worry – this is not a complicated DIY recipe! As you will see in the recipe below, this laundry booster is made from three simple ingredients, two of which you probably already have in your kitchen cupboards. All you need to do is mix them up into a container and it’s ready to use!

Natural ingredients – When you make your own scent booster for laundry, you get to use only natural, non-toxic ingredients. The ingredients in my homemade scent booster recipe include kosher salt, baking soda and natural essential oils. 

Inexpensive – Salt and baking soda are super cheap to purchase in bulk. Expensive essential oils are not needed for laundry as they are primarily used for scent and not for true aromatherapy purposes. I buy inexpensive essential oils for my laundry on Thrive Market or Amazon (and save the pricier organic essential oils for body care DIYs and personal use.) You can also find affordable essential oils at Whole Foods or a local natural products store near you. 

Customizable – The fun thing about making your own laundry scent booster is that you can customize the scent to whatever you like best. For laundry, I personally prefer lavender or eucalyptus essential oils, but you can go floral or woodsy or whatever you like!

Doubles as a fabric softener – Both salt and baking soda act as natural fabric softeners which is a bonus because it helps you avoid yet another chemical filled laundry product. Salt is especially helpful if you have hard water because it acts as a water softener. 

DIY natural laundry scent booster with wool dryer balls

DIY Natural Laundry Scent Booster Recipe

If you are up for making your own laundry scent boosters, I’ve got you covered! Like I said, this homemade version of a laundry scent booster is super easy to make! Toss in a scoop to each load of laundry to add a fresh clean scent to your clothes, towels and bed linens. 

ingredients for homemade laundry scent booster: kosher salt, baking soda and essential oils.

Ingredients You Will Need:

Kosher salt or Epsom salt (1 1/2 cups) – Salt acts to neutralize odors and also to soften fabrics and brighten laundry at the same time (bonus!) I usually use Kosher salt but some people prefer Epsom salts – you can use whichever one you have on hand. 

Baking soda (1/2 cup) – Baking soda works to both deodorize and soften fabrics. I like to keep a box of baking soda in my laundry room because it’s so helpful. 

Essential oils (30 drops or about 1/2 teaspoon) – This is where you get to add the scent – which is the whole point of a scent booster, right? You get to choose the essential oils that you like best. Or create a combination of different of oils to create your own personal scent. In my opinion, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, orange or geranium essential oils are all great choices for laundry. 

natural laundry scent booster in bowl with spoon and lavender essential oil

How to Make the Laundry Scent Booster:

Thoroughly mix the essential oils into the salt. Then mix in the baking soda. (Be sure to mix the salt and essential oils before adding the baking soda. Otherwise, the liquid might active the baking soda.)

Store in a covered airtight container (a wide mouth mason jar or repurposed glass jar works well). Give the mixture a day or two to allow the scent to infuse into salt and baking soda. If it doesn’t smell strong enough, you can add a few more drops of essential oils. 

homemade laundry scent booster on cloth with metal scoop

Use between 2 tablespoons and 1/4 cup per load (a repurposed scoop from laundry detergent is a perfect size). 

Add the laundry booster directly to the drum of your washing machine or use the fabric softener dispenser if you prefer. 

By the way, this recipe is safe for top load, front load and HE washers. 

P.S. If you are looking for homemade laundry detergent, I’ve never made it myself, but here’s a recipe for a natural laundry detergent powder that you can make if you are so inclined.

colored laundry in white basket

Store Bought Non-Toxic Laundry Boosters & Fabric Softeners

Maybe you’re just not a DIY person, and that’s OK! Fortunately, there are some commercial scent boosting products that are better than most. Here are some of the best laundry scent boosters and scented fabric softeners with decent ratings on the EWG cleaning database:

ATTITUDE Fabric Softener 

  • EWG rating: A
  • Scents: Pink Grapefruit, Wildflowers, Citrus Zest, Geranium & Lemongrass, Sweet Lullaby, Chamomile

Dropps Fabric Softener Pods 

  • EWG rating: B 
  • Scents: Lavender Eucalyptus, Orange Blossom, Clean & Crisp and Ocean.

Mrs Meyers Clean Day Laundry Scent Booster 

  • EWG rating: B 
  • Scents: Lavender and Honeysuckle.
wool dryer balls and white towel in dryer.

More Ways to Freshen Laundry Naturally

Here are a couple of additional ways to add a fresh scent to your laundry, without infusing it with artificial fragrances and other toxic chemicals.

Wool 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. Even better, you can add essential oils to the balls to add a fresh fragrance to your laundry. 

Here’s how to do it: Add 2-3 drops of essential oil onto each wool ball and toss them into the dryer. I usually use 3 – 5 dryer balls at a time and I scent them with either a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil. The resulting scent will be subtle but will add a nice, fresh scent to your laundry.

Note: Only use 100% pure essential oils on dryer balls. Do NOT use fragrance oils or essential oils mixed with a base oil because the oil can be potentially flammable.

Natural 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 lifesaver! But please don’t use toxic Febreze or other artificially scented fabric sprays – ewww!

Instead, you can create your own natural Febreze alternative using vodka, water and essential oils. Or purchase a safer fabric refresher like these:

More Favorites from Mindful Momma

scent-booster-finished-vertical
Print Recipe
4.50 from 2 votes

DIY Laundry Scent Booster

A natural laundry scent booster made with non-toxic ingredients instead of harmful chemicals and artificial fragrances.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Servings: 1.5 cups
Cost: $1 or less

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Kosher salt or Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 30 drops essential oils

Instructions

  • Thoroughly mix the essential oils into the salt. (Be sure to mix the salt and essential oils before adding the baking soda. Otherwise, the liquid might active the baking soda.)
  • Then add the baking soda and stir until well mixed.
  • Store in a covered glass jar. Let the mixture sit for a day to allow the scent to infuse into salt and baking soda. If it doesn’t smell strong enough, you can add a few more drops of essential oils. 
  • Add the laundry booster directly to the drum of your washing machine or use the fabric softener dispenser if you prefer. 
  • Use between 2 tablespoons and 1/4 cup per load.

Notes

This recipe is safe for top load, front load and HE washers. 
A repurposed scoop from laundry detergent is the perfect size for adding scent booster to washing machine.
 

Will you join me and making the switch to natural laundry scent boosters?

green & healthy wishes Micaela signature

P.S. Want even more info about non-toxic cleaning so you can be CONFIDENT that your cleaning routine is safe? Check out my Green Cleaning Kickstart mini-course! 

Green Cleaning Kickstart course

59 Comments

  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.

    1. Awwww…thank you Gabe! Glad you find it helpful my dear!

  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?

    1. No, the salt doesn’t help with static – but I find that the dryer balls do help with that.

    2. Lorrie Bruhns says:

      Thank you for the info & recipes; I can’t wait to make up my own scent booster!! I, too, have been using wool dryer balls for years. My only complaint about dryer balls is that they aren’t super effective in combatting static cling. To remedy this, I use aluminum foil to make aluminum foil balls, & add them to the dryer. Just tear off 3 large sheets of aluminum foil (3-4 square feet per ball), crumple the sheets into 3 balls (about 2 ½” ~ 3” diameter), & toss them into the dryer with the dryer balls & wet clothes. You can reuse the foil ball(s) indefinitely; I just leave them in the dryer with the wool balls. It is a safe, effective & chemical-free way to conquer static cling. Thank you!!

  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 🙂

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

      1. Im the opposite… my husband can’t stand the artificial smell. I came to look for options because I grew up in a house that smelled like fabuloso. I’m the one adjusting now.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    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!

    1. I’m with you Laura! I hate walking down those highly scented aisles! Try the dryer balls – you’ll love them!

  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

    1. Oh that’s funny that your daughter loves that smell. Try the essential oils and let me know what you think!

  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!

    1. 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.

  11. Thank you Micaela! Your post is extremly helpful.

  12. Michelle Dugentas says:

    Hi Micaela,

    Enjoyed reading your latest article regarding artificial fragrances in dryer sheets and fabric fresheners. I’m trying to go green wherever I can, reducing plastic use, using natural cleansers and personal care products, etc.. Thanks again for some good tips. I will try the dryer balls with essential oils.. Look forward to reading some of your upcoming articles.

  13. I want a chemical free home and love diy suggestions as well as products that are safe.

    1. Happy to help! Be sure to search the website for more DIY cleaning ideas!

  14. Lauren Phetteplace says:

    Mrs. Meyers products are “green washed”. AKA- they brand themselves as a clean company but if you look at the ingredients they are not safe. The Mrs. meters scent booster contains fragrance. Which is a mostly unregulated industry and “fragrance ” can contain lots of harmful chemicals. 😊

    1. I’m with you – I don’t love Mrs. Meyers either because their fragrances are artificial and very strong. However, this brand can be a “bridge” for some people using products that are much worse. The Mrs. Meyer’s scent booster rates a B on the EWG Cleaning Products Database, while the Downey scent booster rates an F on the database. My preference is to make my own scent booster as discussed in this post. It’s safe and cheap to make and makes my clothes smell great!

  15. Instead of vodka could I use rubbing alcohol? I can’t have vodka around. Thanks!

  16. The kosher salt recipe does not work. I tried by adding the 30 drops. And then I tried by adding 60 drops. After going in the dryer, the scent is gone. At least it was only $3 to pull off. The search continues for a non-toxic scent booster!

    1. Sorry it didn’t work for you. I find the combination of the scent booster and using essential oils on wool dryer balls to work the best.

  17. Are the salt fresheners always added to the wash water? Or can we add to the rinse?

    1. I add them directly to the washing machine tub. I suppose you could put them in the rinse cycle – I’ve never tried it!

  18. Hi Micaela,

    This was a cool article to read but I have a question. Every dryer manufacturer and repairman that I have talked to (and some friends who are firefighters) have warned against using oils in the dryer. They explained that essential oils are a volatile substance that can build up in your dryer and cause a fire. I was wondering what your experience was verifying that the essential oils in the dryer tip was safe? I am interested in cutting out harmful and irritating chemicals from my laundry routine but after hearing the feedback, I am a little afraid to try using essential oils in the machine.

    1. I have not heard about using a few drops of essential oil being a problem. If the oil was not pure essential oil and was mixed with another type of oil, that might be a problem!

  19. Hi, I read so many articles regarding essential oils on wall dryer balls. Most articles say absolutely do not do that! According to the articles it says it could cause a fire in the dryer. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
    Thank you, Debbie

    1. I’ve never heard of a problem with that. I’ve used a few drops of essential oil on my dryer balls for years without any problem.

  20. cameron moon says:

    i was looking at Arm & Hammer Clean & Simple in-wash Scent Booster Lavender Escape online and they only have 4 ingredients;
    lavender, baking soda, crystalized minerals, and a non sticking agent. Do you think this is safer than most brands and worth buying?

    1. I’m not sure because we don’t know exactly what is meant by crystalized minerals and non-sticking agent. In general, Arm & Hammer does not rate very well on the EWG cleaning database, so I would skip it myself.

  21. William Butler says:

    I use regular liquid laundry natural detergent from Trulyfree ! The clothes smell great and no scent beads needed.

  22. Have you ever used flavored vodka instead of plain. Just thought that may work and don’t need the essential oils.

  23. Susan Oller says:

    Another product that I like to use to freshen laundry is baking soda. I add about a 1/4 cup to my small front loading machine and then use vinegar as the softener. I toss wool balls into the dryer to complete the more natural cycle. Clothes smell clean and are amazingly soft.

  24. I love this ! I’m trying to switch my family and I over to as many non toxic things as possible. I am so over the unnecessary chemicals in our everyday items. At times, it’s overwhelming BUT worth the extra time, money, and effort. Just one step at a time. It’ll get done.

  25. 4 stars
    Can I use fragrance instead of essential oils?

  26. Thank you Mindfulmomma! I lost my recipe for Laundry Booster Powder and your’s looks good. I will try it when I return home in a couple weeks. ;0)))

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