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How to Make Your Laundry Smell Good

Updated on May 27, 2013

Nice smell laundry will give the wearer spirit and that's really true. Oppositely, unpleasant smell laundry will absolutely spoil the atmosphere and ruin the wearer's confidence.

Based on experience in doing the family's laundry, I'd like to share how to make laundry smells good, looks brightly white and boldly colorfu. I also add information from other sources to make this hub more comprehensive.

To make laundry smells good, besides using perfumed detergent, people are willing to spend more money for artificial fabric fragrance and softener to be added during the washing process, or apply some cloth fragrance spray when ironing it.

Do you know that we can actually make our laundry smells good using natural cloth fragrance of our own made ?. Natural material used in washing is safe for our family members (specially those who have sensitive skin or fragrance allergy), much more economical without hurting our environment caused by its harmful wastes to water bodies.

Besides some important benefits above, correct methods in washing laundry plus doing some some necessary practices in washing machine maintenance are essential in achieving expected results: clean, smell nice, and also makes our clothes last longer.

What makes laundry smell unpleasant.

Laundry smells unpleasant can be caused by one or more of the following factors :

  • Improper wash so that the laundry is not completely clean. This may be due to insufficient amount of detergent used in the washing or too much laundry being washed at one time which makes the machine overload and cause the laundry not agitated properly.
  • Imperfect drying which causes mold and mildew growths. Mold loves growing at damp places and leaves bad smell.
    Remove the laundry from the washing machine promptly after washing and drying is finished. Hang the laundry on the clothlines is the best way to perfectly dry.
  • Dirty laundry sits unwashed too long. Don't let dirty laundry pile up and unwashed since this practice will make bacteria and mold grow and make it smelly. It needs longer washing time and more efforts to wash extra dirty clothes.
  • Very strong smell on the laundry that it needs pretreatment before washing it. Pretreatment like soaking in soapy water for about one hour is very important step to get rid strong smell successfully.
  • Stand water in the washing machine. Clogged drain pipe may be the cause of stand water in the machine and it can be solved by cleaning the drainpipe.
  • Dirty washing machine drum. Dirty drum can cause sour smell which also infects the laundry washed in it. Dirt, lint, hair may be trapped and become smell maker too. To clean your washing machine drum, run the machine with hot soapy water for some minutes. Drain the soapy water and repeat the same procedure once again. This cleaning procedure may also be applicable for clogged drainpipe above.
  • Water used in the washing is hard and needs softening. Besides causing clogged pipe due to the formation of scales, hard water also makes detergent/soap doesn't work well so that it needs softening. Putting a half cup of vinegar together with detergent is normally used for softening the water as well as for making laundry smells fresh.
  • Contaminated by other laundry. Unwanted smell can also be caused by contamination from other strong-smelled laundry like kitchen towel, napkin, etc. Washing stinky laundry separately is necessary to avoid contamination.

Pretreatment is sometimes necessary for extra smell laundry.
Pretreatment is sometimes necessary for extra smell laundry. | Source

Good Practices in making nice-smell laundry.

Besides the necessary treatments to eliminate unpleasant smell based on different causes as described above, to make laundry smell fresh and nice we can also do recommended practices as follow:

  • Make sure your washing machine is clean from smell-making sources including stand water, dirt, lints, hair that collect inside it. Do regular cleaning every month (depends on your washing intensity) by running your washing machine with soapy water in hot temperature (60 o C) for around 10 minutes. Also add a cup of white vinegar or lemon juice into the soapy water for more effective cleaning. For the final step of cleaning just run in the drum in medium speed with some rags in it for 3 minutes to absorb the remaining water. If the drain hose is chocked by those trapped wastes, then you possibly need to remove the drainpipe for cleaning.
  • Make the laundry totally dry. Hang it on the hanger after being spun in the dryer. Sun heat is the best energy for drying and antiseptic but too much direct sun on your laundry may cause bleaching effect which makes colors to fade or white laundry becomes yellowish. So, drying laundry under indirect sunshine and under translucent shades makes it totally dry in a safer way.
  • Open the washing machine door for a while after use. It will release the rest of water inside it and minimize smell caused by dampness in it.
  • Don't mix strong smell laundry. Wash your normal laundry separately from very smelly ones like kitchen napkin and towel, pet cloths, floor mat, etc.
  • Soak the dirty laundry in a bucket with soapy water before cycling it in the machine for more or less one hour. It will loosen strong dirt and smell and makes it easy to be cleaned.
  • Use softener and fragrance. Using natural fabric softener and fragrance is the more recommended than commercial chemical-based softener and fragrance since they often cause inlet pipes at the machine drawer and drainpipes clogged due to the accumulation of fatty residue at those areas. Off course, natural softener and fragrance are safer for our body, environment and more economical. You can prepare your own softener and fragrance made from readily available materials as it is explained in the next part below.

Use natural booster, softener and fragrance, please.

The followings are some natural laundry softener and boosters recommended to use :

  • White distilled vinegar. White vinegar is multitasking, as regarding its main use in making soft, fluffy, nice smell laundry, white vinegar is effective in removing perspiration, sour, and moldy smells among its multipurpose functions. It also make white garments become brightly white and have bolder colors, remove stains and soap residue on cloth.Add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar through the detergent tray before starting to wash, and another 1/2 cup at rinsing. White vinegar is safe for many kinds of fabrics but I don't recommend using it for silk material since it can wear out the fiber faster.
  • Lemon juice or Lime juice. If you don't have white vinegar in your kitchen, you can use lemon juice or lime juice instead and it gives citrus scent freshness to your laundry. Use it in the same procedures as when you use distilled vinegar.
  • Borax or sodium borate. This white powder is useful in making our laundry bright and also water water conditioner so that soap works more effectively. You can use borax either directly to water while washing the laundry. Put 1/2 cup of borax into the wash cycle only through the drawer. You can also mix borax with essential oils, base oil and water to make laundry perfume. How to make laundry perfume using borax is explained separately below.
  • Washing soda. Washing soda is used to substitute for borax, us it 1/2 cup at wash cycle only. Like borax, washing soda also boost the work of soap to make the result of washing much cleaner. Stains caused by mustard, spices can be cleaned with washing soda. and also can be used directly as well as mixed with essential oils to make laundry fragrance.
  • Soap nuts. Extract of soap nuts taken from the pant Sapindus sp is absolutely natural and safe for all kinds of fabric. We don't need to use softener anymore if we wash laundry using soap nuts since it has the role as softener too.

If you want to get more specific fragrance which meets your taste, you can also make it yourself from some essential oils

Essential oils are not really oil because the oils are extracted from plants' flower, leaves, barks, or roots and they're soluble in water. There are sites in the cyber world which give information how to make natural essential oils at home but If you think you don't have time nor don't want to sweat to prepare the essential oils for home-made natural fragrance yourself, you can buy it at chemical store.

Essential oils are available in variants like lavender, citrus, pine, eucalyptus, cananga, etc. Just be sure that your choices match your specific needs like not to cause allergy to sensitive skins.

You can make essential oil solution by filling 3/4 volume of a 500ml-bottle with high grade alcohol (around 95% alcohol), add concentrated essential oil into the bottle to make it full. Shake it to mix the solution thoroughly.

To apply natural fragrance on your laundry, you can do it in two ways :

♦ Direct use. The essential oil can be used either during or before washing cycle but not before ironing since it will leave oil marks on the fabric.

-During wash cycle : Put some drops of essential oils at the drawer before rinse cycle.

-Before wash cycle: Puts around 50ml (around 1/2 cup) of essential oil solution together with the detergent at the drawer.

Some people also apply essential oil solution onto dirty laundry before they wash/put it in the washing machine although I've never tried this practice.

♦ Indirect use: Drop some essential oil onto the dryer ball and put the ball together with the laundry during the drying cycle. Dryer ball is a cotton ball which is made specially for this purpose. It can be bought at laundry section at supermarket, or you can make it yourself from rags.

Some tips to wash laundry with sensitive colors and materials.

Laundry with sensitive colors and materials like silks and batiks need special treatment when washing them.

Silk and Batik clothings:

Silk garment is made of a delicate material, wrong treatment in washing it may cause damage or irreparable conditions. Read the wash instruction on the garment before cleaning silk laundry, some can be lightly hand washed but other silk garments need dry wash only.

To wash light-washable silks, ideally you can natural soap like soap nuts (Sapindus sp) which is suitable for delicate fabrics. You don't have to prepare the soap nut solution by yourself because soap nut extract can be bought easily at the many stores or at Amazon and Ebay.

You don't need to use fabric softener when you use soap nuts since it can also make your laundry soft naturally.

If you can't find soap nuts, you can wash your silk laundry in another safe way. Prepare a big sink or bucket and fill it with normal cold (36o) water (make sure the water is not too cold nor too hot since both conditions may damage the silk). Add 25 ml of distilled vinegar into the water, stir it thoroughly. Never use soap nor bleaching chlorine to wash silks since alkaline in soap and chlorine will break the fibers and fade the colors.

Submerge the silk laundry into the vinegar water until it's soaked completely, just move it around in the water for some minutes. Remove it from the vinegar water and rinse it with cold water thoroughly. Don't wring it, dry it flat under a shady place. Spread a thick towel on a flat place and put the wet silk garment on the towel. Let the towel absorb the water and the breeze helps dry it. Change the towel with another one to dry the silk laundry quicker. When the silk is much lighter because most of the water has been absorbed, hang it on a plastic hanger and avoid direct sun when drying it.

Silk garment should be ironed while it is damp. Iron it on the wrong side (the side which is not seen) in low temperature. Don't spray with alcoholic fragrance during ironing but you can use a little essential oil to be put under its collar to give it convenient smell.

Hang the silk garment on a plastic hanger and cover with soft plastic to store it.

B a t i k s :

Batik is another garment with sensitive colors and materials. Although most batiks are made of cottons but appropriate treatment in its washing will keep the colors long lasting, not to mention if the batik material is from silk.

According to information from where batiks come from, the best way to wash batiks, like silk materials, is using soap nuts too.

In the case soap nuts are not available, we can wash batik laundry like the way we treat silk clothing explained above.

Some dos and don'ts when we wash batiks and silk laundry :

Only use mild detergent or use some shampoo if soap nuts are not around. Don't use chlorine bleach.

Don't wring it to dry.

Don't dry it under direct sun

Dry silk garments flat on a thick towel. We can continue drying it using plastic hanger when the water has mostly absorbed/evaporated.

Don't use camphor to keep silk batik (and other silk garments) to make it smell good since camphor causes colors to fade. Use dried vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) for both clothing materials is much safer. Putting some dried vetiver grass in the wardrobe will give your batiks, silk , and other garments elegant smell.

Use some pepper corns wrapped in tissue paper as moths and mildews prevention inside the wardrobe where you keep your clothes.


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    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      @ wisno:

      Thank you. Glad to have your visit too.

    • wisno profile image

      wisno 4 years ago

      useful tips.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      @ Vellur :

      Thanks for reading and the vote up.


      Thank you so much for your pleasant comments on this hub and link it to your hubs/articles would be a special appreciation too, so please do. Yes sure, I'll check your hubs out and read them too. Using soap nuts for washing laundry has been practiced for long since it's not only cleaning but also good for the preservation of laundry colors.

      @ randomcreative :

      I'm so glad to have your visit. Thank you for reading and your appreciative comments.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks for this comprehensive overview! I love all of your suggestions.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I was so excited when I saw your metion of Soap Nuts! I am doing my best to spread the word about this natural soap that not only cleans your laundry really well, but causes the laundry to smell well.

      Great Hub with good advice and info. May I link this Hub into mine about using Soap Nuts for laundry. Check out my Hub when you have some time, OK?

      Voted UP and shared.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Great tips to make laundry smell good. Useful and informative, voted up.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      @ torrilynn :

      Using natural materials for washing and perfuming our laundry should be more socialized to minimize pollutants caused by the use of chemical soaps and detergents. Thank you for reading and for your vote up, pin and share.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      I think making sure your laundry smells good is a great thing and should be number one priority. I think it's a great idea to wash your machine with soap and water by yourself and using natural fragrances is always a plus. Voted up, pinned, and shared!

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      @Nell Rose:

      Yes I agree, using lemon juice is the best choice for natural laundry washing.Thank you for reading and leaving your comments.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Great ideas, and yes I have used lemon juice before, its just as good as conditioner, thanks for the info, nell

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia


      I couldn't agree more. Thank you for dropping by and give this hub spiriting comments.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      There's nothing better than good smelling, fresh laundry. Thanks for the tips.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia


      Thank you for dropping by. I hope those tips really help.

    • faythef profile image

      Faythe F. 4 years ago from USA

      great laundry tips..I will try some of these...

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      @ billybuc:

      Thank you for giving the first comment. I'm glad to share this ideas and beneficial for others.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions my friend. I love summertime when we can dry our clothes outside....I will remember your ideas.