Reader’s Question: How to Scent Homemade Laundry Detergent


Photo by Jason Brackins

Dear Frugal Upstate,

I really like your homemade laundry detergent recipe-but I was wondering, is there any product or fragrance you can add to the detergent to make it smell like Gain?



I’m so thrilled that you enjoy the Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent recipe!  Unfortunately I’m afraid that I can’t think of anything that would give it the exact smell of Gain.  Personally I enjoy the fact that the homemade soap is scentless~I’m a migraine sufferer and I try to keep “extra” scents from sprays, candles etc out of my environment.

If you simply must have a scent  I have seen recommendations for adding essential oils to the powdered laundry soap mix.  I have not tried this myself-but the basic method is to choose an essential oils ( available at health food stores and some large box or craft stores), add a few drops and then mix or shake.

Photo by Minato

I would make sure that I was using a true essential oils and not just the “scented room oils” they sell near all the stinky room stuff in the stores-those are not meant to be near the skin and could cause irritation.  Essential oils are used for things like perfumes and soaps that are intended to come into contact with the skin.  I highly recommend that if you have not used essential oils before you do a skin patch test to check for an adverse reaction before getting the stuff all over your clothes.

Some suggested essential oils that are also reported to have cleaning or sanitizing properties on their own are tea tree oil, pine, lemon, citronella and lemongrass.   Of course lavender, mint, thyme and rose all have lovely scents that you might like.  Or you could try making your own essential oil blend.

I hope that helps, good luck and good laundry!

Here are more great laundry soap related posts:

Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe
Best of “Frugal Laundry Care”.
Reader’s Question: Homemade Laundry Detergent Residue?
Reader’s Question’s: Fading, where to find Washing Soda & more!
Reader’s Question: Cost Effectiveness of Homemade Laundry Detergent Reader’s Question:  Dingy Laundry?
Using Homemade Laundry Soap in an HE Washer.

And I even made a video showing you how!  Making Laundry Detergent Vlog.

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  1. Regina says

    I’m thinking of making my own detergent. I have an HE machine and it sounds like it could work because of he low sudsing. In response to the question regarding Gain scent: I googled gain scent and there are “Gain scented” oils that can be used in bath products. Definitely worth checking it out:)

  2. Sam says

    Double check me on this however, I think Trent @ the Simple Dollar uses regualr bar soap. I know I have with success (but it wasn’t conventional soap- it was organic tea tree oil).
    So, what you could experiment with is trying different scented bars soaps in your mix to see which one if close to the scent you like. I think there’s a green bar soap that’s close to that scent…
    Also, now that I think about it, I have successfully used lilac scented organic soap in my homemade detergent to wash the winter blankets for storage (so they wouldn’t smell musty in the fall).

    • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

      Sam-that’s true-you can use other soaps, and many of those are scented very pleasantly. I would say that the user should beware-many “soaps” have a lot of extra stuff in them-like moisturizers, color, etc. I’m not sure if that could affect the fabric you are washing.

  3. Kimberly says

    Hello, I just wanted to really make sure people know to you “skin safe” Essential and fragrance oils made specifically for the body. the others even skin tested could be harmful. here is a link i hope will go through, it is a link to one of the companies i use to get my EO’s and FO’s for my soaping. they have a gain comparable that Don might be interested in. It is from a company out of Ohio i think call Natures Garden and the scent is island fresh or something like that. here is the link. i hope it goes throw. good luck i love the this soap recipe and use it often.

  4. Sarah says

    There are a lot of other recipes that allow use of Liquid Castile Soap.
    Which, some, are scented. (Dr. Bronner’s)
    I plan on trying the Lavender kind.
    :) Hope this helps, not sure about the GAIN scent.

    • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

      Sarah-Thanks for the info. Personally, I’ve always done the powdered soap because the liquid just seemed more time consuming to make, larger to store and messier in general :)

  5. elise says

    Hello,I found some pineapple essential body oil,do you think it would be safe to sample it in my homemade liquid detergent.I purchase it at a Muslim store near my home.

  6. Christine says

    I use home made laundry soap as well and find it easier to just sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on the clean clothing when I throw them in the dryer. Essential oil is not actually “oily” so it leaves no residue behind. If you’re worried about putting it directly on clothing you can sprinkle it on a wash cloth or clean rag reserved just for that purpose and throw it in the dryer with the damp clothing.

    • Tammy says

      Thank you Collette! I had been looking for this and found the wholesellers (and their $10-13 shipping fees!), and didn’t want to spend $20 to try something out. I just bought the Gain scent and the fresh linen scent (my favs) for under $8!

  7. Serena says

    The etsy fragrances looks great and so does the naturegardenscandles’s gain scent. How many ounces or drops of the frangrance oil do you add to the Homemade powder laundry detergent using (1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing powder, 1 bar fels naptha or zote)?

    Also, a different question . Adding 10 drops of pure essential oils to the laundry powder does not linger on the clothes once the wash is done. I don’t want to waste money and add 40 drops of essential oils to the detergent only to find it does not work. Has only had any success with using pure essential oils in their detergent? If so, how many drops?

  8. mojomomx4 says

    I usually make a homemade liquid laundry soap and added downy unstoppable fresh scent fragrance to it. 3 TBSP to a gallon. I’m very pleased with the results so far. It is readily available @ wal-mart or any store.


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