Essential oils are a popular natural alternative to synthetic fragrances. Their aromatic properties can be enjoyed in many ways, including diffusing them into the air, applying them topically or even adding them to your laundry.
But is it safe to use essential oils in the dryer? Keep reading to find out.
Can Essential Oils Go in the Dryer?
While many people use essential oils for laundry without issue, it technically isn’t safe to use essential oils in the dryer.
This is because essential oils contain concentrated plant extracts and carrier oils that are often flammable and can ignite when met with excess heat.
In fact, according to a report by Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, fires have been found in tumble dryers, linen baskets and even airing cupboards, as a direct result of applying essential oils to towels and other fabrics and then heating them in the dryer.
The flammability of essential oils is measured using a flash point test that identifies the temperature at which a liquid produces enough vapour to ignite when exposed to a naked flame or spark.
In the UK, CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging), which includes flame symbols & hazard text, is legally required to be added to the packaging of certain products to highlight their flammability.
Any substance with a flash point equal to or less than 23°C (73°F) is considered either highly or extremely flammable depending on its boiling point. Flash points between 24-60°C (74-140°F) are also flammable, while those over 60°C (140°F) aren’t labelled as hazardous.
The problem is that many essential oils have low flash points between 38 and 54°C (102-130°F). Meanwhile, most dryers run at 57-60°C on a typical cycle, so ignition is certainly possible.
In some cases, you may be able to use essential oils with high flash points in the dryer on a low heat cycle. Just remember that flash point noted on the bottle must be higher than the dryer temperature. And if you do decide to give it a try, you do so at your own risk.
What Essential Oils Are Flammable?
While some essential oils are more flammable than others, there are very few that meet or exceed the safety guideline of 60°C (140°F) as outlined in the Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances & Preparation Regulation.
For that reason, if your bottles aren’t CLP labelled, it’s best to err on the side of caution and assume that the majority of your essential oils are likely to be flammable.
Some of the most flammable essential oils include:
- Tea tree
- Pine needle
- Juniper berry
Essentially, the lower the flash point, the higher the risk of combustion, so always check the packaging’s hazard labels before use.
Alternatively, instead of applying essential oils to your clothes or dryer balls before the drying cycle, why not create an aromatic mist to spritz on afterwards?
All you need to do is add 10-15 drops of essential oil to a spray bottle filled with some Origo Distilled Water and shake to mix. You can then use this DIY mist to freshen up your clothes and sheets once they’re dry.
Alternatively, you can add an essential oil diffuser to the bottom of your wardrobe to infuse your garments with your favourite scent.
Just be sure to leave some space around the diffuser and make sure it isn’t covered by any material, as this could pose a hazard in itself!
A proud Yorkshire lass with a love for movies, music and cosy nights in! Once a self-confessed avoider of cleaning, she’s always on the lookout for new ways to make household chores as quick and simple as possible.