A few years ago my family started getting soap related rashes, so I began cutting back on the amount of laundry soap I use per load. This turned out to be an economical move that doesn't have a down side. I tried the same strategy across a number of laundry brands and finally settled on a routine in which I use about a third of the recommended quantity of laundry detergent regardless of the manufacturer.
To avoid having to use dryer sheets, I sprinkle about a quarter to a third of a cup of baking soda into the wash before the rinse cycle. I think the soda keeps everything smelling clean and it may have some whitening and brightening potential too. (A 1/2 cup of white vinegar works for this too.)
To make clothes and linens smell even nicer, I add a damp cotton cloth to each dryer load which I've spritzed with lavender essential oil and distilled water (around a five to one ratio of distilled water to essential oil) Essential oils aren't really oil; they're concentrated fragrance that's water soluble. I use distilled water so I can keep a couple of spray bottles on hand to take care of all my washing for a month or more. Distilled water is bacteria and chemical free, so I don't have to worry the mixture degrading.
Some other suggestions that may help in the laundry room:
- Wash heirloom textiles or other delicates with a soapwort solution.
- Use lemon juice as a mild bleach, and increase its bleaching action by placing treated clothes in the sun for a half hour or more (check them periodically).
- If lavender essential oil doesn't smell nice to you, substitute a solution of lemon balm or rose geranium fragrance instead.
- If you like the fragrance you add to clothes in the drying cycle but it begins to fade too quickly, renew it by using a diluted fragrance solution in your iron and steamer too, and add dried herb pillows to your linen and lingerie drawers.
- If you're switching to a lower soap laundry regimen, try cleaning your washing machine by running a hot water cycle with the addition of two cups of white vinegar. It'll remove the soapy residue and give your washer a new lease on life.