Can You Use Essential Oils in a Clothes Steamer?

can you use essential oils in a clothes steamer

I am a huge fan of essential oils and regularly use them in homemade cleaning products and my diffuser. I often get asked can you use essential oils in a clothes steamer to add a light scent to your clothing? Unfortunately, no.

Essential oils should not be used in your clothes steamer. They are not water-soluble and will not be evaporated into steam. The oils may build up inside your steamer, causing it to clog. It could shorten the life of your clothes steamer.

Unfortunately, you cannot and should not add anything to your clothing steamer except distilled or demineralized water.

If you use essential oils in your steamer water tank, you risk causing damage and build-up of oils inside the boiler or other internal working parts.

But that does not mean all is lost. You can still create beautiful scents on your clothing by using other natural products such as scented dryer balls or scented hanging sachets. I’ll give advice on this further down the post.

Manufacturer Advice on Using Essential Oils in Your Clothes Steamer

essential oils for steam
Essential oils smell beautiful but should not be used in a clothes steamer

Here is the advice from manufacturers about clothes steamer additives, including essential oils:

Conair Steamers

Conair state that salt, bleach, or dye can corrode or clog internal parts of their garment steamers. There is no specific advice on using essential oils in their steamers; however, I would not recommend it. 

Rowenta Steamers

Rowenta advises that any additive that condenses under heat should not be added to a Rowenta garment steamer. This includes essential oils. 

The effect could be brown dripping, spitting water, and premature aging of your steamer.

PurSteam Garment Steamers

I reached out to PurSteam Steamers for their advice, which was not to use essential oils in their clothing steamers. 

PurSteam advised this may reduce the “effectiveness” of the steamer. 

Jiffy Steamers

Jiffy advises additives such as salt, vinegar, bleach, perfumes, and dyes should never be added to steamer water, as they may clog or corrode internal parts.

Black + Decker

Black and Decker advise refraining from using perfumed or scented additives, which may cause water discoloration and result in stains on your fabrics. Black and Decker’s advice is to use only distilled, filtered, or purified water in their steamers.

Steam&Go Go Steamers

Steam and Go advise you should not use any perfumes, essential oils, salts, or additives of any kind for their steamers. Fortunately, Steam&Go make a scented demineralized water in 4 different aromas. You buy it direct from Steam&Go here.

Can You Use Ironing Water in a Clothing Steamer?

Most ironing waters contain perfumes or essential oils. However, these solutions have been emulsified together, making them safe for electrical devices such as irons and clothing steamers.

Ironing water for you to consider:

Felce Azzurra Bianco Perfumed Ironing Water
$16.99 ($0.50 / Fl Oz)
  • Demineralized water with a perfumed fragrance that can be used in irons or clothing steamers.
  • Can also be sprayed directly onto clothing, upholstery, bed sheets, carpets etc.
  • 33.8 fluid ounce bottle
Buy at Walmart
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Can I Put Fabric Softener in My Steamer?

Fabric softener should not be mixed with water and poured into your clothing steamer. Use distilled water only.

While it would be lovely to have a fabric softener scent, this could also damage your clothing steamer. 

You can make your clothing spray by mixing fabric softener and water and pouring it into a spray bottle. Shake well and ensure that the fabric softener is well mixed with the water. 

Lightly spray your clothing with the mix before steaming. 

Note: Don’t be too heavy-handed with the fabric softener. Some fabrics can stain when coming into direct contact with fabric softener. 

DIY Linen Spray With Essential Oils

As someone who loves the calming and refreshing scents of essential oils, I’ve found alternative ways to infuse my clothes with these lovely aromas without risking damage to my clothes steamer.

One of my favorite methods is using scented hanging sachets in my closet or scented wool dryer balls during my laundry routine.

I’ve even crafted a homemade linen spray by creating a safe emulsion of water and essential oils, which I can spritz onto my fabrics without any worry. Here is the recipe:

DIY Homemade Linen Spray

Note: Always perform a patch test on a small area of fabric to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration.


16 oz distilled water
2 oz witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
30-40 drops of your favorite essential oils (such as lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus)


In a 16-ounce spray bottle, combine the distilled water and witch hazel or rubbing alcohol.

Carefully add 30-40 drops of your chosen essential oils, adjusting the quantity based on your scent preference.

Close the spray bottle tightly and shake well to mix all the ingredients.

Lightly spray the mixture onto your linens, clothes, or upholstery to add a pleasant scent.

Frequently Asked Questions

how to make clothes smell good with steamer

Scented water for clothes steamers would be lovely, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before this product hits the market. In the meantime, here are the most-asked questions about how to make a steamer smell good:

What Can I Put in My Clothes Steamer to Make it Smell Nice?

Distilled or demineralized water are the only things you should add to your clothes steamer. Distilled water has no scent and no impurities; therefore, your clothes steamer will not have any musty smells.

Can Essential Oils Go in a Steamer?

Essential oils should not be put in a clothing steamer or steam cleaner. Some humidifiers have essential oils trays that double for aromatherapy; however, you should never put the oil into the water tank.

Can I Put Lavender Oil in a Steamer

Unfortunately, lavender oil cannot be put in a clothing steamer or steam cleaner. Oil and water do not mix, and the build-up of oil over time may stop your steamer from working.

Can You Use Scented Water in a Steamer?

Steam&Go sell scented demineralized water for steam cleaners. You could try using this in your clothing steamer. There are 4 scents available.

What Water Should I Use in My Clothing Steamer?

Distilled water is the best choice for use in your garment steamer. Distilled water is cheap to buy in bulk and will not damage your fabric steamer.

If you cannot get rid of distilled water, use demineralized water, or read my post on the best substitutes for distilled water here

If you choose to use tap water, filtered water, bottled water, or any other type of water in your clothing steamer, you will need to descale the steamer using a vinegar and water solution regularly. Check out my tutorial on keeping your clothing steamer clean here.

What Can I Use to Refresh My Clothes in Between Washing?

essential oil in clothes steamer

Steaming is a great way to refresh clothing between washing and dry cleaning. If you find the armpit area of your clothing has some odor, try a mix of distilled water and white vinegar.

This is generally 50/50 for each product. Mix this up in a spray bottle and spray directly onto your apparel, followed by steaming. 

If you have vodka at home, this will also work for removing stubborn odors. Depending on the area of fabric you have to steam, mix 1/4  cup of vodka and 1/4 cup of distilled water in a spray bottle. Spray directly onto the clothing – don’t put this in the steamer. 

Follow with a good steaming, and any funky smells should disappear! The alcohol helps sanitize without leaving a vodka smell on your clothing. 

Enjoy The Fresh Smell of Steam – Without Essential Oils

If you never use tap water in your steamer, you won’t have musty-smelling steam on your clothes. This smell is from minerals, and bacteria build-up when tap water is left sitting. This can also create mold in your water tank.

Stick with distilled or demineralized water and enjoy the fresh smell of natural steam rather than needing to use additives to make your steamer and clothing smell good.

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