What Do Laundry and Coffee Have in Common?

Shower disks with essential oils in the background | SustainableSuburbia.net

You know that feeling of not being able to get enough breath, because your chest is just too tight? You can take a deep breath in and let it out cathartically, but a moment later you feel breathless again.

That’s a level of stress I wouldn’t have recognised until a period a few years back when I was trying to conceive baby number two, and had just had a miscarriage.

My employer was trying to force me to go from 2½  days/week to full time, with very little notice and no available childcare, and I was trying to figure out what to do. Every day I had to go to work, I would spend the day feeling like I couldn’t breath.

Since then that breathless feeling comes back from time to time, mostly when I have too much on, too much to do, and the endless pile of  laundry suddenly pushes me over the edge.

I have to admit though, my most recent experience, this past Saturday morning, was probably brought on mostly by a too strong cup of coffee after too little sleep. My bad.

There are lots of things you can do to help manage the physical symptoms of stress, even if you can’t immediately change the situation causing it: go for a walk in the fresh air; get more exercise generally; have a massage; meditate; eat good nourishing food. Talk to someone who has good listening skills.

Different things work for different people and situations. You can also find essential oils that can be helpful.

How Shower Disks Can Help You Cope with All That Laundry

Shower Vapor Disks: Good for more than just colds | Sustainable Suburbia

What I did on Saturday, when I realised what a bad idea the coffee had been, was to take a lovely hot shower with one of my shower vapour disks. I’d baked some without the oils added, so instead of the usual head clearing oils like peppermint, I added soothing lavender. It made for a delightful shower. I would have added some orange oil too, if I hadn’t run out. Sweet orange is an uplifting oil that blends divinely with lavender.

I used to be a massage therapist, and some basic aromatherapy training was included in my course, plus a did some extra training with an aromatherapist. Since then I’ve always had a selection of oils in cupboard, which I use for their cleaning, emotional balancing and healing properties.

What Else Can You Do with Your Disks?

Here are some great blends you can use on your shower disks for various benefits. (See Cautions before use, especially if pregnant or breastfeeding.) I use about 15-16 drops total per disk, and about half that if using an oil burner.

  • For anxiety or stress: frankincense, lavender and sweet orange.
    Calming and uplifting, this is probably my all time favourite blend – I have it going in the oil burner quite frequently. Frankincense is expensive so I only use a few of drops of it at a time on a shower disk, with a similar amount of orange and about 8-10 drops of lavender. However, Frankincense is one of the best oils for relieving anxiety, so use more if needed!
  • For a cold or flu: eucalyptus, peppermint and lemon. These are all top notes which tend to evaporate fast, but they make a great mix for clearing the head and chest.
  • For coughs and congestion: eucalyptus, peppermint and frankincense make a great blend.
  • Other respiratory system essential oils include lime, rosemary, lavender, cypress, cedarwood and thyme.
  • For insomnia, or just before bed: lavender, sweet marjoram and roman chamomile (sometimes just called chamomile).
  • For headaches: roman chamomile and lavender
  • For migraines (especially hormonal): clary sage, lavender and melissa. Only use  about 2 drops of melissa, with about 7 drops each of lavender and clary sage.

Over to you

So tell me, what is your favourite essential oil blend? Have you ever tried it on a shower disk? Leave a comment below and let me know.

This post was shared at IBOT, and  Mostly Homemade Mondays along with many other great posts 🙂


Just remember, essential oils are effective because they are potent. Don’t assume they are “safe” just because they are natural. If you have any health issues or are pregnant or breastfeeding, do your own research and make an informed decision. “Experts” are very divided about the risks of different oils, and what’s contraindicated for use on the skin may be fine for use in an oil diffuser.  When in doubt, always consult a qualified aromatherapist.

All essential oils should be used with caution around babies and very young children, and of the oils mentioned Eucalyptus oil, thyme should be avoided. Peppermint and rosemary oils are also generally not recommended for use with very young children, especially when it comes to skin contact. Other oils should be used at ¼ dose for 0-2 year old children. After that you can gradually increase it.

Always keep essential oils out of reach of children.

Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?

Some references will consider almost every oil to be contraindicated during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. It’s often recommended to halve the dose of all oils during pregnancy, particularly for use on the skin. Mandarin, Neroli (which is divine), orange and petitgrain and generally considered safe, while bergamot, lavender, geranium and spearmint can be added later in pregnancy.

Of the oils I have recommended in my blends above, peppermint, thyme, chamomile, marjoram, rosemary, melissa and cedarwood are all generally considered contraindicated during pregnancy. Clary sage should only be used during labour.

Once again though, I would stress that you should consult a qualified aromatherapist if in any doubt. She or he will also be able to match oils to your particular situation, and give more advice about how to use oils safely during different stages of pregnancy (for instance, you may be able to use an oil in a diffuser, or shower disk, when you couldn’t safely include it in a bath or massage blend).

  16 comments for “What Do Laundry and Coffee Have in Common?

  1. September 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I’m not sure about blends but one of my fave scents is lavender, I absolutely love it! It came in handy especially at the end if my pregnancy and during labour.

    • Kirsten
      September 4, 2013 at 11:33 am

      Thanks for your comment Kylez. I love lavender too – sometimes when I just go for a single scent I’m amazed how delicious they can be all on their own 🙂

  2. September 3, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Lavender gives me a headache, (which i know must be strange because it should help) but I do like the smell of peppermint or coconut. I honestly don’t use oils myself but I’m sure if you find something that helps with stress and you should keep using it.

    • Kirsten
      September 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

      I’ve heard other people say that about lavender – even the plant – so it must be one of those things: helps most people, but hinders some! Peppermint is a delicious smell isn’t it? Always makes me want to eat chocolate though 🙂

    • Jess64
      September 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Lavender gives me a headache too. I’m going to try and shower disc. My calm down strategy is suduko, for some reason the combination of mindless thinking out seems to give my brain the restart kick it needs.

      • Kirsten
        September 9, 2013 at 9:45 am

        What a great technique Jess – relaxing and brain working at the same time 🙂

  3. Penny
    September 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I have been suffering lots of stress lately – giving me full on physical symptoms (like chest constriction and difficulty breathing). At first I actually thought I was sick, not stressed, and I think my husband thinks I’m bunging it on which makes it worst! I love the idea of your shower disks to help eliviate stress. Love it. How long do they keep because I’d prefer to make a big batch to have on hand – and can’t see myself whipping up a batch when I’m feeling stressed. Also, my oil supply is next to none at the moment and dollars are tight so purchasing some of the gorgeous ones like rosé is going to be impossible. What are a few basic ones i should get. do you have a particular brand you recommend? Do they have to be pure to work as aromatherapy? I have been stressed and sick for the last twelve months, catching every cold, suffering hayfever and having trouble with my sinuses. Feeling unwell makes feeling stress even more likely, and then it’s difficult to exercise and do the other things you suggested. I really feel like I’m a bit stuck at the moment and need something that is actually going to work to pick me up. The shower disks might be just the thing… And as for coffee, it sounds like a good idea but it never is when I’m physically feeling stressed. I want to feel good!

    • Kirsten
      September 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      That sux Penny! That feeling of chest constriction is just the worst.

      Yes, they have to pure essential oils. Do Not Get Fragrance oils! I usually get Auroma or Sun Spirit brands, which you can pick up at health food shops. I’ve also bought the In Essence brand. They are all TGA registered ( TGA=Therapeutic Goods Administration), but I have yet to determine whether that is worth anything. I also have yet to be convinced that spending 5 times as much on certain MLM brands is worth anything. I’m still looking into it!

      If money is tight and you just wanted to get one, I would say lavender. If you can afford it, I would also get Frankincense. I just found a 5ml bottle (Sun Spirit brand) for $12.57 here, which is a pretty good price: http://www.naturalhealthorganics.com.au/Sunspirit-Frankincense-Oil-5ml-pr-11071.html (please note, I have never used this site – was just looking for online prices). There’s About $7 in P&H but if you were getting two or three it might be worth it. Or, you could just check out your local health food store and see what they have. (Also note, 5ml is a small bottle – but you only need a few drops at a time).
      Then, if you were going to get three, I would say Bergamot next 🙂

      As for making them in bulk – I am leery of suggesting making them in bulk with the oils already infused. I haven’t tried it so I don’t know how long they’d stay effective. BUT, you can certainly make them in bulk without the oils, and add the oils as you need them. Just keep them in an airtight container.

  4. September 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I have never heard of shower discs before! What exactly are they and how do you make them?

  5. September 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Wow, what a great idea, I’d never have thought of it! A lovely hot, aromatic shower sounds like a perfect destresser! Thanks for the tip 🙂

    • September 7, 2013 at 8:01 am

      You’re very welcome Mamagoingsolo, I hope you enjoy them 🙂

  6. September 26, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Hi, I fell upon your website somehow in a search and it is the best part of today. I have a tea, herbal, Ayurveda, wellness, oils shoppe + more. Basically all items that help you to be healthy, think and do something about it and take care of yourself first. Then, there you were the other half, do you sell the laundry powder? The reason I ask is we need lots, we want to have a good real no chemical item in our shoppe and yours is great, along with the shower vapors. Think about it and let me know you can find us on our web site with recipes for food and more to come from the cookbook. http://Www.SerenityHouseTea.com
    Thank you, I adore your writing and sense of humour.

    • Kirsten
      September 26, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Hi Angela,

      Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂

      I don’t sell it I’m afraid – it is just way too easy to make! Maybe you could sell the raw ingredients?


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