Essential oils are naturally produced liquids that are distilled from the leaves, roots, flowers, bark, or other elements of plants. Despite the name, they aren’t really oily in consistency at all.
Essential oils are not the same as fragrance oils, which are artificially created. These are sometimes referred to as aromatherapy oils and are most commonly used for making candles and perfumes. They are also used in massage and holistic beauty treatments. Fragrance oils use a small amount of essential oil diluted by a carrier oil, such as jojoba, and will not be effective in your homemade cleaning products.
Essential oils come in smaller bottles than fragrance oils and have a dropper built into the lid. This is because essential oils are so pure and concentrated that only a small quantity is needed. You will find that a little goes a very long way. This also means that they are a very cost-effective way to boost both the cleaning power and scent of your homemade cleaning products.
Essential oils are measured by grades, but for the purpose of your homemade cleaning products, the grade is irrelevant as long as the oil is pure.
How will Essential Oils Benefit My Homemade Cleaning Products?
There are three main reasons to include essential oils in your homemade cleaning products.
Essential oils contain very concentrated scents of the plants from which they are derived. For example, lavender essential oil will have an extremely strong lavender scent. The strength of these natural scents will add a lovely aroma to your homemade cleaning products without the need for chemicals or other artificial interference.
Some essential oils, such as lemon and orange, have a chemical structure that makes them natural cleaning agents. They are often added to mass-produced store bought cleaning products.
Certain essential oils, such as tea tree oil, have naturally occurring antibacterial properties, making them ideal for disinfecting.
Common Essential Oils for Cleaning
Lemon essential oil comes from the rind of the lemon fruit and has natural brightening and stain removing properties. It can be used across the cleaning spectrum, but it is an especially popular addition to homemade laundry detergents because it brightens clothes. It is also excellent on mirrors, floors, and any other reflective surfaces.
Tea tree oil is produced from the Australian melaleuca tree and provides a triple-whammy of cleaning power with its antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties. This makes it ideal for tackling issues such as mold. For example, adding tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils to a spray bottle of water and white vinegar makes an excellent shower and bathroom cleaner.
Peppermint is most effectively used in homemade cleaning products as an antibacterial agent. It can be added to water and natural soap for a safe and reliable cleaner.
Essential Oils – the Health & Safety Precautions You Need to Take
First of all, wear a pair of rubber gloves. Remember that essential oils are highly concentrated forms of distilled plant extracts, and they are strong. If they come into contact with your skin, they could cause itching, burning, or other nasty reactions. Similarly, keep the oils away from eyes and mouth. They are not to be ingested, however mouth-watering they smell!
Keep your essential oils out of the reach of pets and children!
Follow the instructions on your recipe. If your instructions say to add 5 drops then add 5 drops, no more. Increasing the quantity will not increase the cleaning power, but it may increase the likelihood of a bad reaction or overpowering scent.
Remember, just because something is natural it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be handled with care!
Simple Recipes Using Essential Oils in Your Homemade Cleaning Products
Freshening Window Cleaner
- 4 tbsp white vinegar
- 12 drops lemon essential oil
- Mix the vinegar and essential oil in a spray bottle. Add tap water. Shake the bottle vigorously before use. Wipe your windows dry with crumpled newspaper.
Benefit: energizing and degreasing
- 2 cups hot water
- ¼ cup washing soda
- 10 drops thyme essential oil
- Combine all the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray on surfaces and wipe with a clean cloth.
Carpet Deodorizing Powder
- 1 cup baking soda
- 18 drops bergamot essential oil
- Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Transfer to a jar with holes in the lid. Sprinkle on your carpet and allow to sit for 10 minutes before vacuuming as usual.
- 4 oz. jojoba oil
- 12 drops lemon essential oil
- 4 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 8 drops sandalwood essential oil
- Combine all the oils in a spray bottle. Shake well and apply lightly to wooden surfaces. Wipe with clean, soft cloth.
Citrus Dishwashing Liquid
- Liquid castile soap
- 20 drops lime essential oil
- 10 drops sweet orange essential oil
- 5 drops citrus seed extract
- Fill a 22 oz. spray bottle with the castile soap (Make sure you dilute as per the instructions on the bottle if you buy the concentrated form). Add the essential oils and extract; shake well. Add 1-2 tbsp to your dishwater and wash as normal.
Benefit: degreasing and antibacterial
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- 18 oz. water
- ¼ cup liquid castile soap
- 4 drops lavender essential oil
- 4 drops tea tree essential oil
- 4 drops lemon essential oil
- Put all the ingredients into a 22 oz. spray bottle and shake vigorously. Spray directly into the bowl, scrub with brush, and flush away.
Benefit: purifying and refreshing
Basic Air Fresheners
- 18 oz. water
- 12 drops essential oil of your choice (see below)
- Fill a 22 oz. spray bottle with the water and add the essential oil of your choice. The individual scents of the oils can have different effects, and you can match this to suit each of the living areas in your house. For example:
- For your bedroom: use calming, romantic essential oils such as ylang-ylang, jasmine, or lavender.
- For your sitting room: pine, sandalwood, juniper, and cedar wood essential oils are all ideal for creating a relaxing environment.
- For your office: basil and rosemary essential oils aid concentration.
- For your kitchen: the refreshing, clean scents of lemon, cinnamon, and grapefruit essential oils are popular choices.
- For your pet pillow: your pets need not miss out. Flea-deterring peppermint and lavender would be the perfect oils to use in a pillow spritz.
Hardwood Floor Cleaner
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- A bucket of water
- 5-10 drops lemon, pine, or tea tree essential oil
- Combine all the ingredients in the bucket of water, stir, and use to mop your hardwood floor. If it is especially dirty, add several drops of dishwashing soap (homemade version recipe included above).
Benefit: antibacterial; adds shine and durability
Homemade Cleaning Products to Deal with Household Pests
Dampen a sponge or cloth and add 5-6 drops of citronella or peppermint essential oils. Wipe the affected area. Then add 3-5 drops of the same oil on possible ant access points including windowsills, doorway cracks, and the corners of cabinets under the kitchen sink.
Make a solution of 2 cups of water and 3 teaspoons of peppermint essential oil and add to a spray bottle. Spray wherever you find mouse droppings. Fresh sprigs of peppermint located in mouse hotspots should also discourage rodents.
Mix some washing soda and sugar together and sprinkle in corners where cockroaches hide. Do NOT use this solution if you have children or pets; consult a licensed exterminator instead.
Centipedes, Silver Fish and Earwigs
Place drops of peppermint, eucalyptus or citronella essential oils in areas that collect moisture such as basements, bathrooms, or cabinets that contain pipes.
Scientists are constantly looking for new and improved ways to enhance the cleaning products we use in our day-to-day lives. However, the answer lies not in chemistry but in nature. Why artificially produce cleaning materials when it is possible to create them from natural, organic materials that are not only perfectly capable of doing the job, but are beneficial to the human body?
We have examined the cleaning power of essential oils, looking at their antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. We have also considered what oils are best for different areas of cleaning and shown you some of the simple ways in which you can create completely natural, yet still powerful, cleaning products at home.
We have also looked at the use of essential oils for dealing with pest problems in the home, again illustrating that you need not expose your home to harsh artificial chemicals when nature, which creates the pests, can also be efficient in removing them.
For a true, natural clean, there is no better option than using homemade cleaning products with essential oils.