10 essential oils for a clean toxin-free home

In the past, we’ve written about various essential oils like rosemary and oregano that can be used in cleaning formulas you make at home, avoiding the toxins in cleaning products that take years off your life.

Many of you may be excited at the prospect of cleaning your home naturally, but may be left with some questions:

  • Which are the best oils for various cleaning jobs?
  • What are some examples of ways to use these oils in cleaning formulas?
  • Are there any precautions when cleaning with essential oils?

I’ve put together a quick and easy guide that answers all these questions and more, so you can enjoy a clean and toxin-free home, worry free…

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The top 10 essential oils for cleaning

1. Lemon.
Besides giving a bright, cheerful aroma to everything it touches, lemon oil is naturally antibacterial and antiviral. It’s a great grease-cutter. Ten drops in ½ cup olive oil makes a natural wood or leather polish.

2. Tea tree (melaleuca).
Is there anything tea tree oil can’t do? It fights bacteria and viruses, prevents mold growth and heals bruises and blisters. Mosquitoes hate tea tree oil, and a few drops on a tick will make it detach itself from the skin.

As a cleaning agent, a teaspoon in a gallon of water will clean windows, floors, tile and kitchen counters.

3. Rosemary.
Naturally antibacterial and antiseptic, rosemary oil is also a great choice for household cleaning. Mix ½ cup vinegar with ½ cup water and 12 drops of rosemary oil. Use this in a spray bottle to clean your whole kitchen and give it a clean, fresh scent.

4. Wild orange.
The king of the grease-fighters, wild orange oil belongs in your kitchen. A few drops will dissolve stubborn kitchen stains, and placed in your trash can, will discourage household pests. Spraying orange oil and water on your house plants will also keep bugs away.

5. Lavender.
The soothing, calming scent of lavender is a favorite for bedtime relaxation and de-stressing. But it’s also naturally antibacterial. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to unscented dish soap or detergent.

Make a refreshing spray for your bed linens by combining 2 cups of distilled water with 2 tablespoons vodka or rubbing alcohol and 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil.

6. Eucalyptus.
This germicidal oil is a natural killer of the dust mites that cause respiratory allergies. Just a few drops in your natural laundry detergent and dust mites will bite the dust.

To dry wash stuffed animals, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to baking soda and put it in a Ziploc bag along with the stuffed toys. Put the bag in the freezer for an hour to kill any dust mites, then dust off the baking soda.

7. Peppermint.
Antibacterial, yes, but peppermint oil is good for more than that. Mix 1—15 drops with a cup of water in a spray bottle and spray along cracks and crevices or anywhere ants and spiders lurk. The bugs will stay away, and your home will smell fresh.

8. Cinnamon.
Cinnamon fights mold, mildew and bacteria. To make a shower spray that’s a lot sweeter and safer to breathe than aerosol cleaners, mix 2 cups white vinegar with 1 teaspoon tea tree oil, 10 drops orange oil and 10 drops cinnamon oil.

9. Pine.
There’s a reason that pine is included in most heavy-duty commercial cleaners. It kills a host of household germs including e. coli and yeast spores.

But there’s no need to breathe in chemicals to get the cleaning power of pine. Simply add 5-10 drops of pine oil to water or vinegar as a cleanser for floors, mirrors and bathroom surfaces.

10. Thyme.
This invigorating essential oil kills salmonella. Use it to clean cutting boards that have come into contact with raw meat, or add it to unscented, natural dish soap for a natural way to decontaminate all your dishes.

Precautions when using essential oils

While essential oils are a healthy alternative to toxic cleansers and chemicals, they can do harm to people and animals if not used with the proper precautions. Three groups that could potentially suffer harm from exposure to essential oils are:

Pregnant women. During the first trimester, use essential oils sparingly. Cinnamon, eucalyptus and peppermint should be avoided. Here is a more comprehensive guide to using essential oils during pregnancy. It’s always best to consult with your doctor.

Babies and young children. The undeveloped nervous systems of babies are very sensitive to even small amounts of the powerful natural compounds found in essential oils. While there are lists that suggest which are safe and which are not, always defer to the advice of your pediatrician.

Pets. Unfortunately, if you live with cats, most of the cleaning tips we’ve shared here are off-limits. Of the ten oils we’ve listed, only rosemary oil is safe to use on surfaces your cat might lick or touch. Fortunately, there are other oils that are good for cleaning. Consult with your veterinarian before using them.

A few last tips

  • Always store essential oils in glass, never in plastic. The chemicals in the oils can eat through and/or absorb plastic.
  • Wear rubber gloves when cleaning with essential oils, just as you would with commercial cleansers. Natural doesn’t always mean safe, especially if you have an allergic reaction to an oil.
  • Finally, more is not better when it comes to essential oil. Start slow with the amount you add to your cleaning solutions, and always dilute. Essential oils are typically concentrated and pack a powerful punch. If not diluted they can be an irritant and harsh to the skin, eyes and other senses.

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.