Let’s face it, we all love essential oils because they’re natural, and they smell great.
But other than diffusing them to make your home smell great, what else can you do?
I’m sure you are sick of the list of dangerous-sounding chemicals in common products like laundry detergent. While you might feel like you’re stuck cleaning with these everyday commercial products…
The good news is, you can throw all those chemicals out.
You can use essential oils for green cleaning. If you don’t know how, no worries.
By the end of this article, you are going to know which oils to reach for instead of artificial fragrances, glass cleaners, furniture polishes, and much more.
So if you’re ready to start cleaning with essential oils, then let’s get right to it.
I have some awesome homemade DIY recipes you can try today.
What are the best essential oils for cleaning?
The first thing we need to understand when cleaning with essential oils is which ones we need to choose, and what they are good for.
Every oil has a different chemical makeup. Some are more terpenes, while others are more alcohol or aldehyde.
Each of them have a multitude of these constituents that when combined, work synergistically to create a variety of not only healing, but cleansing properties.
So we are going to start with 12 of the absolute best choices for household oils to cleanse your home naturally.
1. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree oil is beneficial in home cleaning because it is a strong antimicrobial. Most oils are, but few can boast that they are effective against the big three.
This oil is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral.
So when you’re washing with a tea tree-based solution, you know you have the germ-fighting power you expect from commercial cleansers.
2. Lemon (Citrus limon)
When choosing a cleanser for your home, you cannot go wrong with a citrus oil. There is a reason that many cleaners on the market use citrus-based products.
Not only do they smell great, citrus fruits are naturally antimicrobial. This property is concentrated when the rind is expressed into the oil.
Lemon oil is antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, and to top it all off, leaves a fresh citrus scent that is hard to resist.
3. Orange (Citrus sinensis)
Just like lemon, orange oil is another citrus-based powerhouse. It has a sweeter scent than lemon, and is a great addition to homemade furniture polish.
The oil, which is expressed from the rind of the fruit, is antibacterial and antiseptic.
4. Lavender (Lavandula alternifolia)
Lavender essential oil has so many uses and benefits, it could have volumes of books dedicated to it.
For our homes, lavender is great for those who love floral fragrances. However, it is so much more than just a pretty scent.
The oil is anthelmintic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic.
To top it all off, the oil is an antidepressant and calmative, so it can brighten your mood and ease anxiety while cleaning.
How’s that for double duty?
5. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is an antimicrobial oil that doubles as an insect deterrent.
It is a wonderful choice for areas that the bugs tend to gravitate towards, like ants in the kitchen or wasps on porches or in the garage.
6. Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Don’t let its sweet smell fool you. Peppermint oil is one to be reckoned with when it comes to washing duties.
It is antibacterial, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antiviral, and is a stimulant.
Because of that last property, you will know you’ll have the energy to finish the job when cleaning with peppermint oil.
7. Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
Who needs commercial cleaners like Pine-Sol when you have a bottle of pine essential oil in the home?
Pine is anti-infectious, antimicrobial, and antiseptic.
Plus, it’s refreshing, clean scent, will impart a feeling of true cleanliness throughout your whole home.
8. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Just like rosemary, you may think that thyme is an herb made more for meat dishes over cleaning your home.
However, thyme oil is great for bacterial and viral skin infections, and this power can transfer to fighting the microbes when you use it to clean both surfaces and the air around you.
Thyme essential oils is antibacterial, antiviral, and is an all around antimicrobial. It is one of the few that is also antifungal in nature.
This makes the oil an excellent choice when you want to make extra sure there are no nasty bugs you can’t see just waiting to make you and your family sick.
9. Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
Some people love grapefruit essential oil and others don’t. Personally, this is one of my favorite oils to reach for when cleaning.
The fresh smell is so uplifting and energizing, and whether you choose white or pink, it leaves a long-lasting scent that promises cleanliness all around.
Grapefruit oil, like other citrus choices, is anti-infectious and antiseptic. Plus, it just makes you feel good!
10. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Oregano essential oil is a force to be reckoned with against bad things in and on the body. These talents extend to cleaning surfaces, too.
This is a very hot oil, so care should be taken when using the oil to cleanse surfaces. It must be diluted correctly.
Oregano is anthelmintic, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and antifungal.
11. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Another hot oil is cinnamon essential oil. It is not just a holiday smell for the diffuser.
The oil is anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-putrescent, antiseptic, and antiviral.
It is also a stimulant oil that has a lovely scent, so you will have the energy to get through your chores and love the way your house smells as you do them.
12. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.)
Eucalyptus, in any form, is another awesome choice for home cleaning solutions.
Depending on which form you choose, the oil can be anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, antimicrobial, anti-putrescent, antiseptic, and insect deterrent, and more.
Quite the list, right?
Now that you know what oils to have in your arsenal, let’s learn how to use them!
Purifying and disinfecting with DIY household cleaners
To make this an easy reference post for you, I am going to break down these recipes by rooms in your house.
Every room has its own needs and nuances, and the following recipes will reflect these special requirements in each of your favorite spaces.
Later on, we are going to tackle something not so near and dear to our hearts: laundry.
(Be sure to read to the end so you don’t miss it.)
The kitchen is perhaps one of the dirtiest rooms in the house (maybe only beat by the bathroom). It is full of microbes that can make our family members sick every day.
We all know the drills about food safety:
- don’t leave food out too long.
- be wary of cross-contamination on surfaces and utensils.
- clean up well after every meal preparation.
The Centers for Disease Control (CD) in the United States estimates that the 31 known pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses make 9.4 million people sick and are the cause of almost 56 thousand hospitalizations every year.
Of these, 1,351 people die.
And when the unknown causes are added in, these numbers grow much larger, with 47.8 million getting sick, almost 128 thousand hospitalizations, and a death toll over three thousand.
What does this mean?
With one in six people getting some form of sickness caused by food annually, we need effective ways of preventing the spread of these pathogens, and killing them before we become a part of the statistics.
Your mind might immediately think of raw meat when it comes to getting sick from food. However, it is actually produce that is the biggest culprit in both illness and deaths.
To avoid this danger, the first step is to pick the antibacterial essential oils that fight the pathogens that cause these illnesses in the first place.
Many of the oils I have listed do just that.
The next step is to have a go-to way of how to clean the surfaces that collect all of the germs and bacteria.
Condensed Kitchen Surface Cleaner
- 1 teaspoon Tea Tree EO
- 1 teaspoon Lemon EO
- ½ teaspoon Thyme EO
- ¼ teaspoon Orange EO
Add all of the ingredients to a dark glass bottle, large enough for all of the ingredients, put the top on, and shake it up well.
These ones work great and are pretty cheap.
If you want more of a classic spray bottle, you can go for these ones from Sally’s Organics.
Your base is now done. It may seem like a lot, but this is enough for about 13 batches of cleaning spray.
Be sure to keep the blend away from heat and light.
When you need to use it, grab another spray bottle and add:
- ½ cup Vodka
- ½ cup Vinegar
- 20 drops of your Condensed Kitchen Surface Cleaner Blend
Shake this up well, and top it off with a cup of water. Shake it again and it is now ready to use.
This is a strong disinfectant blend, and a little goes a long way. Be sure to do a surface test in an inconspicuous spot before using on a large area.
You can use this spray on all of the kitchen surfaces your food comes in contact with. Make sure to shake it before each use.
The beauty of this spray is you can use it in all areas you want to be germ-free. This means bathroom counters, door knobs, light switches, and any other place you can think of. It has the added bonus of being great at cleaning air where it is sprayed.
If you do not like the smell of the spray or are out of one of the oils listed, it is easy to make substitutions.
Just pick another oil from the list with antibacterial qualities and use that instead.
- 1 ¾ cups Boiling Water
- 1 tablespoon Borax
- 1 Tablespoon Bar Soap (grated)
- 1-2 teaspoons Lemon juice (or vinegar)
- 8 drops Orange EO
- 4 drops Lemon EO
- 4 drops Grapefruit EO
- 4 drops Lavender EO
- 2 drops Rosemary, Eucalyptus, or Tea Tree EO
In a heatproof non-reactive bowl (like glass) mix the borax and grated soap. Pour the boiling water over the mix, and whisk well until it is all melted and combined. Leave it sit, whisking every once in a while, for a few hours.
Once thickened, add the lemon juice or vinegar and your essential oils. Whisk to combine and pour into an old dish soap bottle or other container. Use as you would regular dish soap.
This is likely the second dirtiest room in the house, for obvious reasons. Here are a few recipes to keep it spic-and-span and germ-free.
Sink and Tub Scrub
- 1 cup Borax
- 5 drops Tea Tree EO
- 5 drops Pine or Lemon EO
Mix well, and use as you would any other abrasive cleaner. Be sure to spot test first to make sure it does not scratch or stain your particular surface.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- 1 cup Borax
- ½ cup Lemon juice or Vinegar
- 10 drops Tea Tree EO
Mix all ingredients to form a thick paste. Flush toilet to wet the sides, then apply the paste all over the inside of the bowl with a toilet brush. Let sit for an hour, then scrub off the surfaces with the brush and flush.
- ¼ cup Vinegar (white)
- 5 drops Rosemary EO
- 5 drops Peppermint EO
- 1 quart water
In a spray bottle large enough, add the vinegar and essential oils. Shake well, then add the water. Shake again, and use as you would a normal window cleaner.
Living Areas and Bedroom
These areas have surfaces that can be taken care of with our kitchen and window cleaners above, but they also have their own needs.
Wood Cleaner and Polish
- 1 cup Olive oil
- 10 drops Orange EO
Blend well in a bottle. Test a small area for color fastness and durability. Use a soft cloth to gently polish the wood with your homemade oil.
- 2 cups Baking Soda
- 20-40 drops of your favorite oil or blend
Mix the oils in the baking soda well with a fork or by shaking. Let the oils permeate the baking soda for about half an hour, then sprinkle all over the carpet.
To get deep down, work it in the fiber with a broom. Let it sit for a while to freshen the area then vacuum up.
Essential oils are easy to use in the laundry room. To freshen up a load in the dryer, add five drops of an oil or your favorite blend to a cotton ball or two and throw it in with your clothes.
Homemade Laundry Soap
- 2 cups Soap Flakes (or grated soap bars, like Fels-Naptha or Ivory)
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Washing Soda
- 1 teaspoon Essential Oil (or blend of essential oil)
This detergent is awesome because you can experiment with the scents you love the most. One batch you could make floral and the next citrus.
Or you can just do relaxing lavender for your bed sheets. The choices are only limited by your imagination.
Mix well by hand or better yet, add it all to a food processor or old blender. Let all the dust settle before opening.
Store in an airtight container. Use a heaping tablespoon per load, and put it in the washer before your clothes. And don’t forget to clean your food processor well!
Aromatherapy and essential oils are more than just pretty fragrances.
These recipes for home cleaners are chemical-free but powerful.
Not only that, cleaning house can be a therapeutic experience that lifts your mood and makes you feel great all day.
Whether cleaning bathrooms, doing dishes or laundry, or simply freshening up the air in your home, I hope you enjoy these natural DIY recipes.
What do you use for green cleaning? I’d love to hear your own homemade, natural recipes in the comments below.
I’m Lauren. Just a new mom trying to share her love for essential oils. Follow me on my journey to learning how I use EO’s daily in my home.