Essential oils have been having a moment for the last few years. They’re highly concentrated, evaporative plant extracts that are obtained through extraction methods like steam distillation or cold pressing from the very herbs, plants or flowers themselves. Due to these unique extraction methods, the oils are able to provide beneficial properties, which are distilled into the tiniest droplets and bottled up for your use and pleasure.
These oils are commonly used for aromatherapy thanks to their strong scents, but did you know they can also be used for cleaning?
When it comes to cleaning with essential oils, many types of plant essences are well-known and accepted for their antimicrobial (the killing of microorganisms) qualities. Pure essential oils are so potent that they can destroy certain bacteria and other gross things with the compounds they contain. Cleaning with essential oils will not only make your scrub session much more efficient, they’ll boost your mood as well. Win and win!
Not sure how to get started? That’s where YouTube’s Melissa Maker comes in. Here’s a break down of how versatile essential oils can be, especially in our homes.
Tea tree oil
Tea Tree oil is antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. Basically, it’s perfect for killing germs and combating mildew. Tea tree oil can be used as an all-purpose cleaner on any surfaces you’re concerned about bacteria or cross-contamination.
All you need is:
- 1 part water
- 1 part vinegar
- A drop of dish soap
- 5-10 drops of tea tree oil; note that the more drops you use, the more powerful the oil will be
Tea tree oil can also be used to sanitize your dishes by adding a few drops to your dishwasher to disinfect on a shorter cycle. When hand washing dishes in the sink, you could add a few drops to the dishwater and get the same effect.
Place a few drops of tea tree oil around the rim of the fruit bowl to keep fruit flies away. Apply the oil to the bowl and rub it in with a paper towel to spread. If ants ever make their way into the kitchen, add 10 drops of tea tree oil to 1 cup of water and mix it in a clean spray bottle. Spritz where ants are coming in from and it will act as a chemical-free effective pesticide.
Fact: Eucalyptus oil kills 99.9 per cent of household germs. Talk about effective!
Eucalyptus oil is a degreaser, so say goodbye to grease, oil and adhesives.
When cleaning, we normally think “spray and wipe”, but a solvent as such actually helps lift stains or stubborn residue, such as the goo that a sticker leaves behind. All you need is a little eucalyptus oil and, voila. What sticker goo?!
Now, what about those tough stains that just won’t come out no matter what cleaning product you use? Fortunately, eucalyptus oil can help! The oil can be used to remove stains like ink, marker, food stains such as ketchup, pasta sauce, chocolate, oil- you name it! Sprinkle a few drops to the affected area as a pre-treatment and rub. Allow the item to sit and then wash as usual. The stain will disappear without damaging the fabric. It’s an inexpensive and natural way to clean and protect your clothes.
Eucalyptus oil is also capable of removing burnt-on food that sticks to your pots and pans. Add a few drops of oil to a little bit of water- just enough to coat the bottom of the pan- soak for a few minutes and scrub gently with a cloth. Rinse and done!
Citrus oils, such as orange oil and lemon oil, are similar to eucalyptus oil in the sense where they too have major degreasing powers, minus the antibacterial benefit. They also make nice smelling cleaners.
For a citrus oil-based cleaner you need:
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- 5 drops of lemon or orange oil
Once you’ve got the ingredients, apply to a grease-stained spot as a pre-treatment and wash as usual.
Before we get to how lavender can be used to clean in your home, there are some other great uses the essential oil provides that are too good not to share! Lavender is the most calming scent promoting tranquility while reducing anxiety and nervousness. It also helps induce sleep. Want to relax before a big day? Do you like to bathe before bed? Add 5 drops of lavender to your tub or your shower floor to create a steam-room effect.
DIY Linen Spray
- Add equal amounts of water and vodka to a spray bottle
- Add 20 drops of lavender oil
- Mix and spritz on your pillow and linens about 20 minutes before bed to help foster a relaxing sleep.
Deal with mold and mildew build-up
Simply add 5 drops to the detergent compartment of your washing machine after you’ve added the detergent. You may also add a few drops to the softener compartment along with white vinegar. This will help keep the fabrics from smelling, even if you forget about them in the machine for a little too long.
Because of how potent the essential oils are, it is recommended we use them diluted and not directly on the skin. Also, make sure you check with your doctor about which oils are safe to use if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have little ones at home. The same goes for pets – check with your vet first.