Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning with Essential Oils

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Essential Oils Blog

Cleaning with Essential Oils: Six Oils to Enhance Your Routine

Essential oils can do so much more than just create a pleasant aroma around the home. Many have antimicrobial properties, making them a great alternative for cleaning your house. From the kitchen to the bathroom to the laundry, essential oils can be great additions to your homemade cleaning products.

Traditional commercial cleaners can be full of harsh chemicals that you don’t want around your food or your skin. So utilizing the cleaning power of essential oils can be a great way to create and maintain a healthy, environmentally friendly household environment.

If you are wondering what essential oils to use as effective cleansers, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of some great essential oils for non-toxic cleaning.

Thyme

Thyme essential oil has been shown to be highly effective against a wide range of germs at a dilution of 1%.  Many natural cleaners on the market use the power of thyme to make safe cleaners for surfaces where little hands frequently touch. It has a fresh, herbal fragrance that smells great and mixes well with peppermint, spearmint, and lemon

Lemongrass

Lemongrass oil, with a fresh, lemony, tea-like fragrance, is a wonderful addition to any DIY project for your home.  The constituents in lemongrass oil give it a powerful advantage against germs. Effective at a dilution of 1%.

Lemon

With a fantastically light, clean scent, lemon essential oil is a wonderful addition to any DIY cleaning recipes. When you use lemon essential oil for cleaning, its refreshing scent works as a nice pick-me-up while you clean. Lemon oil is a particularly good choice for cleaning the kitchen sink where odors tend to accumulate. It’s also great to add a few drops to your laundry for an extra-fresh citrus boost.

Sweet Orange

Sweet Orange has a fantastic smell that is uplifting and bright. It contains a naturally occurring solvent called limonene that is great for cutting through grease and grime. Its antiseptic properties make it a potent cleanser for use on cutting boards, countertops, bathrooms and any surface where you want a germ-free clean. Its citrusy fragrance makes a great choice for diffusing to give the air a clean and fresh feeling.

closeup woman cleaning sofa

Peppermint

This minty oil has powerful cleaning properties with a cooling fragrance that smells great in the bathroom or the kitchen.  It is effective against a wide range of germs at a dilution of 1%, so it makes a great choice for cleaning up after meal preparation. Try combining it with thyme or rosemary in your homemade cleaning products.

Lavender

Lavender is a favorite essential oil because of its versatility and relaxing aroma. Its name is actually derived from the Latin word lavare, which translates as “to wash.”  It is a very nice addition to homemade laundry soap and blends well with many other popular oils. Try blending it with peppermint, tea tree or lemon in your next DIY cleaning product mixture.

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How to Use Essential Oils for Cleaning

It’s very easy to use simple household ingredients to create safe and effective DIY cleaners. For the bathroom, mix together water and baking soda with a few drops of unscented castile soap to make a paste. Then add around 20 drops of essential oils and mix. The paste is a great alternative to traditional bleach-based cleansers used on toilets and tubs.

For the kitchen, add vinegar to a spray bottle of water along with some cleansing essential oils of your choice. The amount you use depends on how much fragrance you prefer, but even a few drops can boost the cleaning power of water and vinegar. Use the spray on counters, stovetops, the sink, floors or any surface you wipe.  Be sure to use gloves and shake well as the essential oils won’t be fully dispersed.

How do these ingredients work? Vinegar contains acetic acid which has the power to kill bacteria. Baking soda is alkaline and is excellent at removing stains. Castile soap produces a natural lather that is non-toxic and can be used on any surface. Not only are these ingredients safe, but they have also been used for generations — and they work! Have fun mixing in your favorite essential oils to reap their aromatherapeutic benefits while you clean. Since cleaners typically have higher dilutions of essential oils, be sure to use gloves when cleaning to avoid getting any cleaners on your skin.

114 thoughts on “Cleaning with Essential Oils: Six Oils to Enhance Your Routine”

  1. Very helpful! I have read a lot about natural cleaning products and using oils in cleaning, but I still learned some new things. Never realized I should be wearing gloves–I will start now. And I hadn’t thought of combining thyme with peppermint; sounds interesting, and that should tone down the strong herbal scent. Thank you!

  2. I’m excited to try these options in the future. I love how easy it will be to mix these up, and I’ll feel better about using these over cleaners with so many chemicals and ingredients that I’m unfamiliar with. Next I need to try some of the foaming soap recipes!

  3. I use a lot of mentioned cleaners except for the tub cleaner. I’m going to make some right now and try it out. Thanks for sharing…

  4. I make kitchen spray with 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water a couple drops of blue dawn dish soap (optional) and 15 drops of Germ fighter spray and clean away

    Also foaming hand soap a foaming soap dispenser add 2 tbs of castile soap and drops of Germ fighter.

  5. I’ve switched all my cleaners over to vinegar, baking soda, Castile soap and essential oil recipes. We recently moved and have granite countertops. Are essential oils okay to use on them?

  6. Great blog post. I loved Retha’s live that went along with it and I learned a lot about how I can add these into my cleaning routine and possibly even save some money in our budget. Thanks.

    1. I mop my floor with white vinegar water and peppermint. Leave wood floors shinny. My kids even love to mop with the amazing sent of peppermint

  7. I want to try the bathroom recipe, but you don’t state how much water/baking soda should be used with those 20 drops of EO?

    1. Ana, it depends on how big of a batch you are making. Try 1 1/3 cup of baking soda to 1/2 cup of water to make a good paste, and add or subtract from there depending on how you want it 🙂

  8. Thank you for the dilution info for thyme and lemongrass. I’ve wondered many times what the dilution threshold is where they still kill bacteria.

  9. Great blog, thank you! We use EOs a ton! And yet… we haven’t made the transfer to EOs for cleaning. This is my next step. I am done buying synthetic household cleaners. Thank you for this information!

  10. We use a few different oils for cleaning. Germ Destroyer- to clean door knobs etc during cold and flu season- , Tea Tree in laundry and any citrus (Lemon, Grapefruit Pink) in dish water after hand washing dishes it helps clean the sink and makes it really shine. I LOVE using oils when cleaning our home.

  11. Hi there! Does a preservative need to be added to a multi-purpose cleaner? I plan to use distilled water, white vinegar and some EO’s?
    Also, if I wanted to substitute the vinegar for something else less smelly, what should I try?

    1. If you keep stored in the fridge and keep no longer than a week, you do not need the preservative. If you are wanting to keep longer, you need one because there is water in the mix.
      Vinegar has many great cleaning properties but some have used rubbing alcohol as a sub

    1. For the kitchen, add vinegar to a spray bottle of water along with some cleansing essential oils of your choice. The amount you use depends on how much fragrance you prefer, but even a few drops can boost the cleaning power of water and vinegar. Use the spray on counters, stovetops, the sink, floors or any surface you wipe. Be sure to use gloves and shake well as the essential oils won’t be fully dispersed.

  12. What type of spray bottle is recommended… Glass or plastic? Can I make a batch and save the rest for later or do you have to use it immediately

    1. You can use either a glass bottle or PET plastic bottle. Since these recipes contain water, you can store in the fridge and use within a week of making. To last longer, you would need a preservative

  13. I love cleaning with my essential oils! Haven’t tried the bathroom cleaner yet, so next on my list this weekend. Thank you for the great tips!

  14. I mix Germ Fighter and Lemon oil together along with white vinegar in a spray bottle to clean my counter tops. My counters are clean and fresh smelling. I also love that I don’t have to worry about my kids sitting down their fruit on the counter and then putting it in their mouths since I know that the counters are not only really clean, but have no residual toxic cleaners left behind on them that commercial cleaners leave behind.

  15. I m about to make toilet bombs for the first time. I think I m gonna go wirh lemon and lavender. It is going to be so much fun to do it.

  16. Thank you for this- super helpful! I make a mixture of baking soda and lemon/peppermint oils to deodorize our rugs. Our house smells SO good afterward.

  17. I’m really grateful for this post! I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer so have dramatically changed a lot of lifestyle habits. I’ve switched to natural cleaning products, but even they are loaded with some “questionable” stuff. I will surely take your advice with the above oils. Cant get any more natural than that!
    Thanks again!!!

  18. I love using the paste recipe to clean my bathtub and sink. The baking soda helps scrub off the grime and soap scum and I use tea tree oil to deal with the mold and mildew. It’s safe enough for my kids to help and that’s always a bonus!

  19. I love cleaning with lemongrass. It’s uplifting as well as a great cleaning oil. Orange oil is my second favorite in terms of scent but it is an equally great cleaner. I combine them with Castile soap, water and vinegar.

  20. I love using lemon essential oil in my natural cleaning products, but lately my go to has been lime. I have become so addicted to this oil. Its so fresh and citrusy. I absolutely love it.

  21. Recently read vinager is better then bleach. Both of I hate the smell. Fixin to clean the bathroom and will be adding an oil. Thank you

  22. Thanks for the tips!! I tend to use lemon tea tree because it’s my favorite but I will definitely try out these new ideas and see if I can find some new favorites.

  23. I have all of these oils and currently only use the vinegar + EO route for a daily shower spray. I see a number of commenters and hte blog post recommend use vinegar + castile soap + EO for regular kitchen cleaning. How does it hold up to commerical cleaners? Do you also use it when you need an antibacterial for things like raw chicken? Thanks!

  24. Lemon and Lemongrass are fantastic for using in homemade cleaning products! So fresh smelling and great for reducing germ loads.

  25. Do you have any recommendations for a room deodorizer? I don’t want to use any commercial air sprays but we need help with a cat-astrophy(cas was accidentally in a closed room for two days-he’s fine but the smell is awful!) I kept a diffuser in the room overnight with tea tree and peppermint, but it needs something more.

  26. I put vinegar about 5ml so every time I use it to clean it smells vinegar. I use white vinegar for cooking. Is it the one to use for mixing it with essential oils?

  27. I love using essential oils in my cleaning routine! I have a vinegar and alcohol based floor cleared that I add Lemon and Germ Fighter too. I also have an multi purpose spray with Lemon and Peppermint. It is one of my favorite ways to incorporate EO’s into my home!

    1. Michele, I do not have experience with subbing rubbing alcohol. If you give it a try, please let us know how that works for you

      1. I’ve made the cleaning spray with rubbing alcohol and it worked fine for me but the alcohol smell is kind of strong and my husband hates the smell of rubbing alcohol and vinegar so I use vodka instead.

  28. I love to add a little of the miracle ll soap to my cleaning spray bottles….plus orange and a little clove and water!!!! I also use this on a small towel when my dogs come in from outside! Takes away that doggie outdoor smell!!!

  29. I’m new to eos and clean living. I’ve started with replacing products that I use on my skin, but now I need start replacing my cleaning products. Can’t wait to start using eos in a new way.

  30. Ooo so excited to get a spray bottle and make up a batch. Will be so nice not to have that noxious chemical smell when spraying down the countertops!

  31. I use the Germ Fighter synergy with witchhazel for a good disinfectant spray for my pet cages and living spaces. It smells great and works wonderful, yet it is gentle enough to not bother my hamster. I love it.

    1. For the bathroom, mix together water and baking soda with a few drops of unscented castile soap to make a paste. Then add around 20 drops of essential oils and mix. The paste is a great alternative to traditional bleach-based cleansers used on toilets and tubs.

          1. Not sure if this has been answered but if the paste is runny enough, you could use a condiment bottle (like for mustard?) or any squeeze type bottle. Or if making small batches, just dribble it from the bowl or jar you mixed it in…

  32. What you you recommend for a granite kitchen counter top cleaner? I’ve heard mixed opinions about EOs slowly degrading granite and then others who swear by it.

    1. I would actually recommend reaching out to the manufacturer of the counter tops to be sure what can be used for cleaning them.

  33. I made a cleaner recently with Siberian fir, peppermint, and lemon. It was smelled wonderful and I was support my respiratory system while I cleaned! Love using essential oils for cleaning!

    1. I would recommend trying to contact manufacturer of the marble counter tops for a recommendation,we wouldn’t want anything to ruin those for you :/

  34. Thanks for the tips! I already use vinegar and water to clean everything, so I’ll definitely add some essential oil to the mix for that wonderful fresh smell. I especially like that I can use orange oil in the kitchen. What a great idea.

  35. How about a cutting board cleaner recipe? Would I use one of the above? Also, what carrier oil is best used in place of board oil ie food grade mineral oil or do you still think I should continue to use it occasionally?
    Thanks

    1. Tammie, you could try that Sweet Orange at a 5% dilution with water/vinegar solution. I am not sure about what carrier oil would be used to replace a board oil but would love to hear if you find a great sub for it

      1. We use “spoon butter” on our boards. Basically beeswax and sunflower oil (1:4 ratio) melted together and poured into a jam jar. It protects the wood and smells delicious! I add Lemon EO to mine and it’s so yummy! Good for wooden utensils and handles too!!

  36. Thank you,thank you,thank you. Love this post. Will have to come back to this post again. Need to add Thyme to my collection .

  37. I already do natural cleaning in my home – but have never used my oils for it! I am looking forward to trying it out this week

  38. So informative! Although, noticed Peppermint, Lemongrass and Thyme are not Kid Safe EOs. Can they still be used to clean in home with young kids? If so, how to safely use? Thank you!

    1. I would not recommend using non Kidsafe oils with your children in the home. If they are at school perhaps and you clean in the morning that would be fine. Typically you will dilute to 5% or less with cleaning

  39. I love the smell of Lemon EO! Can’t wait to try out DIY household cleaners! It seems like the second to last paragraph in this article is incomplete though- “Be sure to shake well as the essential…”?

  40. I love this blog post. Haven’t used my oils for cleaning very much but I certainly intend to do that now. Thanks for this post.

  41. Just wanted to let you know the second to last paragraph cuts off without finishing. I create web content too. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!!!

    1. 4 cups filtered water, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 10 drops lemon essential oil.
      Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (not plastic). Submerge produce in the bowl. Stir the produce around with your hand to make sure all of it comes in contact with the lemon essential oil. Let the produce sit for 30-60 seconds. Rinse with filtered water in a strainer.

  42. Don’t forget Tea Tree Oil. Best to get rid of weird smells in the toilet. Also when you’re done cleaning, apply a drop of Tea Tree Oil on your palm and then add soap to wash your hands. No more yucky smell stuck on the hands.

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