As an Aromatherapist, I love to hear about people embracing earth-friendly alternatives to traditional personal and home care products, but I will also say that the overwhelming adoption of essential oils into North Americans’ everyday lives also makes me a bit nervous.
One of the most common topics I hear discussed by both EO enthusiasts and those new to their use is cleaning with essential oils. It’s a great topic for this time of year as back-to-school often brings on a need to clean/ disinfect a little more often.
It’s true – there are a few great essential oils that have fantastic cleaning and disinfecting properties (not to mention lovely scents to leave your home smelling fresh and clean without nasty artificial fragrances!). Though many essential oils are available for purchase at your local health food store or even at your local grocery store, this doesn’t mean they are all safe to use. There are a few important precautions to note/take before buying EOs and whipping up your own home cleaners:
- Know what you’re buying – a good essential oil should be labelled 100% pure; should have the botanical name listed (eg. Lemon = citrus limon); and for highest purity should be Certified Organic by a national or international certification body. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘Therapeutic Grade’. This is an industry trademark and not a real indicator of purity. If an oil doesn’t have these labels and certifications, chances are it has been diluted with artificial fragrance or another carrier oil.
- Always dilute – never put drops of essential oil directly onto a surface to be cleaned – instead, always dilute the oils with other great natural cleaning ingredients such as distilled water, vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, and/or liquid castile soap.
- Wear gloves – just because EO cleaners are closer to nature and are more earth-friendly, doesn’t mean you should dunk your hands into a bucket of cleaning solution made with EOs, especially if you’re already using EOs in other areas of your life. Studies have shown over-exposure to essential oils is one of the leading causes of bioaccumulation in the body and, in highest concentrations, can cause harm to the liver. Additionally, some of the best essential oils for cleaning are citrus oils. When citrus oils come into contact with the skin, they can cause increased sensitivity to sunlight resulting in skin pigmentation (ie. unwanted sunburn!). Wearing gloves is an easy way to prevent any possible harms while also keeping your hands soft!
- Blend them yourself – though many companies sell pre-made EO blends, it is best to purchase individual oils from a source you trust and to blend them either in a dark glass bottle yourself, or blend as you’re making your cleaners. This gives you complete control over which oils are used and how much you use, ensuring the cleaners you make are safe for home-use.
The Best & Safest Essential Oils for Home Cleaning:
The following essential oils, when properly diluted, are safe and effective in homemade cleaners. As a bonus, these oils are ALL available for purchase at Vibrant Living!
- Sweet Orange
- Tea Tree – great for disinfecting (think bathrooms!)
- Eucalyptus – wonderful to ease and prevent cold/flu
Essential Oils to Avoid:
*NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a list of oils commonly marketed as cleaning oils that may not actually be safe for home use. Many of these oils have important contraindications (reasons not to use) for specific health conditions such as high blood pressure, pregnancy etc. For more information about whether an oil is safe for you as an individual to use, consult a Registered Aromatherapist.
Throughout the month of September, I’ll be sharing my top recipes for home cleaners with essential oils! Here’s the first recipe – a simple all-purpose cleaner that I use throughout the home.
I love to use this on on my kitchen counter tops and to give a boost to dusting other surfaces in my home (window sills, kitchen table, coffee tables, etc.). I also pour a bit of this cleaner into my bucket when mopping/ washing the floors.
1/4 cup Distilled white vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp liquid castile soap (I like the unscented one by Dr. Bronners)
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops sweet orange essential oil
10 drops grapefruit essential oil
Large spray bottle, preferably dark glass or opaque plastic to prevent sunlight from oxidizing the oils (here are the ones I use)
Juice 1/2 a lemon and pour into the bottle.
Using a funnel, pour vinegar into the bottle and add the castile soap.
Fill the bottle almost to it’s maximum fill line with distilled water and add the essential oils, counting the drops.
Screw the spray lid on tightly and give the bottle a shake.
Spray and wipe away with a reusable cloth!
Looking to stock up on safe essential oils to make some home cleaners?
Check out the selection we carry at the clinic by NB Naturals, a locally made Aromatherapy line. All are USDA Certified Organic and are packaged in Kitchener, ON. *A source list for the plant material used in these oils is available upon request.