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Cleaning With Essential Oils

If you don't want potentially toxic products in your home, cleaning with essential oils is an option.

Follow these guidelines when making aromatherapy cleaning products:

  • When blending essential oils with water for later use, use distilled or filtered water because the chlorine in tap water causes the oils to deteriorate.

  • Spot test surfaces to make sure the essential oils don't damage them.

  • Label your bottles and keep them out of reach of children and pets.

  • For water-based products, you can add a few drops of solubilizer to better keep the solution blended.

All-Purpose Cleaning

While there is no one best essential oil for cleaning, commonly used essential oils good for cleaning include:

  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Oregano
  • Tea tree
  • Thyme

To make an all-purpose cleaning spray, blend 10 to 20 drops of any one (or combination) of those oils with 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water in a spray bottle. Shake vigorously before each use.

For a stronger essential oil cleaning solution:

  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon borax 
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil 
  • 5 drops thyme essential oil
  • 15 drops tea tree essential oil 
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of castile soap (optional)
  1. Mix borax into vinegar in a large spray bottle. Shake.
  2. Add the essential oils. Shake again and let sit overnight.  
  3. Shake well, and then add the warm water. 
  4. Optional: If you want more lather, also add one teaspoon of castile soap. 
  5. Label the bottle. 
  6. Shake well before each use.

Surface Cleaning With Essential Oils

In general, avoid using essential oils on delicate surfaces. If in doubt, spot test a small area first.

An easy way to clean and sanitize surfaces is to combine 2 to 3 drops of tea tree, eucalyptus, or lemon essential oil with 1/2 cup hot water.

Another surface cleaner: 

  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1 drop lemon essential oil
  • 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil

Combine all ingredients with just a little water to make a paste. Apply to surface with a cloth using circular motions. Then rinse with hot water and a clean cloth.

All-Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • 8-ounce spray bottle
  • Slightly less than 1 cup distilled water (7.5 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 9 drops balsam fir essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 13 drops lemon essential oil

Combine the water and vinegar in the bottle. Add the essential oils. Close bottle and shake well.

To use: Shake well and spray on surfaces. Source: Aromahead

Essential Oils for Cleaning Floors

The simple option to clean floors is to add 5 to 10 drops pine essential oil and 1/2 cup vinegar to a gallon of hot water. You could also use lemon oil or a combination of rosemary and balsam fir.

Another floor cleaner:

  • 4 cups vinegar
  • 2 gallons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap
  • 20 drops eucalyptus or pine essential oil or 10 drops of each 

Carpet Cleaning

Remember to spot test carpets before using these blends on large areas.

Carpet Freshener

Mix one of the following essential oil blends with 1/2 cup baking soda in a wide-mouth jar that has a cap:

  • 60 drops lavender
  • 20 drops cinnamon
  • 20 drops orange


  • 60 drops rosemary
  • 30 drops spruce
  • 10 drops orange


  • 40 drops anise
  • 40 drops clove
  • 20 drops patchouli
  1. Place the cap tightly on the jar. Shake well.
  2. Let the mixture sit for 24 hours.
  3. Sprinkle on carpet. Leave for 10 to 15 minutes, and then vacuum.

Source: 500 Formulas For Aromatherapy

Carpet Cleaning Solution

If you have a carpet steam cleaner, you can replace the commercial cleaning solution with this DIY formula:

  • 3/4 cup very hot water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap
  • 30 drops thyme essential oil

Blend all ingredients. Using either a container with a pour sprout or a funnel, add the solution to the appropriate compartment of your steam cleaner. Clean carpets as usual.

Source: The Naturally Clean Home

More Cleaning With Essential Oils

Scouring Gel

  • 1 cup natural dish soap
  • 1/2 cup baking soda 
  • 5 to 10 drops essential oil (lavender, lemon, or one of your choice)

Put ingredients into a squeeze bottle. Shake well. Use as needed.

Window Cleaner

Mix 10 to 15 drops of lemon essential oil, 2 cups white vinegar, and 2 cups water in a spray bottle.

Also see bathroom cleaning blends, kitchen cleaning blends, and essential oil air fresheners.

Furniture Polish

To make wood furniture polish, add a few drops of lemon essential oil to 1/4 cup of jojoba or olive oil.

In the following recipe, the olive oil conditions and the vinegar cleans. You can also use this blend on your dust mop for hardwood floors.

  • 2 teaspoons light olive oil
  • 15 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 16-ounce spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  1. Add the olive oil, lemon, and vinegar to the spray bottle.
  2. Fill the bottle with distilled water.
  3. Use as you would use any furniture polish.

Adapted from the Grade A Notes newsletter.

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Photo Credit: Morguefile