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We just got finished with a renovation of the tub surround and plywood walls beneath the shower walls. Like any small project, it turned into a BIG project with many hours spent at the home store, driving back and forth, things not fitting correctly, drilling a hole in my finger, and the general confusion that tends to accompany such projects.
After 48 hours without water, we finally got it all back together…nice strong walls and sparkling clean, white shower surround. And a DIRTY bathtub.
And although I could have easily bought and used a chemical filled commercial cleaner, I chose to mix together some common household ingredients (baking soda, water and a couple drops of unscented castile soap) to make a safe, yet effective, cleaner. I amped up it’s cleaning power by adding essential oils (I used a blend I have that contains lemon, lime and pine). I made a paste with my ingredients and scrubbed the entire tub, washing with hot water every once in a while.
It didn’t take long to get the tub the way I wanted it looking with this powerful, green cleaning combo! In fact, cleaning with household ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, castile soap and water plus essential oils is a very effective, and non-toxic, way to clean your entire house whether you are cleaning kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, or bedroom surfaces. Even the air we breathe can benefit from cleansing! And even if you do not have a plug-in oil diffuser, you can learn how to make your own using reeds and a small vase or container.
The basics on the basics:
- Vinegar will kill salmonella and e. Coli.
- Baking soda has just enough abrasiveness to help remove tough stains (and it has no scent…unlike vinegar).
- Castile soap is non-toxic and can be used as and in many different cleaning products and also produces a soft, natural lather – making it a great choice to make homemade bubble bath to help clean your kids!
By adding organic essential oils to your DIY green cleaning recipes, you can increase the effectiveness of your homemade cleaners. Essential oils are so concentrated that a little goes a long way, and when you combine them with the low cost of your basic ingredients you are creating powerful, effective cleaners that are very cost effective.
Essential oils have natural antibiotic and antimicrobial properties, and also lend an aromatic scent to your creations (and in the case of cleaning with vinegar, helps to improve it’s scent). You can learn more about these amazing oils here, in Essential Oils 101.
Here are my 10 favorite essential oils for cleaning, the ones that I consider to be the best at their jobs. The fantastic thing about oils is that you can combine different ones together to both increase their effectiveness and overall scent.
My Top 10 Organic Essential Oils for Cleaning
Sweet Orange – this oil is uplifting and contains about 90% limonene (a naturally occurring solvent)(1), making it a great choice for household cleaners. I love to mix this with the woody-scented eucalyptus for serious cleaning power. Its antiseptic properties make it a good choice for cleaning countertops, cutting boards and bathroom surfaces(2). Its refreshing and citrusy scent makes it wonderful for air cleansing in a diffuser.
Try blending it with clove, eucalyptus, lavender or ylang ylang in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Eucalyptus: This oil has been used medicinally for millenia (and still is, even in commercial products) and has antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties and helps to stimulate the immune system response due to its penetrating, woody scent(3). It’s also a natural pesticide.
In addition to surface cleansing, this is a great choice to cleanse the air in your home, and it blends well with citrus scents in mixes. Try blending it with lemon, peppermint or lavender in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Melaleuca (or Tea Tree): Besides lemon oil, this is probably the most widely used and well-known essential oil for cleaning. The antibacterial, antimicrobial, disinfectant, antiviral, antiseptic and insecticide properties make this oil the perfect choice for disinfecting household surfaces(4). It has a very distinct scent that has an almost medicinal quality to it. Try blending it with ylang ylang, lemon or lavender in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Lemon: Not only is this oil great for cleaning due to being bactericidal, antiseptic and antimicrobial, it always provides me with a pick-me-up when I clean with it thanks to it’s refreshing citrus scent. This is the perfect oil to clean the kitchen sink, and to also add to your laundry(5)! Try blending it with eucalyptus or ylang ylang in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Lime: Another citrus oil that can be used in place of lemon for a slightly different scent but with the same cleaning properties: antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic. Try blending it with clove or lavender in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Peppermint: This powerful and minty oil has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It is also resistant to certain dangerous bacterial strains like E. coli, salmonella, and staph infections, making it a great cleaner choice(6).
I love the scent of mixing peppermint and lavender for my cleaning solutions (especially in homemade liquid soap). Try blending it with eucalyptus or lavender in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Cinnamon Bark: This beneficial oil boasts disinfectant, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It helps to combat colds and flu, so this is a great oil to have on hand to boost your cleaning power(7). Plus it’s such a quintessential Fall & Winter scent, you can’t do anything but love cleaning with it (or diffusing it) around the Holiday Season. Try blending it with sweet orange, peppermint or ylang ylang in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Clove: This is a strong analgesic, that is also antibacterial, antifingal, antispetic and antiviral(8). It’s strong scent is great in soaps and other DIY recipes. This is a strong one, so take care to properly dilute. Try blending it with lemon, sweet orange or lavender in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Ylang Ylang: I don’t see this pointed out often as a top oil for cleaning, but I believe it deserves a place here. It’s good for cleaning since it’s antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic. It has a calming and wonderfully tropical floral scent, and is also particularly nice in the diffuser as an air cleanser. Try blending it with clove, eucalyptus or lemon in your DIY cleaning recipes.
Lavender: this is definitely one of the most versatile and useful essential oils for home and personal use. In fact, the name lavender is derived from the Latin word lavare, which means “to wash.” (9). It is antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic and lends itself well to blending with many other oils. And lavender oil is particularly pleasant in homemade laundry soap. Try blending it with lemon, peppermint, or melaleuca in your DIY cleaning recipes.
I hope you have lots of fun creating and using your own DIY green cleaning recipes using safe, non-toxic household ingredients and essential oils!