Shortly after my niece turned three, my brother and sister-in-law realized she was getting sick far more often than her older brothers ever did. Over the next few years, we learned she was allergic-to everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but it certainly seemed like everything, and her list of allergens included just about every commercial cleaner that my sister-in-law had under her sink.
As we started to research natural cleaning alternatives, there were literally dozens of options. It started to feel overwhelming. So, we began looking at ways to replace the cleaners she usually used with only a handful of natural alternatives. Vinegar and baking soda took center stage-and I’ve written about their effectiveness already-but let’s be honest: vinegar and baking soda may deodorize, but they don’t smell so great on their own. Which is why it’s important to add essential oils that not only clean but also have a pleasant aroma.
- Eucalyptus. The clean, fresh scent of eucalyptus is excellent for freshening stale odors in the bath, kitchen, or laundry room. It kills mold and disinfects, so use it to wipe down any surfaces that need a deep cleaning, like toilets and showers.
- Lavender. Not only is lavender antibacterial in its own right, but the scent is strong enough to cover the smell of vinegar or witch hazel. Add 20 drops to ½ c of vinegar to clean everything from your hairbrush to your kitchen counters.
- Lemon. If you’re only going to use one essential oil, let it be lemon. It’s that versatile. Antibacterial, antiviral, and especially effective against grease, lemon oil should top your list of essential oils for the home. You can even add it to your laundry to help freshen and whiten.
- Peppermint. More than just a winter flavor, peppermint can help keep ants away in the summer. Plus, it’s an antibacterial so use it to kill germs wherever you want a fresh clean with a light, minty scent. Just be careful not to go overboard with peppermint oil. It’s much stronger than peppermint tea!
- Pine. There’s a reason pine is in so many commercial cleaners, and it’s not just because it smells good! Known to kill the germs commonly found in the house, including E. coli, it can also take care of mold and mildew. Want more? Use it to clean hardwood floors without damaging them.
- Rosemary. Get your kitchen and bathroom floors clean down deep by mopping with a combination of rosemary and castile soap. The rosemary oil is an antibacterial and antiseptic to clean the dirtiest of floors. Here’s another hint—it’s especially nice when combined with mint oil.
- Tea tree. Second only to lemon, tea tree is effective when used against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even dust mites and lice! Add it to your shampoo, disinfect surfaces, or use it in your laundry. Just always dilute tea tree because it can cause skin irritation in some people.
- Thyme. Thyme is such an effective cleaner, it even kills salmonella. Use it on surfaces where you’ve prepared raw meat and minimize the risk of cross-contamination.
If you’re struggling with allergies or just want to live a more natural life, these eight essential oils will help you meet your goals and get your house clean. Better for you, better for the environment, essential oils as cleaners really are just all around better.