Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2019 issue.
Welcome yourself to a happy, healthy and squeaky clean home! You can now throw out all those chemical home products and replace them with natural alternatives that smell amazing. There are hundreds of ways to use essential oils to enhance your home cleaning experience.
Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the flowers, stems, roots, seeds, bark and other parts of plants. In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and being pleasantly fragrant to people, essential oils have been used throughout history in many cultures for their multitude of benefits to people. Modern scientific study and trends toward more holistic approaches to wellness are driving a revival and new discovery of essential oil health applications.
Micro-organisms come in many forms, none of which are welcome in the home. Given that plants have had to deal with them throughout their evolutionary history, it is hardly surprising that some have developed an effective way of dealing with these tiny enemies in the form of volatile aroma compounds, or essential oils.
The Kitchen Blends
The following blends can be made and kept ready for use in clean, dark glass bottles. These are extremely effective disinfectants and antibacterials, plus they leave a delightful fragrance.
Lavender — 8 drops
Lemon — 10 drops
Eucalyptus — 5 drops
Grapefruit — 8 drops
Palmarosa — 5 drops
Thyme — 4 drops
Cinnamon — 2 drops
Mix 5-6 drops of the kitchen blend essential oils with water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a spray bottle to cleanse and purify surfaces: including countertops, tabletops, chairs, sinks, tiles and appliances.
For stainless steel appliances, mix lemon essential oil with olive oil for best results. Additionally, lemon essential oil is excellent for removing sticky stuff such as tree sap, sticker residue and permanent marker.
When it comes to extreme odors, try blending in equal parts wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary and lemon essential oils.
Garbage inside a dark cabinet is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and horrid odors. After taking out the garbage, spray the cabinet and trash can with the above blend.
Caked on black oven gunk does not easily come off and often requires that you run the oven’s self-clean cycle. After the cycle completes, spray the extreme odor blend onto the oven interior. This will clear up all of the greasy smells as well as the smell of the oven cleaner.
The Bathroom Blends
The best kind of bathrooms are like the best kind of kitchens: germ and toxic chemical-free.
Bergamot — 5 drops
Lavender — 10 drops
Cinnamon — 5 drops
Lemon — 10 drops
Citronella — 10 drops
Mix 5-6 drops of the bathroom blend with half a cup of baking soda to clean the surfaces in your bathroom and remove the need for harsh bleaching chemicals.
Hard-water and calcium deposits can easily build up, along with soap residue. Lemons contain citric acid and vinegar contains acetic acid, which when combined can help prevent this from happening. Mix 1 teaspoon of white vinegar with 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons water and 2 drops of lemon or orange essential oil. Apply regularly with a sponge to prevent build up and rinse well afterwards. If build up has already occurred, combine with bicarbonate soda and leave on for serval hours before rinsing.
For toilet bowl cleaner, combine 10 drops of melaleuca (tea tree) oil with 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup vinegar. Additionally, the original bathroom blend mixed with water is a great toilet bowl spray for before and after use to minimize odors.
The Living Area and Bedroom Blends
To primp your carpets, add 15 drops of the extreme odor blend to 1 cup of baking soda. Mix, sprinkle and rake on carpet, allow it to sit for up to an hour and then vacuum it clean.
For laundry detergent, simply add 4-5 drops of lavender to white vinegar. The essential oil takes the acid out of the vinegar for a more bearable scent. Wash clothing and linens in cold water to preserve fibers and the environment.
To keep moths away from clothing and outdoor gear, use 2-3 drops of oil on a cotton ball. This is particularly useful when camping gear and clothing is stored away for the winter, or when coats and wool sweaters are stored away during the summer. Moth repellent oils include: lavender,lemongrass, vetiver, eucalyptus, citronella and cedarwood.
For clean and fresh furniture such as your mattress, cloth sofa and chairs, sprinkle a mixture of 1 cup baking soda and 10 drops of lavender essential oil over each piece. Allow the mixture to sit for at least one hour and then vacuum it clean. You can combine with drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, clove or rosemary as well for your aromatic preference.
Holiday Diffusing Blend
Combine equal parts cinnamon, clove, lemon and orange into a diffuser. This provides the appropriate seasonal aroma while creating a flu-free zone in the home.
Photo by Meg O’Neill Photography.