Essential Oils for Cleaning

Last Update: October 9, 2023

There’s a reason essential oils (aka EOs) are deemed “essential.” These natural extracts have been used as medicinal healers or ceremonial tools for centuries, and their many benefits are still celebrated today. But one EO application we might be overlooking, beyond their basic calming properties, is the ability to fight bacteria, purify air, and ward off fungus. Whether you’re looking to take a more natural approach to household cleaning or your personal care routine (or both), essential oils can effectively tackle dirt, grime, and impurities without harsh chemicals. From coveted essential oil cleaning products to DIY recipes, here’s how to clean up your act with these botanically based oils.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts from a single plant species. They comprise the distinct aroma and chemical compounds of the plant, or its “essence,” and are typically obtained through distillation or cold-pressing.

How Are Essential Oils Used?

Essential oils are used for a variety of purposes from aromatherapy to personal care, home cleaning, and more. In fact, the use of EOs dates all the way back to 3000 to 2500 B.C., when they were used for medicinal purposes, beauty treatments, and spiritual rituals in ancient Egypt, China, and India.

Are Essential Oils Safe?

The short answer is yes, essential oils are safe when used properly. Because EOs are highly concentrated and can enter the bloodstream when ingested, inhaled, or applied topically to the skin, it’s important to heavily dilute them before use (to about 1 percent or less). Some oils, like tea tree or lemongrass, can cause irritation when applied to skin without dilution. Others, like eucalyptus, cedarwood, cypress, and wintergreen, can be toxic if directly ingested. Read labels carefully and follow the directions indicated.

Are Essential Oils Antibacterial?

Yes, some essential oils include antibacterial and antifungal properties, making them excellent ingredients to include in naturally formulated and DIY cleaning products. In one study, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass, and orange oils were found to be particularly effective against bacteria (eucalyptus and peppermint were found to be especially antifungal as well).

Can You Purify Air With Essential Oils?

Let’s clear the air: Yes, essential oils can help improve air quality when dispersed via oil diffusers. They can even help with odor elimination. One study found that the antibacterial properties in certain oils may inhibit the growth of airborne bacteria. Lemon, tea tree, pine, orange, and rosemary appear to be especially effective in purifying air and removing odors.

Best Household Essential Oil Cleaning Products

Spruce up your space and leave it smelling fresh with these essential oil–infused home cleaners.

Aunt Fannie’s Lavender Vinegar Wash Floor Cleaner

Get floors squeaky clean with an essential blend of orange, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils. This formula is also free of dyes, artificial colors, and alcohol.

Earth Friendly Products Tea Tree Shower Cleaner

Shower scum is no match for this nature-based herbal antiseptic, which includes pure lavender and tea tree essential oils to keep scrubbing time to a minimum.

Better Life Lemon Mint Dish Soap

Here’s a nature-based dish soap that relies on peppermint and lemon essential oils to cut through grease and grime on cookware, cutlery, and bakeware.

Rosey Laundry Detergent Powder, Peppermint

Our eco-friendly detergent powder is infused with fresh-scented peppermint oil along with natural enzymes instead of artificial ingredients or fragrances. Each bag lasts up to 70 loads.

Best Personal Care Essential Oil Cleaning Products

Upgrade your self-care routine with these essential oil-based favorites.

Kiss My Face Fluoride-Free Teeth-Whitening Toothpaste

Turns out you can have a dazzling smile without harsh chemicals. Using a blend of xylitol, tea tree oil, whitening Icelandic moss, and refreshing peppermint, this gentle toothpaste works to safely brighten teeth and remove plaque.

Schmidt’s Geranium Sensitive Skin Deodorant Stick

Essential oils and odor control go hand-in-hand, which is why this geranium oil–infused deodorant, formulated for sensitive skin, is a total win.

Fatco Cleansing Oil

Made of grapefruit essential oil, EVOO, castor oil, avocado oil, and other nourishing hydrators, the genius blend balances skin as it cleanses, without stripping away its natural oils.

EO Soap for Men, Cedar and Citrus

This multitasking must-have is made with organic essential oils and plant-based ingredients and leaves behind a light cedar and citrus scent. Use it as a shampoo, shower gel, and shave gel.

Dr. Bronner’s Organic Peppermint Castile Liquid Soap

Need a morning boost? Enjoy the invigorating aroma of peppermint when you step into the shower thanks to this multipurpose, oil-infused wash. It also happens to be free of dyes, additives, and harsh chemicals.

Best DIY Essential Oil Cleaning Recipes

Experience even more benefits of essential oils with these DIY recipes.

DIY Laundry Tablets

You don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals with these DIY tablets made from laundry powder, lemon essential oil, and white vinegar—but they still leave your clothes smelling extra fresh.

DIY Essential Oil Bath Bomb

Want to jazz up your tub time? Get fizzy with it thanks to EVOO, baking soda, and the essential oil of your choosing.

DIY Face Wipes

Send breakouts packing with these convenient DIY wipes soaked in organic dried rose petals, purifying witch hazel, hydrating aloe vera gel, and antimicrobial tea tree essential oil.

DIY Bubble Bath

Long day? This soothing bubble bath includes calming eucalyptus oil and refreshing peppermint for a zen-like soak.

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