Disinfecting and sanitizing does not need to mean harsh chemicals! You can do it just using essential oils.
When discussing what life would be like in 2020, few people imagined a world without Lysol and Clorox wipes. Prior to the COVID pandemic, most people never thought they’d ever walk through a store and discover empty shelves in the cleaning section. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when fear of a deadly virus spread through the world this year.
The good news is that you can make your own disinfecting and sanitizing cleaning products using essential oils. You just need to know which oils are the most potent for cleaning purposes and how to use them safely. We’ll discuss all of that and more right here, so you never have to worry about tracking down Lysol wipes or disinfecting sprays again.
When you mix your own disinfecting and sanitizing cleaning products, you know exactly what you’re spraying in your home. You don’t have to worry about harsh chemical ingredients that are potentially harmful to children and pets. It’s also easier to create scents that you find enjoyable rather than dealing with strong chemical aromas.
Creating your own disinfectants for the home is also better for the environment. You can reuse the same containers rather than throwing plastic containers or aerosol cans in the trash.
Finally, you may find essential oils an affordable alternative to store-bought disinfecting and sanitizing cleaning products. It only takes a few drops of some oils to create an effective disinfectant that leaves your home squeaking clean and smelling great. You can also use your oils for other purposes, including skincare and aromatherapy to improve your mood and focus.
Essential oils contain some powerful phenols that allow them to kill germs that would otherwise become harmful to humans. These volatile molecules give some essential oils their strong aroma as well as their disinfecting qualities. While some phenols are toxic when consumed or after long-term exposure, they’re generally deemed safe when used in disinfecting and sanitizing cleaning products.
In fact, many products in your home right now contain phenols. That includes toothpaste and commercial household cleaners. Making your own sanitizing cleaners allows you to control the ingredients in your cleaning products so that you benefit from natural phenols and limit exposure to artificial chemicals.
Now, what essential oils contain the right natural phenols to keep your home clean and sanitary? We have five that we highly recommend.
1. Lemongrass Essential Oil
There’s a reason so many store-bought household cleaners have a fresh lemony aroma. The connection is so strong, that you may think about cleaning your house when you slice a fresh lemon. It turns out that lemons have properties that fight bacteria and other harmful microbes, so their juice and oils serve as powerful household cleaners.
One study found that lemongrass essential oil and peppermint essential oil are effective for killing bacteria in commercial kitchens. The researchers found that these two essential oils are high-quality, natural alternatives for commercial disinfecting cleaners. Lemon essential oil has similar properties and is just as effective for cleaning not only your kitchen but any room of your home.
The simplest way to use lemongrass or lemon essential oils is to mix a few drops with water and spray directly on the surface you want to clean. Wipe it over the surface just as you would any other cleaner. You can use it as a general cleaning product for most surfaces throughout your home.
One cleaning hack is to fill a microwave-safe bowl with water and add three to four drops of lemon essential oil. Microwave the bowl for five or six minutes to sanitize the microwave and leave it with a fresh aroma. It will also diffuse the lemon scent throughout your kitchen.
2. Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil contains thymol, which is used in some natural or organic cleaning products like Seventh Generation. It is believed to kill over 99% of the germs found in residential households. You may use fresh or dried thyme when cooking, so this is a familiar product that happens to do more than add aroma and flavor to your favorite dishes.
Just like lemon oil, the best way to use thyme essential oil is to mix it with water in a spray bottle. You can add a variety of added ingredients to improve your formula, including:
One recipe for a disinfecting and sanitizing cleaning solution that leaves your home sparkling clean combines 10 drops of thyme essential oil, two cups of hot water, and ¼ cup of washing soda. Spray it on any surface while the water is still hot to sanitize your home. It will leave your surfaces with a shiny gloss.
3. Cinnamon Essential Oil
This is a great oil to use during the holiday season, but it’s suitable any time of the year if you enjoy the smell. Research has shown that properties naturally found in cinnamon inhibit the growth of many bacteria, making it a great natural cleaner for every room in your home. It’s strong enough to kill E. Coli and other powerful bacteria strains that are known to make humans sick.
Mix your cinnamon essential oil in a spray bottle with water and perhaps some white vinegar. You can then spray it directly on any surface, including your floors. While it may not mix with other oils as well as some others on this list due to its strong aroma, it is effective for sanitizing a variety of surfaces quickly.
4. Oregano Essential Oil
Researchers have found that oregano essential oil is effective for killing bacteria on household surfaces as well as human skin. It’s recommended as a natural ingredient in cleaning solutions and soap used for handwashing in commercial kitchens. You probably have oregano in your kitchen right now, so it’s a familiar product that you can use to flavor your food, clean surfaces, and give your home a fresh, clean aroma.
One great DIY disinfectant spray includes up to 20 drops of oregano oil plus lemon essential oil, a cup of water and two teaspoons of castile soap or white vinegar. Spray directly on the surface and wipe clean. Adding lemon or lemongrass essential oil doubles the disinfectant power.
5. Tea Tree Oil
What is tea tree oil not good for these days? This is one of the most popular essential oils because there are so many practical applications from eliminating headlice to cleansing the skin and sanitizing your home. It blends well with a variety of essential oils, allowing you to create fast, effective disinfecting and sanitizing cleaning products with unique aromas. Just blend the oil with water in a spray bottle.
6. Peppermint Essential Oil
This essential oil is used in many natural oral health products because of its natural ability to kill bacteria. It can keep your gums healthy and eliminate bad breath, but those natural chemicals can also kill bacteria in the kitchen, bathroom, and other rooms in your home. It has a bold aroma that you may not want infused throughout your home, but you can mix it with other essential oils to create a more pleasing scent.
One effective bathroom cleaner is made from peppermint oil, vinegar, and salt. Combine a half teaspoon of oil with a half cup of vinegar and salt, and then spray direction on mold and soap scum for quick removal.
7. Clove Essential Oil
One scientific study has shown that clove essential oil is effective for killing bacteria as well as yeast. It’s commonly used to combat oral infections and is one of the best essential oils for disinfecting your home. Many people use it in the bathroom to clean mold. Just mix it with water and spray directly onto the mold. Wait a few hours, then go back and wipe it away.
Clove oil blends well with citrus oils like lemongrass and sweet orange. It also blends well with other oils on this list, so get creative and come up with your own blends for effective natural household cleaners.
8. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
At least one study has shown that eucalyptus essential oil can kill E. coli and similar strains of bacteria. You can cut through grease in the kitchen by mixing a few drops of this oil with hot water and your favorite dish detergent. Clean the area and wipe it away immediately for a clean, sanitized surface without that greasy film.
It’s also a good idea to add eucalyptus oil to your mop water if you want to combat bugs and other pests. From cockroaches to mice, this oil is known to repel many household pests. You can also place drops of oil on cotton balls and put them inside cabinets, under sinks, and in other areas prone to attracting small invaders.
9. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is well known for its soothing aroma that helps babies relax at bath time, but it’s just as powerful when used as a cleaning agent. It can kill many bacteria known to invade houses and may help soften your skin and ease anxiety and stress as you cleanse your home. It also blends well with most other essential oils used for cleaning.
10. Sweet Orange Essential Oil
This is just another citrus essential oil that can pick up your mood and help fight depression while cleansing your home of dangerous bacteria. It’s used in many commercial cleaning products because it’s an effective disinfectant with an aroma that many people prefer over lemon. It easily blends with water to create a general household cleaner suitable for your toilet and tub as well as your floors and kitchen countertops.
Pure essential oils are safe for cleaning as long as they’re properly diluted with water. You can also mix them with almond or coconut oils for direct application to the skin, creating a skin cleanser that leaves your face fresh and shining. Make sure you purchase natural essential oils without any added ingredients. Some oils are purchased in small bottles while others are available in larger bottles, and most oils on our list are affordable and easy to obtain.
As with any type of disinfecting and sanitizing cleaning product, avoid direct contact with your skin and eyes. It’s best to mix your essential oils in spray bottles and label them so that it’s clear what the bottles contain. Don’t assume that there are no risks just because essential oils are natural products.
Some people are sensitive to the phenols and other natural compounds found in some essential oils. If you have sensitive skin or want to use an oil that has bothered you in the past, consider wearing thick plastic gloves while cleaning. You can also pick another oil that doesn’t cause a sensitive reaction for you and other members of your household.