How To Effectively Use Essential Oils For Cleaning and Disinfection
With the desire to keep our homes clean and safe for our families, along with wanting to protect the environment, more people are turning to essential oils to accomplish both tasks. But what exactly are essential oils, and how can they be used to clean and disinfect our homes?
Essential oils are concentrated liquids that contain the ìessenceî and aroma from the plants from which they are made. Essential oils are used in perfumes, making incense, flavorings, and in cleaning products. However, it must be noted that one should never use essential oils directly on the skin. They are too concentrated and must be combined with a carrier oil such as olive oil, or mixed with another product.
One of the most popular essential oils of late is Tea Tree Oil. This oil is taken from the Melaleuca tree, native to Australia, but found in other areas as well. Tea Tree oil can be used in a variety of ways:
- Add tea tree oil to water to use as a cleaner, disinfectant, and purifier during cold and flu season.
- Add a few drops to the laundry when washing cloth diapers to help clean and disinfect them.
- Dilute with water to clean and disinfect your floors, toilets, and all areas of your kitchen
Eucalyptus is another essential oil that has disinfecting properties. When added with lemon oil and distilled water, it is an effective antibacterial spray that can be used throughout your home.
Orange essential oils, pressed from the peels of ripe oranges, can be used in a variety of ways in your home.
- When added to a carrier oil like olive oil, orange essential oil is great for cleaning your wooden cutting board.
- Use it as a deodorizer. Put a few drops of the essential oil on a cotton ball and leave it in your cooler after youíve finished using it for the season. When you open it the following season, youíll find a fresh orange scent instead of a musty odor.
- Orange oil is often added to furniture polish to clean, polish, enhance, and protect wood with out leaving a wax build-up.
Another essential oil that is good for household cleaning is lavender. Not only does it help clean your house, the aroma is very pleasant and relaxing.
- You can make a laundry softener that will rival anything you can purchase at your local store. Carefully combine 32 ounces of white vinegar with 32 ounces of baking soda over a sink (the mixture will bubble). Stir in 64 ounces of distilled or purified water and a half ounce of lavender essential oil. Use one-fourth cup in each per laundry load. Rinse as usual.
- If you add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your dishwashing liquid, not only will you add the fragrance, but youíll also improve the antiseptic quality of the soap.
When cleaning your home, there are many products on the market. However, if you add an essential oil to things you already have, such as vinegar, water, or economically friendly dish soap, you will increase their effectiveness and leave a nice smell throughout your home.
Which Is Better: Natural or Store Bought Disinfectants?
You need to disinfect your home; so, you want the best product for the job, right? Thatís understandable. However, do you have to run to the store and pick up the first chemically-loaded disinfectant that you come across, or are there alternatives that are natural and safe for your home and family?
When most people think of a common disinfectant, they probably think of CloroxÆ or LysolÆ. Are they the best choices to use? What about the natural products available online? Or can you make your own? How do they compare in availability, price, and effectiveness?
While CloroxÆ and LysolÆ are available at almost any retailer that sells cleaning products; there are natural products that you can purchase online. You can also make your own disinfectant spray.
Clorox Bleach has been available commercially since 1913. They have created numerous cleaning products in the ensuing years. Their products range from plain CloroxÆ Bleach to aid in whitening clothes to cloths to help clean and disinfect hard surfaces around your home and a disinfecting floor and surface cleaner.
While CloroxÆ is well known for disinfecting, the products are not entirely safe if not used exactly as indicated. Two hazardous ingredients in many of the CloroxÆ are didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride and n-alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. The packaging says to avoid skin contact and that you should use protective eye wear and gloves while using it.
The LysolÆ products have been in production a year longer than CloroxÆ Bleach. However theyíre not any less hazardous. LysolÆ also lists dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride 0.08% and dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride 0.02% in their ingredients.
So, if you want to disinfect your home, but donít want to subject your family to the chemicals in these well-known products, what options do you have? Watkins, a familiar name since 1868, found that pine oil is a natural disinfectant. This naturally-occurring disinfectant may just be what youíre looking for.
Pine oil (a phenolic disinfectant) is an essential oil used in cleaning products such as Pine Sol and similar products. You can use Pine Sol (which is a CloroxÆ product), but you can also purchase pine oil from various sources online as well as many local health food stores. By doing this, you are able to control the ingredients in your cleaner and disinfectant.
Other eco-friendly essential oils you can use to disinfect are tea tree oil and thyme. These essential oils are interchangeable when used in homemade all-purpose cleaners or disinfectants.
To make this homemade recipe, combine two tablespoons of borax (easily found in the laundry aisle of any grocery store) and one-fourth cup of lemon juice and two cups of hot water in a spray bottle. Cover the bottle and shake until the borax is dissolved. Add twenty drops of either tea tree oil or thyme essential oil. Shake again and then use as you would any commercial product.
Another homemade recipe, especially good for disinfecting toilets is a combination of vinegar and essential oils. Mix two cups of white distilled vinegar with three drops of tea tree, thyme, eucalyptus, or pine essential oils. Spray in the toilet then clean as usual. When making homemade cleaning products, please make sure to label the bottles.
While it may be easier to find commercially made cleaners and disinfectants, homemade cleaners and disinfectants can be made for pennies on the dollar. You can pronounce all of the ingredients that you add to them, and you can rest assured that what you use wonít be hazardous to your family.