3 genius ways to clean your home using essential oils

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Photo: Thinkstock/Prokopiv

Is there anything essential oils can’t do? They help relieve work-related stress, soothe winter cold symptoms, make your skin glow, and even get you in the mood (wink, wink).

Well, it’s time to add another section to their all-star résumé, because some of them also carry major disinfecting properties. That makes essential oils perfect for creating DIY cleaning products—good-for-you alternatives to chemically-enhanced, store-bought sprays and scrubs.

Photo: Penguin Random House

Of course, their sensory appeal is a major selling point. “My favorite reason for [cleaning with essential oils] is probably their amazing smell—you can channel your favorite eucalyptus spa treatment or whip up a vanilla-lime bathroom scrub,” says Melissa Maker, YouTube sensation, professional cleaner, and author of Clean My Space. “But at the end of the day, they’re natural, antimicrobial ingredients to use in your home.”

Each oil has its own specialty, says Maker. Citrus scents (lemon, orange, and grapefruit) are filled with limonene, which is known to aid in degreasing and lifting soil off of surfaces. Eucalyptus is said to be anti-bacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral. And tea tree oil is another powerful disinfectant that’s known to be antimicrobial. (One caveat: If you’re pregnant or have pets, consult your OB/GYN or vet to make sure the oil you’re choosing is safe.)

In Maker’s opinion, the product recipes that follow are perfect for anyone who wants to make her cleaning products, well, a little cleaner—whether that’s at the beginning of a spring decluttering spree or for maintenance post-Kondo cleanse.

Scroll down for 3 natural, DIY cleaning product formulas made with essential oils.

Get Started

Photo: Thinkstock/Accessony
Photo: Thinkstock/Accessony

All-Purpose Cleaner

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1 tsp gentle dish soap
10-20 drops of any essential oil

1. Combine all the ingredients in an empty spray bottle and shake well.

Pro tip: Don’t use this one on glass, since the oil will cause streaks.

Photo: Stocky/Lawren Lu
Photo: Stocky/Lawren Lu


1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup dish soap
20 drops sweet orange essential oil

non-scratching sponge
microfiber cloth

1. Mix together the ingredients in a container and apply to the greasy surface with a damp sponge.

2. Allow the degreaser to sit on the greasy area for 10 minutes.

3. Scrub the area with the damp sponge, rinse surface well, and buff dry with a microfiber cloth.

Photo: Thinkstock/Jupiter Images
Photo: Thinkstock/Jupiter Images

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup castile or dish soap
1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
15 drops tea tree oil

1. Combine the ingredients in a clean squeeze bottle with a cap.

2. Squirt the solution around the toilet bowl and, after a few moments, scrub with your brush as usual. Flush and you’re done!

Plants are another great addition to your homemade cleaning supplies—here are 3 recipes with botanical ingredients. And once you’ve whipped up your arsenal, you may want to start by scrubbing down these extra-germy parts of your space

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