Cleaning with rubber gloves and spray bottle

How to Clean with Essential Oils + DIY Cleaner Recipes

Cleaning with rubber gloves and spray bottle

Spring and summer make us want to break out our cleaning products, gloves, and microfiber cloths. By far, one of the best parts of cleaning is stepping back and appreciating the sparkly clean counters and enjoying the fresh, lingering scent. 

However, not all of us want to use household cleaners with unnatural chemicals or added artificial fragrances. That’s why we’re sharing some of our favorite DIY cleaning recipes and everything you need to know about using essential oils while you clean! 

Not only is making cleaning products undoubtedly easier on the wallet, but the ability to pick and choose your favorite scents makes it a lot of fun. 

Why Essential Oils are Great for Cleaning

If you’re new to using essential oils for cleaning, you may be wondering why you should give essential oils a try next time you’re polishing your counters. 

Here are a few ways that essential oils may provide benefits for cleaning, including: 

  • Antibacterial properties: Certain essential oils, like lavender essential oil and lemon essential oil, have been shown to have antibacterial properties, making them an excellent choice for adding to a DIY cleaning product. 
  • Customizable fragrance: If you’ve ever wanted to customize a fragrance for your cleaning products so your home is left smelling exactly how you’d like, essential oils give you this control. Make your own DIY cleaning product (see below) and personalize your cleaner with your favorite essential oil combinations to create a completely unique scent. 
  • Completely natural: Many of us aren’t comfortable using household cleaners with unnatural chemicals and toxins, which can be dangerous or irritating to our family and pets. The American Lung Association shares volatile organic compounds (VOCs) vaporize at room temperature with many cleaning products. Unfortunately, VOCs have been shown to affect individuals with chronic respiratory issues, like asthma, and can contribute to allergic reactions and headaches. Essential oils are a natural alternative to added fragrance found in many cleaners and can be less irritating. 

Our Biggest Tips for Making DIY Cleaners with Essential Oils

Before creating your first cleaning product, keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Mix all other DIY cleaning product ingredients together before adding the essential oils last. 
  • Always thoroughly shake your DIY cleaners as essential oils and water will separate (which is entirely natural!). 
  • If possible, choose a glass jar to hold your homemade cleaner. 
  • Pick dark bottles when possible or store them somewhere dark to slow degradation. 

If you like using essential oils in other DIY products, we highly recommend checking out our previous article on essential oils and photosensitivity. This article dives into the must-know details about using essential oils on the skin safely.  

DIY Cleaning Recipes

Some notes when considering the essential oil to DIY cleaner ratio: 

  • If you’re interested in adding essential oils purely for a gentle scent but aren’t worried about the properties of the oil, add about five drops of essential oils to three cups of your DIY cleaning solution. 
  • To reap the benefits of essential oils' antibacterial or antiviral properties, add at least 10 to 20 drops of essential oils for every two to three cups of the DIY cleaning product. 

DIY Surface Cleaning Spray

Need an easy solution for quick surface cleaning? Try this quick recipe:

  • ¼ cup water
  • 10 - 20 drops of lemon essential oil (this recipe is particularly concentrated to take advantage of lemon’s natural properties)

Lemon essential oil is our choice because it has long been used as an anti-viral and anti-bacterial ingredient. The lovely, fresh smell is another great benefit of this essential oil! 

If you’d like a different scent combination, consider adding up to five drops of bergamot essential oil and spearmint essential oil. 

We also like rosemary essential oil and lime essential oil combined with the fresh lemon scent.  

DIY Floor Cleaner 

If your floors are dirty or your carpet is smelling a bit musty, try this DIY floor cleaner with lavender essential oil: 

Combine white vinegar and filtered water in a glass spray bottle before adding your lavender essential oil. Spray onto floors before cleaning, or spritz carpets or rugs to freshen them up!

Looking for a different scent? Try our Thief Essential Oil Concentrate

DIY All-Natural Cleaner (+ Sink Cleaner Variation)

You can use this all-natural cleaner to disinfect stovetops, counters, tables, and more. Combine the following ingredients: 

  • 10 drops of tea tree essential oil
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar (skip this ingredient if you want to use this cleaner on marble or granite countertops!)
  • 1 cup warm water (distilled or purified)

Tea tree essential oil is traditionally used for its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. It may even help to remove mold stains. 

You can also add a half teaspoon of baking soda to this recipe to create a solution for cleaning and shining your sink! 

Pet Safety 

We want to share a word of caution with any pet parents out there. Before you craft a DIY cleaner, take a moment to check that the essential oil is safe for use around your pet, as many pets, especially cats, are sensitive to essential oils. 

Here are some general guidelines from the Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences about what essential oils are toxic around pets: 

  • Armoise
  • Basil
  • Bay leaf (W. Indian)
  • Birch (sweet)
  • Bitter almond
  • Boldo leaf
  • Buchu
  • Calamus
  • Clove Leaf
  • Cornmint
  • Horseradish
  • Hyssop
  • Lanyana
  • Mustard
  • Myrrh
  • Oregano
  • Pennyroyal 
  • Pine oil
  • Sassafras
  • Savin
  • Savory (Summer)
  • Southernwood
  • Tansy
  • Tarragon
  • Tea tree
  • Thuja
  • Wormwood
  • Western Red Cedar
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormseed
  • Wormwood
  • Ylang ylang

Remember that this list includes some essential oils that may be okay to diffuse or use in a cleaning product around your pet but aren’t skin-safe for pets. The dose or method does matter. As always, we recommend double-checking with your pet’s veterinarian before diffusing or using essential oils around your pets to keep them safe and healthy. 

Some essential oils considered safe around dogs include lavender, cedarwood, chamomile, ginger, rosemary, and lemongrass. 

For cat parents, look into chamomile, jasmine, lavender, rose, and frankincense essential oils as safer choices. 

We hope this article inspires you to make a DIY, all-natural cleaner! We love playing around with different scents until we find our perfect combo. 

Happy cleaning! 

Herbalist Natalie & Herbalist Leilah

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