Everything you Need to Know About Cleaning with Essential Oils!

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I’ve spent many years telling everyone who would listen how much I love essential oils. Not only do they smell divine, but they actually help elevate your efficiency and your mood. Whether you’re using essential oils for cleaning, aromatherapy, topical uses, or anything else, they have so many amazing benefits. 

If you’ve never used essential oils (EOs, for short) and you don’t know where to start, no problem! I’m going to give you the low down today. And if you’ve used essential oils before, but you don’t know how to use essential oils for cleaning, or you’re wondering about diluting essential oils, keep reading. I’ve got you covered. And if you’re looking for pet-safe essential oils, look no further. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to blissful, more effective cleaning sessions!

How to Choose an Essential Oil

Not all essential oils are created equal, my friends. There are a lot of branded essential oils out there, but what you want to look for are pure essential oils. That means no other ingredients are added. That way, you’re getting the maximum intended benefits from the healthiest and most potent plants. 

Essential oils are extracted through steam distillation or cold pressing from the very herbs, plants, or flowers themselves. That’s why the scent is so potent, the beneficial properties are so plentiful, and the oils are so concentrated. All of the benefits are distilled into the teeniest, tiniest droplets and bottled up for your use and pleasure.  

Because of how potent the EOs are, we often dilute them for use. And yes, I know I just told you not to buy diluted essential oils. But that’s because you want to have control over how much they are diluted and with what ingredient. Does this all sound a little complicated? Don’t worry; we’ll go over everything in this article.

essential oils in kitchen

Choosing an Essential Oil Brand

So now you know essential oils brands aren’t all equal, but which one should you buy? What’s best? I’m often asked about my favorite brand of EOs. And I’d just like to remind everyone that I am just a person, not a scientist or a medical doctor. And I don’t have a laboratory where I do my essential oil research (although I wish I did). But when I choose essential oil brands, I trust my gut. I go with popular brands that check out online and in-store. Fun fact: the brands that are highest rated on Amazon are usually the same ones that the health food store employees recommend.

Finding great quality, pure, and fairly priced essential oils involves nothing more than visiting your local health food store. Speak to a representative and ask which brands get the best feedback and what they would recommend. I also order online, and I rely on good old Amazon. Brands I use include AromaForce, Aura Cacia, Now, and Pure Essences. Now actually has a great starter pack of 10 essential oils if you’re buying for the first time. 

What to Look For When Buying Essential Oils

Where possible, purchase organic. This is especially important if you plan to use these essential oils on your body, in the bath, or in DIY cleaning products. Always check the label. It should say 100% pure and organic. Additionally, you want the ingredients to list the essential oil only to ensure it hasn’t been cut with anything else (preservatives or other oil). That way, you know it doesn’t contain anything synthetic, and it hasn’t been mixed or diluted with something else. 

To be clear, essential oils are not the same as scented oils. Scented oils are typically used in scent diffusers or oil diffusers. Generally, scented oils are made from synthetic perfumes and are not the real deal (this includes candles, reed diffusers, scent diffusers, sprays, and plug-in products).

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Risks & Safety Information

Essential oils are not to be taken internally and can cause allergic reactions if used on the skin (if not diluted). When using essential oils, ensure they are always diluted in water, carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil), or in other liquid substances. Remember, anything that comes in a concentrated form is quite potent.

Be cautious when using essential oils around pets; even small amounts can be toxic to our furry friends. A scent that smells mild to us may be quite strong for pets and can cause health concerns. Essential oils can cause skin irritation for pets (even when diluted) and can be very toxic if ingested. Always keep EOs away from curious pets. And heavily-scented products should never be used around pets, even if the EOs have been diluted. Check with your vet before using essential oils around your fur babies. 

Lastly, if you are pregnant or have certain health conditions, essential oils may not be the right choice for you. Always check with your doctor before using EOs. 

Pet-Safe Essential Oils

Don’t despair if you have a pet and want to use essential oils. There are some that can be used safely, even around pets. Here are some of the EOs I’ve come across that are listed as pet-safe in my research. However, please do check with your vet before using, as different animals may have different reactions. And even pet-safe oils need to be used sparingly. 

EOs Thought to be Safe for Dogs

  • Lavender
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger 
  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass

EOs Thought to Be Safe for Cats

  • Chamomile
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Frankincense

Why Use Essential Oils to Clean?

The main reasons we’re using essential oils to clean are:

  1. To kill bacteria, fungus, and viruses;
  2. The citrus family of EOs help to break down grease and grime;
  3. To benefit from that delicious aromatic punch they offer!

The Perfect Starter Scents

Lemon

Known for being antiviral and also helping to cut grease, this uplifting powerhouse of essential oil can be used to help disinfect and remove sticky, greasy substances. It has a beautiful, bright scent, and I like to blend it into kitchen and bathroom specialty cleaners, specifically. Lemon blends beautifully with basil, any other citrus fruit, vanilla, bergamot, ylang-ylang, rosemary, and peppermint. If you can’t find lemon, orange will help with degreasing (but not with disinfecting). Buy Now.

Tea Tree

Also called Melaleuca, this is an essential oil cleaning powerhouse! It may take some getting used to the scent, although you may come to love it over time. Tea tree is an antimicrobial, its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral EO. I use tea tree oil for my all-purpose kitchen spray and in the bathroom to help fight mildew in the shower. It mixes nicely with bergamot, clary sage, clove bud, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, geranium, and rosemary. Buy Now.

Lavender

Many people associate lavender with tranquility and sleep, but it’s also great for laundry! I add five drops to my laundry detergent after it’s been portioned out to help keep musty odors from building up in my washing machine. Lavender helps prevent mold and mildew from building up. It’s also a perfect essential oil to use for bedroom and linen sprays. It mixes well with many EOs, including bergamot, peppermint, cedarwood, lemongrass, grapefruit, lime, orange, peppermint, rosemary, ylang-ylang, and clary sage. Buy Now.

Thyme

Known for its antibacterial properties, thyme oil is used in many natural cleaners for its powerful properties. It’s perfect for a kitchen or bathroom cleaner and should be used in a higher concentration (see below). It blends well with bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lavender, and rosemary. Buy Now.

When it comes to adding multiple scents to your recipes, you can play around with what you love and start creating mixtures that please your nose. This is one of my favorite parts of using essential oils for cleaning because it’s fun. I’m the person who stands in the store and smells every bottle until I narrow down my selections. Want something uplifting? Add grapefruit or peppermint. Want something calming? Add eucalyptus or geranium. There are endless possibilities for scent combinations.

Diluting Essential Oils for Cleaning

According to my research, here’s what is generally recommended:

For a gentle scent: in other words, you’re not overly concerned about the properties of the oil, add 5 drops of essential oils to 3 cups of cleaning solution.

For the properties of the oils to come through: 10-20 drops in 2-3 cups of cleaning solution.

In some cases, a recipe calls for stronger concentrations, like our linen spray or DIY Poo Pourri spray, in which case, just follow the recipe!

Feel free to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your mop water or sink water when hand washing dishes. I also like adding a few drops to a tissue or cotton ball and placing that in my office if I don’t have a reed diffuser handy. This is a great way to scent a room that costs pennies and takes seconds of your time.

My Favorite Essential Oil Scent Combinations

  • Bergamot, lemon, spearmint
  • Rosemary, lemon, vanilla
  • Basil, lemon, lime
  • Lime, lavender
  • Lavender, rosemary eucalyptus
  • Eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree
  • Geranium, sandalwood & mandarin
  • Vanilla, lavender
  • Vanilla, peppermint
  • Cinnamon, clove, orange

And this is just the beginning!

Tips When Cleaning With Essential Oils

  • Add EOs last, after you’ve added your cleaning liquids to the spray bottle.
  • Since oil and water don’t mix well, give your product a good shake before using it.
  • Store products in dark bottles when possible.
  • Essential oil aficionados will tell you to keep them in a glass jar.

DIY Cleaning Recipes Using Essential Oils

Essential Oils and You

And that’s it. That’s basically everything you need to know to get started in the wonderful world of essential oils. Explore and create your own recipes, combine scents, see what happens. Once in a while, you may concoct a disaster, but that’s half the fun. For more essential oil info, read 5 DIY Essential Oil Recipes: Cleaning With Essential Oils and Essential Oils & Your Pets.

I let you in on my favorite essential oils, and now it’s your turn. Please let me know in the comments what your favorite EO blends are and how you enjoy EOs in your home!

essential oil pin
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on amazon.com.
Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

27 COMMENTS

  1. I love this article! Thank you for explaining the adverse health effects of ingesting essential oils and to beware of the interactions between pets and oils.

  2. As an essential oil user myself, I find your post to e accurate for the majority, however you are largely discluding the fact they are digestible, but only certain ones

    • I agree with you about that. Lavender in tea is great. Also it’s a bit more pricey but Young Living essential therapeutic oils are awesome! They last a long time depending on what you use them. For. I personally use Lavender and definitely tea tree for the bed and rugs. Bugs don’t like peppermint oil. Have a great day! 🤗

      • Young Living is a pyramid scheme that is disguised as a multilevel marketing company. Although the oils are marketed to be ingested, they are not supposed to be per the National Capital Poison Control Center. If you are looking for a similar effect, try drinking herbal tea. Please don’t ingest oils, they can ruin your stomach lining and cause digestive issues as you get older. I mean no harm by this comment, I only care for your health if that is what you take out of this.

  3. Wipes right off. I use lemon essential oil in the wash instead of bleach – I can’t stand the smell of bleach. I also use vinegar when my towels start to smell sour.

  4. We have a black mould problem in our extremely old house… the house ot built almost entirely of natural materials, the interior is all lime plaster and lime wash… so we cant use all these natural bicarbonate and vinegar solutions as it basically dissolves the walls! I was thinking of trying a teatree spray… do you know if that would be damaging to lime? i can’t seem to find out anything! Thanks for any help or for referring me to any information about this! Great post! Thanks x

  5. Please I mixed lavender oil and lemon oil into my toilet cleaner but the fragrance is not smelling good, what will I do to make my toilet cleaner smell nice for it to be attractive. Thank u

  6. I bought a candle with triple the essential oils(candles by Victoria) and had a n allergic reaction. Removed, candle, washed walls. But it did not remove the allergens. Does anyone have any suggestions on what cleaning supplies and routine I should do. It has visited up my asthma so bad! Thanks

  7. Are essential oils “essential” in all of your current diy cleaner recipes? Or can someone use regular lemon juice as an alternative to using these oils if they are concerned about using them?

    • Just concerned because i am pregnaut and have pets. I love your stuff, but i am unsure of using the oils and wonder if there is something else like lemon juice that could work or if lemon juice is too acidic on its own to easily replace the oils in every recipe.

  8. Lemon is amazing if you have removed a sticker and have a residue left over! I have been able to use lime and orange as well but Lemon is the best! I have cleaned the glass, wood, plastic, and even my vinyl! I love it and it leaves the cleanest smell ever! Oils really are the best

  9. Hi Melissa, as always great info!!! I read your post about cleaners vs disinfectants and was curious to know if you need to leave the EO cleaner on thecsurfsce for some minutes before wiping in order to kill the bacteria as when using a traditional disinfectant. Thank you

  10. Can any oil be used in a cleaning recipe? I don’t have tea tree oil so wondered if I can use lemon instead? Are they interchangeable?

  11. Thank you very much for this information! I have a question regarding the use of Peppermint Oil without diluting. I’ve gone crazy using it on my hard wood floors since finding out that I have a mouse in my apartment. When I walk into my apartment – the smell of Peppermint is overwhelmingly strong. I am obviously breathing in the Peppermint. I don’t have pets – I am concerned that this may be harmful to my organs. ??

    • We always recommend diluting any essential oil you are using. If you would like to use it on your floors, mix a few drops into your floor cleaner.

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