Everything you Need to Know About Cleaning with Essential Oils!


I’ve talked about how much I love essential for years; not only do they smell divine, they actually help elevate your efficiency and your mood while cleaning. I’m going to give you the what’s up on cleaning with essential oils and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to blissful, more effective, scrub sessions!

Why Are Essential Oils Good for Cleaning?

Aside from their lovely scents, many types of plant essences are well-known and accepted for their antimicrobial qualities. Pure essential oils are so potent that they can destroy certain microbes (bacteria, fungus and viruses) with the compounds they contain.  With all of the cleaning recipes you can make at home, why not add some extra cleaning power and pizzazz by adding in essential oils?

What Constitutes an Essential Oil?

Not all essential oils are created equal, my friends.  When looking for the right essential oil, make sure you’re picking up pure essences so that 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 are the oils are quite 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, it is recommended to use them diluted and not directly on the skin (they can cause skin reactions or may have other side effects).  Don’t worry though, I’ll cover dilutions and risks below.

essential oils in kitchen

Choosing an Essential Oil Brand

I’m often asked about my favorite brand of EOs.  It’s not like I stand there with a microscope and have a team of scientists backing my research. I trust my gut; I go with popular brands that check out online and in-store (the ones which are highest rated on Amazon are usually the same ones that the health food store employees recommend).

To find great quality, pure and fairly priced essential oils involves nothing more than visiting your local health food store and speaking to a store rep to find out which brands they get the best feedback on and feel the most confident selling (they receive a lot of product training, so they’re a wealth of knowledge). I also order online from time to time, and rely upon good old Amazon.  Brands I use include AromaForce, Aura Cacia, Now, and Pure Essences. NOW has a great starter pack of 10 essential oils if you’re just getting started.

What to Look For When Buying Essential Oils

Where possible, purchase organic, especially if you plan to use these essential oils on your body, in the bath, or in DIY cleaning products.  Look for the label to state that the product is 100% pure, that way you know it is in no way synthetic, or the particular plant, herb or flower has been mixed with something else. 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).  To be clear, essential oils are not scented oils you get at a store and use to place in a scent or oil diffuser. Generally, unless specifically stated, these products are made from synthetic perfumes and are not the real deal (this includes candles, reed diffusers, scent diffusers, sprays and plug-in products).

essential oil 1

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, a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil), or in a cleaning product that you’re making as opposed to being used straight out of the bottle. Remember, anything that comes in a concentrated form is quite potent!

Also, you need to be mindful about using them around pets; even small amounts can be toxic to the organs of our furry friends.  A scent that smells mild to us may be quite strong for pets and can affect their organs (in some cases they can even cause liver disease). Should the essential oil touch the skin of your pet, it can cause irritation. Further, keep bottles away from curious pets that may want to lick the bottle; ingesting can be extremely harmful to pets. Any products you use which are heavily scented with essential oils (such as linen spray, DIY Poo Pourri spray), use away from your pet. Remember, check with your vet!

There are also warnings about using certain essential oils if you are pregnant or have certain health conditions, so please consult your doctor first before purchasing and using these.

Essential Oils & Cleaning

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


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. It 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 de-greasing (but not with the 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 (watch out now!) EO.  I use this 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


Many people associate lavender with tranquility and sleep, but it’s also great for laundry! I add 5 drops to my laundry detergent after it’s been portioned out to help keep musty odors from building up in my washing machine and forgotten loads of laundry.  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


Known for its antibacterial properties and 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 and 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.

How Much to Add to a DIY Cleaning Recipe

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 dashes 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.

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

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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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?

  9. 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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