Cleaning with Essential Oils

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Many herbs have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and even antibiotic properties. Using these herbs in essential oil form (or even dried form, from your garden) all you to create many natural cleaners inexpensively.

Here are some suggestions for how to use herbs in essential oil form, followed by a list of which herbs have which properties.

Dishwashing liquid – Fill a 22 ounce squirt bottle with fragrance-free castile soap. Add in 25-30 drops of antibacterial essential oil. Good options: lavender, lemon, lemongrass, orange. Use 1-2 T with each dish load.

Dishwasher powder – Combine 2 cups each of washing soda and borax, followed by 20 drops of antibacterial essential oil. Use 2 T with each dish load.

Floor cleaner – Combine the following in a large bucket: 1 gallon of hot water, 2 T castile soap, 15 drops sweet orange essential oil, 8 drops lemon essential oil. Use a mop to clean the floor. Rinsing optional.

Fine washables laundry detergent – Combine 1 ounce liquid castile soap with 1 cup of rosemary infusion (or 3 drops of rosemary essential oil).

Stain pre-soak – Combine 1 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup salt, 3 drops tea tree oil. Add to clothes washer with clothes, allowing clothes to soak for at least one hour. Then wash as normal.

Essential oils:

Antibacterial: Bay, camphor, cardamom, chamomile, citronella, cypress, eucalyptus, ginger, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lemon verbena, lime, marjoram, orange, pine, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, spearmint, tea tree oil, thyme, wintergreen

Antiviral: Cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, oregano, sandalwood, tea tree oil, thyme

Antifungal: Eucalyptus, juniper, lavender, lemon, patchouli, sage, sandalwood, savory, tea tree oil, thyme

Antibiotic: Bergamot, chamomile, clove, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, lime, nutmeg, oregano, patchouli, pine, tea tree oil

Infusions: If you have your own herbs and would prefer making your own infusions, you can do so by steeping a few stems of herb or 1 teaspoon of dried herbs in 1 cup boiling water, then strain.

Purchasing essential oils: When you purchase essential oils, ensure that you are buying the pure form, and not a diluted version. For example, oils that you burn to scent the room in an oil burner, are diluted, which is why they are inexpensive. Essential oils should come in either a blue or brown bottle in order to retain their potency. You can purchase essential oils at places such as Whole Foods, or online at or, among others.