You may have heard of these little, versatile liquids called essential oils. They have been around for millennia, heralded for their powerful properties. These highly concentrated essences of plants, flowers, peels, stems, and roots have been used to anoint, promote health, support immunity, and help people center themselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They have also been used in cooking, perfumery, and cleaning products, supplementing for toxin-laden counterparts.
As aromatherapy and essential oils have grown in mainstream popularity over the last couple decades, more scientific research has been carried out to determine their efficacy – which is an excellent thing! Studies throughout the world have been and are currently being conducted, but because potential for profit is small, the pharmaceutical industry is hesitant to fund research, therefore making scientific study on essential oils an arduous process. Even still, groups such as the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy gather peer-reviewed journals and studies, showing essential oil potential.
I am no doctor or scientist, but I know from personal experience and the experiences of those close to me that essential oils are a wondrous gift, full of benefit, and very effective. When it comes to spring cleaning this season – whether you’re wanting to freshen up a toilet bowl, purify the air, or disinfect countertops – essential oils have you covered!
(Orange not pictured because I ran out weeks ago *sad face*)
Now, I live in a house with all boys, and let me tell you: our bathroom gets off-the-hook grimy sometimes. But I never fear because Citrus essential oils are here! Citrus essential oils have bright and refreshing scents, and are known for their antifungal and antiseptic properties – just to name a couple. Citrus essential oils are cold pressed from the peels of the fruit, and are among the more affordable oils – so if you try nothing else, at least give one of the Citrus essential oils a whirl!
Two to three drops of Orange can be swished around in the toilet, cleaning the bowl and freshening the air in the bathroom without using a slew of harsh chemicals. Add 5-10 drops of Lemon or Grapefruit into your bucket of mop water or into a spray bottle of mostly water and a teaspoon of castile soap to clean counters and tables. You’ll attain that extra shine and light, spring scent, knowing that you’re also naturally disinfecting the surface. Put 10 splashes of Lemon into a load of wash to help brighten your whites, or put Lemon on some sticky residue you wish to be rid of and scrub. Voila – you have a natural Goo Gone! Mix a bit of Lemon with baking soda to scrub the kitchen sink and expunge any odors from the garbage disposal.
Lavender essential oil wears many hats on the spring cleaning scene including antifungal, anti-infectious, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. Its bright, herbaceous scent blends well with any of the Citrus essential oils, so in any of the ways you use the oils above, add a little Lavender into the mix and you can’t go wrong! Mix 10 drops each of Lavender, Lemon, and Eucalyptus essential oil and mix it with water in a spray bottle, and use it to scrub down walls, baseboards, and counters. Put a few Lavender drops on a couple wool dryer balls during your laundry’s drying cycle, or christen your mattress with Lavender while the sheets are washing. The oil won’t just keep your mattress cleansed, but the underlying, soft bouquet of Lavender is soothing and has been found to promote sound sleep!
Lemongrass has been used historically as an insecticide, so when windows are open and all the little critters start coming out of the woodwork (silverfish, anyone? shudder) put about 5 droplets of Lemongrass onto cotton balls and place them in various spots throughout the house. You may put them in air vents, closets, drawers, window panes – any little nook, really. And if the cotton ball method isn’t your thing, try diffusing the purifying goodness of Lemongrass into the air with a simple essential oil diffuser. Not only does Lemongrass help deter any buggers, but it’s antibacterial too and pairs well with Tea Tree for extra mold and mildew fighting power. Speaking of….
Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia)
Tea Tree essential oil offers antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties. Add 10 drops to a spray bottle of water – either by itself or with another oil such as Lemongrass, Lavender, Lemon, or Rosemary – and spritz onto any mildewed patches in the bathtub or on the shower curtain, or just mist after a shower. It’s also lovely paired with the Lemon in your laundry while it washes, or the Grapefruit when you mop your floors. Its scent is earthy, medicinal, and therapeutic and would be a lovely and beneficial addition to your spring cleaning.
No other scent is quite as boldly stimulating as this minty wonder. Peppermint is purifying and cooling, antibacterial and antiseptic, and blends particularly well with Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. I enjoy diffusing Peppermint with Lavender when all the windows are open on a balmy spring day, knowing that not only is my conscious mind being invigorated, but the air is being cleansed. Put a few sprinkles of Peppermint on the filter in your vacuum, or mix 20 drops Peppermint with ¼ cup rubbing alcohol, ¼ cup vinegar, and 3 cups water for an alternative glass cleaner. Peppermint also, like Lemongrass, is another natural pest deterrent, particularly for spiders. Follow the same cotton ball method and place where needed.
And there you have it! You may be skeptical about essential oils and the role they could play in your cleaning; I know I was at one time. But now, after 9 years using them, I am a fervent believer. Just start small, and see where it leads. Happy cleaning!
(Note: Information about the specific properties for each essential oil was taken from Reference Guide for Essential Oil by Higley and Higley, which I highly recommend for further research!)
Emili mostly spins the plates of motherhood, marriage, and intentional city-dwelling. When she’s not homeschooling (unschooling? freeschooling? whatever…) her uniquely lovable – and unruly – three boys, she is reading and writing poetry, working as a birth doula, composting, kombucha-ing, practicing her guitar, and attempting to learn French. She is passionate about minimalism (although she does have a penchant for Ball jars and pretty China plates from thrift stores) and she aspires to find the simple beauty peppered throughout the mundane. She feels most connected to God when in nature and will do whatever is necessary to spend at least a handful of mindful minutes outside, barefoot, each morning – even with Wisconsin snow on the ground.