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Herbal Housekeeping

How to use essential oils in your DIY natural cleaners.

Essential oils are the concentrated volatile aromatic compounds obtained from the flowers, leaves, stems, roots, bark and/or seeds of a plant via steam distillation or solvent extraction. In addition to their use in aromatherapy, essential oils are used to make cosmetics, soaps, perfumes and medicines. Because many essential oils possess antimicrobial properties, they are also incorporated into natural household cleaners. Rosemary essential oil, for example, is antibacterial and antiseptic, while tea tree essential oil is antifungal.

Save the expensive essential oils – sandalwood, rose, chamomile, etc., - for making perfumes, fancy soaps and cosmetics. A good basic stock of essential oils for cleaning purposes includes basil, sweet orange, cedar (great for furniture cleaners), rosemary, thyme, tea tree, peppermint and lavender. Any of these typically cost just a few dollars -- and since a one-ounce contains approximately 300 drops of oil, that little bottle goes a very long way.

Here’s a guide to which essential oils work best in which cleaning product…

Dishwashing Liquid

To a 16-ounce bottle of Castile liquid soap (olive-based soap), add 15 to 20 drops of lavender, lemongrass, lime, sweet orange or peppermint essential oil.

Kitchen & Bath Cleaner

To 2 cups water add 20 to 25 drops basil, sweet orange, lavender, oregano, thyme or tea tree essential oil. Note: Tea tree is ideal for eliminating and deterring mold buildup in bathrooms.

Window & Glass Cleaner

To 2 cups white vinegar add 15 to 20 drops of lavender, lemon, lemongrass or peppermint essential oil.

Updated 2/22/19

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