There are a huge number of essential oils that have cleaning properties.
Some are antibacterial, some are antifungal, some are pest repellent, and some just help to neutralise unpleasant odours.
Combining a few drops of essential oils with a spray bottle of water is an easy way to make an effective and entirely natural cleaning spray, and with so many oils to choose from you can customise these sprays so that the scent is exactly to your taste.
We’ve narrowed down the long list of options to ten of the most effective essential oils to use when cleaning your home.
Why use essential oils to clean?
Essential oils are powerful little things, and they carry tons of impactful benefits that can help us keep our homes safe, fresh, and clean.
There are many reasons to use essential oils as a part of your cleaning routine, but here are some of the main selling points:
How to choose an essential oil for cleaning
There are many types of essential oil out there, but for the best results in your home, we recommend sticking to pure essential oils only.
Using pure essential oils for cleaning will ensure you're getting nothing but plant goodness on your surfaces - instead of hidden chemicals or other nasties that will do no good for the cleanliness of your home.
What are the 10 best essential oils for cleaning?
We've put together a list of all the best and brightest essential oils for your house cleaning routine.
1. Lemon oil
Able to fight bacteria and fungi in all areas of the home, lemon is many people’s first choice when it comes to natural cleaning ingredients, and its sharp, hygienic scent helps your home to smell as clean as it looks.
A study in 2019 suggested that it is the presence of the constituent d-limonene that gives lemon oil its strong antimicrobial properties.
2. Tea tree oil
Used for centuries for its antiseptic abilities, tea tree oil is well known for its ability to protect against infections.
A large review of tea tree’s antimicrobial ability found that the oil was able to combat a very high number of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
These powerful effects are commonly attributed to the constituent terpinene-4-ol, one of tea tree’s main active components.
3. Eucalyptus oil
Eucalyptus oil is highly antifungal, helping to prevent the growth of fungi in the home. A study in 2012 found that the oil was also effective against staph and E.coli infections thanks to its protective abilities.
Eucalyptus is one of the most widely used oils in cleaning and has been used for this purpose for centuries.
4. Pine needle oil
Pine needle oil is known as a purifying oil, able to improve air quality and guard against airborne pathogens.
A study in 2004 found that it could fight against thirteen species of bacteria, fungi, and other toxins in the air, making it safer to breathe. It is also a great natural carpet cleaner due to its deodorising effects.
5. Myrtle oil
A gentle oil, myrtle is ideal for use around those with sensitive skin, and shouldn’t irritate like other cleaning sprays so long as it is properly diluted.
Myrtle oil has strong antibacterial properties thanks to its constituent cineole, and a study in 2018 found that it was particularly useful in combating a staph infection.
6. Peppermint oil
Spraying it in corners may help to deter spiders from spinning cobwebs in those places.
7. Grapefruit oil
Not only does grapefruit oil have an uplifting, cleansing scent, but a study in 2004 found that grapefruit oil can combat sixty-seven distinct microbial biotypes.
This makes it an incredibly powerful cleaning agent, and one of the most effective citrus oils to use in cleaning sprays.
8. Basil oil
Antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal basil oil has lots of uses in home cleaning. It is particularly useful for cleaning kitchens, as a 2013 study found that it can decrease bacteria and food-borne pathogens and ensure that the food we eat is safe.
9. Lemongrass oil
Lemongrass oil is 70-80% citral, a component which gives it strong antimicrobial abilities.
A study in 2008 also showed that lemongrass has powerful antifungal abilities, making a great all-round solution. It is considered an effective pest repellent, particularly for mosquitos.
10. Carrot seed oil
Earthy carrot seed oil has extremely strong antibacterial abilities, and many studies have been conducted to investigate carrot seed’s effectiveness against a range of harmful microorganisms.
Just one example is a study in 2013 that found it to be effective against E.coli. A few drops of carrot seed go a long way, and can help to protect the health of your household.
Is there any dog safe essential oils for cleaning?
If you live with a furry friend, it's understandable that you may be concerned about how essential oils will affect them, and it's certainly something that should be kept in mind.
Dogs have incredibly powerful senses of smell, with their noses carrying around 300 million receptors overall. So, when picking out oils for your home, it's important to choose ones that won't do them any harm.
Some essential oils thought to be safe for dogs include:
As a general rule of thumb, try to steer clear of citrus oils if you live with a dog, as these have the potential to be toxic. Learn more about essential oils that are safe for dogs.
Can I use essential oils for cleaning around cats?
Cats are slightly more vulnerable to the powerful effects of essential oils, so a great many more scents may be toxic to them. This is due to their liver enzymes being unable to break down certain potent aromas.
Rosemary, ginger, and lemongrass oil may be used in low concentrations when cleaning around a cat, but it's always best to consult with your vet beforehand.
How to make a cleaning spray with essential oils
Now for the fun part - making the spray itself. Cleaning sprays are relatively easy to put together, and are likely to last you a long time before you need to consider re-filling.
Cleaning with essential oils is also incredibly cost-effective, as you only need a few drops for each full bottle.
We've detailed all you'll need to make an all-purpose house cleaner below.
You will need:
- A 16 oz. glass spray bottle
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 30 drops of essential oil
How to make a cleaning spray with essential oils:
- Add all your ingredients directly into the spray bottle, starting with your water and ending with your chosen essential oils.
- Shake the spray bottle well.
- Spritz as needed onto surfaces.
How do I dilute essential oils for cleaning?
The recipe above will work well for any of the oils on our list, but if you're looking for a more gentle scent, you may want to consider adding fewer drops of essential oil to your mixture.
This is especially true for those who aren't overly concerned with the cleaning properties of the oil and would prefer to have it as a refreshing top-up for their surfaces.
In these cases, we'd suggest using 10-20 drops of essential oil instead.
Tips when cleaning with essential oils
We've gathered some useful pointers to follow if you're new to cleaning with essential oils:
- Always add your essential oils to the spray bottle last, after your water and cleaning liquids.
- If you see the oil and water separating, don't worry! All the bottle needs is a good shake to re-combine them.
- If possible, use a dark-tinted, glass spray bottle to keep your oils safe from potential damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What essential oil kills the most germs?
Citrus oils like lemon and sweet orange, as well as refreshing oils like peppermint, are known to have the strongest effects against bacterial and fungal infections.
What essential oils can prevent you from getting sick?
Eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil are both popular choices for warding off illnesses and improving respiratory symptoms. Citrus oils are also a good choice, as well as our own Immune Boost blend.
Can I use essential oils as my only form of cleaning?
While essential oils can be highly effective against germs and bacteria, it's best to use them in conjunction with commercial cleaning products, or as a refresher when your surfaces are feeling a bit grimy between deep cleans.
Whether you're trying to get the house in order for some time with the family, or you're already thinking ahead to your spring clean, essential oils can help.
Spend some time discovering your favourites, and remember to keep your furry friends in mind too!