Herbal essential oils do more than makes your house smell good. Nearly all have potent antimicrobial properties and have been shown to reduce depression, focus the mind and even stimulate the immune system. Lemon and pine have long been used in commercial cleaners, but many other oils are just as effective.
Eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, cinnamon leaf, rosemary, grapefruit, bergamot, and rose geranium are just a few favorites, and you can have fun combining two or more oils to create new scents. A .5 oz bottle of oil will last several months to a year even with regular use, since you only use a few drops at a time. Many oils cost as little as $5 or as much as $25 depending on the quality, variety, and the availability of oil. Essential oils are available in the health and beauty departments at most quality grocery stores, and health food stores tend to have the best selection. Simplers and Aura Cacia are excellent brands that contain 100% essential oil. Cheaper brands are often diluted or may contain synthetic perfumes, which don’t kill bacteria and can even cause health problems for people with asthma, allergies or who are environmentally sensitive.
Essential oil safety: Undiluted essential oils can be irritating if applied directly to the skin, and essential oils should never taken internally. Certain oils, such as eucalyptus, are toxic if ingested, and even common culinary herbs in their essential oil form shouldn’t be eaten due to their high concentration. Always smell a tester bottle before purchasing an oil to ensure you enjoy the scent and respond well to it. Be aware that some essential oils are toxic for certain animals. Do your research before washing your dog’s bed or scrubbing the bottom of your parrot’s cage with a cleaner that contains essential oil, or play it safe and avoid using these oils in enclosed areas where your pets spend most of their time.
Here are some fun suggestions of ways to use essential oils around the house that you may not have tried yet:
Load your washing machine with laundry, add detergent and fill with water before adding 5-10 drops of your chosen oil. Essential oils oils kill mildew and bacteria, and will lightly scent your laundry. You can also put a few drops of oil on a handkerchief and add to the dryer or sock drawer for a stronger scent.
Put 5 drops of clove, eucalyptus, clary sage, or rosemary oil on a paper tissue and place it in your vacuum cleaner bag. These oils are shown to kill dust mites and the air that blows out of your vacuum will be perfumed with the scent.
Add 2-3 drops of lavender or your favorite essential oil to your water spray bottle when ironing to give your clothes a gentle, fresh scent.
4. General Cleaning
Make a general cleaning solution by mixing 5-10 drops of essential oil to 3 cups of water, 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of castile soap. The essential oils and vinegar kills germs while the castile soap dissolves grime. Spray and wipe doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces to kill germs when somebody in the house is sick. Add an extra tablespoon of castile soap to this mixture to wash floors.
The chemicals we inhale enter our bodies and affect our health, much like the food we eat. This explains why aromatherapy works, as well as why the synthetic, petroleum based perfumes found in potpourri, scented candles, and plug in deodorizers can cause negative reactions among asthmatics and other sensitive individuals. Synthetic scents have been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, (this means they can make your PMS even worse) and many are even carcinogenic! So why pollute your body with fake cinnamon and orange scented crap when you can use the real thing? Add a few drops of your favorite oil to a ceramic light bulb diffuser ring to radiate the scent of your favorite oil throughout the room, or get DIY and cut a fun shape out of cardboard and add a couple of drops of oil and hang it near a sunny window. Even a closed bottle of oil will spread its scent, since a little inevitably gets on the outside of the bottle, creating a lovely smell as it evaporates. The scent of essential oils do not long linger as long as synthetic perfumes since they do not contain a chemical fixative, but they also evaporate completely unlike other oils, so they don’t leave a mark once they are gone.
Coming soon: Essential oils for beauty and well being!