8 Best Essential Oils for Cleaning (with Cleaning Recipes!)
Making the switch to natural living can seem like a daunting task. If you do a quick search online, you’ll find an enormous amount of information on how to live a more natural lifestyle. And truthfully, there are numerous ways that we can all be living more naturally.
However, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to change everything all at once. In fact, most people don’t have the time or the money to make drastic changes in every area of their lives simultaneously. This is why I always recommend taking baby steps towards natural living since any small positive changes are better than none.
Start with cleaning products
Surprisingly though, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to start moving towards a natural lifestyle is to begin with your cleaning products. Most conventional cleaning products are full of harmful chemicals, harsh ingredients, and synthetic fragrances that can have numerous negative effects on the body.
Since many people do some sort of cleaning every day or every few days, most of us are being exposed to harmful ingredients regularly. This can lead to a number of health concerns including, but not limited to:
- Skin irritation
- Allergies or sensitivities
- Hormone or endocrine issues
- Toxin buildup
- Poor indoor air quality
While it may seem like a difficult transition to make initially, switching to natural cleaning products can actually be incredibly easy and inexpensive if you make your own. Not only will you have control over which ingredients you use, but you’ll most likely find that you spend significantly less on cleaners!
Essential oils can help boost cleaning power
One of the key ingredients for making your own natural cleaners is essential oils. They can not only make your formulations smell absolutely fantastic, but will also boost your cleaning power. Essential oils are naturally antimicrobial, and with their antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, you can customize your cleaning products to suit your needs.
Essential oils are incredibly versatile so they can be used in many different ways, enabling you to cut back on the number of cleaners you have. There will be less waste of time, money, and ingredients.
The best essential oils for cleaning
While just about any essential oil can be beneficial for cleaning in one way or another, I’ve listed what I have found to be the best essential oils for cleaning. These oils are some of the most popular for homemade cleaners, and you’ll soon find out why.
It’s probably not surprising that lemon is one of the best essential oils for cleaning. It’s a great antibacterial and antiviral essential oil and is a favorite among those who formulate their own cleaners. In fact, it’s one of the most widely used essential oils for cleaning. Not only does it purify the air, it also works well to clean and sanitize surfaces. Research has found that lemon is active against numerous bacteria species.1
Although you can use lemon in any formulations you wish, some options for using lemon oil for cleaning include homemade dish soap, multi-purpose cleaner, germ-fighting diffuser blend, floor cleaner, laundry detergent, and furniture polish.
It’s no secret that lavender is one of the most commonly used essential oils. Many oilers reach for lavender whenever they feel stressed or anxious. This versatile oil is also another great option to consider for cleaning. In addition to being antibacterial, it also blends well with most essential oils and even enhances blends.
Lavender can easily be used in formulations that fight bacteria, but don’t forget that it can also be used in home-care formulations to promote relaxation. Lavender is my go-to essential oil for homemade laundry detergent, as well as for bed and linen sprays.
Cinnamon is easily one of the best essential oils for cleaning. It packs a powerful punch with its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Cinnamon is excellent for purifying the air, as well as deodorizing. It can also give a big antimicrobial boost to all-purpose cleaners and smells fantastic while doing so!
My favorite ways to use cinnamon include diffusing it to fight off germs before, during, or after sickness, and as the main ingredient in deodorizing room sprays to help eliminate unwanted odors.
Like cinnamon, oregano contains potent antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. This is an oil to consider if you’re wanting some really powerful antimicrobial action. A study conducted in 2012 even found that oregano essential oil was shown to be active against several different strains of E. coli.2
Personally, I like to diffuse oregano in germ-fighting blends during cold and flu season, but it would also be a good option to consider for use on dirty surfaces that are touched frequently. The aroma is pretty strong, so I use it in small amounts and always with other essential oils that can help mask the rich aroma.
Eucalyptus is another great choice for homemade cleaners due to its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Research has shown that eucalyptus is active against many types of microorganisms, including E. coli.3 It’s frequently used in all-purpose and disinfecting sprays because of its antimicrobial properties, but it would also do well in diffuser blends.
Eucalyptus can be combined with other germ-fighting essential oils to help promote wellness, or it can be used with air-purifying and deodorizing essential oils to help freshen up stale or congested air.
As one of the best essential oils for cleaning, peppermint shines in a number of ways. This popular oil contains antiviral and antifungal properties, and it also shows potential as a natural ant repellent as well.4 Interestingly, many believe that it is also beneficial in repelling other pests such as spiders and mice.
Peppermint can be added to a spray, or you can add a couple drops to a cotton ball that is strategically placed to deter unwanted pests. It can also be used in all-purpose formulations, as well as room-freshening and deodorizing sprays. As an added bonus, the minty aroma can help you feel more energized while you clean!
Thyme is another heavy hitter in the cleaning department. A study conducted in 2014 found that it possesses strong antimicrobial properties and like the other essential oils mentioned here, it’s also antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.5 It also happens to be one of the more potent essential oils. Although studies are lacking, it’s even believed to be effective against mold.
My favorite way to use thyme is in combination with other potent antimicrobial essential oils in a diffuser blend to help fight germs. However, it would also do well in a disinfecting spray. Similar to oregano, thyme has a strong aroma, so I always use it in blends with other essential oils.
Orange essential oil is a favorite among those who formulate their own cleaning products. Not only is it an effective antimicrobial against bacteria and fungi, but the sweet aroma can really help freshen up stagnant air as well.6
Orange oil can be added to cleaning sprays, linen sprays, anti-germ diffuser blends, deodorizing sprays, and just about any other cleaning formulation you can think of. It will help boost the cleaning power as well as contribute to the overall aroma.
Other essential oils for cleaning
While the above list is a great place to start, there are other essential oils worth mentioning as well. Some of these other essential oils for cleaning include:
- Tea tree
Homemade cleaning recipes
Below, I’ve included 4 easy-to-make cleaning recipes to help get you started on your natural cleaning journey. As always, feel free to substitute other essential oils for the ones I’ve listed to suit your preferences. In many cases, you can even use the top oils that show up on your ZYTO galvanic skin response scan in these formulations.
I use this recipe for the bulk of my cleaning. With the vinegar, Castile soap, and essential oils, it makes a great multi-purpose cleaner that makes the house smell fantastic!
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup distilled water
- 1 teaspoon Castile soap
- 10 drops eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops lemon or orange essential oil
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
Combine the essential oils in a 16 oz. spray bottle (glass is best). Add the vinegar and water and then add the Castile soap. Stir or swish gently to combine. Shake before each use. Please note that vinegar should not be used on marble or granite.
With the addition of ethyl alcohol, this cleaner is a great choice for those areas that need some extra cleaning power.
- 1 cup Everclear or other high-proof alcohol
- ½ cup vinegar
- ½ cup distilled water
- 30 drops lemon or orange essential oil
- 20 drops eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil
- 10 drops oregano or thyme essential oil
Combine the essential oils in a 16 oz. spray bottle (glass is best). Add the vinegar, water, and alcohol. Shake to combine and before each use. Please note that vinegar should not be used on marble or granite.
Deodorizing room spray
This recipe makes an awesome deodorizing room spray. Use it in bathrooms, near trashcans, or any other area of your house that needs some deodorizing.
- 20 drops cinnamon essential oil
- 10 drops pine essential oil
- 10 drops orange essential oil
- 4 oz. vodka or other clear-grain alcohol
- 4 oz. distilled water
Combine the essential oils in an 8 oz. spray bottle (glass is best) and then top with the vodka and distilled water. Shake before each use.
Anti-germ diffusing blend
The essential oils in this blend are potent antimicrobials and make a great anti-germ blend. I like to diffuse this blend in my house during cold and flu season as well as whenever somebody is sick.
- 4 drops cinnamon essential oil
- 3 drops lemon essential oil
- 1 drop oregano essential oil
- 1 drop thyme essential oil
Adjust the number of drops based on your diffuser instructions.
Use essential oils for natural cleaning
Essential oils can help boost the cleaning power of numerous homemade cleaners. They contain potent antimicrobial properties, making them a great addition to your natural cleaning formulations.
It may seem intimidating at first, but making the switch to natural cleaning doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. With just a few easy-to-find ingredients, you can create your own non-toxic cleaners that leave your home naturally clean and smelling fabulous!
About Nicole Stine
Nicole Stine is a certified herbalist who has numerous aromatherapy and natural health certifications. She is passionate about using herbs and essential oils safely and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about natural health, as well as creating her own formulations.
1. Man, A. & L. Santacroce, et al. “Antimicrobial Activity of Six Essential Oils Against a Group of Human Pathogens: A Comparative Study.” Pathogens 8, no.1 (2020): 15.
2. Sienkiewicz, M., M. Wasiela, & A. Glowacka. “[The Antibacterial Activity of Oregano Essential Oil (Origanum Heracleoticum L.) Against Clinical Strains of Escherichia Coli and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa].” Medycyna Doswiadczalna i Mikrobiologia 64, no. 4 (2012): 297–307.
3.Barbosa, L., C. Filomeno, & R. Teixeira. “Chemical Variability and Biological Activities of Eucalyptus Spp. Essential Oils.” Molecules 21, no. 12 (2016): 1671.
4. Scocco, Christopher Michael. “Integrated Pest Management Tactics in the Suburban Landscape.” Thesis, University of Georgia Theses and Publications, 2010.
5. Boruga, O., C. Jianu, et al. “Thymus vulgaris essential oil: chemical composition and antimicrobial activity.” Journal of Medicine and Life 7, no. 3 (2014): 56–60.
6. Seladi-Schulman, Jill. “Orange Essential Oil Uses, Benefits, and Safety.” Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. Healthline.com.