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What to Know About Essential Oils for Laundry and Cleaning

Medically Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on April 11, 2022

Essential oils are plant extracts made by pressing and steaming different parts of plants, such as fruits, leaves, bark, and flowers. While the scent is the most prominent feature of essential oils, they also have some other functions. For example, they might be helpful in laundry and cleaning too. 

Can You Use Essential Oils for Cleaning?

Essential oils don't necessarily have any cleaning properties themselves, but you can add them to natural homemade cleaners. They help deodorize surfaces. Since they have fresh scents, they also make your home smell good. 

Some older research has shown that essential oils might have disinfectant properties. They may be effective against viruses and bacteria. However, the mechanism of essential oil disinfection is not known.

How to Use Essential Oils in Laundry

You can use essential oils for laundry since they give a fresh scent to clothes. Lavender and peppermint essential oils are pretty common for household use. However, you can use the essential oil of your choice. 

Tea tree essential oil is an excellent choice for cleaning bedding and clothing that is over-soiled. Soak the clothes in a mixture of baking soda and cold water for up to an hour. 

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, half a cup of white vinegar, and 7 to 10 drops of tea tree essential oil to the soak. After that, wash the clothes as you usually do. If you want the clothes and beddings to smell good, add a few drops of orange essential oil. 

In order to add essential oils to laundry, you just need to put a few drops of the essential oil in the washer load. If you do not want to use essential oils, you can use pure extracts instead. 

When using pure extracts, put four times the amount that you would put if you were using essential oil. For example, if you put four drops of essential oil in a load, you'll have to use 16 drops of extract as a substitute. 

You can also follow essential oil laundry cleaner recipes online. If a recipe has used teaspoons as measuring units, know that ¾ teaspoon is around 80 drops of extract or 20 drops of essential oil.

How to Use Essential Oils for Cleaning

When using essential oils for cleaning, you need to use other products too. Some popular ones include baking soda and white vinegar. You can make different solutions based on the surface you want to clean. 

Floor Cleaning 

If you don't want to use commercial floor cleaners, you can make a homemade product using essential oils and vinegar. The solution can be used to scrub and mop the floors. 

  • Fill a bowl with half a cup of white vinegar 
  • Put in ¼ cup of baking soda
  • Add 1 gallon of hot water. 
  • Add 5 to 10 drops of the essential oil of your choice. 

Spray this solution on the floor and mop the area. You can also mix it with water in a bucket and mop the floors. 

Kitchen Sink Scrub

The kitchen sink often gets food stains that seem impossible to remove. However, you can use a natural cleaner to remove these stains and make the area smell amazing. 

  • Take a cup of baking soda and add five drops of cedarwood essential oil to it. You can also use another oil if you prefer 
  • Put in a tablespoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of nutmeg 

Stir the mixture well to remove all clumps, and store it in a toothpick container or a similar shaker with a sprinkle top.  After you wash the dishes, sprinkle some of this mixture in and around the sink. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then, wipe the area with a damp towel. 

All-Purpose Cleaning

An all-purpose cleaner is effective on most surfaces and cleans all major stains. You can add a few different essential oils to this mixture. 

  • Pour ¼ cup of lemon juice. 
  • Add two tablespoons of white vinegar
  • Add two cups of hot water. 
  • Put in 5 drops of orange essential oil.
  • Put in 10 drops of tea tree essential oil. 

Mix the ingredients thoroughly and transfer the solution from the bowl to a spray bottle. Whenever you need to clean a surface, spray the mixture onto the area and wipe it with a microfiber cloth or soft towel. 

What Essential Oils are Good for Cleaning?

All essential oils with a pleasant smell can be added to laundry or cleaning products. However, it's up to you to choose the essential oil that works best for you. 

Lemon essential oil is a suitable ingredient for natural homemade cleaning products. It has a citrusy smell and also makes your home smell good. 

Likewise, lavender and orange essential oils have pleasant smells. You can use them to deodorize surfaces, such as kitchen sinks, bathrooms, and carpets. Cedarwood essential oil is a good choice for making a kitchen cleaning scrub. 

Does Cleaning with Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils aren't exactly meant to clean clothes or surfaces. They merely help remove foul odors. When using essential oils for cleaning or laundry, make sure you get them from reliable suppliers. 

At the moment, the U.S. does not have a regulatory body to govern the quality of essential oils. Therefore, companies don't get any certification or seal of approval to show their products are reliable and genuine. 

While many companies claim their products are therapeutic-grade, the term is often thrown around for marketing purposes. Therefore, it's essential to find essential oils from well-known companies that have a reputation for quality.

Tips for Using Essential Oils for Laundry and Cleaning

Nowadays, many people make homemade cleaners with natural products to limit the number of commercial chemicals in their homes. However, when adding essential oils to these cleaners, make sure you've read the label properly. 

  • The label will tell you about the product's purity and composition. If an essential oil has high purity, you'll need fewer drops. 
  • Store the solution in glass containers. Pure essential oils dissolve plastic with time. The plastic contaminates the oil, making it less effective. 
  • If using essential oils directly on surfaces, dilute them beforehand. Undiluted essential oils can cause allergic reactions and skin rashes in some people. 

Show Sources

SOURCES: 

Healthy WA: "Essential oils – Health warning."

John Hopkins Medicine: "Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work?."

Journal of Applied Microbiology: “Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus."

Ohio University: "Laundry and Cleaning."

University at Buffalo: "Green and Clean."

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