While regular cleaning products may contain toxic substances that build up in the air in your home, ‘green cleaning’ with essential oils will support health and uplift the spirit. Unlike commercial cleaning products that can be a health hazard, aromatic cleaning products using pure essential oils will boost the immune system and have a positive effect on the mind and emotions. Many who clean this way have commented on the improvement they’ve seen in mood, health and general behavior of others in the home.
Products which contain chemical fragrances have been found to be harmful.¹ Those that are designed to completely mask odors can also mask serious problems we should be aware of. A couch loaded with bacteria isn’t the best place to sit, even if the aroma in the room is pleasant. And we would certainly want to know if there was something burning, or gas was leaking. True essential oils will freshen the air and provide a beautiful scent, but will not override the body’s necessary survival mechanism. It makes good sense to use these natural substances to create an aromatic environment that has positive effects on body and mind, instead of products containing chemical fragrance.
Essential oil cleaning products do require putting the pieces together, but the experience and effects from cleaning this way is well worth the small effort expended to do so. They are made using white vinegar,* baking soda, water and the antiseptic essential oils of your choice. Well-cleaned spray bottles from former cleaning products can also be used to save money and recycle, too!
In the first Blog on ‘green cleaning,’ we described how to make blends with essential oils and use them for laundry and hand soaps. But we can also effectively use essential oils to clean countertops, other surfaces, carpets and floors.
For countertops, other kitchen and bathroom surfaces, shower doors, mirrors, and windows use the powerhouse antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial essential oils, such as Lavender, (Lavendula angustifolia) or Lavindin, (Lavendula hybrid--less expensive but equally effective--and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Create a pleasant aroma by adding a citrus oil** like Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Orange (Citrus sinensis), Lemon (Citrus limon), Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi); a spice like Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) or Clove (Eugenia caryophylatta), or an herb like Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) and Pine (Pinus sylvestris) may also be used in cleaning blends.
Use 10 mls (200 drops approx.) of a blend of the chosen essences with Tea Tree and Lavender predominating. Dilute this into 2 cups of Vinegar and pour into a 32 oz spray bottle, then top with distilled water. Always shake well before using. Windows and mirrors are noticeably bright and clear with this method, as opposed to commercial products which leave a slight residue.
For a ‘scrub’ cleanser, sprinkle Baking Soda on the area and spray with the cleaning blend, then clean with a moistened soft scrub sponge.
Use the cleaning blend or create a Pine or Citrus-based blend. For washable floors: Add 15 to 20 drops of the blend to 1 cup of white vinegar and add that to warm water. For carpets: put 15 to 20 drops into 2 cups of baking soda, mix well and let stand for a few minutes. Sprinkle onto carpets (can be used on cloth covered furniture, too). Allow it to stand for 10 minutes (keeping pets and children out of the room), then vacuum the powder away.
Some suggested cleaning blends:
- 18 mls Lavandin
- 6 mls Tea Tree
- 4 mls Lemon
- 2 mls Thyme
Create the blend in a 1 oz bottle with a dropper top.
Floors and Carpets:
- 6 mls Pine
- 3 mls Rosemary
- 1 ml Orange
Create the blend in a 10 ml bottle with a dropper top.
*Important Note: vinegar cannot be used on marble or other porous stone surfaces, and stainless steel appliances may have specific requirements.
**A new citrus essential oil will also have strong antibacterial properties, but these diminish with age.
¹“Toxins in Household Cleaning Products,” (available online at http://green.wikia.com/wiki/Toxins_in_Household_Cleaning_Products ).