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Related Articles: Make Your Own Disinfectant Wipes | Clean Your Bathroom Using Green Methods

Essential Oils: Green Cleaning Power in a Small Package

When most people think of essential oils they think of perfumes or candles but not cleaning. Essential oils have been used for centuries for healing, perfumes and for ... cleaning and disinfecting. A combination of oils called ‘Thieves’ was used during the black plague to protect those caring for the sick.

If these condensed oils are strong enough for the black plague then they should be just fine for a 21st century home. A bonus to using these oils for cleaning is that your home will smell great without the use of chemical air fresheners.

All different parts of plants and trees are used to make oils. Lavender, Lavendula Augustfolia, uses only the buds while Lavendula Latifolia or Spike Lavender uses the buds and stalks. Lemon, Citrus Lemon, uses only the ripe rind but Lime, Citrus Aurantifolia, uses the unripe rind. The parts are harvested and the oils are extracted by steam distillation.

essential oilsIt takes over 50,000 roses to make one ounce of oil. Needless to say these oils are highly concentrated and require only a few drops for most cleaning jobs. Please use 100% essential oils not fragrance oils. I use tea tree and lavender because they are antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiseptic, antibiotic and fungicidal. A two-ounce bottle of tea tree oil costs around $8.00 and lavender costs about $6.00 per 1/2 ounce bottle. Because you only need a few drops of these oils they will last a long time and help you save money.

Lets add a few other common household ingredients to our cleaning list: white vinegar, baking soda and water.

With this combination and our oils we should be able to tackle most any cleaning job. Follow the recipes below to make your home sparkle and be chemical free.

Basic Disinfecting Spray (like Lysol only better!)

10 ounces of water
10 drops of lavender oil
10 drops of Australian tea tree oil

Put all ingredients into plastic or glass spray bottle. Shake before using. Spray and wipe counters, doorknobs, toys etc. I keep some in the car to spritz on my hands after being in stores during flu season. This mix works great for smelly shoes. You can use other essential oils instead of those listed to make a great room spray.

Basic Scrubby Cleanser

3 parts baking soda
1 part water
A squirt of natural dish soap
3-10 drops lavender or tea tree oil

Mix into a paste then add essential oils. Scrub, let sit for 5 minutes then rinse.

Window Cleaner

1 part white vinegar
1 part water
A few drops of lemon essential oil (optional)

Mix together in a spray bottle. Spray windows and wipe with old newspapers till clean and streak free.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

1 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of baking soda

Put both in toilet, swish with toilet brush and let sit for 20 minutes then flush.

The Good Housekeeping Institute reported in 2000 that a 5% vinegar (what regular non-diluted store bought white vinegar is) solution kills 99% of bacteria, 82% mold and 80% of viruses. That makes it a super green cleaner. Vinegar can be used for everything from mold to cat pee. You can use vinegar straight from the bottle to clean floors, counters, tile and mold. Simply spray on area to be cleaned, wait 5 minutes, wipe with sponge and rinse with water.

For cat or dog pee: blot urine with a towel, sprinkle baking soda over stain then pour vinegar over baking soda. This will foam. Let it foam then rub it into the carpet. Wait for 1/2 hour then blot excess vinegar. Let the spot dry thoroughly and vacuum excess baking soda. Feel good about cleaning your home with child and pet safe ingredients.

Rebecca is an avid environmentalist and works primarily with Rubbermaid Commercial in an effort to bring sustainable, green products to the mainstream cleaning industry.

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Rachel Paxton
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