If you are anywhere near the internet nowadays, you have seen the trend toward essential oils for health. Our society is slowly learning that all the “beneficial” chemicals that came from the last few decades are having long-term negative effects on our health and well-being.
For example, Netflix recently released a documentary called The Devil We Know. It’s all about the chemical composition and effects of a popular non-stick cookware product. If you haven’t watched it, you may want to bebop over to Netflix and check it out.
How Essential Oils Work in Cleaning
*Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Essential oils are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.*
Many essential oils have more than one benefit from use. They have a three-part chemical constituent that dictates the benefits of each oil. These are Phenols, Aldehydes, and Monoterpenes. The percentage of each of these chemical parts determines the percentage of benefit from each layer.
Main Chemical Constituents: limonene (55-75%(, beta-pinene (6-18%), and gamma-terpinene (3-16%).
Therefore, Limonene has the highest content and most potent benefits. These include: uplifting/energizing, surface, teeth and skin cleansing properties, reduce the appearance of skin blemishes
Internal cleansing properties, healthy metabolism support, respiratory, immune, gastrointestinal, and nervous system function
Second is the beta-pinene that includes the benefits of healthy immune function and response, healthy blood glucose levels, and respiratory health support.
Lastly, and with the least amount in the essential oil is gamma-terpinine. This is good for surface cleaning and protection against environmental threats.
Looking over the example of Lemon, it is easy to see how the chemical makeup of the oil determines the possible benefits it has to offer. Lemon, because of its high percentage of surface cleaning benefits, is almost perfect for household cleaning products.
Phenols chemical structure makes them extremely potent. They are also is rich in antioxidants. Phenols commonly found in essential oils include thymol, carvacrol, eugenol, and antheole. Essential oils high in phenols include clove, oregano, and thyme.
Typically, only found in small quantities in living plants, these are what give essential oils their powerful scent. Oils rich in aldehydes that also are great at surface cleansing are cassia, cilantro, cinnamon, and Melissa.
These are hydrocarbons. Common monoterpenes found in cleaning essential oils are limonene and terpinene, i.e. the lemon essential oil referenced above. More oils containing potent monoterpenes are bergamot, lime, melaleuca and wild orange.
When determining which essential oils to use for household cleaning products, look for EO’s that state they have “surface cleansing” benefits.
Making Homemade Cleaning Products
Only a very small amount of essential oil is needed to have the desired benefit in your products. A good rule of thumb that I have is that every recipe I use should have less than 20 drops of oil total in the product. Even when making a large batch, I know that when dealing with essential oils, a little goes a long way.
A general guide is that 5 drops will be strong, 10-15 is stronger and the strongest is 20. Anything at 20 drops will be very strongly scented. If you like a more muted scent, stay at the 5-drop level.
Other valuable ingredients in household cleaning products
- White Vinegar (has purifying properties. Great on greasy messes.)
- Baking Soda (gently abrasive. Great at absorbing odor.)
- Salt (effective for scrubbing. Great on stains.)
- Castile Soap (great for lifting dirt, stains, and grease.)
Always mix and store your homemade cleaning products in glass containers. Plastic ones can break down after exposure to essential oils. When this happens, the chemicals from the plastic leach into your homemade cleaning product. Essentially, this defeats the purpose of making your cleaners anyhow. You just put chemicals in yourself!
The Best Practices for Cleaning with Essential Oils
- The most important things to remember when using essential oils for cleaning are these:
- Use High-Quality Oil
- A little goes a long way
- Test an area before using your cleaning products
- Store Responsibly
- Always shake well before use.
Sign up to get access to our FREE Essential Oil Cleaning printables in the Resource Library today.
- Essential Oil Cleaning Chart
- EO Cleaning Recipes- Kitchen
- EO Cleaning Recipes- Air Cleansing