Everything you Need to Know about Cleaning with Essential Oils

Kristyn Bango all purpose cleaning cleaners cleaning essential oil essential oils

Everything you need to know cleaning with essential oils.

When someone decides to start cleaning with essential oils, they usually want a safer product than commercial cleaners. The tricky part is ensuring you've created a product with concentrations that will accomplish that. Looking at the different concerns in the home and how to address them individually will help set you up for success.

Household Cleaning Concerns.

Some of the biggest microbial concerns in the home come from bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses such as salmonella and e.coli. Viruses, such as those that cause colds and flu, are also often a concern. A great all-purpose cleaner will have essential oils that are antibacterial and antiviral.

Discover why you should make the switch to natural cleaners in this post.

Three types of pathogens cause illness.

Bacteria are single-cell microscopic organisms.
They are living and capable of replicating on their own
Some are pathogenic, but many are beneficial. We are covered in bacteria, from our skin to our mouth, to our guts, all crucial to our survival, creating a symbiotic relationship helping us to digest our food, protect us from infections, and perform multiple other bodily functions.

Viruses are the smallest microbe that infects humans. The discovery of viruses is relatively new in medical history. It wasn’t until the 1930-the 40s that there were microscopes powerful enough to see viruses. Since then have been over 30k different viruses have been identified. Viruses are not living, and it’s essential to stress here antibiotics are utterly ineffective in addressing viral infections. They will make a viral infection worse by killing off the beneficial bacteria you need to help fight the infection Antibiotics negatively impact our gut health on an average of 18 months after each use and also increase your chances of recurrent infections.

If viruses aren’t living, what are they?
The core consists of a piece of either D.N.A. or R.N.A. They are inert articles and require a host, living cell to replicate inside. When viruses enter the body, they will bind to a receptor site that is a specific target. They don’t attach to any cell; they seek out a specific cell depending on the type of virus. Next, they penetrate the cell and begin to express their function. A series of events occur inside the cell, resulting in replication. The virus biochemically reprograms the host cell to produce 100’s - 1000’s copies of the virus, which ultimately ends in the destruction of the host cell. It reprograms your cell and clones itself. They are released and start the process all over again. Viruses are not living, like bacteria, so technically, they can’t be killed. With viruses, the goal is to deactivate them so they can’t replicate.

This differentiation is crucial because it will determine how we look at which oils to choose for our cleaning products. Suppose we find an antimicrobial essential oil, a broad catch-all phrase for something that works against pathogens. In that case, we may use something with anti-fungal concrete actions but weak antibacterial actions, so e. Coli remains on our countertop. All we’ve done is create a nice-smelling area for bacteria to breed.

Finally, we have fungi; these, like bacteria, are living and capable of survival without a host. They are the largest pathogens that infect humans. And, like bacteria may be beneficial.

How do you know that you’ve created an effective cleaning product?

M.I.C. - Minimum Inhibitory Concentration.

This is the minimum concentration required to deactivate or disarm infectious disease agents. This will be microbe specific, and the dilution will differ depending on the oil and the microbe.
Some typical chemical families found to be antimicrobial in essential oils are alcohols and phenols.

Minimum Inhibitory Concentration

Alcohols​ are gentle but potent antimicrobials and are generally safe to use around a wide range of individuals.
Ex. lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and patchouli

Phenols​ are extremely potent antimicrobials and can be irritating to the skin. They can also be hepatotoxic.
Ex. oregano, thyme, cinnamon, clove
Other chemical families include aldehydes, ketones, and esters.

Ready to try making your own all purpose cleaner? Try the recipe below. 

glass spray bottle
stainless steel funnel
essential oils

Essential Oil All Purpose Cleaner

All Purpose Cleaner Recipe

1⁄2 cup distilled water
1⁄2 cup vinegar
48 drops lavender essential oil
48 drops lemon essential oil (or sweet orange)
48 drops tea tree essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a large spray bottle. Label with use, ingredients, and date made. Shake before each use.

Download and save this recipe for future reference!


For another cleaning recipe you can find our Multi-Purpose Cleaning Recipe here.

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