Clean & Healthy

Blend your own household cleaning products using essential oils to remove dirt, grease, bacteria—and toxins.



Roberto Gonzalez

For years people have used essential oils in a holistic approach to health. Now, with the rise in awareness of toxins in common household products and health issues such as multiple chemical sensitivity, essential oils are gaining momentum as  household cleaning agents.

“Natural cleaning options have received a lot of focus in recent years to help reduce overall toxic chemical exposure. Homes on average contain more than 150 hazardous products that together contain hundreds of different chemicals,” says Jennifer Pressimone, a holistic aromatherapist and owner of JennScents Inc. of Clermont. She says such chemicals increase cancer risks and the risk of accidental poisonings.

“When you smell a toxic cleaning product, it is in your blood stream in 26 seconds. On the other hand, using a natural, plant-based essential oil product actually promotes health while you are cleaning,” says Trish Deer, a Mims-based representative of Young Living essential oils.

Oil-based cleaners are economical compared with store-bought products, she says, and require only basic ingredients. “You need clean water, essential oils and maybe some vinegar or baking soda—some very natural ingredients that are not harmful to humans.”

According to Pressimone, all essential oils contain some degree of antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. For instance, thyme and eucalyptus oils are known for their germicidal qualities, pine oil is a powerful and pungent cleaning agent, and lemon oil is known for its grease-cutting skills.

“You can combine essential oils with several kitchen essentials such as olive oil for a dust solution, baking soda for a tub or sink scrub, and white vinegar for a tile or wood floor cleaner,” she says. Essential oils are concentrated, so only a few drops are needed. Like commercial products, essential oils should be kept out of the reach of children.

For a natural floor cleaner that can be used even on wood, Pressimone suggests combining 5-8 drops each of lemon, tea tree and lavender oils with 2 cups of white vinegar and a gallon of water. She recommends decreasing the total number of drops to 10 if you have sensitive pets such as cats, birds, fish or exotic animals. “You could also use this solution to clean windows and stovetops without streaking,” she says.

For an all-purpose cleaner, using a 16-ounce spray bottle, Pressimone combines 4 ounces of Castile soap; 4 ounces of white vinegar; 8 ounces of water; and 8-10 drops each of lavender, sweet orange and cinnamon oils. You can use the spray to clean countertops, sinks, toilets, tubs and carpet.

Trish Deer says the best essential oils are organic, GMO-free, non-hybridized and grown on “virgin soil—never used for any other purpose.” Pressimone adds that consumers should ensure each batch of oil is tested for pesticides or chemicals.

Jennifer Pressimone will teach a class on Natural Cleaning with Aromatherapy, April 8 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at Harry P. Leu Gardens. leugardens.org/classes

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