The Best Essential Oils For Cleaning Naturally & Effectively

Essential oils are packed with antibacterial, antimicrobial and purifying properties that can add a fresh sparkle to your living space. Unfortunately, many mainstream cleaning products contain chemicals and toxins that can have a negative effect on your health and home.

Plus, do you really want your home to smell like a chemical plant? By using essential oils as an alternative to many popular products, you can remove all the dirt and germs without the toxicity. 

Do Essential Oils Really Work For Cleaning?

The short answer is yes, essential oils can help disinfect, purify and cleanse surfaces and the air around you. Plus, they smell incredible. Many essential oils naturally contain antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can help remove and ward off germs, pathogens and remove stains. For example, scientific research has shown Tea Tree essential oil to be effective at fighting E. coli, S. aureus, S. Epidermidis, H. influenzae and other pathogens.

Many people are now using essential oils to help clean the air of viruses and other pathogens. By adding some of our favorite essential oils for cleaning to your diffuser or using them in a surface clean, you can effectively purify your  favorite spaces and boost your immune system. 

The Best Essential Oils For Cleaning

Lemon Essential Oil

Citrusy and bright, Lemon essential oil just smells like fresh cleaning. And there's a good reason we have such a natural association between Lemon oil cleaning and good ole’ fashion elbow grease. One of Lemon essential oil's main constituents is an aromatic compound called Limonene, which is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also an active ingredient in many famous cleaning products, like Mrs. Meyer's and EverSpring.

A 2019 study showed Lemon essential oil to have high antimicrobial activity on fighting off food-borne pathogens and fish spoilage bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (staph bacteria) and Photobacterium damselae (a pathogen often found in rotting fish). Clean and clear Lemon is a top pick for effective antibacterial purification. 

Natural All-Purpose Cleaner

1/2 cup of witch hazel

1/2 cup of vinegar

20 drops of Lemon essential oil 

8 oz spray bottle

How to: 

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake before each use. Spray to remove surface stains, marks or spills. (Do not use on granite countertops). 

Orange Essential Oil 

Another citrus on our list, Orange essential oil is the cleaning agent of your dreams. Famous for its degreasing and antiseptic abilities, Orange is great for cleaning cutting boards, kitchen counters and more ( be sure to dilute with vinegar and water). You may also be familiar with Orange oil cleaner for wood surfaces too for it's ability to naturally polish without drying. 

One of the main constituents of Orange essential oil is d-Limonene which in addition to having antibacterial properties, is also a mood booster. Why not add some positive vibes to your freshly cleaned space?

Additionally, a 2012 study found Orange essential oil to be helpful in inhibiting the growth of E.coli in cold temperatures. It also has effective levels of antibacterial activity against 22 different types of bacteria according to a study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Create an easy orange disinfecting spray with just a few ingredients listed below. 

Orange Spray Cleaner

1 ½ cup of distilled water

1 cup of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of castile soap

30 drops of Orange essential oil

Spray bottle

How to: 

Combine all ingredients into your spray bottle and spray on countertops, bathrooms surfaces, walls and other highly-touched surfaces. Shake before each use. 

Tea Tree Essential Oil

As discussed above, Tea Tree essential oil is one of the all-time top powerhouse natural cleaners. Tea Tree is extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant found in Australia. For centuries, Aboriginal people have used Tea Tree to treat coughs, colds and to disinfect wounds. 

What makes Tea Tree so effective is its natural composition. Two of its main constituents are the natural compounds known as Terpinen-4 and 1,8-Cineole. Together, the two compounds make Tea Tree incredibly effective at eliminating germs, fugus, microbes and harmful bacteria. 

Adding Tea Tree to hand-washing has been shown to be effective against E. coli and other bacteria, according to a comparison study. For a really deep clean, Tea Tree essential oil can also help purify the air around you. Add a few drops of Tea Tree to a diffuser or dilute it in a spray bottle with water to help eliminate airborne contaminants. 

The Ultimate Deep Clean Scrub

1/2 cup of baking soda

1/3 cup of castile soap

1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide

3/4 cup of distilled water

25 drops of Tea Tree essential oil 

How to:

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Scoop the mixture out with a kitchen bristle brush and scrub your shower, baseboards, sink and toilet. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. 

Lemongrass Essential Oil

Not only does Lemongrass essential oil smell like a warm summer day, it naturally deodorizes almost any space. Lemongrass helps eliminate icky odor and replace it with a de-stressing and calming aroma. 

One of the main constituents of Lemongrass is an aromatic compound called Citral. Citral is renowned for its high levels of antimicrobial activity which inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi. Lemongrass essential oil was shown to be powerful against pathogenic bacteria and an effective antimicrobial agent in a 2017 study. 

Essential Oil Carpet Refresher

2 cups of baking soda

25 drops of Lemongrass essential oil

Small container

How To:

Pour baking soda into a bowl and stir in Lemongrass essential oil until completely mixed. Allow the mixture to dry for about 2 hours. Sprinkle onto your carpet and let sit for 1-2 hours. Vacuum the mix up thoroughly.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Often a go-to for headaches and muscle pains, Peppermint essential oil can also help scrub away harmful bacteria and germs. Additionally, a natural Peppermint cleaner is often used as an insect and rodent repellent because of its potent menthol properties. 

A main constituent of Peppermint is L-Menthone, an aromatic compound rich in antibacterial qualities. A chemistry study found Peppermint essential oil to help inhibit the growth of microorganisms. The authors of the study recommended further evaluation of essential oils by pharmaceutical industries to replace synthetic preservatives.  

Peppermint Pest Repellent 

1 cup of witch hazel or alcohol

1 cup of distilled water

10 drops of Peppermint essential oil

Spray bottle

How to: 

Combine all the ingredients in the spray bottle and spray liberally where pests are expected. Shake before each use. 

SOURCES: 

​​De Silva BCJ, Jung WG, Hossain S, Wimalasena SHMP, Pathirana HNKS, Heo GJ. Antimicrobial property of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) oil against pathogenic bacteria isolated from pet turtles. Lab Anim Res. 2017;33(2):84-91. doi:10.5625/lar.2017.33.2.84

Hatice Yazgan, Yesim Ozogul, Esmeray Kuley, Antimicrobial influence of nanoemulsified lemon essential oil and pure lemon essential oil on food-borne pathogens and fish spoilage bacteria

Messager, S., Hammer, K. A., Carson, C. F., & Riley, T. V. (2005). Effectiveness of hand-cleansing formulations containing tea tree oil assessed ex vivo on human skin and in vivo with volunteers using European standard EN 1499. The Journal of hospital infection, 59(3), 220–228. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2004.06.032

Pattnaik, S., Subramanyam, V. R., & Kole, C. (1996). Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro. Microbios, 86(349), 237–246.

Rajinder Singh, Muftah A.M. Shushni, Asma Belkheir, Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of Mentha piperita L., Arabian Journal of Chemistry, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arabjc.2011.01.019.

Swamy, M. K., Akhtar, M. S., & Sinniah, U. R. (2016). Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2016, 3012462. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/3012462