Spring Cleaning with Essential Oils

By Taylor Elliott, Owner of Palmettos & Sunshine

Birds are chirping at all hours of the day but especially the morning. It’s a delightful sound to wake up to and I love watching my son run to the window to see if he can see our resident cardinal outside. Azaleas and other spring annuals are in full bloom, pollen counts are high, gentle rain showers are coming more frequently, and my personal favorite warmer weather and sunshine has arrived. It’s Spring!! And with that fresh bright direct sunlight, I can see the handprints on the windows and the dust on the blinds that I’ve let build up all Winter. Whoops.

It’s a time of year when a lot of us start to tackle some larger cleaning projects that we’ve been putting off. Whether it’s cleaning out garages, organizing pantries, starting a 30-day detox program, or finally getting to those dirty baseboards, Spring has almost become synonymous with cleaning. But what if in our efforts to make our homes cleaner and a respite for ourselves, friends, and family, we are actually inflicting more harm than doing good?

 Dangers of Typical Household Cleaners

Here is the quick low-down:

  1. On average, most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most homes have air pollution 2 to 5 times greater than the air outside – mostly due to the toxic chemicals in household cleaners. So while we may think we are avoiding toxins by spending time indoors, our efforts are backfiring.

  2. The Environmental Working Group warns that many cleaners are pollutants that contribute to smog, reduce the quality of drinking water, and are toxic to animals. When I stop to think about it, it seems pretty strange that I should need to wear a mask, or in the case of cleaning an oven even leave the house, while using a typical household cleaning item – particularly since I will be showering and eating in those same places later in the day!

  3. Unfortunately, children often experience these harmful chemicals in higher doses than adults. They are more vulnerable to chemical exposure particularly during fetal developmental stages. In addition, younger children have higher respiratory rates than adults, therefore they absorb more air contaminants per units of weight

But take heart! Seriously, we have options now! There are so many fragrance-free and more organic or natural options readily available. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or scary task to get that stuff out of your home. Take things one item at a time if you need and switch to safer brands. Better yet, start making your own using essential oils. I promise, it’s much easier than it seems and it is generally more cost effective.

How are Essential Oils Effective Cleaning Agents?

Let’s start with the basics, what are essential oils and how are the effective in cleaning my home?

Essential oils are naturally occurring volatile aromatic compounds found in various parts of plants (seeds, flowers, roots, bark, and others). These compounds serve protective, regenerative, and reproductive purposes vital for the plants survival. They help protect the plants, participate in plant pollination, and provide plants their distinctive aromas. Essential oils are highly concentrated when distilled for purity, potency, and efficacy.

Each oil can have hundreds of individual constituents that provide specific aromas and benefits and embody protective properties, allowing them to be used to support human emotional, mental, and physical healing. Each constituent has its own distinct structure (shape, size, arrangement of chemical bonds is unique). The different constituents in an essential oil determine both the oil’s aroma and the benefits it offers. It is these chemical constituents that give certain essential oils powerful disinfecting and cleansing properties. For example, essential oils that have monoterpene alcohols as a part of their make-up are known to be antimicrobial, cleansing, gentle, and mild (basic favorites here are lavender, melaleuca/tea tree, and frankincense).

In short: Organic chemical constituents that occur naturally in nature are what manufactured cleaning agents are created in the lab to replicate.

Basic Cleaning with Essential Oil DIY Recipes

Thanks for reading this far everyone! Obviously there is a lot more information about typical household cleaners and chemical constituents of essential oils but I imagine a lot of you are saying. . . gracious. . . get to the recipes already. I wanted to make sure that I provided a bit of background that hopefully lends some insight into why I’ve switched to essential oils in our household.

Ingredients to have on-hand

  1. Baking Soda – eliminates and absorbs odor. Use to clean countertops, sinks, and tubs.

  2. White Vinegar – contains natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. Cuts grease and dissolves mineral deposits

  3. Castile Soap – lifts dirt, cuts grease, eliminates tough stains.

  4. Salt – effective scouring agent. Pour salt mixed with hot water down the kitchen sink to deodorize and keep grease from building up.

  5. Fractionated Coconut Oil or Olive Oil – natural cleaner and polisher

Best Essential Oils for Cleaning

  1. Arborvitae – Antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, stimulant

  2. Repel bugs and insects and kill airborne pathogens

  3. Lemon – Antiseptic, antioxidant, antibacterial, disinfectant, degreaser

  4. Eliminate airborne odors, polish wood furniture, remove grease/residue

  5. Lime – Antiseptic, antioxidant, antibacterial, tonic, detoxifier, disinfectant

  6. support healthy immune function, purify skin/hair, remove grease spots

  7. Melaleuca – Antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic, antiviral, analgesic, decongestant

  8. Clean & disinfect wounds, protect against environmental threats, freshen/purify air

  9. Juniper Berry -Detoxifier, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, anti-parasitic

  10. Cleanse and purify air with calming/grounding effect

  11. Wild Orange – Energizing, sedative, anti-carcinoma, carminative, antiseptic

  12. Cleanse kitchen and bathroom surfaces, purify air with revitalizing aroma, polish furniture

  13. Peppermint – Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, expectorant, antispasmodic

  14. Freshen breath and kill bacteria, repel bugs and insects, stay alert

  15. Purify Cleansing Blend – Lemon, Lime, Fir, Pine, Citronella, Melaleuca, Cilantro

  16. Kill germs and microbes on surfaces or in air, eliminate odors

  17. OnGuard Protective Blend- Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Rosemary

  18. Kill germs and airborne pathogens, immune booster, antiseptic cleaner

Favorite and Most-Used Recipes

The Best All Purpose Lemon Cleaner

1 ½ cups vinegar

1 tsp castile soap

10 drops Lemon

5 drops Melaleuca

10 drops OnGuard

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a glass container and mix well. Spray on the surface you’d like to clean and wipe off with cloth. Ideal uses: shine stainless steel, remove grime from microwaves, freshen the garbage disposal, deep clean appliances like washing machine or refrigerator. Shake well before each use.  NOTE: You can also use OnGuard Cleaner Concentrate and water.

Hand Soap

2 tbsp. unscented castile soap

1 tbsp. fractionated coconut oil

10 drops essential oil (like OnGuard, Lemon, Wild Orange, or Bergamot)


Instructions: Pour soap and fractionated coconut oil in bottle, add essential oils, slowly add water until full leaving room for pump.

Citrus Dish Soap

2 cups castile soap

20 drops Lime

20 drops Lemon

6 drops Citrus Bliss

Instructions: Fill large glass bottle with soap, add essential oils, shake before each use.

Fabric Softener

1 64 oz. bag Epsom Salt

40 drops Lavender

20 drops Lemon

30 drops Melaleuca

Instructions: Pour salt into a large glass container with lid, add EOS and stir to combine. Use ½ cup for medium to large loads in wash cycle.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

1 cup castile soap

1 cup baking soda

1/3 cup coarse salt

7L hot water

20 drops dōTERRA EOs

Instructions: Whisk together in large bucket and portion into containers as needed. Shake before each use.

Disinfecting Toilet Bowl Cleaner

10 drops Melaleuca

15 drop Eucalyptus

¼ cup white vinegar

½ cup baking soda

Instructions: Add ingredients directly into the bowl and scrub as the vinegar and baking soda react. If needed, let sit for an hour and then scrub.

Tub & Shower Cleaning Gel

1 cup vinegar

½ cup unscented castile soap

10 drops Lemon

Instructions: Combine ingredients in squeeze bottle and shake well. Squeeze on desired area, scrub and let sit for 2 hours. Rinse.

Soft Scrub Bathroom Cleaner

¾ rounded cup baking soda

¼ cup unscented liquid castile soap

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon vinegar

5–10 drops Lemon oil

Instructions: In bowl, combine baking soda and castile soap. Add water and stir. Add vinegar and essential oil. The consistency should be a soft paste. Store in airtight container. Add ingredients directly to partially drained bowl. As it reacts, scrub toilet.

Garbage Disposal Refresher

2 cups baking soda

1 cup salt

½ cup water

⅓ cup unscented liquid castile soap

30 drops Lemon oil

Instructions: Combine baking soda and salt into a bowl. Add castile soap and essential oil to the mixture. Add water one tablespoon at a time while stirring with hands until it forms the consistency of damp sand. Added too much water? Not to fret, just add a bit more baking soda until the mixture sticks together some. Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, pack the mixture tightly and then place on parchment paper. Let it dry for 24 hours or until they are hard. Put into a glass jar and use the next time you do dishes! Just add 1-3 refreshers in the disposal when you turn it on.

Tips for Keeping It Clean

Once you’ve spent time and energy getting your house all spiffed up and are breathing in the bonus side benefits of essential oils (think a lighter, less anxious, uplifted mood dissipating throughout) you’re going to want to keep it that way! Here are a few ideas to keep in your routine.

  1. Keep plants that naturally clean the air

  2. Peace Lily, Eucalyptus, English Ivy, Boston Fern, Spider Plant

  3. Take your shoes off.

  4. Prevent the contaminants that you likely walked through (playgrounds, subways, public restrooms, sidewalks, gas stations) from getting past the door.

  5. Use natural cleaners such as the recipes listed above

  6. Vacuum Regularly – dust mites can hold on to bacteria and unpleasant smells.

  7. Change your air filter at least every 3 months (and put in a drop of Wild Orange) to keep dust mites and bacteria away. Especially important if you have pets. Also consider running fans frequently and open windows when you can.

  8. Replace toxic air fresheners & diffuse Essential Oils

  9. Purify, OnGuard, Juniper Berry, Lemon, Lime, or Melaleuca (Tea Tree) all have purifying properties as well as immune boosting, calming, or uplifting side benefits.

  10. Add a drop of essential oil to the inside of the toilet paper roll for a fresh scent with every spin

  11. Add a drop of peppermint to the bowl when the bathroom smells grosser than it did earlier

Additional Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils and the myriad of ways they can assist in creating a healthier home and lifestyle, I’d love to hear from you! I’d be happy to discuss your needs and help you determine the products that serve you best.

Palmettos & Sunshine

10 Ways to Spring Clean with Lemon

10 Day Essential Oil Cleaning Challenge

BONUS: In the month of May, starter kits like the Home Essentials or Natural Solutions Kit earns you free green cleaning and immune boosting powerhouses: On Guard Sanitizing Mist, On Guard Essential Oil, Whitening Toothpaste, and Wild Orange Essential Oil.

About the Author: Taylor Elliott, Owner Palmettos & Sunshine

It was never my intention to join dōTERRA® as a wellness advocate and begin to build a business but I believe that things and ideas only fall on people when they are ready to take on a new venture. My goals shifted in a manner that made me want to be a leader of a community that would support and build one another in our various endeavors and encourage each other to truly be our best selves.

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