Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of pure essential oils extracted from the leaves, flowers, stems, bark, roots, fruits and even seeds of a variety of plants. The incredibly potent oils created can then be used alone or combined with other carrier oils, such as almond, sunflower or even oil. You may be familiar with the use of aromatherapy in massages and other spa treatments but did you realise that aromatherapy can also play a powerful role in house cleaning and carpet cleaning?
The smell of accumulated dirt, grime and mould – not to mention stale air – can be overwhelming as you’re doing the house cleaning; in fact, the odours can even cause nausea and sickness if there is poor ventilation. However, with a few drops of essential oils in the right places, you can reap the benefits of aromatherapy while doing the household chores and even find them invigorating, rather than tiring! In addition, aside from their deodorising properties, many essential oils have fungus- and bacteria-killing properties as well, playing an active role in cleaning and disinfecting, particularly in carpet cleaning. Lastly, making your own “aromatherapy cleaners” can be fun and cost-effective, particularly in large amounts – and the best part is, they’re easy to make!
Here are some of the more popular essential oils and associated cleaning tips:
Tea Tree – tea tree oils is one of Nature’s most powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents. It is ideal for general household disinfecting and is a key component in many commercial ‘natural’ cleaners. To make your own cleaner, just dilute a few drops in water and spray onto surfaces. For larger cleaning jobs, such as dealing with mould and mildew, dissolve about 50 drops of tea tree oil in a bucket of water and use on the surface.
Chamomile – chamomile is well-known for its soothing properties and has been used in this capacity for well over 2,000 years. But don’t just restrict its benefits to a warm tea or spa aromatherapy! Since the scent of chamomile is well-known for its soothing and invigorating effect, use a few drops in a home-made air freshener by diluting a few drops of the essential oil with water in a spritz bottle.
Lavender – probably the best known aromatherapy essential oil, lavender has a myriad of uses. Like tea tree oil, it is a natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent and similarly, a few drops of lavender oil added to hot water makes a fantastic natural disinfectant for general household cleaning, such as cleaning countertops and mopping floors, among other surfaces. Given its calming influence, lavender oil can also be diluted in water and using a spritz bottle, lightly sprayed onto the pillows and bedsheets, on clothing during ironing or even placed in a diffuser to provide general deodorisation and aroma in a room.
Peppermint – another essential oil with a well-recognised fragrance, peppermint also has mild antiseptic properties and as such, a few drops adds a fresh dimension to household cleaning.
A combination of essential oils can be used in other home-made cleaners and used in many other aspects of house cleaning. Here are some useful cleaning tips:
- To repel insects and other pests, use either lavender, peppermint or citronella – either just be dabbing a few drops on your skin and your pets (these oils are safe on the skin) – or by diffusing these via containers placed around your home.
- For general deodeorising and fragrancing, use a few drops of any essential oil in your rubbish bin, laundry, linen and even air conditioning filters. Alternatively, if you really need to freshen up your home, try putting a few drops of your favourite aromatherapy oil in a pot of simmering water and leave this simmering on the stove for several hours. Citrus oils are particularly invigorating and refreshing but you can choose any essential oil or aroma you prefer.
- For a particularly fresh bathroom, add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to the cardboard roll which holds the toilet paper so that each time it is pulled and paper is dispensed, the fragrance of the oils will be released.
- Create a fragrant rinse with aromatherapy cleaning! Choose an essential oil like lavender, pine, lemon, eucalyptus or any other favourites and add 4 drops per pint of water, then use this mixture as a ‘final rinse’ after the general cleaning has been done. Remember to store this solution in a dark area.
- To freshen carpets, mix 25 drops of rosewood essential oil, 35 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and 30 drops lavender essential oil with 4 cups of baking soda (or cornstarch will also work) – make sure you stir well and break apart any clumps. Pour the mixture into a shaker bottle and then sprinkle onto carpets about 15 minutes prior to doing the vacuuming. It is also possible to replace the essential oils in the mixture with other aromatherapy oils that you prefer.
- Orange and lemon essential oils are particular good for cleaning floors – dilute 15 drops of orange essential oil and 8 drops of lemon essential oils in 1 gallon hot water and then add 2 tablespoons liquid soap. This mixture will not only be tough on dirt and grease but will also leave the room smelling wonderfully fresh.
Remember, essential oils are very potent and if excessive amounts are ingested by children or pets, they can cause sickness. In addition, they should be kept well away from the eyes. So make sure that they are always clearly labelled and stored safely out of reach. And always read the safety information for each essential oil before using it in any cleaning procedure.