Cleaning with essential oils not only makes your home smell good but also can help kill germs. However, some essential oils can be harmful to children or pets. You can clean with essential oils safely when you choose oils that are safe around pets and kids and use as small of an amount of essential oil as possible. Let’s take a closer look.
What are Essential Oils
Maybe you’ve heard about them but aren’t really sure what they are. Essential oils are the super concentrated oils extracted from plants. Many plants produce essential oils with anti-microbial properties that help kill bacteria and fungi in your home. When mixed with a DIY cleaning solution like vinegar and water, it can really super charge your cleaning and get rid of that vinegar smell.
Note: Do not add essential oils to commercial cleaners you buy in the store, many of the chemicals used in those formulations can interact with essential oils and turn a safe cleaner into a toxic one.
Essential Oils to Avoid Around Kids & Pets
When choosing essential oils to clean with, it’s important to note that too much of a good thing is still too much. Use the most minimal amount of any essential oil needed. Because many families have both pets and children, we’re listing oils to avoid for both types of family members. Common essential oils to avoid using around children, but mainly pets, include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Tea Tree
- Peppermint (This can cause serious respiratory distress)
- Eucalyptus (Appears on some lists as potentially harmful)
Common Sense Safety Notice: As with any substance you use around pets and children, if you have concerns, talk to your veterinarian or pediatrician. If accidentally ingested, call the Poison Control Center at 800.222.1222 for instructions and have the bottle of essential oil handy when you call to provide any information needed.
Essential Oils for Cleaning
An easy DIY cleaner you can add essential oils to is a solution of white distilled vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio. For every 2 cups of solution, use 5-10 drops total of essential oil–using as little as needed. Again, essential oils are super concentrated so using too much of any oil, even one safe for kids and pets, can cause a serious reaction for them and for you. For many essential oils, the safety or the danger is in the dose. Here is a list of helpful essential oils for cleaning that are generally safe in minimal doses:
- Clary Sage – Smells woodsy and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Geranium – In germ killing tests, geranium essential oil killed 12 out of 12 types of fungi and 22 out of 22 strains of bacteria.
- Lavender – Effective against disease-causing micro-organisms and also environmental fungi and bacteria. Lavender is easy to overdo so be careful with this one.
- Lemongrass – Gives a lemon-y smell without using lemon essential oil (citrus essential oils are harmful to pets). In efficacy testing, Lemongrass oil killed 22 of 22 types of bacteria and 12 of 12 types of fungi.
- Arborvitae – This oil is extracted from the evergreen tree and is particularly useful for cleaning wood furniture and floors. It also repels insects and is proven to kill both E. Coli and Salmonella.
This list is not exhaustive as there are literally more than 100 different types of essential oils out there, however, it covers some popular ones that are generally regarded as safe to use for cleaning in homes with children and pets. Essential oils can amp up the effectiveness of your time spent cleaning and make your home smell wonderful.