Who doesn’t love the feeling of a freshly clean and sparkling home? But a long day of spring cleaning with harsh chemical products can take a toll on your body, zapping the luster right out of that “fresh and clean” feeling. What if you could make cleaning fun? Or at the very least, smell good?
By now you may be aware of how much research exists on the toxicity of many cleaning products out there. Just check out the latest advisories from the Environmental Working Group and the latest news that home use of bleach may lead to increased rates of infections in children.
But while many people want to swap their toxic chemicals for something more natural, they’re still unsure of which green cleaning alternatives to choose. Not to fear! Essential oils are the perfect solution for swapping out the toxic cleaners for green cleaning. In fact, you’ll also be getting a dose of aromatherapy and skin nourishment while you clean. If you’re ready to make the switch, here are my green cleaning tips for how to swap the toxic cleaners with essential oils:
Toxic Product: Fabric Softener/Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are often laden with chemicals that coat your clothes, which can be absorbed into your system through your skin. Not to mention fabric softener isn’t exactly cheap. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a little bit of static cling on my Christmas sweater than my clothes doused with toxins.
Green Cleaning Swap: Essential Oils and a Damp Washcloth
Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils (I’ve listed mine below!) to a damp washcloth. It refreshes your clothes, smells better than costly dryer sheets, and is a green way to spruce up the laundry. The steam from a damp washcloth in your dryer will also help de-wrinkle your clothes!
- Lavender Lavandula angustifolia: 1 drop
- Geranium Pelargonium graveolens oil: 1 drop
- Tea tree Australia Melaleuca alternifolia oil: 1 drop
- 1 Washcloth
Dampen the washcloth and add essential oils. Place in dryer with laundry for a fresh, green alternative to conventional dryer sheets.
Lavandin Lavandula intermedia can be substituted in this recipe – it is cheaper and also is a moth repellant!
Toxic Product: Bleach Surface Cleaner/Powder
I know the bathroom is not a pretty place to clean—and I certainly want a product that will get the job done. However, many popular powder cleaners contain the chemical ingredient troclosene sodium dihydrate along with other unsavory toxins. Exposure (both short and long-term) to troclosene sodium dihydrate can cause a number of health issues, so why not just go the natural route and use essential oils for green cleaning?
Green Cleaning Swap: Green Clean Surface Paste
You’ll be amazed at how effective a bit of baking soda and essential oils can be! The essential oils below have powerful disinfecting properties. They make wonderful natural substitutes for toxic chemicals found in traditional bleach-based cleaners and powders, and they still get those heavy-duty jobs done!
- Tea tree Australia M. alternifolia
- Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus or E. smithii
- Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
- Bergamot Citrus aurantium var. bergamia
Try using any of the oils above in this green cleaning recipe to clean your bathroom or other surfaces in your home. You can also replicate the smells of your favorite cleaner: Are you a Pine-sol addict? Try some pine Pinus sylvestris essential oil in your Green Clean Surface Paste!
- Essential oil: 8 drops
- ½-cup baking soda
- Sufficient water to form a paste
Mix baking soda with water in a small bowl. Add essential oils. Make fresh for each use.
Toxic Product: Mold and Mildew Remover
Mold not only looks unsightly, it can also pose several potential health risks, including triggering allergic reactions and asthma attacks. But if you’re trying to breathe easier by removing mold and mildew from your home, why would you want to use a chemical cleaner that could be just as toxic?
Green Cleaning Swap: Australian Tea Tree Cleaning Spray
Australian tea tree M. alternifolia essential oil has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s an excellent green cleaning alternative to more traditional mold and mildew cleaning products. Try this green cleaning recipe the next time you need some muscle to manage that mold!
- Tea tree (Australian) Melaleuca alternifolia oil: 10-20 drops
- Alcohol: 1 tablespoon
- Water: 2 cups
Add alcohol and essential oil to spray bottle. Shake to combine then add water. Shake again. Saturate moldy areas with the spray and allow to sit overnight. Wipe down the next day.
If swapping out every chemical cleaner from your home seems overwhelming, take it slow! Swap one cleaning product every two weeks. Or simply swap one product every time you clean. Tackling that upstairs bathroom this weekend? Take it as an opportunity to swap out bleach with your favorite sanitizing essential oils in the Green Clean Surface Paste!
One note: Essential Oils are highly concentrated. Keep them out of reach of children and in a glass bottle with a safety cap out of direct sunlight.
There are a number of ways you can detox your home by creating all-natural, green cleaning products with essential oils. Listing all our green cleaning recipes in one blog post would be quite the task, and so we’ve organized many more tips, tricks, and green cleaning with essential oils recipes into one, comprehensive eBook: Green Spring Cleaning with Essential Oils. Enjoy!
What is your favorite essential oil for green cleaning? Share with us in the comments!
Updated April 23, 2015 with link to Today show news that bleach use may be linked with higher rates of infection in children.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the CIO of American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.