One of the greatest things about using essential oils is their versatility. Just a few bottles on hand can get the job done for a multitude of needs. Using a natural product should always take precedence over artificial chemicals, especially in and around the home. Common household chemicals often contain carcinogens that can be harmful to the people and pets in your home. Combine the toxic ingredients with wasteful and often unrecyclable packaging, and these products can have devastating effects on our environment, too.
Products and tinctures that you can make yourself can often be just as potent and reliable as what you’d buy in the store. Essential oils can be used sparingly due to their potency, so after integrating more oil use in your daily life, you’ll find you can easily replace several common household chemicals over time. This saves you money in the long haul.
There are an incredible number of oils available on the market, and with so many ways to put them to use, it can become overwhelming to delve into for a new user. Below you’ll find some information on the most common applications for essential oils, followed by a “Quick Guide” of some of the most versatile and helpful varieties for easy reference. It is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it will provide a stepping stone into the world of aromatherapy and essential oils.
Despite the fact that essential oils are a natural product, always be sure to handle them with care. Do not ingest. Unless otherwise directed, never apply essential oils directly to the skin. Never apply to the mucous membranes, eyes, genitals, or apply directly to the skin of babies or pets. Pet birds should not be exposed to essential oils in any capacity. In instances where application to the skin is directed, always dilute with a carrier, such as olive oil or coconut oil, unless otherwise noted.
Wash with soapy water if you spill concentrated oil directly on your skin. For small children, or pregnant or nursing mothers, be sure to check with your physician before using essential oils. The information provided is not intended to diagnose or cure any ailment, nor is it intended to replace the advice of an experienced physician. If you have a medical emergency, please seek prompt medical attention.
Diffusers and atomizers are the most common vessels to use for aromatherapy purposes. They are very simple to use and are extremely affordable. Set yours up in the room where you’ll be spending time and be sure to follow the directions that come with your unit. Typically, a small amount of water along with a few drops of oil and possibly a carrier is all that’s needed.
You can use assorted oils as simple fragrance for your space, or select an essential oil that caters to a desired effect. When diffusing or atomizing, let your personal preferences be your guide. Oils can be mixed to create a personalized aroma, and there are many combinations you can experiment with. For a tried and true combination, use a mix of equal parts clove and pine in your unit for a warm, inviting, and relaxing fragrance. Just being in the room where your diffuser or atomizer is placed is sufficient to experience the benefits. Do not stand above or directly inhale the vapor, mist, smoke, or steam that your unit produces.
For additional info more specific to your concerns on what oils are beneficial for use in your diffuser, please see the “Health & Hygiene” section below.
For those that make their own cleaning supplies like laundry detergent or multipurpose cleaner, oils can add a little punch to not only the aroma of your concoctions, but can add extra power to their efficacy. When adding oils to your cleaning agents, remember that less is more. Only add a 2 or 3 drops at a time when making new recipes, mixing well, until desired fragrance is reached. Citrus varieties, eucalyptus, or lavender are optimal for these uses. White thyme is another good choice for homemade cleaning supplies.
For an all-purpose spray for cleaning hard surfaces like kitchen counters, sinks, and bathroom fixtures, mix about 10-15 drops of your oil of choice (lemon, for a traditional scent) into about a cup of water and about 2 tablespoons of distilled vinegar. Shake well in a spray bottle and use as you would any other cleaner.
Use tea tree, rosemary, peppermint, or clove in place of lemon for a version of the cleaner to use as a shower spray. Spray the shower down after use to help prevent mold and mildew. Likewise, you can use this spray on pool toys and patio fixtures for the same effect.
Spend only pennies per load when you make your own laundry soap. Mix equal parts (about 1 cup) washing soda and borax to one grated bar of Zote (or equivalent laundry bar soap), and drop in roughly 15 drops of your chosen essential oil. Shake or mix well. Store in a sealed container and sprinkle into the wash a little at a time until desired soapiness is reached. This mixture is not suitable for those who use a cold water wash, as the mixture will remain grainy.
For cold water cycle use, add boiling or very hot water to your detergent mixture a little at a time, mixing gently. You only want to add enough of the water to melt the soap flakes, dissolve the granules, and give the detergent a “fluid” movement, like traditional liquid detergent. Similarly to the dry mix, store this mixture in a sealed container after cooling completely. Use as you would any liquid detergent.
Health & Hygiene
Bath time becomes therapeutic with the addition of an essential oil. Mix roughly 7-10 drops of your desired oil with a carrier such as coconut oil or even some your shampoo prior to adding to the bath water. Stir around into the bath prior to soaking. Lavender is a favorite for a relaxing at the end of the day. Chamomile can be used for calming as well. If you’re looking for an invigorating bath, add spearmint, or rosemary oil instead.
Lavender oil diluted with a carrier can be applied to bug bites to prevent itching and soothe irritation. Neem oil is not as common to find in households, but is equally or more effective at soothing bug bites. You can apply neem oil directly to the skin or dilute slightly with a carrier oil if sensitivities to neem are in question.
Peppermint oil mixed with a carrier and applied to the chest is great for relieving congestion. Applied to the temples, it can help relieve headaches. Peppermint oil can also help relieve digestive issues, oral problems, respiratory concerns, and skin problems. Peppermint is a favorite oil for diffusing because of its laundry list of benefits as well as its pleasant aroma.
Clove oil is popular for its anesthetic purposes and is often used in oral remedies for that purpose. It’s also naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, so it can be added to homemade face washes for an invigorating addition to an anti-acne regimen. Tea tree oil can be used as well for similar purposes. Clove oil is also antifungal, making it ideal for athlete’s foot and toenail fungus home remedies as well.
Another favorite in the bath and body category, tea tree oil, is great for face wash recipes, mouthwash recipes, as well as hair care mixtures. With a few drops mixed with ale vera gel, tea tree oil can help make a very effective sunburn remedy.
Essential oils can be used as specialized bug repellants around the house. Different aromas will repel (not kill) different species, so be sure to use an oil that targets your particular pest. Citronella is a great all-around deterrent for common problems like mosquitos and flies. Other helpful oils in this arena are citrus varieties (like lemongrass or orange) to repel fleas, specifically, or peppermint oil, which is known to repel mosquitoes and spiders.
For outdoor areas, mix roughly 15 drops of oil with a spoonful of coconut oil and a splash of rubbing alcohol. Add to a 16-oz sprayer bottle of water and shake well to mix. Spray around thresholds, windows, and the home perimeter. This mixture is safe for use on shrubs and edible plants and will not harm wildlife. For a safe pest control option specifically for your edible garden, use a mixture of peppermint and neem oils. Add clove oil for added protection against fungus. Sprays that are applied outdoors will need to be re-applied after rain.
For indoor areas, apply your mixture to a piece of fabric or cotton ball and stow away in areas common for critters, like the back of the pantry. Cedar can be used in conjunction with the peppermint to prevent a moth infestation. Be sure to leave your repellant in areas that are out of the reach of children and pets.
For rodents, a peppermint and eucalyptus mixture is ideal. Applying a concentrated mixture of these oils to cedar shavings makes a great repellant for around the house perimeter and garden. You will need to reapply regularly depending on location, temperature, and combatant critters.
To use your mixture inside of the house, apply in the same fashion as you would for bug repellent. Dilute a few drops of the eucalyptus and peppermint oils with a carrier and some water. Apply to a porous holder like a cotton ball or makeup sponge and store under kitchen sinks, behind appliances, and other areas common for pests. You can use an ashtray, jar lid, or even a piece of tin foil to sit your repellant on to avoid damage to flooring, paint, etc.
Quick Guide: 6 Great Essential Oils to Start Your Collection
Clove: Super fragrant, clove is a favorite for use in products around the house and acts as a natural air freshener. Clove has wonderful characteristics that make it ideal for not only skincare use and improving blood circulation, but for use as an antifungal for personal care and household use. Additionally, clove oil can make a powerful oral anesthetic.
Eucalyptus: Great for homemade products, personal wellness, and baths, eucalyptus has an unmistakable, robust aroma that is not only pleasant, but wellness-inducing. Eucalyptus has antiseptic properties, making it a great choice for assorted personal care tinctures, such as for the skin and mouth. Eucalyptus also makes an impressive repellent against pests and is even used in some homeopathic lice treatments.
Lavender: Calming and soothing. A good bet for those with sensitivities to fragrances, including women who may be experiencing pregnancy-related morning sickness, lavender has a generally mild, pleasant scent. Ideal for nearly all applications, lavender is most commonly used as a fragrant agent for homemade bath, body, and cleaning products. Popular for use in atomizers and the bath, lavender promotes relaxation.
Neem: The distinct aroma makes it less desirable than other oils, but should not be overlooked. In fact, it is possibly the best oil for health and personal care. It’s safe to apply directly to the skin, bug bites, and can even be directly applied in cases where the skin is chaffed or broken. Neem promotes healing, stops itching, and hydrates dry skin. Dilute slightly with a carrier if you have never used neem and are worried about an allergic reaction. Neem is not generally desirable for use in a diffuser or atomizer, but is safe and beneficial to use in that fashion.
Peppermint: Peppermint is great for nearly all categories of use and is an absolute must-have for anyone regularly using a diffuser because of its crisp and appealing aroma. Wonderful for home remedies ranging from breathing ailments to bowel problems, it’s also good for headaches and fatigue and a host of other problems in between. Good oil for sore throat to bare in mind.
Tea tree: Like neem, tea tree is not known to be particularly fragrant, but is still mildly pleasantly scented. It’s beneficial in the areas of health, hygiene, and personal care. Its powerful antiseptic quality makes it ideal to have on hand for a variety of uses, including first aid and oral remedies, and bath and body uses as well.
Caring for Your Oil Investment
Leave your essential oils in their original bottles; do not pour into other containers for storage. Manufacturers use glass bottles, which is ideal for their potency. To help protect the efficacy and safety of the oil, the glass is typically darker in color in order to shield the oil from damaging sunlight.
Store your oils in a cool, dry, dark place, out of the reach of children and pets. Clean up drips from countertops and painted surfaces right away to avoid potential staining or damage. If you drip oil on your clothing, promptly rinse with cold water or apply some diluted laundry soap to the spot and launder as soon as possible.