Essential oils, which are natural extracts that effectively capture the “essence” of a plant’s flavor or fragrance, offer many uses around the home including relieving stress, improving sleep, fighting infections, and improving skin or hair. Individuals may use an essential oil diffuser for aromatherapy or mix essential oil with a carrier oil to apply it to their skin for specific health indications. A reed diffuser is a simple solution to freshen the home.
In addition to all of these benefits, many essential oils also have disinfecting properties and are often included in natural cleaning products to enhance their capabilities while also offering a pleasant scent. The following sections provide more information about selecting the best essential oils for cleaning as well as some product suggestions.
- BEST OVERALL: Better Life Natural All-Purpose Cleaner Sage & Citrus
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Sapadilla Rosemary + Peppermint All-Purpose Cleaner
- BEST FOR KITCHENS: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Kitchen Basics Set, Lemon
- BEST FOR BATHROOMS: Seventh Generation Cypress and Fir Toilet Cleaner
- BEST FOR FLOORS: Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner
- BEST DEGREASER: Green Gobbler Cold Pressed Orange Oil Concentrate
- BEST DISINFECTING WIPES: Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi Surface Wipes
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Essential Oils for Cleaning
Before purchasing a product with essential oils for cleaning, read through the key considerations outlined below. Natural cleaners with essential oils have different scents, feature different ingredients, are designed for different surfaces and cleaning tasks, and may come in different forms. Once you have decided which features are most important to you, you should find it is easier to select the best essential oils for cleaning.
As essential oils are derived from plants, they offer a wide variety of scents. Some essential oils are more commonly added to natural cleaning products. They include:
Before selecting a cleaning product, determine which essential oil scents you would enjoy smelling in your home after completing a cleaning project. Cleaning products with essential oils may offer a stronger scent, which can be an added benefit if you enjoy the smell. However, if you select a product with a scent you are not fond of, you likely won’t be satisfied with your purchase.
While essential oils may enhance the cleaning power of a product, they are not the only ingredient found in natural cleansers. Compared with standard chemical-based cleaners, natural home cleaners feature ingredients derived from nature. These ingredients are generally safer than chemicals while still being effective at fighting dirt, stains, grease, and other messes.
Many of these natural ingredients are plant-based:
- Thymol, a derivative of thyme oil, is a disinfectant.
- Decyl glucoside is derived from coconuts and corn. It is a biodegradable and nontoxic cleaner.
- Lauryl glucoside is a surfactant and cleaning agent derived from corn and coconut oil.
- Xanthan gum is a thickening agent derived from plants.
- Lactic acid is a plant-derived pH adjuster.
- Glycerine is a conditioning agent derived from corn oil.
In addition to looking for cleaners with natural ingredients, it is best to avoid products that include any of the following ingredients as they could pose potential safety concerns.
- Butyl glycol
- Petroleum solvents
- Ethylene glycol
- Alkylphenol surfactants
- VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
- Synthetic dyes
- Synthetic fragrances
Essential oil cleaners come in a variety of forms, and there are pros and cons to weigh for each. Many cleaners come in a liquid form. Often, these cleaners come in a spray bottle for easy application to a variety of surfaces. Other liquid cleaners are concentrated and will need to be diluted with water before use. Liquids are relatively easy to work with and can be spread over a larger surface. However, when cleaning something vertical, such as a cabinet or wall, they may run down to the ground, reducing how much of the cleaner sits on the surface you wish to clean.
Some cleaners also come in a powdered form. Powders can be sprinkled over dirty areas and cleaned with a damp sponge or cloth. Powders aren’t as easy to spread over a large surface, and you may find you go through a powdered cleaner more quickly than a liquid one, especially if you are using it for large cleaning tasks.
Wipes are another common form for cleaners. The wipes are soaked in the cleaning solution and are ready to use when removed from their container. Simply use a wipe to rub different surfaces in the home for cleaning. Wipes are often easier to use than other cleaner types because they don’t require any additional cleaning tools, such as mops, sponges, or brushes. However, they are often more expensive and won’t last as long as sprays or powders.
Next, consider your intended purpose for the best essential oils for cleaning. Are you looking for an all-purpose cleaner suitable for use on surfaces throughout the home, or do you have a more specific need, such as cleaning a kitchen, hardwood floor, toilet, or shower?
After determining the applications you’re looking for, also consider the specific ways you intend to use the cleaner. Natural cleaners may be formulated to disinfect surfaces, work as a degreaser on pots and pans, clean floors, and more. Reading the information supplied by the manufacturer will help you determine which product is best suited to your specific needs.
Finally, consider how versatile each cleaner is. Can you use it on numerous surfaces throughout a home, or is it intended for use with just one surface type, such as toilets or floors? Choosing a more versatile cleaning product can be a more economical choice, as you won’t have to purchase separate cleaners for each room in your home. However, you may find that some needs, such as removing oils and grease, require a more specialized product type.
Our Top Picks
After extensive research, the top picks for the best essential oils for cleaning are included below. All-natural cleaning products were selected, featuring different essential oils that can help safely clean your home without the chemicals found in traditional cleaning products.
Better Life’s all-purpose cleaner offers an all-natural, plant-based formula suitable for use in every room of the house. Use the cleaner on countertops, floors, toilets, vehicles, toys, and any other surface in the home. The formula includes ingredients like coconut, soap bark, and corn, which are natural cleaners and can help power through stains and stuck-on messes. Citrus extracts and clary sage essential oils are also included in the formula to give this product a fresh and clean scent.
The formula does not include any harsh chemicals, added dyes, synthetic fragrances, sodium lauryl, laureth sulfates, petroleum solvents, alcohols, ethers, or ethoxylates, making it safe to use around children and pets (when used as directed). This cleaner is also certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny, which means it is not tested on animals.
Use this plant-based cleaner from Sapadilla to clean most hard surfaces in a home. A few of the many surfaces this product can help clean include walls, floors, countertops, sinks, toilets, car interiors, and more. Despite its inexpensive price, this cleaner is formulated with biodegradable plant-based ingredients that allow for chemical-free and worry-free cleaning.
With 100 percent rosemary and 100 percent peppermint essential oils added to the formula, the cleaner leaves behind a refreshing smell. In addition to the peppermint and rosemary essential oils, a hint of orange and clove is also added to the cleaner to bring a touch of sweetness and spice. Sapadilla does not test any of their ingredients or cleaning products on animals, so this is also a cruelty-free choice.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day kitchen set includes a multisurface cleaner, dish soap, and hand soap. Each of these products has an all-natural formula featuring plant-derived ingredients with a mild lemon verbena citrus scent. Mrs. Meyers offers cruelty-free cleaning products; the company does not test any of their products on animals.
The multisurface cleaner’s formula removes dirt to leave surfaces clean and freshened. The dish soap in this set is designed to cut through grease and leave pots, pans, and dishes sparkling clean. It is a biodegradable formula to limit its environmental footprint. The hand soap allows users to cleanse and freshen their hands as it leaves behind a pleasant lemon verbena scent. All three products include lemon peel oil, lemongrass oil, and fir leaf oil.
This toilet bowl cleaner from Seventh Generation features a natural, plant-based formula that earned the distinction of being labeled a USDA-Certified biobased product. Unlike many other toilet cleaners on the market, it does not contain any ammonia, chlorine, dyes, or synthetic fragrances. It boasts an invigorating emerald cypress and fir scent derived from botanical ingredients and 100 percent essential oils.
This toilet bowl cleaner has a biodegradable formula that is safe to use with septic systems. It is certified as a cruelty-free cleaner by the Leaping Bunny program and features packaging made from recycled materials.
Those looking for a natural floor cleaner should consider the Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner. Spearmint, grapefruit, and bergamot essential oils are incorporated into the formula to give it a pleasant citrus-mint scent. The formula is free of petroleum, surfactants, VOCs, and alkylphenol to allow individuals to clean without the worries that accompany using chemical cleaners.
This floor cleaner can be used to clean an entire floor or as a daily touch-up for spots and spills. It is safe to use on sealed floors including hardwood, bamboo, ceramic tile, laminate, and stone. No residue is left behind by the cleaner, and it does not require any rinsing; simply squirt it directly onto the floors, then use a damp string mop, flat mop, sponge mop, or steam mop.
Green Gobbler’s cold-pressed orange oil concentrate is an effective natural cleaner formulated with 80 to 90 percent D-Limonene. As a natural degreaser, D-Limonene makes this an effective product for removing grease, odors, soap scum, dirt, crayon, glue, and other messes. Use this degreaser to clean granite, glass, metal, brick, tile, plastic, rubber, porcelain, and nearly any other surface in a home.
A cold-pressing technique is used to extract the D-Limonene in this degreaser. Compared to methods that use heat, cold pressing helps to ensure the orange oil maintains its degreasing properties. Since the formula is free of harmful chemicals, this degreaser leaves behind only a refreshing citrus scent.
These multisurface wipes from Seventh Generation kill 99.99 percent of viruses and bacteria to disinfect surfaces around the home, and the product is registered with the EPA to back up its disinfecting claims. The wipes feature a solution of natural botanical disinfectants. The active ingredient thymol, which is found in thyme oil, is a powerful disinfectant to kill surface germs. Additionally, the thymol leaves behind a pleasant scent after cleaning.
Since these wipes are made using natural ingredients and don’t contain any dangerous chemicals, they are suitable for use on any surface in the home. Even when used on a child’s belongings or surfaces that may come into contact with food, no rinsing is necessary. These wipes can be used on everything from a tough mess to a small cleaning task.
FAQs About Using Essential Oils for Cleaning
The frequently asked questions below are a good resource if you’re looking for additional information about using essential oils for cleaning a home. Take a few minutes to read through the following questions and their answers to see if you learn something that may help you in your search for the best essential oils for cleaning.
Q. What essential oil can be used as a disinfectant?
There are quite a few essential oils that offer disinfecting properties including cinnamon, lime, clove, thyme, geranium, lemon, orange, lime, tea tree, and rosemary. Some essential oils are more effective than others for killing some strains of bacteria, and some oils may need a higher concentration to be most effective.
Q. Are all essential oils good for killing bacteria?
Some essential oils seem to be more effective at killing bacteria than others, though more research is still needed on all the benefits that essential oils offer. But if a cleaning product that contains essential oils claims to kill bacteria, as long as it is registered with the EPA then you know the disinfecting, bacteria-killing properties have been proven true.
Q. Are essential oils toxic to humans and pets?
Essential oils must be used as directed. Many are too strong to use without a carrier oil and could burn the skin. Some essential oils could be toxic to humans if too much is ingested. Cats, dogs, and other pets are even more sensitive to essential oils than humans are. Many oils are listed as toxic for pets, including tea tree, cinnamon, eucalyptus, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, ylang-ylang, wintergreen, pine, and sweet birch. Do not apply these oils to a pet’s skin or allow a pet to ingest them. It’s best to not even use these oils in a diffuser around a pet.