The Best Essential Oils for Green Cleaning

Sanitize Your Home Without the Unpleasant Fumes

If the fumes from commercial cleaners make you feel a little queasy, mix up your own green cleaning products using essential oils. They are all natural and biodegradable because they come directly from plants. Plus, with their powerful antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, they get cleaning jobs done.

  • 01 of 05


    Bowl of Lemons
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    Lemon essential oil is not only antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial but also great at cutting through grease and grime. The essential oil can be used in a number of ways: 

    • Removing sticky residue: Apply a few drops of lemon essential oil to the residue, rub it in, and use a sponge or paper towel to wipe the residue away. 
    • Deodorize the fridge: Mix 4 to 6 drops of oil with a cup of baking soda in a glass jar. Cover it with a small square of fabric and secure it with the jar ring, leaving the metal lid off. 
    • Clean wood and leather: Mix one part olive oil to one part white vinegar and add 15 drops of lemon essential oil to spritz on wood or leather to make them shine.
  • 02 of 05

    Tea Tree

    Photograph of Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia)

    Karen Peltier

    Tea tree is the essential oil answer to all-purpose cleaner — it can be used in all sorts of applications, and it's antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, bactericidal, and insecticidal. Use it to:

    • Clean the shower: Combine 2 cups white vinegar, 2 teaspoons liquid non-castile dish soap, and 20 drops tea tree oil. Give the shower a spritz daily with the mixture. 
    • Wash your hands: Mix a squirt of castile soap with water in a reusable soap pump and add 12 drops of tea tree oil. 
    • Make an all-purpose cleaner: Combine 1/2 cup white vinegar, 3 cups water, and 10 drops of tea tree oil to use anywhere you would spritz all-purpose cleaner. 

    Don’t store your tea tree oil in clear bottles, high heat, or direct sunlight as it can cause the chemical constituents of the essential oil to change, resulting in sensitivity in some individuals.

  • 03 of 05


    Ebelien photography/Moment Open/Getty Images

    Lavender fights against viruses, bacteria, and fungus while imparting the loveliest of smells. The scent can help lull you to sleep, which is why combining water and lavender essential oil in a spray bottle makes for an excellent linen spray. Because lavender oil can also disinfect surfaces, this spray can also be used as a cleaner for questionable surfaces.

  • 04 of 05


    Photograph of Peppermint

    Karen Peltier

    Need to perk up? Revitalizing and stimulating, peppermint is the way to go if you need to get some cleaning done. Its cleaning power is due to its antiseptic properties, and it happens to repel bugs such as ants, spiders, and cockroaches, too. Combine a cup of water with 10 to 15 drops of peppermint oil in a spray bottle and spritz it into any cracks, crevices, or crannies where critters have been spotted. You can also just spray it into the air for an invigorating air freshener. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Sweet Orange


    Morey Milbradt/Getty Images

    Uplifting and refreshing, sweet orange essential oil, also simply called orange essential oil, is antiseptic and has been shown to exhibit antifungal and antibacterial properties. It is also a great degreaser when combined with 1/4 cup of castile soap and water and used to spray down stovetops or countertops. 

    When combined with tea tree oil, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and dish soap, orange essential oil makes an excellent all-natural floor cleaner. Add 10 drops of each type of oil to 1 cup each of alcohol and white vinegar, 1 teaspoon dish soap, and 1 to 2 gallons of very hot water.