Essential oils have enjoyed increased popularity in recent years for possible benefits that range from mental relief to curing physical ailments. The jury is still out on whether the hype is deserved for some of these claims, but one area that has clear benefits is cleaning. That’s because many essential oils are proven powerful antimicrobial agents that can kill off dangerous microbes.

What are essential oils?

Let’s start with the basics. What are essential oils? They seem to have dropped into the cultural dialogue out of thin air, but they’re actually nothing new. Essential oils are extracts derived from plants.They’re basically an extremely potent distillation of a plant’s many compounds. This concentrated liquid can be powerful because many plants are crammed into just one small vial of liquid.

How do you clean with essential oils?

We already know that antimicrobial essential oils can kill off microbes. That makes it a perfect addition to your regiment when you’re cleaning surfaces. Just a few drops in your multipurpose cleaner can make the solution much stronger. That’s important, especially in rooms like the kitchen or bathroom, where unsafe microbes often have the lay of the land.

But counters aren’t the only surface that could be helped with an extra dose of essential oils. You can also put a dozen drops in a small spray bottle and spray it onto your couch or your bed – even spritz it into the air. Not only do they get rid of the bad stuff, but they also provide a clean smell.

Why does that matter? Aromatherapy is a practice that has been used for many millenia. It creates an open, clean atmosphere by killing microbes suspended in the air – the same ones you’re breathing in and out throughout the day.

What are the best cleansing oils?

Not every essential oil you come across will provide the cleansing action you’re looking for. When you’re in the market for an oil that’s antimicrobial, here are some of the best options on the market:

  1. Lemon
    Lemon has always been synonymous with a purified space. The acid in lemon kills bacteria and cuts through grime. When you take those qualities and concentrate them down to their essence, you have a powerful product worthy of your standard rotation of products.
  2. Tea Tree
    Tea tree oil is an incredible ingredient. In addition to its antibacterial properties, it can also destroy fungus – you know, like mold and mildew. That means it’s super versatile, as comfortable on the kitchen counters as it is in the bathroom or even on your face (when diluted).
  3. Grapefruit
    This acidic fruit makes a great cleaning agent similar to lemon. It degreases oily counters and stove tops, and it kills off bacteria from any surfaces. You can use the two pretty much interchangeably, switching up the invigorating scents whenever you feel like making a change.
  4. Lavender
    Lavender is a classic scent for bedtime, creating a calming space to unwind and rest. That’s what makes it such a great option as a spray for fabrics, especially bedding. But it isn’t just a pretty scent: this oil is antibacterial and antifungal, so it has some strong cleaning abilities.

There are many other options to consider, but these beloved essential oils are a great starting point. No matter which one you choose, you’re bringing an antimicrobial powerhouse into your home without all of the chemicals that so many store-bought cleaners are laden with. That’s more than enough reason to make some room for them in your medicine cabinet.