Using Essential Oil in Homemade Cleaning Products
This is a hot topic right now, but in reality, ever since I became a mom I’ve been on a quest for safe cleaning products that do their job. I mean, I have 3 small boys. I literally should buy stock in cleaning products. Since so many aromatherapy companies and aromatherapists have covered this I’m going to connect you to some of their work/thoughts to consider when you’re making the decision to create your own cleaning products at home.
Correct formulation is vital. Truly. We all love the “preservative free” or “you should be able to pronounce all the ingredients” mindset but in reality, we need to be very mindful in what we exclude from our cleaning products to avoid spraying with microbes and bacteria! Essential oils do not preserve products. Period. If you do a google search you’ll see lots of articles and a few studies about using essential oils for baked goods, but not for anhydrous (water based) products. Anhydrous includes products which are not necessarily made of water but the content of the product is mostly water like vinegar, aloe, etc.
Formulation (in super simplified terms) is the process of combing ingredients in an order, method and amount that produce a desired outcome. If you go back to grade school and put the vinegar into your paper mache’ volcano then add baking soda you’re going to have a very different reaction of the ingredients than if you add the vinegar to the baking soda! A main concern in product formulation for cleaning is the pH balance and this requires multiple tests as the formulation progresses to ensure the end product doesn’t have an environment that houses what you’re actually trying to clean away!
This will over simplify my point, but entertain me for a moment. Let’s do a little “arm chair research” as many like to call it. Open a new window on your browser and go to good ol’ Google. Type in “cleaning product formulation”. Volumes of information on how to, best practices, etc, right? Go back to Google. Type in “cleaning product formulation with essential oils”. What comes up? Yup. ZERO information on formulation for the first few pages. All recipes that sound good, smell great and likely house a TON of unwanted microbes.
Hopefully these brief points will help you question whether this is a good idea and if you decide to make your own products, dig into correct formulation!
Safety of Marketed Products
We often get questions on our Facebook Group about the safety of specific products, so let’s cover a few things in that area! First, if there are essential oils in the product and you have pets or kiddos (especially the ones who are still putting their cute, cubby mouths on EVERYTHING!) then you will need to make sure the oils used do not have age restrictions. You can download an age restriction chart here that is current with recommendations from the majority of aromatherapy professionals. For example, if your home cleaning product has clove or cinnamon bark, avoid it. If it has thyme, maybe clean before you’ll be gone for the day so the smell and oil can evaporate. Second thing to consider is if it is preserved. Trust me, this is a good thing if you’re not planning on making 2oz at a time and using the whole thing right then. Any larger quantity of water based product needs preserving. You can absolutely be picking about what preserves it, but remember our arm chair research exercise above and be sure your information is coming from knowledgeable sources.
To close, I wanted to give you my favorites to try! I LOVE Better Life products. Like, love, love. They are effective and smell great. The only aroma I don’t like is the Clary & Sage. Other than that, I’ve not found one I didn’t enjoy sitting with! My one DIY-ish recipe I enjoy using is a Grout Scrub with Castile Soup, Baking Soda. I make it as I go then add vinegar, water and a few drops of Smells Fresh or Winter Trees to leave everything smelling AH-Mazing!