Essential Oils: 7 Smart DIYs for the Home

Herbal Skin Balm from s/he

Recently we’ve featured a miniseries on smart, simple ways to use essential oils in the home, courtesy of Dawn De La Fuente, owner of Northern California–based herbal apothecary S/he Studio. Here’s a roundup of all the DIYs, from a disinfectant you can use anywhere to a linen spray to a yoga mat cleanser.

Hair and Beard Tonic from s/he
Above: Hair and Beard Tonic with sage and rosemary from S/he.

1. All-Purpose Cleaner and Disinfectant

For an all-purpose—and pleasantly aromatic—household disinfectant, add essential oils to a mixture of water, castile soap, and hydrogen peroxide. “It’s a natural way to cleanse and kill bacteria on kitchen and bathroom surfaces,” De La Fuente says. It can also be used to disinfect kitchen sponges: Simply spray both sides of the sponge with the mixture and let it sit. This recipe makes a small, concentrated batch; De La Fuente recommends making a fresh bottle every few weeks to keep on hand.

How to make an all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant:

1.5 oz water
1 teaspoon castile soap
1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide
10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
5 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
5 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Add to a small glass spray bottle and shake well.

Gentil Body Oil from s/he
Above: Gentil Body Oil from S/he.

2. Linen Freshener

Inspired by the French countryside, warm breezes, and lavender: a fresh-smelling spray for bed and bath linens. There’s nothing like the smell of linens hung to dry in the sun, or, better yet, a summer bedroom with the windows flung open. A substitute you can bottle: “Linen sprays are a great way to provide daily freshness to sheets and towels,” De La Fuente says. “They also help to take care of stagnant air in a bedroom, living room, or bathroom.”

How to make a linen freshening spray:

2 oz distilled water
7 drops Lavender Essential Oil
5 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
3 drops Vetiver Essential Oil

Add to a small glass spray bottle and shake well. Use as a spray, or dot the mixture on cotton balls and tuck into the linen closet.

Herbal Skin Balm from s/he
Above: Herbal Skin Balm from S/he.

3. All-Natural Insect Repellent

Forget Deet: “Essential oils like clove, citronella, and patchouli are often used as ingredients in bug repellents because their scent is potent to the olfactory senses of many insects,” De La Fuente says. “Traditionally, a few drops of clove oil were placed on bedsheets at night to keep bugs away.” De La Fuente suggests spraying a blend of clove, rosemary, and lavender essential oils on sheets and clothing or dotting the mixture around the tent when camping.

How to make all-natural insect repellant:

4 oz distilled water
4 oz witch hazel
20 drops of Clove Essential Oil
10 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil
15 drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Add to a small glass spray bottle and shake well. Spray on clothing, sheets, and gear.

(To deter bugs and mice, try placing cotton balls dipped in Peppermint Essential Oil around the house.)

Botanical Face Serum from s/he
Above: S/he’s Botanical Face Serum.

4. Trashcan Deodorizer

When used cleverly, just a few drops of essential oil combat unpleasant household odors. “Tough odors exist all over the home, from garbage cans to closets and bathrooms, as well as pet beds and carpets,” De La Fuente says. Remodelista editors have been known to put a few drops at the bottom of our kitchen trashcans, but the below mixture can also be dabbed on cotton balls and placed in problem areas, or added to a diffuser for full-room coverage.

How to make a household deodorizer:

20 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
8 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
4 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

Add to a small glass bottle and shake well.

Forest Brine Soap from s/he
Above: Forest Brine Soap with vetiver, cedarwood and eucalyptus.

5. Air-Freshening Alternative

Forget Febreeze: Consider more subtle, calming air freshener with marjoram, ylang-ylang, and sweet orange.

How to make an all-natural air freshener:

20 drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil
10 drops Marjoram Essential Oil
5 drops Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil

Add a few drops in this 4:2:1 ratio to a diffuser. Or, combine the above amounts with 2 ounces of distilled water in a small spray bottle, shake well, and spritz as necessary.

Herbal Balm from s/he
Above: Herbal Skin Balm from S/he.

6. Yoga Mat Cleanser

“Whether you practice at home or in a studio, it’s a great idea to clean your mat after every session to prevent bacteria from spreading on the surface of the mat,” says of De La Fuente. The antibacterial properties of essential oils make it an excellent cleanser and disinfectant. Here are two blends that De La Fuente suggests—one clean and fresh, one calming—to add to your yoga bag.

How to make a yoga mat cleaner:

1. Clean and Fresh

1 oz distilled water
12 drops Lavender Essential Oil
8 drops Tea Tree Oil

2. Calm and Meditative

1 oz distilled water
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
10 drops Frankincense Essential Oil

Add one of the mixtures to a small glass spray bottle, tuck into your yoga bag, and spray your mat before or after use.

Agave Washcloth from s/he
Above: The Agave Washcloth from S/he.

7. Wood Polish

“Frequent dusting or wiping with a damp cloth should be accompanied by polishing every two to three months,” De La Fuente advises; the olive oil nourishes, vinegar cleans, and the oiliness of the essential oils will “bring dull wood back to life.” It also happens to be aromatic.

How to make a nourishing wood polish:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
10 drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Add to spray bottle and shake well. Spray on a cloth (not directly on wood) and wipe down furniture and other hardwoods as needed.

N.B.: Take care before using essential oils, and always test in a small, discrete area of skin, clothing, cloth, or furniture before applying. “Essential oils are the most potent form of plant medicine and must be respected and handled with care,” De La Fuente says. You may want to consult your physician (and your veterinarian) before using.

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