Essential oils have a plethora of amazing uses for everything from pampering yourself to cleaning and helping with various ailments.
What are essential oils? Essentially…an essential oil is an aromatic liquid extracted from leaves, twigs, berries, bark, wood, root, flowers, citrus peels, or other plant matter. They are not actually oily, but have more of a water-like feel.
Though essential oils are natural, they are very concentrated and should be used with caution. A few things to keep in mind:
- Most essential oils should not be used undiluted or “neat” directly on the skin (except for lavender, tea tree, German chamomile, rose, sandalwood, and geranium). Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (sweet almond, jojoba, sesame, grapeseed, etc.) unless you know it is safe to use undiluted. To test if you are sensitive to a particular oil, combine 1 or 2 drops to a teaspoon of carrier oil in a small container. Dab a small amount to your wrist or the crook of your arm and wait for 24 hours.
- Don’t use undiluted essential oils on pets, especially cats, as certain oils can be toxic to them.
- Use extra caution if you have a serious health condition or are pregnant.
- Educate yourself about the properties and contraindications of each oil before using it.
All-purpose cleaner: Mix 2 teaspoons of antimicrobial tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle for a great all-purpose cleaner.
Dish/floor/counter cleaner: Fill your sink or a bucket with 1 1/2 gallons of hot water, add a touch of unscented dish soap, and 5-10 drops of the oil of your choosing. Good picks: lemon, tea tree, and mint.
Laundry: Mix 3-5 drops of your favorite essential oil with an unscented laundry detergent before each load. Good picks: lavender or frankincense. You can also make your own fabric softener by adding 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil to a one-gallon jug of white vinegar. Use 1/3 cup per load.
Air freshener: Combine 1 teaspoon of essential oil to 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray as needed. Before using on fabrics, do a spot check to make sure it doesn’t stain. Use your favorite scent all over your home, or use different fragrances for each room to mix it up.
Kill mold: In a spray bottle, mix 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water. Spray on problem areas and don’t rinse. Another option is to mix 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
Repel mice: For a natural repellant, add 2 teaspoons of peppermint to 1 cup of water and spray in areas where you think mice might frequent.
Keep moths away from clothes: Soak a cotton ball with a few drops of patchouli essential oil and place in your closet.
Treat acne: Use a dab of tea tree oil on the blemish.
Soothing foot bath: Add 5-8 drops of peppermint or rosemary oil to a large, hot foot bath to relieve pain and stimulate circulation. To control perspiration and odor, add 2 drops of cypress oil.
Massage: Use a light carrier oil like vegetable, sunflower, or walnut as a base for a massage oil. Add a few drops of peppermint for sore muscles, ginger for your lower back and joints, or avocado oil for a luxurious foot bath.
Calming bath: There’s an essential oil for almost any ailment. One way to reap the beneficial benefits is to add 5-10 drops of your oil of choice to a warm bath. For deep relaxation, try 5 drops of lavender, 1 drop of Roman chamomile, and 1 drop of neroli. Another option is to make your own bath salts by adding 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of essential oil for every 1 cup of either sea salt, Epsom salt, or baking soda. (See: How to Make Scented Bath Salts)
Combat hair loss: Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to a dollop of shampoo or conditioner to increase circulation to the scalp.
Congestion: Add a few drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water and breathe in the steam to fight congestion. Eucalyptus also works well.
Insomnia: In a spray bottle, mix a few drops of lavender oil to water and spritz on your pillow before bed.
Headaches: Mix a small amount of peppermint oil to a carrier oil, apply to fingertips and massage temples. If peppermint is too strong, add lavender for extra calming properties.
PMS: Dilute rose otto or geranium essential oil in a carrier oil and apply to neck and shoulders, or add the oils to a warm bath.
Burns: Apply lavender essential oil to burns to relieve pain and stop the burn from progressing. Do a spot check first to make sure you don’t have a sensitivity. To soothe sunburns, add a few drops of lavender oil to a cool bath. To make the bath even more soothing, fill a nylon sock or pantyhose with oats and drop in the tub.
Toothache: For temporary pain relief before going to the dentist, mix 2 drops of clove essential oil with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil, saturate a cotton ball with the mixture and place it beside the tooth.