Ways to Use Essential Oils Around the Home
Wondering how to use essential oils around the home? Essential oils are plant-based compounds. They are obtained from the fruits, seeds, flowers, bark, stems, roots, leaves or other parts of a plant and offer more than sundry smells. Each phytochemical has its own set of properties and purposes whether to heal, clean, or alter moods.
How do you use essential oils to freshen a room? Effect mood? Use therapeutically?
Knowing what essential oils are best for specific rooms, ailments or vibes is a learned skill. In fact, the art and science of using extracts medicinally is called Aromatherapy or Essential Oil Therapy. Aromatherapists work with these concentrated, volatile and fragrant liquids of which there may be about 10,000 variants.
Product developers and marketers also understand and play on essential oils’ multiple uses. While often heavily diluted, they are still used to elicit a response or result. For instance, a lemon-scented household cleaner may be marketed as “clean and fresh.” Body lotions infused with lavender might have labels that play on words like “relaxing” and “calming.”
Which Essential Oils Are Best for What?
The senses, the essential oils’ qualities and its uses are linked. Once you have purchased an essential oil, you can then optimize its benefits with an application method. Three common ways to use essential oils in the home are to:
- Inhale it (diffusers, spray bottle, candles, incense, cotton balls)
- Apply it (bath, creams, soaps, cotton balls, washcloth, through a carrier oil)
- Ingest it (food, drink)
Rule of thumb: Look for pure quality oil and make sure you aren’t allergic or get it in your eyes. Some practices may be contra-indicated for infants and children.
8 of the Best Essential Oils for the Home
Below, we’ve compiled a list of several of the most commonly used essential oils and some methods for putting them to work at home.
Lemon: Kitchen, Bathroom
As an antimicrobial and antioxidant, lemon oil has multiple uses for cleaning or cleansing anything in the home or environment. It helps to freshen up some of the stales smells that naturally form sometimes from used towels, stinky shoes or sporting goods (when combined with baking soda) and cooking (when combined with water and boiled on the stove). According to Dr. Eric Z, lifting stains and/spot treatment can be achieved by combining lemon drops with peroxide. In addition, lemon oil aims to uplift, combat stress and be immune enhancing. Add a drop of lemon oil to flavor food, your water, or to perk up dish soap. You can also use citrus in a diffuser. Research by Jean Valmet, author of The Practice of Aromatherapy, shows lemon oil may also kill bacteria like pneumonia. Lemongrass has similar features and is an insect repellent.
Tea Tree Oil: Bathroom, Medicine Cabinet, Kitchen
Tea tree oil is widely recognized as antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial. Diffusing some Melaleuca alternifolia oil in water makes a potent spray against the world of germs. It may also be sold straight up to zap zits, boost deodorant or calm bug bites. Since it supports and enhances the immune system, don’t be shy to clean your yoga mat with it either.
Ylang-Ylang: Master Bedroom
Ylang-ylang has both an exotic name and some sensual uses. It is known as an aphrodisiac, antispasmodic and antidepressant all at once. With its nourishing aroma, a candle with cananga odorata may be the perfect romantic touch for a master suite.
Rosemary: Office, Kitchen, Bathroom
Rosmarinus officinalis is used to target respiratory congestion, bronchitis, colds, and flu. An expectorant, rosemary oil expands and deepens the breath, energizes and clears the mind. Nothing says ‘sinus congestion go away’ quite like it. With its strong anti-cancer effects, you might add a drop to olive oil and drizzle over roasted potatoes. You can also diffuse it in your office to keep the air fresh. Or, put some on a cotton ball and dab on your scalp if you have dandruff or seborrhea.
Lavender: Laundry, Bedroom, Medicine Cabinet
Lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, is frequently used to promote calm, reduce anxiety, itchiness, and as an anti-spasmodic. Aromatherapist Angi Bloom is an avid fan of lavender’s medicinal uses, notably to treat burns. She also recommends it as a deterrent to lice when applied on a cotton ball to the hairline. Lavender oil is also nice in a diffuser at night to promote a peaceful sleep, or in the bath. If you like the smell, a spritz of lavender oil mixed with water delivers a fresh scent to sheets and lingerie.
Eucalyptus: Bathroom, Medicine Cabinet
Eucalyptus oil is clearing to the mind and may elicit memories of your favorite spa. Among its other qualities, E. globulus is energizing and a vasodilator. Thus, many use it as a proven expectorant and decongestant. You may find it extremely helpful during cold and flu season, for bronchitis. It is best to inhale it through a diffuser or aromatherapy candle, though a few drops also enhance a bath. For those who prefer, go old school and add several drops to hot water. Cover your head with a towel and breathe its natural goodness in and out.
Rose: Medicine Cabinet, Bathroom, Master Bedroom
Rose is described as the queen of essential oils. It is regenerative to the cells, a natural antifungal and antioxidant. Also, rose oil relieves and reduces stress/anxiety as well as PMS. For these applications, a few drops in a bath or carrier oil work to fragrantly calm the skin. Like ylang-ylang, Rosa damascene is an aphrodisiac and is lovely in a scented tea light or candle. On a practical note, geranium rose oil works on pets to repel ticks and dust mites.