3 ways to use essential oils for a healthy, fresh home
I love to walk into a home that smells good, don't you? It instantly puts me in a good mood and relaxes me.
Ironically though, most commercial air fresheners are toxic to our homes and our health. They have at least one of these bad-boy ingredients:
phthalates (marked simply as 'fragrance') which are linked with early puberty, autism, obesity, and birth defects.
1,4-DCB, known to be a human carcinogen and cause increased asthma rates.
aerosol propellants, which cause increased cancer risk and chronic disease development
formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, and benzene, all which cause asthma and lung problems, as well as increased cancer risk.
I don't know about you, but I don't want that stuff in my house. Luckily there's an easy, affordable and sweet-smelling alternative for keeping our homes smelling clean and fresh: essential oils.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are natural oils that come from the "essence" of a plant. The highly concentrated oils inside the plant are extracted through water or steam distillation or by cold pressing. Essential oils have been used for throughout history in cultures around the world for medicinal purposes.
But they're also really great for naturally freshening your home.
Used in various air-freshening ways (see below), they clean the air or toxins and leave a gently pleasing fragrance.
Note: there are many other therapeutic medical and antibacterial uses for essential oils but I'm just covering how to use them to freshen the home. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy offers several warnings against oral consumption of certain essential oils, and advises that people shouldn’t take essential oils internally without appropriate education and an understanding of the resulting safety issues. You should also do your research on which essential oils are not safe for pets as well.
What oils should you choose?
Lavender, sage and sandalwood will naturally make you feel relaxed and grounded and also relieve anxiety.
Peppermint and rosemary have been shown to improve memory, energy and alertness, as well as relieve headaches.
Lemon, orange, and cinnamon can improve concentration and focus.
Tea tree and clove is antibacterial.
Eucalyptus is good for clearing up congestion.
Vanilla oil helps relieve depression and maintain a sense of emotional balance (but don't use in electronic diffusers as it's too thick).
3 Ways to DIY an Essential Oil Air Freshener
1. Make your own room spray.
My mom always likes to have a room spray in the bathroom, so to stop her from buying the commercial brands, I made her a natural blend by mixing water and rubbing alcohol with lavender + tea tree + orange essential oils. I filled up a couple of repurposed small amber glass bottles with misters so she has one on hand and one pre-filled in the pantry ready to pull out when needed.
1 Tbsp rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) or vodka
6 Tbsp water
10-40 drops of essential oils
Play around with whatever mix of essential oils you prefer. A vanilla and lavender blend is great for sleeping, orange is energizing, peppermint keeps you focused, and tea tree or clove is good for antibacterial purposes.
2. Make dried herb sachets.
Place a sachet of dried organic lavender in the entry, bathroom, and bedroom nightstand for a subtle fragrance that promotes relaxation. Simply drop a few drops of lavender essential oil in the bag and mix it around when you need to boost the scent again.
Trying using dried rosemary in an office or within a clothes drawer for an added bit of focus and energy.
I got my lavender sachets locally, but you can purchase beautiful sachets online as well. Or grow your own herbs, hang them to dry and then use the dried buds in a small linen cloth pouch tied with string. No sewing necessary.
3. Make a DIY reed oil diffuser.
All you need is a repurposed ceramic or glass container, wood skewers that you can pick up at the dollar store or grocery store (or here), essential oil (choose your favourite) and some carrying oil like almond, safflower or even olive oil.
Choose an essential oil combination that you like and let your olfactory senses go to town.
Pretty easy right?
But if you're not up for DIY (or you want to supplement these DIY air fresheners) I also highly recommend investing in an electric essential oil diffuser that gently mists the air with distilled water and the essential oil of your choice. This one is beautiful.