Get down and dirty in the garden
Essential Oils, or EO’s, have infinite purposes. Here are 19 tried and true practices for the beginning user. Believe it or not, this list is by no means exhaustive, but it was somewhat exhausting to write!
Lots of mixing to ensue.
An Essential oil will release its powerful fragrance if cleverly placed …
1. Put a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil on a napkin, and rub over a lightbulb. When you switch it on, the bulb will heat and release a beautiful minty scent. But please use only on tungstens, not compact fluorescents. If you are more environmentally friendly, a stove top, when warmed, creates a similar effect.
2. I always put a few drops of essential oil on my new furnace filters. When the air blows through the vent, it circulates the beautiful scent throughout your house (much cheaper and healthier than those room-to-room evanescent fresheners!) If you use a disinfecting oil, like Lavender or Tea Tree, you can stop some nasties before they invade or to cut back on dust mites, use Eucalyptus. Every week or so, add a few more drops for continued enjoyment.
3. If the night lights in said “fresheners” (Tip 2) are just too irresistible to give up, refill the reservoir with a few drops of Essential Oil and water for an easy-peasy, CHEAP, solution.
4. Harvest and dry some of your summer flowers, your spike speedwells and roses, your lavenders and mums. Dry them by hanging them upside down, and then cut ‘em into small pieces. Mix in a few drops of your favorite smelling EO, wrap in a tissue or thin cloth and BAM, instant potpourri.
5. For an air freshener that lasts, mix 10 parts vodka with 1 part of your favorite EO (maybe Bergamont or Cedar) in a spray bottle. But just don’t drink it, kapeesh?
6. And why not mix in some EO with a bucket of paint (might I suggest lemon)? Essential oils aren’t fatty, so oil spots shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re a worry-wort (like me), experiment on a small patch of wall and let dry.
7. ¡Amor, amoré! Scent love letters by stretching a half cotton ball, doused with a couple drops of Jasmine EO and seal in an envelope. Caution: Jasmine is an aphrodisiac. Well, that may not be so much of a caution, really as just a … a head’s up.
Many essential oils are concentrated enough, they disinfect!
8. Vinegar is a super-effective cleaner but smells egregiously bad. And anti-bacterial sprays do only that, kill bacteria. But fungal spores are a growing problem (literally), and EO’s can save the day. In a large spray bottle, mix Tea Tree or Lavender oil (and be generous) with a cup of vinegar. It’s an instant multi-surface cleaner, so use it.
9. For caked on gunk (in the bath or kitch), mix in a bowl some baking soda and lemon juice until you have a paste, then add an EO for extra scent and as an antiseptic. The baking soda is used as a mild-abrasive, and the citric acid in the lemon juice cuts through the grease and grime. Basically, Lemon juice + EO = Love.
10. Brush a TINSY bit of EO onto your microfibre or brand name duster to super-scent your daily dust-bust.
11. Last night I dropped a couple drops of Peppermint EO in the dishwasher with the detergent, and as the dishes heated, the aroma warmed my home.
12. For a home-made carpet deodorizer, mix some EO with baking soda in a large bowl. Let the oil dry for several hours (or you’ll have oil spots), then stick in a mason jar and punch holes in the lid. Shake-it-like-a-salt-shaker on your carpets, let it breathe for 4 hours, and vacuum away!
And surely you’re aware of the health benefits …
13. The EO vs. the Dust Mite. Ah, how I hate the dust mite (See the post: Attack of the Killer Tea Bag). All my friends have allergies, and I’ve been trying to find effective solutions to make them more comfortable visitors. I read a study on the USDA Web site that says, in small quantities, Eucalyptus oil, when added to the wash, kills dust mites on fabric (which is tough to do, because most can survive washing AND drying). Don’t put too many drops of EEO on fabrics or you could potentially damage your washer. Like they say, a lil’ dab’ll do ya.
14. After you’ve applied tip 13 in the wash, put a few drops of Lavender EO on a damp cloth and throw it in the dryer with your bed sheets. Bugs hate it (see tip 15), and studies have shown Lavender to be an effective sleep aid. Don’t let the bed bugs bite! You can use the same trick for towels, because it won’t reduce static like fabric softener or dryer sheets (so your towels will still absorb water).
15. Eucalyptus oil can be your one stop shop for essential health: Put a drop on your toothbrush to wake up your gums. Rub a bit under your stuffy nose to clear your nasal passages. Sit a bottle on your desk at work, and inhale every so often to keep you awake. Mix with a bit of baby oil and massage on achy joints or muscles. Mix one teaspoon with some Epsom salts and soak your worked-out feet. And mix a few drops of Eucalyptus oil with your shampoo to stimulate blood flow to the scalp (baldness-be-gone).
Bugs vs. Essential Oils, a one-sided war …
16. My grandma has this beautiful trunk that reeks of moth balls, gross. There’s a better solution: Lavender, Rosemary and Sweet Basil all contain a chemical compound known as camphor, which is the effective ingredient in moth balls. Camphor has a distinctive smell that moths hate, and most of the aforementioned essential oils have retained some camphor in the oil process, but smell good. Mix it with a Cedar EO in potpourri and wrap them in a tissue or thin fabric to put in drawers, chests or trunks. BEWARE: Moth balls, when consumed or inhaled, can be fatal!
17. Put Citronella oil on a rag and wipe buggy or spidery walls. Insects hate it, and if there are no bugs, there are no spiders.
18. Put a dab of Eucalyptus oil between the shoulder blades of your dog (where they can’t lick it off) to discourage ticks.
19. 2 cups of water + 1 TSP of Eucalyptus Oil + ½ TSP of Dishwashing Fluid = bug repellent spray for plants.
I’ll keep posting Essential Oil posts as I discover new uses. Feel free to contribute (with a credit, of course) by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, a BIG thanks to CleanAirGardening.com for the new Display Gnome. The beautiful and detailed 15” Gnome was created by the famous Dutchman, Rien Poortvielt, and retails on CleanAirGardening.com for just $39.99, watch for him in future posts.
I’m now accepting name ideas for the little guy, so, please, comment away!