Homemade Dusting Spray – Will The Olive Oil Go Rancid?

One of my most popular posts has been the one about the Homemade Furniture Dusting Spray that I use. It’s an easy mixture of mostly water with some vinegar, olive oil and essential oil mixed in. I’ve found it to be a very thrifty and easy way to clean wooden furniture and have not yet encountered any downside to using this spray. In fact it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite cleaners!

I based this mixture on a recipe from a favorite book of mine called Clean House Clean Planet . One of the first things I wondered when I found this recipe was how could the oil and water mix? Aren’t those two things that everybody knows don’t mix together? The olive oil does float to the top, however I just shake it often when I’m using it and don’t worry about it. I think the olive oil in there helps to condition the wood which was the point of putting it in the mixture.


Questions about Olive Oil in the Homemade Dusting Spray

My only thoughts so far about the olive oil in the dusting spray had been how it incorporated into the mixture. However a reader recently asked me, “Does the olive oil get rancid?” I’ll be honest and admit I had never thought about that. But it was a question that got me thinking so I did a little research on the subject. Let’s take a look.

What Does Rancid Mean?
Let’s first take a look at what it means for something to be rancid. The term rancid refers to the deterioration or decomposing of fats. Heat, light, and oxygen are the main culprits that can cause this deterioration. Things like butter, nuts, and oils are items that can go rancid. If you have ever bitten into a rancid nut, you know the bitter tang that a rancid flavor can have. When olive oil goes rancid it is also an issue of the taste being off and it takes on a more bitter quality. One article I read, however, felt that most of us are accustomed to the taste of rancid olive oil! If only we were buying the expensive stuff we would really know what it was supposed to taste like . . . . or so they said.

I could not find anything that said rancid olive oil was poisonous or dangerous. It’s more about losing the optimum flavor quality.

There was really no set timeline either for when an olive oil could start going bad. A general rule of thumb is if you store your olive oil in a cool dark place it should be good for a couple of years.

Is There A Smell?
So it seems like most of the issues around rancid olive oil are about the taste being less than desirable in our foods. Does that mean there is no smell to a rancid olive oil? According to a couple of things I read, if you put your nose up to the olive oil bottle and take a sniff and it smells like crayons or a cardboard box, well then you might have a rancid olive oil. On a scale of scary smells, I would put crayons and cardboard boxes near the bottom of the list. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m Not Worried
Frankly, I was not too worried about the rancid olive oil issue before I started my research, and after looking into the subject a little more I still feel the same way (maybe even more so). Here are my reasons:

– There is a relatively small amount of olive oil in the mixture – just a couple teaspoons.

– You immediately wipe the spray off the furniture. The oil in the mixture conditions the wood, but does not linger on the surface. There is no residual smell of the olive oil on the furniture.

– Taste is the main issue in a rancid olive oil. It does not change color or texture or become dangerous. As we are not eating our furniture dusting spray, it does not seem to be a cause of great concern.

– I have never noticed the olive oil in my cupboard becoming rancid. I think I use it up too quickly for this to happen.

– Likewise, I use up my furniture dusting spray fast enough that it would never sit long enough for the oil to go bad.

In summary, I have never noticed a problem with rancid olive oil in my homemade furniture dusting spray and am not really worried about this in the future. Do you agree? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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  1. Hi there, I used olive oil on leather shoes and they grew mould, so im just concerned about that. Is there anything to add to the oil to sterilize it ? I would have thought certain essential oils might inhibit mould growth – I didnt put any in the shoe oil – what do people think ?

    1. A couple thoughts – The oil in this mixture is a small ingredient and the mixture is primarily water. This mixture is also intended for hard surfaces (as opposed to softer leather) and is wiped off the surface. So for those reasons, I find it extremely unlikely that any mold would grow, and I have used this dusting spray for many years and have never had that problem either.

  2. I’m a hobbyist woodworker.
    I’ve had a large (17″ dia.) cherry salad bowl for nearly 20 years. Every time before I use it, I wipe some extra virgin olive oil inside with a paper towel. After use & gentle cleaning I wipe on some extra virgin olive oil both inside and outside lightly with a paper towel, wipe off the excess and store it. I have never noticed any “rancid” odor, color, flavor or anything else untoward. Just a beautiful bowl. I’ve read all the dire statements on the ‘Net about not doing this because of rancid or bacteria growth. I believe that is urban legend (in other words, nonsense/baloney).

    1. I have never had a problem with it attracting insects (I always use olive oil). I have never made my recipe with coconut oil, but I don’t think it would attract any insects either.

    1. Any cooking oil could go rancid. Some do much more quickly than others. Personally, I find rancid oil quite nasty smelling.

  3. I loved this story Jenna! I suspected this would be the case and your real life experience gives us some proof that we probably don't have to worry about any rancidity issues when using olive oil in homemade cleaners.

  4. I did an accidental blind study (meaning I didn't see it or know it was happening – LOL) I had moved to a new home aprox. 6 years ago. I had mis placed my homemade furniture polish that contains alot of olive oil. I think there's about a full cup. Well, I found it the other day. There's nothing wrong with it. Just a little cloudier then it once was. It is still a great polish. of course I wouldn't put it on a salad or anything. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, there you go. A test of 6 years on a home-made olive oil product for furniture. Still works great, and doesn't stink either!
    -Jenna Rose