My Favorite Essential Oils For DIY Cleaners


One of the great things about homemade cleaners is that they are so often made with common household ingredients.  Pantry staples like vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice can be put to good use and can help you save a bundle on your cleaning supplies.

BUT – there’s usually one more ingredient on the list when you read recipes for homemade cleaners that’s not a common pantry item – and that’s an essential oil.  If you’re a frugal sort of person (like me!) your first thought may be “Do I really need to add the essential oil?  Can I just leave that out?”

My usual answer to that question {and readers have asked me that several times} is . . . Yes and No. Most of the time it’s optional because it’s just for fragrance, but sometimes they are being used for their anti-bacterial properties and are important to the recipe. They also smell great and are more frugal than you think so it’s nice to add them if you can.

Favorite essential oils for DIY cleaners

One time I made the effort to try to figure out the cost of adding a few drops of an essential oil to a homemade cleaner but it was really hard to figure out how many drops were in a bottle to calculate that out.  I decided there were probably at least a couple hundred drops in the size bottle I was buying, and when I did the math, it came out to just a few pennies per drop!  So the upfront cost may sometimes make it seem like a pricey ingredient, but your essential oil will go a LONG way and could last several years.

I usually buy my essential oils at a local health food store called Warren Nutrition that carries the .5 oz bottles of the Nature’s Alchemy brand. One of the things I quickly discovered is that essential oils come in many different price ranges (and I always look for the cheapest ones!)  In fact I read an article just the other day that said if you see a brand of essential oils that has all the fragrances equally priced, beware.  Because each fragrance is made from a different plant, the price should be accordingly higher or lower if it’s a true essential oil.

My Favorite Essential Oils

Today I thought I would share a peek at my little container of essential oils.  Right now I have five that I use all the time and am happy with. If you’re new to homemade cleaners and want to get started with essential oils, these five that are my favorites are not too expensive and would make a great “starter kit”.

Favorite essential oils for DIY cleaners

Of course there are a LOTS of other great essential oils out there too and I’m hoping to keep adding to my stash, but these five are good all-around basics to have on hand.

I’ve listed them below and have included an Amazon link in case you can’t locate essential oils in a store near you.  (And . . . here’s my disclosure that these are affiliate links and I may make a small commission on purchases).


lemon oil 3 Lemon Essential Oil:   We often associate the smell of lemons with freshness and cleaning which makes this scent a great choice for any homemade cleaner.  If you’ve never purchased an essential oil, lemon is a good first choice.  It was the first essential oil I purchased too and I’ve kept some on hand ever since.  I actually tried a new source recently and used my 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby to try the essential oil they carry (which is pictured here).  So far, so good!

Amazon Link: Lemon Essential Oil

I like to use this in:  Homemade Furniture Dusting Spray


lavender essential oil

Lavender Essential Oil:   Lavender is a wonderful all-purpose scent to have on hand.  I like to think of it as a little aromatherapy while I’m cleaning.  I use this most often in my vinegar/water cleaning spray to offset the smell of the vinegar.  Lavender is also said to have natural anti-bacterial properties which makes it a helpful addition to any homemade cleaner too.

Amazon Link: Lavender Essential Oil

I like to use this in:  Homemade All Purpose Cleaner


orange essential oil

Orange Essential Oil:  Orange essential oil is the sweetest smelling of the oils I keep on hand.  It’s one of the cheapest essential oils too. I like to use it as an alternate when I’m feeling like I want a change from the usual lemon and lavender.

Amazon Link: Orange Essential Oil

I like to use this in:   Both my Dusting Spray  and my All Purpose Cleaner


tea tree essential oil

Tea Tree Essential Oil:   Tea tree oil can be a very important part of a homemade cleaner.  It’s not added for its fragrance and instead is added for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that give an important cleaning boost.   As an example, I used tea tree oil when making my homemade disposable cleaning wipes several months ago.  One of the complaints others have had about homemade cleaning wipes is that they can become moldy.  However my batch of homemade wipes has been working great for these last five months and has not grown any mold.  I think a big reason for this is the addition of tea tree oil.   For my last purchase I decided to get the bigger 1 oz bottle from Amazon because it’s such a useful ingredient for homemade cleaners.

Amazon Link: Tea Tree Essential Oil

I like to use this in: Homemade Cleaning Wipes,  Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner


peppermint essential oil

Peppermint Essential Oil:   This is the oil of choice if you want to add a little zing to your cleaners.  It’s not too pricey and gives a big boost of fragrance.  I find myself liking to use peppermint oil the most during the winter months.  And speaking of winter months, I’ve used peppermint essential oil to help get rid of the ants that sometimes invade our house during the cold snaps.

Amazon Link: Peppermint Essential Oil

I like to use this in:  Scented Sink Scrub


And finally, you may have spotted that the picture showing my container of oils has a couple more bottles in there than just five.  Yes, there’s two in there I’m not doing much with right now.

I have Cedarwood oil that I bought and used in a homemade cleaning spray just once.  Hubby walked by and said “Hmmm, smells like a hamster cage in here”.   And yes!  It does have a cedar chip smell and now all I can think of is hamster cages when I sniff it and so there it sits.

I also bought Citronella oil when I made my homemade citronella candles this summer but so far it hasn’t been an oil I want to add to any of my cleaners.

And of course, essential oils can be used in more ways than just in your cleaners.  A couple examples are that I’ve used peppermint to make a lovely hand and body scrub and recently used my orange oil for my reed diffuser liquid.

Do you have a favorite essential oil?  And does anyone have good ideas for using up that cedarwood oil?  Thanks for any ideas!



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  1. I have a moth problem I’m trying to fix, so I use the cedarwood in a blue glass bottle sprayer mixed with distilled water or tap water and spray as a freshener around the room and in closets. I also put drops of cedarwood oil on my mask all throughout the COVID year for antibacterial properties and lung purifying. It smelled wonderful and kept my spirits high. Just be careful it doesn’t upset your mucus lining. It certainly has a calming effect on me but I also find it empowering – the aroma-therapeutic value is phenomenal. So, instead of equating it with a hamster cage (which also has fond memory-associations) – think of the strong, mighty trees of this earth – allow it to giant your mood.

  2. No tips on the cedar wood oil, but I have all but the peppermint in my stash along with rosemary. My all purpose cleaner is water, Castile soap, rosemary and tea tree. Rosemary is also an anti bacterial agent and smells wonderful. I bought a Rubbermaid reveal for my floors a few years ago. The sprayer broke and now I just walk around the house with my spray bottle to clean the wood floors.

  3. Hello Bev! I am new to your blog and find it enjoyable. Perhaps you could make a satchel with the cedar oil to keep away moths.

    1. Glad to hear you are enjoying the blog Cyn – and I like your idea of using the cedar oil satchels to create a “make your own” cedar closet!

  4. I have never used essential oils for cleaning but lately I found really great cleaning recipes and tips involving essential oils. I really would love to try some of the recipes! Thanks you for sharing about your favorite essential oils! Greets, Forest Hill Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  5. Hi, I love your blog and read it all the time! I just wanted to let you know that you don’t have lemon essential oil pictured, you have lemongrass, which it completely different from lemon, with different properties and uses, but cleaning isn’t one of them. You might want to change the picture to avoid confusion. I love using essential oils to clean; my favorite right now is to add orange to my vinegar and water kitchen cleaner. I think it makes it smell like Sprite or 7-Up, though I don’t think anyone else thinks so.

    1. That’s funny because, yesterday I use Orange and Lavender together in my nebulizer and kept thinking it smelled like a soda of some sort.

  6. Hi Bev: I’m no expert, but I’ve read one of the ways to test if an essential oil is pure is to put a drop on a piece of paper and wait a few hours (or minutes if it’s hot). Eventually, it should evaporate because it’s not really oil, per se. If it doesn’t evaporate, it’s not pure.

    I’ve also gotten rid of ants with peppermint essential oil. Works so well! I’ve tried getting rid of them with peppermint fragrance oil, and it doesn’t work at all, They know the difference! 🙂

    1. I’ll have to remember that test for essential oils . . . and I totally believe that the ants know the difference between the essential oil and the fragrance oil!