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Essential oils & house cleaning products

Essentials oils are everywhere nowadays and it is very easy to order them online. Does this mean that you can do everything and anything with them? The answer is no. Essentials oils are sold in small vials but they are quite powerful. Like cleaning products, they should be used with caution and stored safely and away from children reach.

At La French Maison, we use them in our tutorials to add a subtle fragrance to our house cleaning products. I have therefore decided that it was time to talk about essential oils in that context. If you wanted to use them for aromatherapy or anything else, this is not the right article for you. Make sure you look for the appropriate information as essential oils can be toxic if used badly.

Let’s start with the obvious: what are essential oils?

Essential oils are extracted from plants. They can come from leaves, flowers, roots, barks or peels of plants and they are highly concentrated. They are obtained through steam distillation or mechanical method such as cold pressing. Once the aromatic scent or the essence has been extracted, they are combined with a carrier oil to create the product that you find in these little bottles. Each essential oil is unique and has its own characteristic. If by the end of this article you decide to add essential oils to your cleaning products, then I would suggest you choose an organic brand. The whole point of doing your own cleaning products is to have a healthier home. There is no better way to start than with organic essential oils.

 However, before you start, let’s cover four fundamentals.

 Numéro 1: essential oils and homemade cleaning products:

The first question that usually comes up in discussions is whether or not you have to add essential oils to your cleaning products.

The answer to that question is no. There is no obligation to use them. The truth is, natural cleaning product do not leave a smell around the house. After years of using supermarkets cleaning products, we have been conditioned to think that a clean house must smell clean: ie bleach, citrus, lavender. However, there is no actual link between the effectiveness of a cleaning product and its fragrance. Supermarket products such as fabric softeners can leave a really strong artificial smell lingering around the house. When you switch to natural cleaning products, the first thing you will notice is the lack of strong flowery smells. Natural products such as black soap or soap flakes are very subtle and in some cases odourless. Hence the use of essential oils. 

Essential oils will add a delicate fragrance to your cleaning product, without being too overpowering. Now that I prepare all my cleaning products, I realise how strongly scented supermarket cleaning products are. Similarly, some perfume shops or soap shops are so full of artificial fragrances that staying around them for too long gives me headaches.

Numéro 2: the essential oils that I use:

I want to tell you about my top three. There are a lot of essential oils out there and it can be difficult to choose one. I have three that I use regularly. I alternate between them depending on my mood and the seasons.

For me, is all about lemon essential oil, tea tree and orange.

  • Pourquoi lemon? Well, lemon is a fragrance that I immediately identify with cleanliness. Like everyone, depending on the season or personal circumstances, I have periods of time during which I am obsessed with cleaning and I need to be able to “smell” that my house is clean. Lemon essential oil gives me that “clean smell” feeling. If I have guests coming around or if I want to feel like my house is super clean, I will use lemon essential oils. Besides, it has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It is an all-rounder for me.
  • Pourquoi tea tree? The answer is very simple: I like its fragrance. It smells very fresh, a little bit like camphor. Beyond its smell, it’s good to know that tea tree essential oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties too. It will sanitise all surfaces you use it on.
  • Pourquoi sweet orange? Because it relaxes me. This is a smell that I like having around the house when I am going through a stressful period. Orange essential oil is well known for lifting your mood and reducing stress. It also has antimicrobial benefits. It will leave a delicate fragrance lingering around the house. J’adore, especially around Christmas time. 

Numéro 3: Essential oils & pets:

If you are in the mood to use essential oils and own a cat, you need to be super careful when it comes to choosing your essential oils. Essential oils could kill your cat because they are toxic for them. I am the kind of person that would rather be safe than sorry, and I would not use essential oils if I had a cat. However, if you are determined to add essential oils to your cleaning products,  below is a list of the main ones that you should never use in your house if you have a feline friend (this is a non exhaustive list). I would also advise you to ask your vet before you do use any essential oil. There is a lot of information on the net and it is difficult to know which one is true and which one isn’t. Speak to a pet professional before doing anything.

In the meantime, the essential oils below are to avoid at all cost:

Sweet birch
Pine oil
Yland Ylang
Pennyroyal oil
Eucalyptus and tea tree


Numéro 4: essential oils & safety:

You should not use essential oils when you are pregnant. The reason being that they penetrate directly into our bloodstream and will therefore get to your baby as well. Some essential oils are more toxic than others, but some can trigger miscarriages. It is better to be safe than sorry and simply not use them during the whole of the pregnancy and the breastfeeding period.

The same apply to having a toddler around the house. Essential oils are powerful compounds. It is best to stay away from them until the toddler is at least 3 years old. Better then, consult with your doctor to make sure that you are using them safely. I am not a health professional and it is always best to check everything with your GP. He knows you and your children better than anyone.

There is also a lot of specialised books about essential oils. If you are keen to use them, then reading about essential oils is probably a good idea.

Finally, let’s quickly mention the 4 golden rules of storage.

1. Always keep your cleaning products and essential oils in a safe place and away from children reach. It is not because something is natural, that it cannot be toxic or dangerous.

2. Don’t apply essential oils to your skin or eyes.

3. Don’t eat essential oils.

4. Keep your essential oils away from the light and make sure the bottle is sealed tightly otherwise it will evaporate.

In the end, adding essential oils to your cleaning routine is totally up to you. Natural cleaning products are effective whether or not you add essential oils.

À bientôt,

La French Maison.

La French Maison