Should we be using essential oils in our cleaning products?
This is more a side note I refer to in many DIY posts.
I've added a short French bibliography in the footnotes.
Should we be using essential oils in our cleaning products? As alternatives to perfumes? Are they efficient for cleaning? Are they safe to use? Is there any ecological consequence to our growing consumption? Read my insights bellow.
Ecology vs benefits
The democratisation of their use are not without ecological consequences (intensive agricultural production being one of them). It requires growing a lot of material to make a drop of essential oil and according to Aroma-Zone -French leader in Essential Oils and natural products- it would take 30 to 50 drops per liter of product to only perfume the product and 1 to 2 tablespoons per liter (two bottles of 15ml) to actually benefit from their properties in our cleaning products.
I do not encourage an excessive use of essential oils and I have stopped using them in my cleaning products.
I'd recommend you to keep them for therapeutical uses if you have the knowledge, but remember they are super concentrated plant chemicals and can be armful.
Here are some examples of the amount of plant needed, from the website doTerra.
1,40kg of Lavender flower to make 15ml of Lavender EO.
48kg of Rose petals to make 5ml of Rose EO (that's about 242,000 rose petals)
28kg of Melissa to make 5ml of Melissa EO.
50 lemons to make a 15ml bottle.
7 things to look for when you buy essential oils.
Chose quality over quantity. I prefer buying them in pharmacies or specialised natural shops where I am certain of the quality of the product.
Each essential oil has a control report you can ask your reseller (origin, molecules, certification, extraction method...)
The label is very important: it should mention the common name, the complete Latin name with its chemical specificity and the part of the plant used to make the oil: one plant can have very different properties depending on where it grew and depending on the organ the extraction was made from (flowers, leaves, seeds, buds...)
The only ingredient listed should be the plant, nothing added like synthetic perfumes/fragrances...
They should have an expiry date.
Prefer them certified organic as pesticides and herbicides can alter the plant as much as the soil quality.
Essential oils are better preserved in tinted glass container.
Are essential oils safe?
We can't define essential oils as "safe" to consume as they are very super concentrated plant chemicals and can cause significant poisoning if ingested. If you have kids or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you might want to check with your pharmacist's recommendation.
My paediatrician told me some can even have neurological and pulmonary effects on kids, even if just breathed. Since I am not a specialist and not all essential oils are dangerous, I will let you determine with the specialist of your choice which ones are safe and which aren't, but that gives me an idea for a future interview.
Finally, a very useful tip!
Don't use essential oils in spray bottles: even a few drops in your products might be enough to clog the mechanism. It happened to me many times before I figured that one out!
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Pour comprendre les huiles essentielles et leurs usages:
- Se soigner avec les huiles essentielles, Françoise Couic-Marinier Pharmacienne et aromathérapeute => Edition de poche bien pratique !
- La bible des huiles essentielles, Danièle Festy, Pharmacienne