Aromatherapy: Refresh My Space All-Purpose Cleaner

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Disclaimer: I am not an expert by any means. Not a therapist, medical or mental health professional. I do not diagnose, treat, or tell people what to do. The main purpose of this website and blog is education and support. If you are unsure how the suggestions and resources here may affect you, please discuss any changes to your existing treatment plan with your medical and mental health providers first.

Spring is Coming

Spring reminds me of fresh starts, new beginnings, and growing things. Plants wake up and start blooming. The air changes. Earth smells fresh. Temperatures (hopefully) start to warm up. People open windows and doors to let fresh air in.

And many people feel the urge to start Spring Cleaning. Or may want to clean, but feel anxious about it. Perhaps use cleaning as a coping strategy for anxiety or anxious feelings. Still other people feel the opposite and do everything possible to avoid house cleaning.

No matter what emotions or thoughts the spring season brings for you, I hope the following information and recipe help you with your cleaning goals.

Anxiety and Cleaning

I don’t know about you, but cleaning house does not always feel easy or safe to do. For me, cleaning can be a physical and energetic challenge. The physical actions and smells bring flashbacks and body memories from childhood and adolescence. My muscles lock up and stop working. Or send sharp, stabbing pains in unusual places that send panic attack signals to the rest of me.

How did I get around this?

  1. I gave in and let the alter personalities who could clean without triggers getting in the way take over and clean when they felt like it
  2. I learned a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to help me change perspective and substitute behaviors so that house cleaning felt safe and enjoyable again instead of scary and upsetting

Whether you use cleaning to manage your anxiety, avoid cleaning to manage anxiety or fall somewhere in the middle, there are ways to keep your space as clean as you deserve on your terms. Plant based cleaners and DIY recipes are two options.

Benefits of Using Plant Based Cleaners

Except for the toilet bowl area, I tend to use plant-based sustainable cleaners for everything from dishes to laundry to floors and carpet. It’s skin friendly, low maintenance, and does not require me to wipe down my counters, etc., again with soap and water to remove chemical film from commercial cleaners. And when I find an effective plant-based toilet cleaner, I will switch to that too.

The ingredients (except for essential oils) are easy to source and budget friendly. Reusable containers and cleaning cloths are also inexpensive (or free) and easy to store in a cabinet or box. When you run out, you can make more – small batches mean less waste too. For essential oils, a little goes a long way. Remember they are concentrated versions of whole plants so pack a lot of power for their small size (i.e. coffee plants vs. coffee drinks).

Basic Cleaning Ingredients

  • Distilled White Vinegar – you can use any kind, but this is the cheapest and easiest to purchase
  • Baking Soda – works great for scrubbing recipes
  • Liquid Castile soap – any brand; buy scented or unscented
  • Dish Soap – if the price of Liquid Castile soap is too much, use liquid dish soap instead
  • Vodka – 40 proof vodka kills germs. I personally don’t have experience with this one yet, but am hoping to change that this year since it is also a main ingredient for making tinctures
  • Essential Oils – Please remember that essential oils do have expiration dates and can go bad because they are made from plants. And plants decay. *If you have old essential oils you won’t trust in a diffuser or skin blend (and do not have mold or other issues), you can use them in your cleaning blends safely.*
    • Purchase oils you know you will use from a supplier you trust
    • See how much you use in your cleaning routine before you decide to buy more (i.e. larger bottles) or less each time you run out
    • Remember to check for the following information on the label:
      • Common Name
      • Latin Name
      • Ingredient List (adulterated or chemically created essential oils will list something like “natural plant oils” or the essential oil + liquid used for dilution here)

Basic Reusable Tools

  • Old towels and clothing items you can repurpose as rags – saves you time and money to use them; wash/dry them; and store again for next time instead of buying paper towels
  • PET plastic spray bottles in a variety of sizes – I recommend PET plastic so that the essential oils do not leach chemicals from the container over time
  • Glass or plastic containers to hold powder or dry cleaners
  • Box or cabinet to hold your cleaning supplies
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Essential Oil Caution – Citrus Essential Oils and Phototoxicity

The essential oils in this blend have a 1% dilution or 40 drops of essential oil for 8 ounces of carrier.

DIY All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe

Many citrus oils contain chemical components that can cause negative interactions with the sun when applied to human skin for long periods of time. The reaction can be as mild as a rash, moderate as a sun burn, or severe as burns from fire. This is why citrus essential oils are not recommended for any blends that could come in direct contact with skin exposed to sunlight – i.e. water-based diffusers, room sprays, massage oils, lotions.

Robert Tisserand, in his book about essential oil safety, comments that citrus essential oils can be used in wash-off products like hand soap and home cleaners. Also, chemical tests have provided a percentage of how much citrus essential oil can be used safely in a 1% dilution blend.

The percentage is different for each essential oil.

There are two known exceptions – Sweet Orange (Citrus sineses) and Distilled Lime (not cold press) are not phototoxic when used on skin. Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) essential oil is distilled using 2 main processes: cold press and steam-distilled. The different distillation processes capture many, but not all, of the same chemical components in the lime peel resulting in one version that is safe for skin use.

Lemon (Citrus limon) essential oil is phototoxic, but safe to use in this cleaning blend. I used the safety guidelines from class (no more than 12 drops per ounce of carrier) to ensure safety. However, you can leave it out or substitute it for another essential oil if you feel uncomfortable.

Eucalyptus globulous – one common version of Eucalyptus essential oil used in many cleaning recipes is the final essential oil ingredient here. It is not phototoxic, but can be skin irritating when oxidized (i.e. combines with oxygen to start the break-down process).

If you are concerned about getting essential oils on your skin and want to use them, try wearing disposable or reusable gloves while you clean.

Final Thoughts

This is one of the first essential oil blends I ever made and is still my favorite for all-purpose house cleaning recipe. I am so excited to be able to make my own cleaning products again! But I also feel anxious because it does bring up memories of a challenging time in my life as I struggled to be independent and live on my own.

Reflection Questions: What kinds of challenges do you face with house cleaning? Have you ever considered emotionally, spiritually, or energetically cleaning your home too?

Essential oils and crystals work great for that kind of cleaning too.

Maybe I will discuss that in a future post. What do you think?

Love and Rainbows ~ TJ

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