Mention eucalyptus oil to an Australian who is a long way from home, and you are almost sure to get a big reaction. To many Australians, eucalyptus oil smells like home.
Eucalyptus oil is derived from the dried leaves of the eucalyptus tree, an evergreen native to Australia. The trees, which commonly grow up to 230 feet tall, thrive in damp areas on hillsides or in valleys that have deep soil.
Although there are hundreds of varieties of eucalyptus trees, the most commonly used oil is from the blue gum variety (eucalyptus globulus). The oil is colorless and has a strong, sweet woodsy scent. Because of its unique aroma, eucalyptus oil is a popular addition to everything from mouthwash, to bath salts, to cosmetics.
There is more to this essential oil than what meets the nose, however. It has been used for centuries for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and it is an ingredient of many over-the counter health products such as inhalers, muscle rubs, lotions, liniments and rash ointments.
As you look more and more to natural ways to take care of your home and family, here are a dozen uses for eucalyptus oil that you may not have considered:
1. Remove sticky residue. Place a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a spot where a sticker or decal has left behind its tell-tale traces. Wait a few moments, then wipe away. It’s also good for removing candlewax.
2. Clothing stain/odor remover. Make a paste of several drops of eucalyptus oil and your laundry detergent. Rub the paste into the stain with an old toothbrush, let it sit for 10 minutes and then launder as usual.
3. Athlete’s foot. Eucalyptus oil works as a fungicide, so it is useful on toenails or fingernails that may have a fungal infection. For relief from athlete’s foot, try soaking your feet in a bucket filled with one cup white vinegar and three cups of water, pat dry and then dab a drop or two of eucalyptus oil directly on the infected area.
4. Household cleaner. Mix together in a clean spray bottle one half cup white vinegar with one cup hot water, 1/8 tsp liquid dish detergent (a brand without bleach) and six drops of eucalyptus oil. Shake before each use. Use to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
5. Moth repellent. To deter moths or silverfish from entering your cupboards or drawers, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a soft cloth and wipe. Or try placing a few drops of oil on a padded clothing hanger. In addition to keeping the bugs away, it will make those areas smell fresh and clean.
6. Ant deterrent. Similarly, use eucalyptus oil to keep ants and roaches at bay. Place a cotton ball moistened with eucalyptus oil wherever you have seen the critters.
7. Dust mite controller– You’ve seen this gruesome enlargement photos of the microscopic creatures that live in your bedroom, right? Get rid of them by adding 15 to 20 drops of eucalyptus oil to your washing cycle when washing your bed linens, blankets or pillows.
8. Mold remover. To remove and to help prevent mold and mildew, mix a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a cup of hot water and wipe it away.
9. Relaxer. Eucalyptus is used in many massage oils and ointments and is good for achy muscles. If you are feeling run-down, add three to four drops of eucalyptus oil along with a few drops of lavender oil to your bathwater.
10. Lice treatment. Many mothers swear by eucalyptus oil as a natural way to get rid of head lice. Some report success with simply spraying a solution of water mixed with a few drops each of eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil on the hair, letting it sit for about a half hour under a tight-fitting shower cap. Then comb hair out and wash as normal. Repeat once a week for the next few weeks. Be careful to avoid your child’s eyes, ears and mouth with the solution.
11. Decongestant. Add a few drops to your humidifier during dry weather to help soothe your family’s irritated sinuses.
12. Treat insect bites. Dab a drop of eucalyptus oil on the affected area to ease the itch and discomfort.
A few words of caution and information:
- Fragrance oils and essential oils are not one and the same. As a general rule, if you see the words “fragrance” or “fragrance oil” on the label, it is not natural.
- Many essential oils, including eucalyptus oil, are very concentrated in their undiluted state and can be irritating to the skin, especially to the delicate skin of children.
- It’s a good idea to avoid the use of essential oils such as eucalyptus oil while pregnant.
- Avoid contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Store your eucalyptus oil in the dark glass bottle it came in and keep it out of direct sunlight to preserve its potency.
- Eucalyptus oil can be blended well with the following other essential oils: rosemary, lemon, lavender, thyme, lemongrass, tea tree, pine, peppermint, cedar wood, ginger, benzoin, black pepper, patchouli, lime, juniper and bergamot.
Where to buy eucalyptus oil
Look for eucalyptus oil at your health food store or in the natural foods section of your grocery store or pharmacy. Some online retailers sell it in a variety of sizes at a discounted price. If you have doubts about the quality, look for or ask for a Certificate of Analysis (C of A) for the oil.