A common fix in aromatherapeutic settings and even home aromatherapy treatments, essential oils are beginning to find use in other ways around the house. While the initial cost to set up your essential oil pantry may seem steep, maintaining a stock of oils will be easier after the basics are already in place. Having a good selection of versatile oils on hand will ensure that you are prepared any time you need to add a pleasant scent to a DIY home or body care project. And because some oils have unique properties as decongestants, insect repellents, or even sleep aids, you can find practical ways to integrate these oils into homemade solutions that will replace store-bought counterparts and work just as effectively—probably with a much more pleasant scent as a bonus.
Repelling Bugs The Homemade Way
Citronella is a natural mosquito repellent that works on plenty of other winged insects as well, including fleas. It also has the bonus of being completely safe for small children and anyone who might be sensitive to chemicals that exist in store-bought repellents. For this reason, it appears frequently in commercial flea and tick medications for puppies and kittens, where it works hard to minimize insect exposure without potentially causing issues related to absorption through the skin or accidental consumption.
Other essential oils that complement citronella in a homemade bug repellent, either for people or pets, include lemongrass and witch hazel. Try using citronella and lemongrass in equal parts, with witch hazel as the base. Additionally, geranium oil can add protection against grass-borne ticks. For an extra invigorating scent, add a few drops of lavender and peppermint oils; they will not contribute to the repellent properties of the mixture but will make it smell quite enticing. Keep the finished product away from your eyes and mouth, but feel free to rub it into any other exposed skin to protect against mosquitos and flying insects.
Deodorize Your Home Without An Infuser
Plenty of people don’t have a spare aromatherapy infuser sitting around the house, but most of us have a rice cooker, a vegetable steamer, or even a plain saucepan for boiling water. You could even use an adorable kettle for this purpose, although you want to make sure that it is the non-whistling type, since it will be actively simmering away for as long as you want to infuse your home. The type of oil that you want to use will depend on the aroma that you prefer, although lavender essential oil is a popular choice. Fill your makeshift infuser device with water, add two or three drops of your oil of choice, and heat to simmering. Reduce the heat to prevent the water from boiling away too quickly, but make sure that it stays hot enough to keep steaming. The steam that comes out will infuse the room with a pleasant aroma, and depending on the circulation in your home, it may even scent the entire floor.
Rice cooker aromatherapy is becoming increasingly popular, and it works with dried flowers and herbs, too. As long as the oil you use is pure essential with no additives, it should be safe to return to using the device for food preparation later, as long as you clean it thoroughly before the next use. If you use a rice cooker, it should automatically shut off after too much water has evaporated. However, if you use anything that is not a rice cooker, such as a crock-pot or a kettle, make sure you don’t leave the infusion unattended. Check the water level regularly and shut it off before the water evaporates away to prevent your kitchenware from cooking dry, which can damage it and quickly become a fire hazard.
Scent Your Homemade Laundry Soap
Homemade laundry soap is an easy project that requires only a few ingredients and produces exponentially more soap than the same amount of money would purchase in bottled detergent. Unfortunately, conventional laundry soap recipes usually leave out scent, and while clean laundry is the basic goal, there is an enticing aspect of fresh-smelling clean laundry that makes it hard to ignore.
For gorgeously aromatic laundry soap, start with your favorite simple recipe. If you don’t already have a recipe, start with equal parts borax, washing soda, and baking soda. Mix these powdered ingredients thoroughly, then break out your cheese grater and reduce a bar or two of Fels Naptha pre-treating soap to fine flakes—how much you use will depend on the amount of powdered ingredients you used (the amounts should be roughly even).
Once you have mixed all the ingredients thoroughly, take your favorite essential oil and add a few drops. The amount depends on how much laundry soap you have created. It should be enough oil to create a noticeable smell, but not enough to make the powdered mixture clump or cake. If you are unfamiliar with homemade laundry soap, you should know in advance that it never foams up or creates suds. Adding a single tablespoon to a high efficiency load is enough, or use two tablespoons for non-efficiency machines.
Make Your Own Wet Wipes Or Baby Wipes
Wet wipes and baby wipes are essentially the same item—the only difference is whether you use them on yourself or on your little one. Whether you buy them as hand wipes or to clean up during diaper changes, they can become expensive quickly. Using essential oils makes it possible to craft a DIY version that will work just as well and smell even better. For disposable wipes, use a roll of paper towels as the base wipe material. Heat two cups of water to simmering, then set aside and prepare oils. Mix two tablespoons coconut oil with five drops each lavender and melaleuca or eucalyptus oils. Add the oil mixture to the water, then pour it over the paper towels. Let the paper absorb the liquid, and then drain away the excess.
The towels should be cut or perforated into single-use sheets and stacked in a waterproof container, such as a baggie or a small reusable bin. It is also important that the container seals tightly, so no moisture is lost, which can lead to your wipes drying out prematurely. If you prefer, you can use this method to prepare reusable cloths for cleansing instead of using paper towels.
These are a few of the most accessible projects that you can tackle using a basic supply of essential oils. With oils in your pantry such as eucalyptus, lavender, citronella, and peppermint, you can keep insects away from your kids and pets, make any room smell great, upgrade your back-to-basics laundry soap, and even make kid-safe cleaning wipes from scratch. To start, buy just the basics and watch how often you use them. You may find that they become a staple of your DIY lifestyle, and you always have the option to restock and add more unique scents to your arsenal.
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