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Use as a natural fragrance

Use as a natural fragrance
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With all the talk about the dangers of phthalates, which are found in many commercial air fresheners and have been shown to decrease thyroid function over time, it’s nice to know that essential oils can be used as an all-natural scent booster. And you don’t even need to own a diffuser. Place sweet orange, lavender, or lime essential oil on a cotton ball and tape it to the back of a flower pot or the bottom of a chair, advises Erin Stewart, certified aromatherapist, herbalist, and founder of AromaCulture. “It will release the aroma of the essential oil into the air and leave your house smelling fresh,” she says. She also recommends placing a drop or two of essential oil into a bowl of clay diffuser beads or pebbles in the bathroom. “The clay will act as a diffuser, slowly releasing the aroma of the essential oil into the room and acting as a natural air freshener.”

Disinfect your benchtops

Disinfect your benchtops
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Since many essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, they are well-suited for use in simple homemade cleaning products. Plus, think of all the cash you’ll save on overpriced (and overly processed) commercial varieties. Stewart recommends adding 2 to 3 drops of lemon, lavender, sweet orange, or tea tree essential oil to some diluted liquid castile soap in a small spray bottle. “You can use this combination to wipe down your kitchen and bathroom counters and other non-porous surfaces,” she says.

Clean your toilet

Clean your toilet
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You can even use the same essential oils as for countertop cleaners – lemon, lavender, sweet orange, or tea tree – to keep your toilet spick and span. Stewart recommends DIYing your own “toilet tabs” by stirring a couple of drops of one of these essential oils into a bowl of baking soda, spraying the mixture lightly with water and then pressing the baking soda mixture into a silicon mould (like for ice cubes or brownies). “Let it sit overnight to dry and, the next morning, remove the tabs from the mould and store them in an airtight jar,” she says. “Toss one into the toilet before you shower each day and flush when you get out of the shower to keep your toilet fresh between deep cleanings.”

Don’t miss the ways you’re probably cleaning your bathroom wrong.

Swap out grocery items

Swap out grocery items
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Instead of buying a heap of herbs that will go bad in a week, replace them with essential oils. “The rule is to use one drop of essential oil per tablespoon of herbs in your favourite recipe,” says Maat van Uitert, essential oil expert. Essential oils can also be used in desserts. “If you love chocolate mint patties, you can make a homemade version using one drop of peppermint – and, if you’re trying to lose weight and don’t like the taste of water, you can add one drop of orange essential oil to 250ml of water to make it more palatable.” You can also add 1 to 2 drops of lemon essential oil to your water bottle to give it some zing.

Wash fresh fruit and veggies

Wash fresh fruit and veggies
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Just thinking about how many hands have touched the surfaces of the fruits and vegetables you buy at your local supermarket can give you a ballpark idea of the amount of germs that may be on them – and that’s not including any pesticides that may have been sprayed on them at the farm. As well as washing them with water, use essential oils. Sally Pansing Kravich, celebrity holistic nutritionist and author, recommends adding five drops of lemon essential oil to a large bowl of water to wash fruits and veggies.

Discover 19 produce mistakes you didn’t know you were making.

Here’s how to store fruits and veggies so they stay fresher longer.

Protect lawns and gardens

Protect lawns and gardens
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Most commercial products for pest control aren’t kid- or pet-safe and contain chemicals harmful to your local ecosystem, notes van Uitert. His advice: If insects are destroying your lawn or garden, combine 10 drops of essential oil with 250ml of water and castile soap for organic pest control. Use a spray attachment with your hose and spray the insects away.

Here are 23 genius gardening hacks you’ll be glad you know.

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Keep flying bugs away

Keep flying bugs away
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One of the few downsides to summer weather is the influx of relentless outdoor pests. With so many dangerous chemical combinations being used in commercial insect repellents, why not make your own more affordable and less harmful spray? For a great natural alternative to chemical bug sprays with DEET in them, Ed Foy, co-founder of Clear Scents, suggests trying this recipe: In a small spray bottle, combine 60-120ml of distilled water, 45ml witch hazel or vodka, and 30 to 50 drops of your favourite essential oil. You can add more or less essential oil depending how strong you want the fragrance to be. Use the spray around your outdoor seating areas.

Deter crawling bugs

Deter crawling bugs
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If ants are invading your home – or camping tent – cinnamon essential oil can help. “The cinnamon interacts with their nervous system and prevents them from communicating with other ants, forcing them to leave the area,” says van Uitert. “Even better, you won’t have to worry about your child or pet ingesting toxins.” Lemongrass is another great solution. Try diluting 10 to 20 drops of the stuff in 60-120ml of water. Shake it up and spray the area where you’re hoping to ward off bugs. One whiff of the stuff and they’ll head in another direction.

Check out more ways to get rid of ants without having to call an exterminator.

Boost the scent of laundry

Boost the scent of laundry
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If your detergent isn’t leaving your clothes smelling quite as fresh as you’d like, it’s not that you’re making these common laundry mistakes. It’s that you haven’t been taking advantage of non-toxic scenting power of essential oils. Try adding essential oils to laundering or drying clothes to give them a clean, natural smell. “Whether you’re using a homemade or store-bought detergent or fabric softener, just add several drops of your favourite essential oil such as lavender, lemongrass or peppermint, and launder as usual,” says Foy. “You can also condition your clothes in the dryer by adding essential oil to any wool dryer ball.” This hypoallergenic alternative is sure to leave your clothes feeling soft and smelling great every time.

Spray away sunburn

Spray away sunburn
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You probably already know that applying lemon essential oil to your hair while you’re out in the sun can create natural blonde highlights, but you might be surprised to know that essential oils can also take the sting away from a sunburn. “If you’ve been out in the sun too long, combine one-half cup witch hazel with 3 tablespoons of pure aloe vera gel and five drops of lavender essential oil in a spray bottle,” suggests van Uitert. Shake to mix and apply to your body as needed. “The aloe vera and lavender are soothing!”

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