“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” — Lady Bird Johnson
Home is where the heart is. Our home is our sacred space, our haven from an overly busy, stressful world. During this pandemic most of us have developed a deeper relationship with our homes, spending unprecedented amounts of time there. Even as the world opens up again, our homes continue to provide solace, safety, and peace. Bringing plants into your home is an important step in making the most out of your home. Our magical plant friends will enhance the healing your home can provide.
Bringing plants inside improves indoor air quality, and reduces stress, increases focus, and expedites healing. As if that isn’t enough reason to bring plants inside, using our plant friends to clean the home cuts our exposure to chemicals and will turn even the most hated chore into a ritual that can ease your mind and feed your spirit. Plants deepen our homes ability to heal, recover, and thrive. There are two easy ways to bring plants inside, cleaning with essential oils and bringing in some house plants. Here are some recipes for good, natural cleaning recipes and recommendations on what types of oils and blends to use in certain spaces as well as some recommendations on which plants to bring inside.
Many people use essential oils now. Some people use them in a diffuser, or in body care recipes. There are many more uses for plants in the home, however, than mere diffusing. The only limit to how you can use plants and essential oils in your home is your imagination. From setting a mood to providing a natural clean, bringing your plant friends indoors is a gift both you and your home deserve. First off lets go over some universal rules when using essential oils in the home.
1)Always check the contraindications for each essential oil before you use them. Just because it is natural does not mean it is safe. Don’t assume just because it’s popular it is safe for everyone. Some oils have surprising contraindications. Eucalyptus should not be used by those with epilepsy. People on certain types of medication shouldn’t use peppermint oil. ALWAYS CHECK CONTRAINDICATIONS.
2) Always use glass containers for anything that you will add essential oils to. They can eat away some plastics and corrode metals. You don’t want any of that byproduct in your final potion!
3)Measure your materials. Too much of a good thing can be very, very bad. Just because we are not using these recipes topically does not mean blending here is a free for all. Even environmentally dosage matters with essential oils.
4) Don’t use anything you are allergic to.
5) Be mindful about which oils you use if you have children or pets in the home.
Fragrancing the Home
Fragrancing the home with essential oils naturally gives you a wonderful smelling home. It also provides the therapeutic effects of your chosen essential oil or blend. Throughout this article I’ll give some good blends that help each room fulfill its function. Here are some home fragrancing methods.
1)Add one or two drops of essential oil directly onto a lightbulb. Simple and effective. I’ve also used this method at work.
2)Add one or two drops of your favorite essential oil to a candle you’re burning.
3)Diffusers- The best diffusers for essential oils are ultrasonic diffusers. You can find these pretty much anywhere nowadays. For starters use 3-5 drops of essential oil per 3 oz of water. If you desire a stronger fragrance go up from there.
4) Room Spray- This is one of my favorite methods. Don’t get me wrong I love my diffuser, but I also use this method for a quick refresh. Mix 10 drops of essential oil per 1 oz distilled water in a glass spray bottle. If you’re making a larger batch that will last more than a week or so add some grain alcohol to the mix to help preserve it longer.
No Shame in Only Having One
Sometimes you only want to use one oil. There’s nothing wrong with using a single oil. When you want to use more than one, or have a blend you love to use consistently, save yourself a lot of time and prepare that blend in a large batch. Mix up 8 oz or so of your favorite blend to use in these recipes. When it’s easy to grab quickly and use, you're more likely to use it.
Now let’s go room to room and explore how to use essential oils in the home and which plants can thrive. Each room has a unique purpose and therefore has a unique set of needs. Plants can define room from room and even help each room fulfill its purpose. From focusing in the home office to drifting off to sleep in the bedroom plants are there for us. As I mentioned, some of these methods and recipes will cross over from space to space. Use these recipes in how they work best in your space.
Ah, the living room. The room we, well, live in. This is a multifunctional shared space that gets a lot of traffic and a lot of use, and if it’s like mine. . .a lot of dust. For many of us the living room is one of the first rooms you and your guests encounter in your home. This space is wonderful for asserting your individuality and setting the overall tone you desire for your home. I prefer happy, uplifting oils for the living room. Something that will get you motivated.
I love using essential oils to clean windows. I especially love using grapefruit essential oil for this, or a blend that contains grapefruit. It’s such a bright, happy oil. When the sun hits your windows it releases the oil into the air. Use this recipe for a streak free finish. You can also add a little isopropyl alcohol if you wish. Use this like you would windex, just make sure to clean your windows with a lint free rag.
2 cups distilled water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
10 drops of essential oil.
You can also add a few, like 3, drops of dawn dishwashing soap.
This recipe removes dust, cleans, and nourishes wood furniture. Make sure to use this batch within a month. Lemon is a good choice for this. Lemon helps clean, disinfects, and cuts grease. This is why commercial cleaners typically use lemon fragrance. They just use the scent and add chemicals to do what true lemon essential oil really does. Feel free, however, to use any essential oil you like. Combine these ingredients in a glass spray bottle. Shake before use.
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
3-4 drops essential oil
This is a good recipe for tile floors. You can either mix this up in a large batch in a bucket, or put it in a spray bottle to use as you’re mopping your floor. Mopping the floor is a good way to clean the house. It is also a good way to cleanse the house. There are many traditions that use sweeping or mopping the floor as a ritual to not only get rid of dirt, but cleanse your space of negativity.
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup isopropyl (70%) rubbing alcohol
1/8 tsp liquid dish soap
5-10 drops of essential oils
Baking Powder Carpet Cleaner
I LOVE this recipe and I use it on my sofa as well. I also make this in large batches and store it in a large jar so it’s easily on hand. Also, the baking soda absorbs the essential oil over time making it more potent. Stick all of the ingredients in a jar and shake it up. To use, sprinkle it on your carpet or upholstery. Let it sit for 30 min or so, then vacuum it all up.
2 cups baking soda
30 drops essential oil
The living room is such a varied space, there is no one blend that will fit all. This is really where your individuality comes into play. Like I said, the living room is a good space to set the overall intention of your home. Here are some of my favorites.
- Marie Laveau for a happy, protected space. Svadhishthana to enhance creativity. Manipura for getting stuff done.
For a space that sees as much activity as the living room I prefer something uplifting and motivating. Target the blend for what you need to get done.
3 Parts Grapefruit
2 Parts Lavender or Bergamot
1 Part Amyris
Now onto houseplants. They are a wonderful way to naturally improve the air quality inside your home. Tests also prove that house plants can increase productivity, speed the time it takes to recover from illness or injury, and provide relief from anxiety and depression. Each plant I’ve picked for this article is a proven low maintenance house plant. I list some low light options as well. Here are some good options for use in the living room.
Yup, no need to leave the flowers outdoors. Bringing in the lovely Chrysanthemum is sure to brighten up your space. While these blooms require less sunlight than most others, they still like a lot of sun, but to keep their blooming regular they need a break from the light at night so make sure they’re not under a street light. If you have a sunny space in your living room, get some mums in there. As a bonus chrysanthemums filter out toxins that are often found in plastics, detergents, and glue. Once the plant is done flowering it makes a good addition to the compost. Other than sun, good soil, and regular watering a chrysanthemum doesn't need much making it a good, low maintenance roommate.
For a low light option with a pop of color go for the guzmania. They don’t need a lot of light and still manage to produce vivid color. In fact it doesn’t even like direct sun. As a bonus to us in Houston, guzmania prefers moist and humid conditions. It is a tropical plant afterall. Guzmania has also been proven to be an air purifier.
The kitchen is the beating heart of the home. It is the place we prepare our nourishment. Where we have fellowship with our friends and family. The kitchen is a place where lots of laughs and lots of messes occur. Citrus oils really shine in the kitchen. Not only are they antimicrobial, they help cut oil and can even regulate appetite.
Make this in a larger batch in a spray bottle. Just make sure to use it up every month or so. Using lemon, orange, or grapefruit essential oils in this recipe is sure to boost the cleaning power as well as the happy energy. Mix all the ingredients up and shake well before using.
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
10 drops essential oil
A little of this and a little of that. This dish soap uses a variety of ingredients. The vinegar helps make the dishes gleam. The jojoba provides nourishment to your hands. The kosher salt serves as a thickener. If you don’t mind a runny dish soap feel free to omit it. Combine all the ingredients in a glass container. A bottle, like a glass olive oil bottle, works really well for this.
1/2 cup warm distilled water.
1/2 Dr. Bronner's Soap or other castile soap.
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar.
1 tablespoon essential oil
1 tbsp Jojoba Oil (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (optional)
Happy, active blends are best in the kitchen. Citrus oils are both active and happy in addition to the benefits listed above. Orange, lemon, grapefruit, and bergamot are all natural kitchen allies.
For a custom kitchen blend I present the following. Each of these oils will clean, and are warm enough to keep the heart of the home beating strong.
3 parts Lemon or Orange
2 parts Rosemary
1 part Benzoin
The Flamingo Lily
The Flamingo Lily is a beautiful plant. Also called an Anthurium, this tropical little beauty is another plant friend that likes high humidity, heat, weekly watering, and relatively low light. It likes sunlight, but not direct sunlight. If you don’t live in a tropical humid area give it a mist every once in a while. Its beautiful coloring will bring joy to any space it lives in. It is also another plant that excels at purifying the air.
Our innermost sanctuary. The epitome of both peace and maybe a little excitement. If your house is your temple, the bedroom is definitely the inner chambers. This is our ultimate safe space, a place to be ourselves, heal, and rejuvenate. Naturally, peaceful, relaxing blends dominate the list of what plants to use in the bedroom. This is one of the areas that essential oils really shine. The bedroom is one of the first places people introduce essential oils in the home. The ways you can use essential oils to help you relax are limitless and as complex or simple as you please. You can do something as simple as drop a few, and I mean 2-3, drops of lavender oil neat on a hairbrush and brush your hair before bed.
Scent is our number one sense tied to memory. Scent deeply affects our brains and moods. It is good to have a scent that you only use to work or study. Conversely it is also good to have another scent you only use when it’s time to sleep. Using scent in this manner will send a powerful signal to your brain that it is time to sleep. A diffuser is a wonderful way to do this. Ultrasonic diffusers also humidify the air.
There is nothing better than putting on some clean, fresh smelling clothes. Put these sachets in your drawers or hang them in your closet. If you include cedarwood in your blend it could also help deter those pesky moths from attacking your sweaters. Mix the rice and the dried herbs together and add the essential oils. Carefully put the mixture in the bags. Be careful cause that stuff can get everywhere! Pull the bag close and tie it super tight, cause again, that stuff can get everywhere.
½ cup Rice
¼ cup Dried herbs- Use anything aromatic- lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram, or rose are some stellar examples. Some fans of folklore will also appreciate the addition of mugwort to help you dream.
10 drops Essential Oil
Mix this up in a glass spray bottle and keep next to the bed. Right before you climb in,shake it well and lightly mist your pillow, blankets, and even PJ’s to help your brain slow down and get to sleep.
1 cup vodka or witch hazel.
6-10 drops essential oi
Relaxing, anti-anxiety blends take center stage when we’re talking about the bedroom. These blends will also calm your mind, body, and spirit. If you’re seeking a little meditation, or it’s not time for sleep, pick something soothing, but not too sedating.
Erzulie Freda is one of the best anti-anxiety blends I make. She’s really good with easing the symptoms of panic attacks. The base of both Yemaya and Anahata is marjoram. Marjoram is the number one relaxation herb. Each of these can seriously help with insomnia.
Bedroom Blend- This is a highly relaxing and uplifting blend. Each and every one of these oils is good for grounding and calming the dreaded racing brain.
2 Parts Clary Sage
2 Parts Lavender
1 Part Cedarwood
I have a ton of this plant outside and inside my home. Snake plants do not require a lot of water and if over watered can suffer root rot. I don’t think I’ve watered my indoor ones in six months. Snake plants like sun, but indirect sunlight works best for this little boo. If you put it in a shady spot it will be fine, it will just grow a little slower. Snake plant is a fantastic indoor plant. Not only does it purify the air, it releases oxygen at night. This helps you get a great night's sleep. So bring those little snickety snake plants inside.
The ZZ plant makes a good option for low light/ indirect sunlight conditions in a room. It prefers a dry environment and makes for a very undemanding house mate. The ZZ plant is another wonderful air purifier and its beautiful, shiny leaves makes any space feel luxurious. It is another plant that is toxic to pets so be careful with your fur babies.
We now find our way to the bathroom. This is a room where we need our strongest disinfectants, antibacterials, antivirals, and antifungals. Think lemon, tea tree, eucalyptus, hyssop, lemongrass, peppermint, or even lavender. For a shiny, spotless, clean space try some of the recipes below.
The baking soda in this recipe provides a scrubby nature that is sure to get out the toughest of grime and stains. You can also make this in a larger batch for ease of use. If you add the vinegar in your premixed batch just make sure there’s room in the container for the fizzy reaction.
1 2/3 cup baking soda
1/2 cup Castile liquid soap
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
10 drops essential oil
This is a sort of concentrated, more powerful version of the recipe for tubs and showers. You can also use this for especially troublesome spots in the tub or shower. You can either combine all of the ingredients in a container large enough to handle the fizz reaction, or mix everything but the vinegar. If you do that apply the mixture with a scrub brush where you need it and then pour the vinegar over it. Work it in and let it sit for a little bit before washing it away.
1/4 cup baking soda
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp castile soap
1/4 cup white vinegar
50 drops essential oil
Everyone's favorite part of cleaning the house! I make this by prepping a large amount of the baking soda and essential oils in a large jar. When it's time to clean, pour the baking soda mixture in the toilet, followed by the vinegar. Scrub around a bit and then let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup white vinegar
30 drops essential oil
Fragrant and antimicrobial blends are the ones you want in the bathroom. Any oil that gives you a feeling of cleanliness. Simbi Anpaka is powerfully antimicrobial. Sahasraha and Vishuddha are also powerfully antimicrobial.
Bathroom Blend- This is a fragrant, and highly antimicrobial blend. It is sure to keep your bathrooms clean and smelling fresh. It’s also a good idea to keep a room spray in this space.
3 parts Peppermint or Lemon
2 parts Tea Tree
1 part Frankincense
House plants in the bathroom are the best. Not only do they help filter the air, they help you set the tone for the day. There are plenty of plants who love high humidity and will thrive in the bathroom.
English Ivy is one of the best plants to have in your bathroom. Not only is it a strong air purifier, it can also help combat mold. This viney climber will get about as big as you let it. I had one that climbed all over a bathroom. It was heaven. Not only does this plant love high humidity, thank you hot showers, it is a low light plant so it does well in rooms that don’t have many windows. English ivy doesn't like to be over-watered, however. It is truly a low maintenance plant. English Ivy is considered toxic to pets, so use caution with your furry friends.
This tropical plant is a low light, humidity loving, super easy plant to care for. It is an excellent choice for a bathroom companion. This little gem is also a proven air purifier. If you are new to plants, especially house plants, a chinese evergreen in your bathroom is one of the best to start with.
Never in the history of humanity has there been as many home offices as there are now. When you work from home one of the biggest challenges is to separate your home and work life. Setting up a dedicated work space that you only use for work helps. What helps your brain shift in and out of work mode even more is scent. Pick an oil or a blend that you only use while you are working. Never use it when you are not working.
Papa Legba is my number one blend for focusing. Got a task you have to do but hate to do? This is the perfect blend for that. Manipura is another good blend when a little extra motivation is needed.
The rubber plant is one of the best plants for purifying the air. It is also a natural humidifier. Just like the Chinese Evergreen, if you are new to houseplants, or plants in general, a rubber plant is a great place to start. This little plant likes humidity and indirect sunlight. On a desk in front of a window will make this little one happiest. The soil should dry out between waterings and may need it every one to two weeks. The rubber plant is another plant that is toxic to our fuzzy buddies.
People- Always check the contraindications for specific essential oils before you use them in any capacity.
Pets- When using essential oils in the home for cleaning always be mindful of what is toxic to any animals you have in the home.
Two essential oils commonly used in cleaning products are highly toxic for dogs: melaleuca (tea tree) oil and pine oil.
Three essential oils commonly used in homemade cleaning products are toxic for cats: pine oils, citrus oils, and most oils in the mint family.
Don’t confine your plant and essential oil use in your home to a diffuser. There are so many ways our plant friends can make our space as clean, happy, and whole as possible. Our homes are a place to restore and heal, recover from the hectic day. Plants can expedite and deepen that restoration. Use those essential oils safely and effectively in each room of your house. Cleaning with natural products cuts down the exposure we have to chemicals. We get enough during the day! Essential oils provide a non toxic way to clean and disinfect. Don’t forget to bring in some house plants. There is truly a plant for every occasion. There are so many low maintenance plants that love the indoors. Every room in your home can benefit from bringing plants indoors. Let these magical allies work for you.