The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently estimated that seven pathogens including Salmonella, Toxoplasma, Listeria, Norovirus, Campylobacter, E. coli O157, and Clostridium perfringens, are responsible for 90% of illnesses, hospitalizations, and even death. Most people are concerned with the cleanliness of restaurants and other public places, however 30% of food-borne illnesses are found in the home. The kitchen is known for being a bacteria factory. Kitchen counters, cutting boards, and every knob, drawer and door handle are part of a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. The biggest offender in the spread of nasty microbial trespassers, such as E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella, is the sponge or dish cloth. They clean up everything from milk spills to raw meat juices and leaky food pack
ages. But after repeated use, how clean are they? The bathroom isn’t much cleaner, either, and may contain many bacterial species that can potentially cause harm if not adequately maintained. Staphylococcus bacteria, which are especially widespread, are frequently found in and around toilets, in showers, on door handles, and in and around the bathroom sink. Essential oils can be just the antimicrobial agents we need.
An alternative approach against these germs is to integrate non-toxic cleaning products into your home. Most commercial cleaning products contain chemicals and cleansing agents that are potentially toxic and, when breathed in, some of these substances can irritate the respiratory system. This can cause allergies, headaches and a multitude of other health concerns so it is wise to limit your exposure to chemical toxins. You can safeguard your health by making your own simple, all-natural household cleaners with a few affordable ingredients:
- Baking soda acts as a natural abrasive deodorizer and cleanser, and is gentle enough to use on most surfaces.
- Borax is a natural mineral compound that lifts dirt, softens water, and is an insecticide (Woods, 1994).
- Castile soap is made with fat from a vegetable origin (usually olive oil) rather than animal fats. It is high quality soap, is gentle on the skin and a great cleanser.
- White vinegar can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including E. coli (Entani E et al, 1998), by creating an unfriendly, acidic environment.
- Essential oils offer antimicrobial properties for cleaning, such as ~Eucalyptus (E. globulus) which is effective for cleaning children’s toys to remove house dust mites (Chang et al, 2011) ~Lemon (Citrus limonum) which is “second to none in its antiseptic and bactericidal properties” (Valnet, 1990) ~Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) which is an “anti-infective agent with very broad-spectrum of action” (Schnaubelt, 1998) ~Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) which is effective against food born bacteria including Brochothrix thermosphacta and Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella abony, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and P. fragi (Schmidt et al, 2012)
Deodorizing Room Spray
2 oz/60 ml distilled water
10 drops Lemon (Citrus limonum)
5 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
5 drops Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
In a 2 oz/60 ml spray bottle, combine water and essential oils. Shake vigorously and mist into the air. Avoid spraying into eyes or on animals.
Written by Andrea Butje, Clinical Aromatherapist and Linda Byington, RA, Certified Reflexologist
This article appears in its entirety in the Spring 2013 Issue of the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy. For more information visit http://www.ijpha.com
Image: iStock.com © franny-anne
Disclaimer The editor/publisher does not accept responsibility for the opinions, advice, and recommendations of its contributors. Furthermore, the IJPHA accepts no responsibility for any incident or injury to persons or property resulting from the use of any method, products, instructions or ideas contained within this publication.