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5 Essential Oils That Can Help Clean Your Home's Air

Emma Loewe
Author:
Updated on July 31, 2020
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Last updated on July 31, 2020

While essential oils shouldn't replace your heavy-duty HEPA air filters, they do come with antimicrobial and antifungal properties that can help clear surrounding air ever so slightly. Research supports the idea that they can help inhibit the growth of airborne bacteria while reducing microbial contamination in some cases. We asked experts to spill their go-to essential oils for combating indoor odors and germs. Here are their top picks for oils that can help clear the air at home:

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1. Tea tree.

"Tea tree essential oils have an affinity for the respiratory system and have been clinically shown to kill the airborne flu virus," says aromatherapist and ayurveda specialist Leigh Winters.

2. Lemongrass.

"Lemongrass and cinnamon bark are known to be a tad too strong to use in high dosages for DIY skin care products, but they work wonders on battling bacteria in the air," Winters adds.

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3. Pine, spruce, and fir.

Cary Caster, a botanist and founder of essential oil line 21 Drops, also points to conifer oils like pine, spruce, and fir since they contain pinene, a chemical compound with well-documented antibacterial properties. "These oils are particularly great to help clear and support the lungs, which is our first line of defense against airborne bacteria. They also help to make the house smell like the winter season with their earthy scents," she says.

4. Citrus

"Sweet orange, lemon, and grapefruit essential oils are all antimicrobial and destroy airborne germs with their high levels of limonene," explains Caster. "These citrus oils are also highly beneficial to the liver and lymphatic systems, which makes them a double bonus for cleansing the blood of toxins."

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5. Ylang ylang

"There's promising research on ylang ylang's ability to support healthy breath and to counter the effects of air pollution," says Charlynn Avery, national educator and aromatherapist at Aura Cacia.

How to use them.

If you're looking to clear the air at home or work, consider investing in a diffuser. "Diffusing essential oils is a surefire way to purify the air—within a certain limit," says Winters. While you shouldn't count on them to completely get rid of peskier viruses, bacteria, or smoke in the air, they can be good for an everyday refresh. "If you’re looking to purify a small area like your apartment, bathroom, or work desk, essential oils are a wonderful and easy way to keep your air fresh and clean."

Essential oils can also give your DIY cleaning products an antimicrobial boost. Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup alcohol-free witch hazel, and 6-10 drops of the essential oil of your choosing into a spray bottle and you have an all-purpose cleaner that can help freshen up a variety of surfaces.

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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 articles on mbg, her work has appeared on Bloomberg News, Marie Claire, Bustle, and Forbes. She has covered everything from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping to a group of doctors prescribing binaural beats for anxiety. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.