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Essential oils aren’t just for the spa

They can also work wonders at home, from skincare to sanitising and cleaning your toilet

While aromatic diffusion is one of the most popular uses of essential oils, there are many other nifty ways to use them in daily life.

In the home care market, essential oils - commonly used by spa therapists to promote relaxation - are on the rise as more brands and consumers grow aware of their benefits and versatility.

Here is why you should keep a few bottles at home.

CLEANING WIPES

Instead of using up rolls of paper or buying packets of dryer sheets, make your own disinfecting cleaning wipes by placing a few clean washcloths in an airtight jar.

Pour in a solution of lemon oil (lemon has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties), water and white vinegar, then let the washcloths soak it up.

HAND SANITISER

Keep bacteria at bay with a homemade concoction of tea tree and lavender oils, aloe vera gel (to reduce skin irritation), vitamin E (which when applied topically can help to nourish and protect skin from free radical damage) and witch hazel to relieve inflammation.

Simply store it in a travel-sized tube to sanitise your hands on the go.

SKINCARE PRODUCTS

Some essential oils can be applied topically to irritated skin or when you need a soothing or cooling analgesia.

However, they can be too strong to use undiluted, so you should mix them with carrier oils to prevent skin reactions.

Common carrier oils include sweet almond oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil.

Lavender oil is not only good for relaxation, it also helps to soothe burns and irritated skin thanks to its soothing and antibacterial properties.

Add two to three drops of lavender essential oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil and rub it into your skin.

You can also apply it to cuts, scrapes and wounds to kill bacteria and speed up healing.

Tea tree oil is a good alternative to lavender oil too as it is gentle on the skin.

COSMETICS

Essential oils like frankincense can help heal, brighten and tone skin when used appropriately.

A lot of skincare brands are starting to add essential oils to their products, especially moisturisers, and a selected few are infusing them into their cosmetics, like Young Living's Savvy Minerals make-up range.

CARPET FRESHENER

If your carpet smells stale no matter how much you vacuum it, it is time to employ some essential oil help.

Make your own carpet freshener with just two cups of baking soda and a few drops of any essential oils you prefer.

Fill up a shake with the mixture and shake it liberally over your carpet. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before vacuuming.

HAND SOAP

Once you start making your own hand soap, you probably won't give store-bought items another look again as your home-made products are probably cheaper and gentler on the skin.

Mix some tea tree and lavender essential oils, vitamin E and almond oil with castile soap and water, then heat the mixture, pour it into a container, let it harden for a day and cure for four weeks.

Make sure that you store it in a cool, dry and well-ventilated space.

LAUNDRY DETERGENT

Unlike commercial laundry detergents and fabric softeners, all-natural laundry products are often unscented.

To bring a fresh scent to your laundry without relying on artificial fragrances, drop some essential oils, like lavender oil, to the mix.

Add about 30 drops to borax, washing soda and water. The oil not only fights off odours, but adds an antibacterial boost to your solution.

CURE FOR COMMON ILLS

Wild orange oil in particular contains many amazing properties. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, is an effective sedative and muscle relaxant and helps soothe an upset stomach.

Add one drop of wild orange oil to one tablespoon of coconut oil and rub it on your stomach to relieve an upset tummy.

For an oncoming runny nose or cough, rub two to three drops mixed with one tablespoon of coconut oil onto the chest.

FLOOR AND TOILET CLEANER

Make your floors shine by adding a quarter cup of vinegar, a quarter cup of castile soap and about 30 drops of lemon essential oil to a big jug of water.

Combine this mixture with a pail of warm water when you need to clean.

Likewise, make your own toilet cleaner by adding eight to 10 drops of essential oils to castile soap, baking soda and water.

This article was first published in Shape (www.shape.com.sg).

WELLNESS & BEAUTY