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10 Essential Oils to Always Have at Home

10 Essential Oils to Always Have at Home

If the average person hears the words “essential oils,” it’s quite likely that the first association they’ll make has something to do with the perfume industry, soap, or flaky aromatherapy practitioners. Yes, essential oils (which may be referred to as EOs) are indeed used to perfume various personal care products, but they have many uses other than enhancing one’s mood or making one’s underarms slightly less offensive.

The 10 essential oils listed below have a number of different benefits that range from health care to home and garden maintenance, and many other uses in between. Many other oils out there also have numerous uses, but if you only plan to have a few in the house at any given time, these may be your best bet.

1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, aka Lavandula officinalis)

If you only plan to have one essential oil in the house, make it this one. Lavender has been used for medicinal and home care purposes for thousands of years, and is one of the most versatile EOs you can get. When it comes to therapeutic uses, lavender can be applied topically to alleviate:

  • Skin rashes
  • Acne
  • Insect bites
  • Minor burns

It’s also an effective disinfectant for cuts and scrapes.

A few drops of lavender oil in a bath can help to soothe frayed nerves and help you get a good night’s sleep, and rubbing the oil into your temples and forehead can relieve headaches. Add a drop or two to a paste of baking soda and water for an effective underarm deodorant, and those same few drops can help to alleviate sinus issues and respiratory infections when added to a steam inhale.

In the home, sachets of dried lavender with some extra oils dribbled in can keep moths away (just tuck the sachets into your closet or chest of drawers), and adding a few drops to your laundry’s rinse cycle can eliminate odors from stinky socks and sweaty gym clothes. Add lavender oil to the water you use to wash the floor to freshen up your living space, and a drop or two placed inside fresh toilet paper rolls will release their scent whenever someone tugs a few sheets free.

2. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

This is one of the most beneficial and useful essential oils to have on hand, and with good cause: it’s often been called “a medicine cabinet in a bottle,” as it can be used to treat almost any common ailment. Although you’d never consume tea tree oil, you can use it topically to treat the following:

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  • Athlete’s foot
  • Dermatitis/eczema
  • Acne
  • Cold sores
  • Nail fungus
  • Warts
  • Insect bites

…just to name a few. You can add a few drops of it to unscented shampoo to alleviate dandruff and psoriasis, and a few more drops in that same shampoo will treat head lice as well.

For use around the home, you can add a teaspoon of tea tree oil to the water in a misting bottle to create a disinfectant spray for counter tops, door handles, etc., and a few drops of undiluted oil around your pet’s bed basket will keep fleas at bay.

3. Lemon (Citrus limonum)

This is one of the best essential oils for home use, as it has more applications than most other oils will ever dream of. A few drops of lemon EO added to olive oil makes a gorgeous furniture polish, and we add the EO to dish detergent, homemade laundry soap, floor cleaners, and spray cleaners. You can add a drop or two to a mixture of coarse salt and baking soda and then use that as an antibacterial scour for wooden cutting boards and butcher blocks.

Lemon essential oil also has therapeutic uses:

  • Add a couple of drops to a glass of water and gargle with it to relieve bad breath.
  • A few drops added to shampoo can alleviate dandruff.
  • Lemon oil added to a bath or diffuser can alleviate anxiety.
  • Blended with aloe gel, it acts as an anti-microbial hand sanitizer.

One thing to keep in mind is that lemon essential oil can make your skin photosensitive, so don’t slather it on and then go sunbathing: wait 12 hours before exposing lemon-daubed skin to sunshine.

4. Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Most people have probably taken a cup of peppermint tea to alleviate nausea or an upset stomach, but you can also massage your abdomen with a carrier oil that has a few drops of peppermint essential oil added to it to relieve stomach cramps and queasiness.

If you or your pet has a tick under your skin, a drop or two of pure, undiluted peppermint EO will draw the insect out so it can be eliminated. Blended with pine and eucalyptus and added to a carrier oil, peppermint is great for applying to the chest and throat to calm coughing fits and help relieve bronchial congestion, and a drop or two added to cool water can make a great foot soak to soothe tired, overheated feet.

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Around the home, you can spray diluted peppermint oil into stinky shoes and boots to eliminate odors, and add a teaspoon of the EO to floor-washing water to add fresh scent, as well as antibacterial properties. Placing a few drops of peppermint oil around cracks in walls will also deter rodents and spiders: they can’t stand the scent of it.

5. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)

Hailing from Australia, this essential oil can be recognized easily by scent.

As mentioned above, eucalyptus EO is great for alleviating chest congestion (either blended with other oils or alone), and a salve made with it can also ease asthma attacks when spread on the throat and chest. That same salve may help to alleviate the pain of fibromyalgia if rubbed into the affected area a few times a day. A few drops added to a compress and placed on skin affected by shingles can ease the pain associated with that condition, and may speed the healing process.

Eucalyptus’ disinfectant properties make it ideal to use in a spray for your kitchen and bathroom, or diffuse the oil in your bathroom to eliminate germs and odors.

6. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)

Clove oil has been used for dental issues for centuries, and is one of the best treatments available for toothaches, gum disease, cold sores, and canker sores. It should always be diluted (as it’s very strong), and shouldn’t be used by those with super-sensitive skin.

You can also use the diluted oil for:

  • Athlete’s foot
  • Prickly heat rash
  • Wounds and cuts
  • Fungal infections
  • Insect bites or stings
  • Bruises
  • Ear aches (poured on a cotton swab and tucked just inside the ear canal)

For home use, diffuse the oil in bedrooms to repel mosquitoes, and add a few drops to baking soda to sprinkle over carpets before vacuuming to get rid of fleas. You can also tuck cloves into an orange to make a pomander and hang that in a closet to repel moths, or in the kitchen to keep flies away.

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7. Chamomile (Arthemis nobilis)

Gentle and soothing, chamomile has been used as a calming herb since the Roman era, and a cup of chamomile tea can work wonders to quieten frayed nerves. Used topically, chamomile essential oil can be used either diluted or neat (full strength) for:

  • Boils
  • Dry skin
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Acne
  • Bee and wasp stings
  • Cuts
  • Bruises

You can also diffuse it to alleviate insomnia, stress and anxiety, depression, and irritability, especially when associated with PMS or menopause. Around the house, you can diffuse the oil to calm children who may be hyperactive or argumentative, and it can be dribbled near open doorways to repel mites and fleas.

*Just a note: people who are allergic to ragweed may have adverse reactions to chamomile as well.

8. Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

Considering that oil of frankincense was found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb, it’s safe to say that this fabulous substance has been valued for quite a while.

Topically, you can use this EO to improve the following issues:

  • Acne
  • Warts
  • Cuts and scrapes (it’s a great disinfectant)
  • Boils
  • Scar tissue
  • Cysts
  • Insect bites

This oil can be diffused to alleviate stress, and some people find that it helps to reduce migraine headache pain as well.

For home use, diffuse the oil to repel mosquitoes and flies. The scent may also help to alleviate stress, anxiety or panic attacks, depression, and insomnia.

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9. Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)

Bright and cheery, grapefruit essential oil is uplifting and multi-purpose.

You can use it topically for:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Oily skin and hair
  • Cellulite
  • Acne
  • Migraines or tension headaches (massage into temples and forehead)
  • Deodorant (add a drop to a mixture of baking soda and water, then apply to underarms with a cotton ball)

*Note: like lemon, grapefruit can make your skin photosensitive, so stay out of the sunshine for 12–24 hours after applying it.

In the home, you can sprinkle a few drops around your dog’s bed to repel fleas (but keep the oil away from cats), and use it in the same way as lemon for anti-bacterial cleaning sprays. You can even sprinkle an old sock or handkerchief with grapefruit EO and then toss it in the dryer with your laundry to give it a fresh citrus scent without the use of any harmful chemicals.

10. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

With its anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-microbial, and antiseptic properties, oregano essential oil is as great to use around the house as it is on the body. It should never be used undiluted, however, and pregnant or nursing women should avoid using it.

Oregano EO can aid with:

  • Fungal infections
  • Bruises
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Sprains
  • Arthritis pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Tendonitis
  • Cysts
  • Warts
  • Candida
  • Shingles
  • Herpes

Diluted in water, it makes a fantastic anti-bacterial spray for counter tops and high-traffic areas in your house, and you can use the undiluted oil around your bed to repel bed bugs, mites, lice, and fleas. The undiluted oil can cause skin irritation, so wear gloves if you’re going to use it full strength for home cleaning purposes.

Keep in mind that the quality of oil you get will determine efficacy as well. If you plan to use these oils mostly for health care, first aid and such, it’s worth investing a few extra dollars on high quality, organic essential oils. If you’d prefer to use these in cleaning products and the like, the standard EOs that you can find in pharmacies and health food stores should be just fine.

Before using any essential oils, please do your research on it to educate yourself thoroughly on their uses and possible toxicity (i.e. lemon essential oil should be kept away from cats), and employ common sense when using them.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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