Who Knew Essential Oils Have So Many Uses?

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years, yet they only seem to be growing in popularity. They’re for sale in grocery stores, chic boutiques and you may have even noticed friends selling them online. Globally, the market for essential oils is expected to reach $11.67 billion by 2022, according to one report. Other than putting them in a diffuser, what can you do with essential oils? Turns out, a lot. Here are 14 surprising ways you can use essential oils.


Eat or drink them

A simple internet search turns up several concoctions that include adding a few drops of essential oils to food or water. Lemon, peppermint, wild orange, and grapefruit are commonly suggested as flavorful water add-ons. Young Living Vitality and LorAnn products are marketed as dietary or food-grade, but definitely check with your doctor before consuming any essential oils, as some of them are not safe for ingestion and can be harmful in other ways.

Whiten teeth

Check with your dentist before your go the DIY route, but people do create essential oil teeth whiteners. Baking soda is commonly blended with lemon or peppermint essential oil, and said to be quite effective, though Hans S. Malmstrom, D.D.S., a dentist with University of Rochester Medical Center, thinks it’s better not to go the DIY route. Talk to your dentist to see what he or she recommends.

Fitness mat cleaner

Hitting the gym or the yoga studio regularly? Mix a few drops of tea tree essential oil to about three-quarters cup of water and spray down a mat with the concoction before wiping. You can add about one-quarter of a cup of white vinegar to give it more cleaning power.

Battle ADHD

Aside from taking traditional medications, many people with ADHD, or who have kids with it, turn to essential oils. Cedarwood, vetiver, orange, chamomile, ylang-ylang, and frankincense are a few scents said to help. (Most people know that lavender can be useful to quell anxiety, too.)

Ease pregnancy ailments

If you are interested in using essential oils for pregnancy for ailments such as nausea and swelling, there are a few that have been effective, according to Dr. Kecia Gaither, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and director of perinatal outreach at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “Essential oil use in pregnancy is not uncommon — it can help to allay some of the woes that pregnant women may encounter,” Gaither told SheKnows.


Home fragrance

Who needs a diffuser to freshen up the house? During the cooler months, add a few drops of your favorite scent in the fireplace.

Kill smelly shoe odors

Some people swear by applying drops of tea tree or lemon essential oil to a cotton ball and then placing the cotton balls in their shoes. Can’t hurt for a more natural approach to stinky feet, right?

Vacuum fresher

When you put those scented cotton balls into a vacuum cleaner bag or canister, they can also give your rug a fresh scent as you clean. The vacuum does the diffusing for you.

Shoo, fly—or flea

If you’ve ever had to vacuum an area that was infested with fleas, you’re probably concerned about those pests jumping back out of the vacuum. Adding a few drops each of tea tree, clove, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lemongrass into the bag or canister can stop them from escaping. Fruit flies can be abated by mixing about 10 drops of lemongrass in 2 ounces of hot water. Spray it around windows and doorways.

Skip dryer sheets

Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils or essential oil blends to wool dryer balls. This can shorten drying time, reduce static and soften fabric, not to mention keeping things smelling awesome.

Get unstuck

Got something gooey and sticky that won’t let up? Lemon oil is said to be able to unstick glue and sap, and even gum from hair.

Erase stains

That good ole lemon oil can also get permanent marker out of wood and stubborn ink out of a whiteboard.

Paint picker-upper

Want to neutralize the smell of paint? Peppermint oil can be added to a fresh gallon of paint to help nix the smell. (Even Better Homes & Gardens reported on this!)

Cleanse the air — and your air ducts

Not only can your space smell fresher, but you may want to add a few drops of anti-microbial essential oils like tea tree or eucalyptus to their fresh air filters before installing them. This can freshen up the air and may kill any pathogens living in the air ducts.

Make a multipurpose cleaner

One of the most useful and versatile essential oil blends is a combination of lemon, clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary that has some long-standing historical roots. Different companies sell it under various names, but Young Living sells it under the brand name Thieves®, which is quite popular. That said, you can find other brands that make blends featuring the concoction. It’s a non-toxic household cleaner when diluted in water. “Applying a drop of Thieves to the bottom of your or your child’s feet can help boost immunity,” says Megan Youncoski, a New Jersey mom who sells the product. “You can even mix water, witch hazel and Thieves to make a quick homemade hand sanitizer,” she noted.


Again, it’s useful to check with your doctor or an aromatherapist before using essential oils—especially if you plan to ingest them or diffuse them around kids and pets. The benefits of using essential oils can not only be pleasing to your senses, but to your home and health.

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