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Essential oils that have antiseptic and bactericidal properties are used to disinfect and sanitize throughout the home. The majority of pure essential oils are both antiseptic and bactericidal, but some oils are more effective for disinfecting and sanitizing because of their chemical makeup. Some oils are more reactive than others, however, so always consult a qualified aromatherapist before using some of the more volatile varieties.

Antiseptic and Bactericidal Properties

According to Shirley Price in “The Aromatherapy Workbook,” all essential oils contain antiseptic properties and the majority of essential oils are also bactericidal. According to Patricia Davis in “Aromatherapy: An A-Z,” the majority of essential oils are capable of killing bacteria or inhibiting growth of bacteria. Most essential oils, therefore, are suitable for sanitizing and disinfecting around the home.

Chemical Components

Essential oils that are high in the chemical component phenol, such as clove and red thyme, are effective oils for sanitizing and disinfecting. Price writes that phenols are strong bactericides and antiseptic. In addition, essential oils that are high in alcohols, and to a lesser degree aldehydes, possess strong antiseptic and bactericidal properties. Essential oils that are high in alcohols include lavender and tea tree; essential oils that are high in aldehydes include lemon-scented eucalyptus. Other types of eucalyptus oil have varying chemical components.


Davis recommends clove, lavender, juniper, eucalyptus, tea tree and thyme as some of the best essential oils used as disinfectants. Essential oils that are high in phenols or aldehydes have an inclination to be more reactive than essential oils that are high in alcohols. Shirley and Len Price, in “Aromatherapy for Health Professionals,” advise that you blend two or more essential oils together for more effective use and, to some degree, quench the more reactive chemical components in one particular essential oil. This also helps decrease the risk of resistance from a certain bactericidal germ.


There are various ways to use essential oils for sanitizing and disinfecting areas of the home. Price recommends adding essential oils such as thyme to an aromatherapy vaporizer to disinfect the air in the home. Add 3 to 4 drops of essential oil to 1 gallon of water to wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters. Price recommends using tea tree oil to disinfect kitchen floors.

About the Author

Sharon Falsetto

Sharon Falsetto is a certified aromatherapist who founded her own aromatherapy practice in Arizona in 2007. She has been writing professionally since 2008 and has been published in a variety of professional journals and e-zines. Falsetto is the Arizona regional director for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and she has a degree in business from the U.K.