Kitchen gardens are a wonderful way to keep fresh, flavorful herbs on hand to use in recipes, but sometimes a green thumb means you end up with more than you can consume. Instead of just drying or freezing herbs for future use, have you ever considered making your own household cleaners?
Many favorite kitchen herbs tout antimicrobial properties and pleasant fragrances. By adding them to homemade sprays, you’ll have a more sanitary and fresh-smelling house in no time.
This savory classic has powerful antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties. Thyme oil has even been proven effective against certain antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Use this herb as the key ingredient in an all-purpose cleaner, or combine it with other powerhouses on this list. Learn more about how to grow thyme.
Recipes for DIY lemon-and-rosemary cleaners abound, and why wouldn’t they? Rosemary’s fragrance is woody, floral, and strong enough to mask the smell of vinegar—no easy task. It has also been shown to kill certain strains of bacteria and fungi in a lab setting. Win-win. Learn more about growing rosemary.
Basil is yet another herb that smells fantastic and kills common kitchen germs. Specifically, studies have found it’s effective against E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. Did we mention it smells amazing? If you’ve never held your nose over a basil plant and basked in its glorious aroma, we highly recommend it—but a basil-scented cleaner is the next best thing. Learn more about growing basil and saving basil.
However, perhaps you don’t want your house to perpetually smell like an Italian restaurant. (Although it’s hard to accept, there must be some people out there who just don’t want that.) If this is true for you, peppermint could be your germ-busting, aromatic solution—and it won’t give you a hankering for a bowl of spaghetti. At least one study has shown this powerful herb fights up to 22 different strains of bacteria. Other research has suggested that peppermint may inhibit the flu virus. Learn more about growing mint.
Transforming Your Herbs into Germ-Fighting Cleaners
The simplest and cheapest way to turn fresh herbs into a cleaning sensation is to fill a jar with the herb or herbaceous blend of your choice, pour warm white vinegar over the plants, and top with a lid. (Remember that vinegar has its own set of germ-fighting properties in addition to the botanics.)
People suggest letting the mixture stand anywhere from a day to six months—so go with something in between. When you’re ready to use your cleaner, strain and discard the herbs, then pour the infused mixture into a clean spray bottle. You can dilute your cleaner with equal parts water, but using it at full strength is fine as well.
We hope you’re excited to make some awesome nontoxic cleaners. Remember that in addition to their germ-fighting capabilities, these herbs are medicinal on many other levels as well. Bonus—you’ll get the added benefit of aromatherapy through the simple act of cleaning.
Ruth Gulley is a writer and contributing editor for Russell Gibson Content. A native Texan, she now resides in Virginia where she enjoys homeschooling her stepson, cuddling with her clumsy cat named Bird, and watching seasons one through four of The Office on repeat.