Disinfecting the Air with Essential Oils

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There are a variety of essential oils that have antibacterial and antiviral properties, though most of the research that has been done on essential oils is on direct contact with bacteria or viruses, which doesn’t necessarily translate into true benefits for essential oil users.

In our research at the store, we have come across several essential oils which have been documented in scientific studies to reduce and kill airborne bacteria and viruses when diffused into the air.

Here is a study which found that tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils killed airborne influenza viruses when diffused into the air.

Here is a study which tested essential oils against 6 common respiratory pathogens. The findings reported that cinnamon bark oil and lemongrass oil significantly disinfected the air when diffused into the air. It’s a long article, so there’s a good table here which summarizes the results.

This is an impressive study on antibiotic resistant bacteria including MRSA and the results of diffusing essential oils of geranium and lemongrass into the air.

This is a study on the benefits of eucalyptus oil inhalation against airborne tuberculosis bacteria.

This is another study on eucalyptus oil which reports on its broad spectrum antimicrobial action, as well as its benefits for inhalation on respiratory problems like bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

So let me break it down. This isn’t to say that all the oils listed below don’t have both antibacterial and antiviral properties, but rather is a summary of the scientific research available on the disinfectant action of essential oils when used in a diffuser.

Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil: Antibacterial
Eucalyptus Essential Oil: Antiviral and Antibacterial
Geranium Essential Oil: Antibacterial
Lemongrass Essential Oil: Antibacterial
Tea tree Essential Oil: Antiviral

We carry several full lines of 100% pure essential oils, and testers of each so you can test what each of the different essential oils smells like. We also carry a large selection of different essential oil diffusers at the store. Our diffusers use nothing but tap water and essential oils and turn off automatically when all the water is used up. I can’t recommend them enough, they're a perfect way to use essential oils in the home in a way that lasts for many hours (most of our diffusers are able to run continuously for seven to eight hours without being refilled).

Suggested blends
Lemongrass is wonderful and fresh smelling and blends well with other oils. Tea tree is a potent medicinal aromatherapy oil, but I’m not in love with the scent (it’s not terrible, just not my favorite). Its scent mixes well with other oils which mask its medicinal odor, so it can be added to any of the blends below. I use the blends below in my home on a regular basis:

Lemongrass + Cinnamon Bark
Lemongrass + Eucalyptus + Tea Tree (this is the strongest antimicrobial combination)
Lemongrass + Geranium
Eucalyptus + Geranium
Eucalyptus + Tea Tree
Eucalyptus + Lavender (this is a fantastic blend for sleep)

In particular, we recommend the NOW brand of essential oils. NOW Foods is a local company in Illinois that has very reasonably priced essential oils while remaining of extremely high quality. Here is an article from our blog on the extensive research NOW conducts on its oils to ensure quality and potency.


Here are some other articles from our health blog on essential oils which you may find beneficial:

Essential Oil Research Studies and Benefits

Nature's Shield: Our "Thieves Oil" Blend

Medicinal Essential Oil Recipes for Cold and Flu Season