Can Essential Oils Neutralize Household Odors?

by Fernando Martinez

Essential oils have been a staple in many cultures around the world for thousands of years. The applications for what they have been used for, and what they have the potential to be used for, are endless.

There has been a rapid increase in the amount of research into essential oils, so now the evidence is much more than anecdotal. There is now a strong case for them to be utilized as a cleaning product which will eliminate odors and destroy the bacteria and mold that are causing them.

What causes household odors?

What is the reason behind these stinky areas in my house anyway? Well, the answer is probably only one or two of a few options.

Bacteria, mold, pets, and trash seem to be the usual suspects unless you are a smoker, or moving into a former smoker-occupied house.

Actually, bacteria and mold cover the pet and trash funk as well, so it's really these two we have to worry about eliminating.

bacteria causing household odor

Bacteria causing household odors?

Bacteria is the reason for every smelly part of your body and most spots in your house. Bacteria will start growing rapidly on food left out for only two hours at room temperature, and will be very noticeable to your olfactory receptors shortly after.

The reason for this stench is actually the bacteria’s digestion of the protein it's consuming from the food you threw away. Bacteria digests protein from food, your body, or wherever else it can get it, and turns the proteins into acids. This process is the whole reason behind the reek, and if we eliminate the bacteria, there will be no digestion, so no smell!

bacteria causing household odor

Mold causing household odors?

Our second smelly foe is mold. Mold is a type of fungus and a very common cause of household odors, and will be most prevalent in the areas of your home prone to moisture.

There are a few thousand species of mold, and they can each give off different odors, none of them being very pleasant. While there are helpful species of mold that produce medicine, food, and help breakdown organic molecules in nature, the mold growing in your house is probably not going to be one of these.

The mold you have is at the least just stinky, and at most putrid and extremely harmful to you and your family. 

Mold releases spores for reproduction purposes and these will multiply on any and all surfaces they land on. Sometimes these spores will be the cause of the odor, and sometimes the odor is from one of the mold’s biological processes (digestion, growth, and/or reproduction).

Ingesting the spores can potentially cause severe respiratory issues depending on the species. If these are black mold spores(Stachybotrys chartarum), the most toxic kind, this might lead to Stachybotryotoxicosis, a black mold induced disease affecting the central nervous system and respiratory tract. 

Although no essential oil has shown to destroy mold, cinnamon oil and thyme oil are effective at preventing mold reproduction and therefore the growth of the moldy area. 

Masking odors vs Neutralizing odors

If you are like us, you have tried many different products in an effort to freshen up and deodorize different areas of your home, car, and workplace (maybe also your home and even more reason to erase those odors you are nose-blind to now).

The results with many of these products are often the same; using way too much spray to mask the smells, and having them return soon after. Not to mention the potentially harmful effects of ingredients like (1,4)-DCB and phthalates which are very commonplace in the industry.

To each their own, but we do not believe in using these since there is a more Earth and human-friendly way to effectively eliminate those stinky spots.

Neutralizing an odor, no matter the source of it, means it will cease to be a problem. This is what we all want. We do not want to keep cleaning or spraying the affected area only to realize time and time again the same odor has returned after our countless futile efforts to destroy it. This wastes time, money, and depending on the chemicals present in the products, could be dangerous as well.

Essential oil spray bottle

How is an odor neutralized?

Whether an essential oil has antibacterial, antimicrobial, or antiviral properties depends on the individual oil’s chemical composition. Two examples of antibacterial compounds within some essential oils are phenols and aldehydes.

Phenols will attach to and inhibit enzymes that help bacteria digest and reproduce, and aldehydes will irreversibly damage bacterial cell walls, destroying the bacteria.

If this is intriguing your inner scientist, there is so much recent research to comb through! It will surely get you more excited about the wonderful properties and capabilities of essential oils that have been utilized in folk medicine around the world for millennia.

Which essential oils to use for neutralizing household odors?

You might be asking yourself: How does an essential oil neutralize household odors?

Simply, essential oil naturally posses antibacterial and antimicrobial compounds that give the oils inhibitory abilities to kill bacteria and mold.


One of the first antibacterial herbs that comes to mind for disinfecting is thyme (Thymus vulgaris), since many alternative cleaners have replaced chlorine with thymol.

The main components in thyme oil are p‐cymene (36.5%), thymol (33.0%) and 1,8‐cineole (11.3%).  

A 2014 article published by the Journal of Medicine and Life, examined the antimicrobial properties of thyme oil. The results demonstrate that the thyme essential oil tested possesses strong antimicrobial properties.


Lemongrass contains 70-80 percent citral, the chemical compound that gives lemongrass its antibacterial properties.

Lemongrass oil has also been examined for its antimicrobial activity against Salmonella, one of the leading pathogens causing food-borne illness in the United States.


Many studies tout Cinnamon as an antibacterial and anti fungal powerhouse.

Cinnamon essential oil and its two constituents called cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid successfully inhibit bacteria by damaging their cell membrane.  Once the membrane is destroyed, all cell processes and motility of given microbe are altered.

One study concluded that Cinnamon essential oil was able to inhibit biofilm formation, detach existing biofilms, and kill bacteria in biofilms of clinical S. epidermidis strains.


Lavender has tremendous antibacterial and deodorizing properties, even against bacteria within the Streptococcus species.

Lavender essential oils distilled from the Lavandula genus of the lavender plant seemed to work by destroying the membranes of fungal cells.


The main constituents found in lime essential oil are Limonene, β-pinene, and γ-terpinene.

These contribute to lime essential oil’s odor neutralizing activity toward several strains of bacteria that are known to cause malodors. 

How can you use essential oils for neutralizing household odors?

Essential Oil Diffuser

Using an essential oil diffuser is a great way to eliminate unwanted smells. Simply follow your diffusers operation directions and add in the essential oil of your choice. 

We suggest using an essential oil blend featuring Cinnamon and Thyme essential oils like MOXE Happy essential oil blend.


Floor Cleaner

You can give your floors a natural boost by adding a few drops of your favorite odor-neutralizing essential oil. 

Just make sure to test the essential oil solution so you won't stain or damage hard floors. 

Wife mopping floors with essential oils solution while her husband is working on the couch.

Here is how to make your own floor cleaner solution with MOXĒ Happy essential oil blend.

  1. Mix 1 gallon of warm water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar in a large bucket.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of unscented liquid soap and stir until mixed
  3. Add 70 drops or 3.5 milliliter of MOXĒ Happy essential oil blend. Stir until well combined.
  4. To use, dip sponge, mop or washcloth into mixture and wring out excess liquid and wipe tile floor clean.

Surface Cleaner 

Tables, counters and other hard surfaces are typically breeding grounds for many smelly germs. Leftover foods, oils and dead skin cells all accumulate over time on these surfaces. 

Refresh and eliminate any potential odors by wiping these surfaces down with an essential oil-infused surface cleaning spray.

You can make your own spray by simply adding essential oil to a vinegar and water mixture. However, if you're in need of a deeper clean then we recommend using a Lemongrass Multi-surface cleaner made from naturally-derived ingredients. 


Room and Linen Spray 

An essential oil Room and Linen spray is the most versatile solution to neutralizing household odors. 

Within seconds you can freshen up a room by targeting the root cause of bad smells...bacteria and mold. 

You can also use a Room and Linen spray on soft surfaces like sofas and couches or bedsheets. Especially if you have pets in your home.

MOXĒ Peace Room + Linen Spray is perfect for neutralizing unwanted household odors without the use of harmful chemicals. A few spritz here and there will get you to odor-free home while providing instant aromatherapy zen. 


Room and linen sprays are also perfect for those furry babies' funky B.O. 

As any non-pet owner knows when visiting someone with a furry family member, the stench can be very real, and typically unnoticeable to any residents already used to it!

Again, bacteria is to blame for this. Spray down social areas of your home regularly if these odors become noticeable to an outsider.

Do not spray your pet with essential oils and please research which essential oils are harmful for your animals before using them in any room in your home. Use a veterinarian-approved shampoo on your pet if you would like to get rid of the bacteria on their body.

What are some other natural odor eliminators? 

If you do not have access to any essential oil cleaning products or would like to try another way to help get rid of bad bacteria in your body (together with or as an alternative to antibiotics) and around your house, look for products containing the following ingredients:

    • Garlic
    • Honey
    • Ginger
    • Echinacea
    • Goldenseal
    • Clove
    • Oregano

      All of these have been shown to have strong antibacterial properties and have the research to back up these claims. UV light is also antimicrobial, so letting some natural light into your home may do a lot to relieve your bacterial stank!


      Lavender, Lemongrass, Lime, and Thyme oil are just some of the antibacterial oils we have decided to implement in our essential oil cleaning sprays.

      You can see now that essential oils have the cleaning power to freshen up even the grodiest corners of your house. They have been proven effective at destroying bacteria and eliminating the growth of mold, two of the most common reasons for foul smells in the home.

      Whether you purchase our products, someone else's, or make your own, make the switch to a healthier and more powerful alternative.

      Hopefully you have learned at least one new gross fact today about what smells are and where they come from! You are now better equipped to rid your home of any lingering odors that are keeping you from the tranquility you deserve when at home resting and recharging.

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