A recent scientific study published in the journal Food Control inspired me to come up with this earthy and all-natural antimicrobial cleaning spray made with Cinnamon cassia (C. cassia) essential oil, which gives it a warm, spicy scent. Kind of similar to a pack of cinnamon Trident gum I must admit! So, if you’re a cinnamon gum fan, you’ll love it. Guaranteed.
Because the study showed C. cassia oil zapped Escherichia coli (E. coli) dead, I thought it would be great for green cleaning the kitchen and bathroom without having to resort to using toxic and harmful cleaners, such as bleach, to do the job. In addition to using C. cassia oil, though, I thought it would also be useful to add in vinegar, another powerful natural cleaning ingredient that’s been shown to kill viruses, eliminate mold and mildew, zap soap scum, and more.
So why not give this zesty homemade cleaner a try for your tough kitchen and bathroom cleaning tasks? It’s effective, economical, environmentally friendly, and easy to make. Plus, you’ll get the added aromatherapy benefits from the C. cassia essential oil, which will make you feel energized — perfect when you need that little extra motivation to do some cleaning! Let me know how you like it.
Ingredients & Supplies
16 – 24 drops of C. cassia essential oil
8 oz. distilled water
8 oz. distilled white vinegar
Note: A small bottle of C. cassia essential oil costs well under $10 and can easily be found in the personal care section of most natural grocery stores or on-line from sources such as Amazon. Because a little goes a long way and it won’t lose its potency when stored properly (i.e., out of direct heat and light), it should last you for months — or a few years — to come.
Making this cleaner couldn’t be easier. First, add the water and vinegar to a spray bottle, then add in the essential oil. Put the sprayer cap on and shake well before each use.
When using this cleaner, I’d let it sit for several minutes before rinsing with water or wiping it away. The Food Control study showed 15 minutes were necessary for the cinnamon oil to show bactericidal effects and other studies have shown that vinegar needs about 5 minutes to work. So, to be extra sure when cleaning something really icky, such as cutting boards contaminated with raw meat juices, I’d definitely wait at least 15 minutes.
If you have other essential oils at home, such as orange, tangerine, grapefruit, bergamot, basil, rosemary, or lavender, they would complement the cinnamon nicely, not to mention add in other powerful cleaning benefits due to their antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral benefits properties.
How It Works
The Food Control study showed that C. cassia oil, which is the essential oil derived from Cassia cinnamon, eliminated the six top strains of toxin-producing E. coli — the very ones that cause food poisoning. As little as a 0.1% concentration of C. cassia oil showed bactericidal effects on all tested strains of E. coli within 15 min. Whereas a 0.15% concentration actually killed three strains within 30 minutes, two in 60 minutes, and one in 120 minutes.
Considering this, I decided that at least 15 drops, which is about a .15% concentration, would be the minimum amount that should be used in my 16 oz. cleaning solution recipe. But I didn’t want to use too much, because C. cassia essential oil can be very strong and irritating to mucous membranes. I often use 24 – 48 drops when adding in other essential oils to my vinegar-based cleaning sprays, so 24 drops seemed about right to me.
Vinegar plays a key roll in amping up the cinnamon essential oil’s disinfectant powers and ensures a swift end to bacteria, viruses, fungus, and mold lurking on kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Studies have shown that vinegar is capable of killing bacteria and viruses, such as the human influenza A/H1N1 virus and Staphylococcus aureus (i.e., the bacteria that causes Staph infections). Plus, vinegar is great for so many other home cleaning chores, as I discuss in “Give Vinegar a Try! It’s Useful for Green Cleaning, Doing the Laundry, and More,” that is really worth getting acquainted with it.
Finally, distilled water in and of itself also has the ability to reduce microbes as noted in this University of Maine article. So, buy a jug from the grocery store to keep on hand for when you do your cleaning.
E. coli is a dangerous bacteria often present in raw ground beef, so using this C. cassia oil- based cleaner to disinfect cutting boards and counter tops would be useful after preparing meats. It would even come in handy when cleaning out the refrigerator, especially when you have the misfortune of finding that meat juices have leaked everywhere! (That’s the worst, right?) Also, if you get any E. coli transferred from the bottom of grocery shopping bags to your counter tops, this cleaner would help E. coli from spreading. (This can easily happen if your grocery store doesn’t clean the check-out area counter tops.)
Of course, even if you’re vegan and never touch meat or other animal products, this cleaner is still useful to add to your eco-friendly cleaning regimen. It kills viruses, zaps other kinds of bacteria, eliminates mold and mildew, and even breaks down soap scum, so it’s great for cleaning sinks, toilets, showers, tubs, and tile in the bathroom. It’s also useful for other cleaning chores in the kitchen, such as breaking up grease splatters and cleaning stainless steel surfaces without leaving streaks behind.
Because this cleaner contains vinegar, which is acidic, it’s not recommended for use on some stone surfaces, such as marble, or other surfaces like mother of pearl. When in doubt, test this cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first.
Essential oils are concentrated so they should be handled with care. Don’t let C. cassia oil come into direct contact with your skin or mucous membranes as it’s a dermal irritant and sensitizer. Also, in aromatherapy, C. cassia oil use is not recommended during pregnancy, so you may not want to use this cleaner while pregnant.
If you get essential oil on your skin, wash with soapy water and rinse well. If it gets in your eyes, immediately flush your eyes with water for several minutes. If irritation persists, seek medical attention.
Copyright © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2014. All rights reserved.
Photos © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2014.