3 Ways to Turn Leftover Herbs into Cleaning Products

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Whether you’re growing your own garden or just got overzealous at the farmers market, summertime often brings an abundance of herbs. If you find yourself with a few too many, that’s okay! You could simply preserve the herbs in olive oil and use them later, or you could (easily) use them to clean and freshen up your home. If you’re interested in the second option, there are actually a few ways to use those extras.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

1. Distill them into essential oils.

The most basic way to turn your fresh herbs into essential oils is to chop them up, place them in a container, and cover them with heated plant-based oil (like olive or canola oil). Seal it tight and store the mixture in a cool spot for at least a week, then strain the liquid.

Once you have your essential oil, you can mix it with your natural cleaners — about one teaspoon of essential oil per quart of cleaning solution. Some herbs to try this with are lavender, thyme, mint, and rosemary.

Why would you want to do this? Mostly because doing so adds a nice, fresh scent. (Many people will tout the antimicrobial properties of various herbs, but their effectiveness varies.)

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

2. Make herb-infused vinegar.

Infusing vinegar is a smart way to combine the ingredient’s natural cleansing benefits with a much more pleasant aromatherapy experience. Chop a cup or two of herbs (like thyme, rosemary, and sage), place them in a Mason jar or similar container, and cover them with room-temperature vinegar. Seal up the mixture and let it sit for a couple of weeks, then strain the liquid.

Mix your herb-infused vinegar with water (a one-to-one ratio) in a spray bottle, then use it to clean your surfaces.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

3. Hang ’em up!

Herbs like eucalyptus and peppermint not only smell and look great, but are also natural pest repellants. Once they’re dried, they can be preserved and enjoyed for a while. Just wash your herbs with water, shake the water off the leaves, and pat them dry with paper towels.

Tie them loosely in bundles with string and hang them in a warm, dry spot, but not in direct sunlight. As they dry, they’ll release the oils that freshen the air and do their part to repel pests.

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