The herbs and essential oils that you’ll find most useful for various household tasks include those that inhibit the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, and those that repel or kill insects. To learn more about essential oils, the concentrated, fragrant plant extracts that retain the plant’s useful properties, read The Essence of Essential Oils. Use the following lists of herbs as a guide to making your own formulas. For example, you can add several drops of the essential oils of any of these herbs to basic cleaning ingredients such as white vinegar and water to whip up quick, effective cleaning products. Try mixing 15 drops of eucalyptus and lemon balm essential oils with 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon washing soda in a bottle. Then fill the bottle with hot water, shake and use as an all-purpose cleaner.
Those herbs italicized in the list below are those I have either in my garden or nearby. Some people in different bio-regions may have a different set that are either indigenous or can be grown in their gardens as well.
Herbs that inhibit microorganisms: basil, bay, benzoin, bergamot, camphor, cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, eucalyptus, fir, ginger, grapefruit, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, meadowsweet, myrrh, myrtle, nutmeg, orange, oregano, patchouli, peppermint, Peru balsam, pine, rose-scented geranium, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, savory, spearmint, spruce, tea tree, thyme.
Herbs that repel insects or kill insects: basil, benzoin, cajeput, white camphor, cardamom, eucalyptus, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, myrtle, orange, peppermint, rose-scented geranium, rosemary, sage, savory, southernwood, thyme, wormwood, yarrow.