Essential oils are used effectively on a boat for more than just cleaning. They repel bugs and rodents, sweeten your laundry, protect your clothing, make windows and mirrors sparkle, and get rid of nasty odors.
Uninvited visitors arrive on board in your grocery bags, cardboard boxes, fly in a hatch or skitter through a doorway. Using essential oils to deter them from entering or staying on board is easy and inexpensive.
Repel flies and moths with lavender or lemongrass oils: Add 10 drops of lavender or lemongrass oil to 50 ml. (2 oz.) of water, spray windows and doorways, and wipe dry with a cloth.
Ants, mosquitoes and mice hate peppermint so drop peppermint or a blend of 10 drops of citronella and three drops of peppermint on cotton balls and store in nooks and crannies; or, add water to the blend and spray around the room and on windows (and wipe); or, drop either peppermint or the blend ‘neat’ near doors and windows.
To deter mice, pour a blend of water plus alcohol comprised of 15-30% essential oils into small bowls and place under furniture near doors and plumbing. Alternatively, in a sprayer, add 2 tsp. of peppermint oil to one cup of water, shake and spray areas where you have heard or seen mice previously. In smaller spaces, drop peppermint neat in corners and near doorways.
Dust mites, fleas, lice, spiders and ticks can be effectively repelled or deterred using the above methods and any of the following oils blended or singly: lavender, lemon, peppermint, lemongrass.
Store your clothes on board worry free and scent them at the same time. Blend three drops lavender and two drops of lemongrass, drop on cotton balls inside squares of cloth, and scatter in drawers and closets. This method both sweetens the clothes and repels moths. After washing and hanging clothes to air dry, lightly mist clothing with the above blend and water to scent and protect the clothing.
Vinegar leaves windows and mirrors shining. In a spray bottle mix: 1 1/2 cups of vinegar, ½ cup of water, and, to eliminate the vinegary odor, add 8-10 drops of Lemon oil. Shake well before spraying, wipe with a dry cloth.
Make your brass sparkle by rubbing a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water and add a few drops of lemon oil. Rub the paste onto each item, then rinse with warm water and dry with a cloth.
Lockers on board a boat can become smelly and moldy. Numerous studies, including those conducted by the Good Housekeeping Institute, state that a straight 5% solution of vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold and 80 percent of viruses. Wash the walls and floors of lockers with a half and half solution of vinegar and soapy water. When dry, wipe the same area with straight vinegar to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. In the locker, leave a cotton ball with a couple of drops of one of the following essential oils with both antiseptic and anti-fungal properties: eucalyptus lemon, juniper, lavender, lemon, patchouli, sage, sandalwood or thyme to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.
Lingering seafood odors can be alleviated by heating a cup of water and vinegar which will absorb the smell; then, using the essential oil of your choice, mix with water, shake and spray.
And those smelly runners…there is a solution. Mix three drops of lavender, five drops of rosemary and two drops of sage. To each teaspoon of baking soda, add two drops of the above blend. Put two teaspoons of the mixture into a bag with the shoes, shake, leave overnight, tap out soda in the morning.
“Going green” in your cleaning methods is only one technique to utilize essential oils. You might consider putting together a travel kit, occupational oils for the workplace, as well as oils for sports, beauty, your pets, gardens and celebratory events.
Before leaving on a three year journey by sea aboard Sea Whisper, as a health practitioner, Laurie McDonald wrote a column for a western Canada health-related magazine. Her travel adventures are published in Canadian magazines and newspapers.