Thieves Essential Oil Better Than Bleach And Lysol

Thieves Essential Oil Beats Clorox Bleach and Lysol in Cleaning BathroomsI love school. I do. I always have. I’d be in school right now, getting another degree in something if time and money would allow.

But I must say that RE-living school through my children’s projects borders on torture. I straddle that line of trying to be helpful and guide them so they will develop excellent study skills and here-let-me-do-that-so-we-can-just-get-it-done-already.

The latest project in the parade of projects, however, was for the sixth grade science fair. And after the late nights and head scratching and double-sided tape fiascos, it actually proved interesting.

While some kids were sticking wires in potatoes and such, my 11-year-old wanted to focus on germs in dirty bathrooms. Specifically, she wanted to test my beloved essential oils against chemical household cleaners. Yes! I was hooked. I wanted to know, too, just how well Young Living’s Thieves essential oil blend performed when placed side by side against Clorox Bleach and Lysol bathroom cleaner.

We partnered with my daughter’s best friend and her mom (another essential oils user and comrade). So, we found an experiment kit online that was specifically made for growing bacteria and then testing different cleaners to see which was most effective at either killing the bacteria or at least stopping its growth (we weren’t really sure what we would discover).

The Science Experiment: Thieves Essential Oil Blend vs. Bleach and Lysol

Now, please keep in mind that we are working on a sixth grade level here! I am an artistic, English person; you’re not going to find much math or science going on in my brain. 🙂 Stacy—my daughter’s best friend’s mom—was a science major and is far more advanced than I in these areas, though she spends most of her days now taking care of her kids and selling real estate.

My point is, is that I’m sure our scientific method would not hold up to the scrutiny of professionals. But for sixth grade, general common sense, and anecdotal evidence, we think we proved some interesting points.

So, the girls’ hypothesis was that Thieves essential oil blend would best inhibit bathroom bacterial growth. Of course, Stacy and I wanted this to be the case. I wasn’t so sure. I honestly thought the bleach would simply obliterate everything in its path, marking it a clear winner.

Stacy made the petri dishes for us by heating and then pouring agar into the dishes. She then allowed them to set up. To further prove my novice status, I will tell you that I didn’t even know what agar was until about a month ago. That’s right. If I ever used it in school, I had no idea what it was called.

Next, the girls took sterilized swabs and rubbed them over several bathroom surfaces—sink, counter, floor. They then rubbed them in a zigzag pattern into four separate petri dishes. They labeled one “Control” and did nothing more to it. Then, they took four separate squares of blotter paper. They saturated one with Clorox bleach, one with Lysol bathroom cleaner, and one with Thieves essential oil blend. They put one square into each of the remaining petri dishes and labeled them accordingly.

The girls put the petri dishes into an insulated, zippered lunch bag and put it into a dark closet to grow. We checked it every few days and charted the bacterial growth.

The hardest part of the entire experiment was figuring out exactly how to measure our observations. We finally decided we would measure in inches the distance between the outer edge of the treated blotter paper and the innermost edge of the bacterial growth.


So the early leader was the Clorox bleach. The first four days, we noticed no growth in its petri dish. The Thieves was a close second with a defined edge around the blotter paper. The Lysol did not seem effective much at all. We noticed growth in its petri dish closer in to the blotter paper.

And then something sort of unexpected happened. On the fifth day, we checked the dishes again. More bacterial growth appeared in the Clorox and Lysol dishes, but there was no change in the Thieves dish at all! Thieves was holding back the growth—keeping it at bay. (The girls posted the chart below on their science board. It shows the different measurements on the different days.)

Thieves Essential Oil Is Better Cleaner Than Clorox Bleach and Lysol

The Conclusion: Thieves Wins!

We concluded, actually, that the hypothesis was correct. Thieves essential oil blend is the best at inhibiting bathroom bacterial growth.

Here’s what the girls posted on their board and in their log books:

My hypothesis was correct. On Day 5, Thieves essential oil blend cleared 5/8 inch diameter around the treated blotter paper. Lysol cleared 2/8 inch diameter around the treated blotter paper. Clorox cleared ½ inch diameter around the treated blotter paper. No new bacterial colonies grew in the dish with Thieves. The Lysol dish had some more bacterial colonies grown but not within the cleared perimeter. The Clorox dish had many new bacterial colonies to grow over night. We proved that Thieves essential oil blend best inhibited bacterial growth on a bathroom surface.

In my own words, I’d put it this way: Clorox bleach is probably best at suppressing bathroom bacterial growth on contact, but it doesn’t necessarily keep working. Thieves does keep the bacteria from growing and/or encroaching into treated territory on a longer-term basis. And Lysol? It’s pretty much useless.

Oh, and we the girls won 2nd place in the science fair! 🙂

  • Hi there! I’m looking at doing this science project for my eighth grade science fair, and I had a question. Just to be clear, you put the agar powder on the petri dishes and then rubbed the sterilized swabs on the dishes?

    • Hi!

      Yes — that’s right. Although I’m not the one who did the agar part. I don’t think it was powder but was more like a thick liquid. But at any rate, we created the agar petri dishes and they had to sit for awhile (can’t remember how long exactly?). Then we used the swabs to swab the dirty surface and then swiped it onto the petri dishes. Then we proceeded with the blotter papers as described above. 🙂

      Hope you have a great experiment!

      • Hi, me again! 🙂 I was just wondering – what is blotter paper? It says you soaked blotter paper with each cleaning product, but no matter how hard we search… we can’t find any! My aunt works at a college and even the science teacher wasn’t sure what blotter paper would be used for. :-/ Thanks!

        • Hey, Emily!

          The blotter paper (or “blotting” paper?) was like a heavy, white tissue paper. I recall that we cut it into squares, about 1 inch x 1 inch.

          Maybe this will help you. We actually ordered this kit of supplies but then did our own experimenting with the oil and cleaners, etc. But the blotter paper was included in the kit. The kit was very handy since we didn’t have to purchase everything separately.

          Hope that helps! 🙂

  • MAck

    so i have a question

    • MAck

      i am doing a science fair project and i need help with my hypothesis! plz if you have any ideas for a hypothesis then plz tell me. hint hint. i am doing this experiment!

  • Stacy Carpenter

    Hello Mary! I see this was posted a couple of years ago so I hope you are still replying to threads…. I am a middle school teacher and would love to use your experiment as an example in my Scientific Method lesson. Could I have your permission to print off and use the blog post in my classroom? On a side note: You and your daughter did exactly what I have been wanting to do in my own home! Maybe we, as a class, will try to duplicate the results?

    • Hi! Of course – you have my permission, and I’m flattered that you would want to use it. 🙂

      It was fun and enlightening! If you do it with your students, come back and let me know.

      Wishing you the best!

  • Laura kusnierek

    Hi Mary! My son is considering doing this experiment for his science fair project this year. May I ask, do you remember where online you purchased your experiment kit and what did it contain? Thank you.


    Would Using the thieves oil and not using the diluted cleaner make a differences in results. To me the oil would be super intense and you don’t use it alone when cleaning your house you make a cleaner with it. I would be curious if the results if you used the cleaner diluted per he instructions and then using th other two! Huge thieves fan but that’s the only thing that gets me about this experiment!

    • Laura Beth Carlson

      We are working on this science project as we speak, and we are using the thieves cleaner instead of the straight oil. I will post my results in about 10 days or so. 🙂

      • Oh, yay! I can’t wait to hear. Thank you for sharing.

        • Laura Beth Carlson

          Well, I wish we had better news. 🙁 Thieves cleaner did not fair well. Thieves was every bit as bad as Lysol. Our science fair is tomorrow, but I think we are going to try the experiment differently next time. I wonder if we should spread the different cleaners all over the agar just like we did with the dirty swabs. I wonder what the results would be doing it that way? Stay tuned as I try to defend my beloved Thieves! I will post a pic once I can shrink it down. 🙂

    • Hi, Kristen. Yes, of course — using the cleaner may create a different outcome. We just chose the oil blend because it was easy to use and we wanted to find out how the oil itself worked. 🙂

  • Micquel Wheat

    Hope you’re still monitoring this discussion. What were the variables you guys used and do you think using the same bacteria for each cleaner and the oil would have made a difference?