A few years back when I bought my first set of essential oils I didn’t know how I was going to store and organize them. Most essential oils don’t come with too many directions so you are left to wonder…How do you store and organize essential oils properly?
After doing a lot of research I found that when you store essential oils the right way you will extend their life and essentially your investment. You spend good money on essential oils so it just makes sense that you would want to protect them so they don’t lose their therapeutic benefits.
How Do You Store Essential Oils?
Most essential oils will slowly start to oxidize 1 or 2 years after you open the bottle. However, sunlight, heat, and oxygen will speed up the oxidation process. If they are not stored properly your oils will lose their potency and ultimately their therapeutic properties within a matter of months. There are a few things you can do to make sure you get the longest possible shelf life.
Put The Caps Back On Correctly
After using your essential oils make sure the cap is on correctly and tighten them too. Also, do not leave the caps off for long periods of time.
Keep Them in a Cool Dark Place
It is important to store essential oils in a cool, dark place such as a closet, cabinet, drawer, refrigerator or basement. Consistency in temperature is the key to preserving your oils and they shouldn’t be stored in temperatures above 72 degrees.
Anyone living in a warm climate without air conditioning in the home might want to store essential oils in the refrigerator.
If you decide to store essential oils in the fridge make sure you keep them in a closed storage container or box. Otherwise, you will find that some of your food will taste like your essential oils! Another option would be to get a mini-fridge specifically for your oils.
Just be aware that when you store essential oils in the refrigerator some of the oils will thicken and they will be very slow to pour out of the bottle. Also, pure Rose Otto essential oil will be solid and this is normal. Hold the bottle in your hand a few minutes to warm it up a bit and you will be able to pour the oils without any problems.
Keep Them Away From Direct Sunlight and Heat
Storing your essential oils in a box or carrier with a lid specifically made for essential oils is ideal and there are many options out there. Use amber or cobalt blue glass containers or plastic containers made from PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) for your essential oil DIY projects such as spray bottles and roller bottles.
If you are storing your oils in the kitchen do not store them in a cabinet or drawer near the stove. Also, I noticed that the cabinets that have lighting underneath them get really warm when the lights are on. We keep the under cabinet lights on all night. Keep that in mind too if you store them in your cabinets.
Transfer to a Smaller Bottle
If you have a 10 ml lemon essential oil bottle that is more than half used then transfer it to a 5 ml bottle. Less oxygen in the bottle = slows down oxidation.
Keep Away From Children and Pets
Lock them up or put them up in a cabinet where they can’t reach them. They can be toxic and deadly if ingested. See also Essential Oil Safety Guide For Beginners.
Never Use Plastic Containers Or Droppers
Plastic storage containers should not be used to store pure essential oils. They are very potent and corrosive and will eat through the container if they break or leak.
Also, do not use droppers as caps and leave them on the bottles. The top rubber part will disintegrate and then contaminate the oils.
How Do You know When Your Essential Oils Are Expired or Old?
Essential oils don’t go bad and get moldy like old food in the refrigerator. But there are a few things to look for to help you determine if they are expired.
You will notice they do not smell the same or as “fresh” anymore.
Citrus oils such as lemon, orange, mandarin, tangerine, lime, bergamot, and grapefruit could become cloudy so look for that too.
I have seen such a wide variety of expiration date breakdowns and I’m sure it’s confusing for anyone new to essential oils. If you can’t tell if your essential oils are old and expired by smelling them, here is a simple breakdown of the approximate expiration timeline your oils will have after they are opened:
If you are not sure when you bought your essential oils and you purchased them online you can sign in to your account and look at your purchase history to find the date of purchase.
What do you do with old essential oils that are expired?
After your oils oxidize they shouldn’t be used topically because it could cause irritation to your skin. You can diffuse them but at this point, you will be using them for fragrance because their therapeutic value will be gone. However, you do not need to throw them away and can find other ways to use them. For example, you could use them for cleaning and deodorizing around your home.
Put a few drops on a cotton ball and throw it at the bottom of your garbage can or inside those smelly shoes.
Carpet Freshener and Sink Cleaner
Place one cup of baking soda into a glass jar and add 20 drops of essential oils and mix together. Use as a carpet freshener and it can double as a sink cleaner too. Carpet: Sprinkle on the carpet and let it sit for 15 minutes and then vacuum. Sink: Add as much or as little as you need in the sink, add a little water to make a paste. Then lightly scrub with a non-abrasive sponge then rinse.
Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, 15 drops lemon essential oil, 10 drops tea tree essential oil to a 16-ounce or larger glass or commercial plastic spray bottle. Make sure the spray nozzle is on securely and shake the bottle to mix.
Glass and Mirror Cleaner
Combine 2 cups distilled water 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka 1/4 cup white vinegar 15 drops of peppermint or spearmint essential oil (or choose any essential oil you would like to use) to a 32-ounce glass or commercial plastic spray bottle. Make sure the spray nozzle is on securely and shake the bottle to mix.
Home and Garden Bug Spray
Combine 15 drops peppermint essential oil, 15 drops Orange essential oil, 15 drops Cedarwood essential oil, 2 teaspoons neem oil, 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap – the scented (Lavender, Peppermint, etc.) Dr. Bronner’s is fine too. Combine castile soap, essential oils, and neem oil to a 16-ounce glass or commercial plastic spray bottle and then fill the rest with water. Put sprayer on and shake the bottle to mix.
Spray directly on the bugs and plants that are affected. When spraying on plants do so in the early morning or late afternoon/early evening. No, it will not harm your plants.
Where to Store Essential Oils
After you start adding to your oil collection you will want to find a way to store and organize them for easy access. This can be a lot of fun!
You could get a wooden box at a craft store. Plus you can get creative if you want and paint it, stamp it, or any crafty thing you want to do to it. I got one at the local craft store after I bought my first essential oil sets and it fits 5, 10, and 15 ml bottles perfectly. As you can see I didn’t get crafty with it at all but it worked out good for me.
You could also buy a wooden box specifically made to store essential oils. There are many different sizes to choose from.
After adding to my oil collection I needed something bigger so I got a case that holds over 100 essential oils and I love it!
Since I have a little one in the house this essential oil storage case worked out great. I can zip it up and store it on the highest shelf in my closet so they can’t reach it.
Storage displays and shelves are great because they really show off your collection as an art piece. Make sure you have your display in an area that does not get much sun or it could cause damage to your essential oils. I don’t have one of these yet but it is on my wish list!
Personalized handmade shelves and displays make a wonderful gift too!
If you have room in a drawer somewhere in your home then you can keep your oils there by using a drawer organizer. I have seen people using separators like this:
And also dividers that you can get specifically for your essential oils.
Repurpose Something You Already Have
See what you already have in your home that you could use. This is something I try to do first before I run out and buy something. If you don’t have anything you can use maybe some of your family members might have something? You might be surprised by how many unused items that people have stashed away in their home!
Medicine Cabinets and Spice Racks
If you live near a thrift store you could take a look at what they have as well. Old wooden medicine cabinets and spice racks can be found in pretty good shape.
Make Something Yourself
Are you handy with the tools? You could make something yourself. Shelves, a small tabletop chest with drawers, displays, etc.
Take them with you wherever you go. Whether you are on vacation or going to work there are several travel size carrier options out there so you can take your essential oils with you. I use a small makeup bag that fits 6 essential oils perfectly. I put it in my backpack and take it to work with me. If you don’t want to carry essential oils with you then essential oil inhalers would be a great option.
Essential Oil Inhalers – This is the easiest way to bring your essential oils with you and there are no worries of leaking oils. You can buy them already made here or you can easily make them yourself. All you need to do is get some blank inhalers and use any essential oil single or blend you want.
Roller Bottles – These are really nice to take with you as well. You can get these pre-diluted and ready to use here or just like the inhalers you can make them yourself. Roll onto pulse points at your temples, behind your ears, neck, and wrists.
Travel diffuser – This is great for the car, work, traveling, etc. When you rely on your essential oils for relaxation and sleep then you will definitely want to take them with you wherever you go.
Labeling and Grouping Essential Oils
Most bottles do not come with the labels on the top of the bottles. If you are storing them in a box or case then you can put labels on the top of caps so you can easily identify them.
There are a few ways you can organize them.
I use this method since I find it easier and faster to find the oils this way.
Citrus, woody, medicinal, floral, earthy, warm, green, herbal, spices, blends, etc.
By Therapeutic properties
Relaxing, uplifting, peace, focus, sleep, alertness, confidence. Group them by the way they make you feel.
Some essential oil brands have the label color on their essential oil bottles and they correspond with the color of the plant from which the oil was derived. For example, lavender essential oil comes from a lavender plant that has purple flowers, so the color of the bottle label is purple.
Of course, this doesn’t work for all essential oils because color and plant association does not apply to every single essential oil or blends. If you are an artsy person and organizing this way makes sense to you then you could create a beautiful rainbow with your essential oils in a display rack.
Brand New and Opened
If you buy multiple bottles of the same oil then you can separate them so you don’t have multiple bottles of the same essential oil open. If you have a storage box or carrier arrange the new bottles on one side and opened bottles on the other side. Another option is to keep them in a separate area altogether.
Put Dates on The Bottles
When you open up a new essential oil put that date on the bottle or keep a list of purchased and opened oils you have in a notebook or journal. You can also keep that information in a document or notes app on your phone or computer too. This way you will know how long you have before the essential oil expires.
Well, I think I covered all the basics for essential oil storage and organization! The only other tip I could give is that you should only buy what you need. It is easy to get caught up in buying (collecting) essential oils but you don’t want to buy too much and let them sit too long. Use what you have and then replace it with new oils.