Home » Natural Health » Natural Remedies
Natural Health Natural Remedies

DIY Thieves®* Oil Blend: A Safe, Natural Disinfectant & Health Aid

With cold and flu season in full swing, everyone should keep this DIY Thieves oil recipe in their natural first aid kit to kill germs and prevent illness.
SFF may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

With cold and flu season in full swing, everyone should have a bottle of Thieves®* oil in their natural first aid kit to help kill germs in your body and around your home.

Powerful and versatile, Thieves®* oil can stimulate the immune system, circulation and respiratory system, and help protect against the flu, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, sore throats, cuts, and more. Here’s how to make it…

History of Thieves®* Oil

Legend has it that a band of spice merchants became thieves in the 15th century, when pandemic Plague crashed the economy. They used a blend of herbs and spices to rob the gravely ill and deceased without becoming infected themselves. When finally caught for their crimes, the thieves supposedly traded their recipe for a lighter sentence.

Whether or not the legend is true, the ingredients in this mixture are antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral, and have immune-stimulating properties. That means it should keep just about any flu, cold or virus at bay.

In fact, Thieves®* oil blend (sometimes called Four Thieves oil) was tested by Weber State University in Utah in 1997, and found to kill 99% of airborne bacteria when diffused into a room.

How to Use Thieves®* Oil

This Thieves oil recipe is one of 10 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System, but that is not all the oil blend can do for you. Here are some suggestions for how you can use it.

Thieves®* Oil for Household Use

ceramic_diffuser_black-product_1x-1403630839Diffusing – Diffusing the oil will purify the air, kill germs and eliminate odors. Diffuse several drops of thieves oil for 20-30 minutes three or four times a day in an essential oil diffuser, nebulizer, or in a pot of simmering water on the stove.

If our house or family members have been exposed to any colds, flu or other infectious illnesses, we run the diffuser continuously for a few days. At the very first sign of any cold or flu we diffuse the oil continually until symptoms subside.

We also run the diffuser in the bedroom of anyone who is sick, while they sleep at night. This provides a constant flow of the therapeutic oils into the respiratory tract, and is very healing.

Thieves®* Oil Blend Recipe All-Purpose Spray – This all-purpose spray solution cleans and disinfects around the home, purifying the air and eliminating odors. Add 1 drop of oil for each ounce of water in a spray bottle. Add the oil first, then add water. It mixes better that way. Shake vigorously before each use.

Use in the air or on countertops, doorknobs, toys, phones, litter boxes, pet beds, and other places that need disinfecting.

Dishwasher and Laundry – Add 4-5 drops to your dishwasher soap cup or to the water in your laundry machine to thoroughly clean, eliminate bacteria and odors. This is especially great to use for washing cloth diapers.

Floors– add a 10-15 drops to ½ bucket of cleaning water.

Pests– To repel aphids, ants or bedbugs, spray plants, surfaces, floors, and mattresses with a mixture of 2 drops oil to every 4 ounces of water.


Thieves®* Oil for Common Ailments

Basic massage oil – Add 1 drop of the essential oil blend to 4 drops of a nice massage carrier oil like almond, jojoba, grapeseed or olive oils. Massage on the feet, lower back, neck and behind the ears. On children, dilute 8 to 1 and massage just their feet. Test for sensitivity first.

Colds, flu and bronchitis – Dilute 15 drops the oil blend with 15 drops of a carrier oil like almond, olive or jojoba. Apply to lower back (where viruses and bacteria tend to hibernate), to the upper back of thighs, and back of neck to help with symptoms. For coughs and bronchitis, also apply to your feet, sternum, chest and throat.

If you can take a stronger blend, add a few more drops of the oil blend, to tolerance. (See caution below)

Head and lung congestion – Place a few drops in a steaming bowl of hot water, cover head with towel and inhale vapors.

Sore throat – Add 2-3 drops to 2 Tablespoons of water and gargle, or add 1 drop of Thieves®* and 1 drop lemon essential oil in warm water, drink as tea. You can also make a throat spray using 1 drop of thieves oil blend to 1 ounce of water.

Headache – Place a drop of the oil blend on your thumb and place your thumb on the roof of your mouth. May require repeated applications. Be careful not to lick your lips because the cinnamon bark oil in the mixture can burn. Use vegetable or carrier oil to wipe off if you do.

Cuts, scrapes – Dilute 1 drop the essential oil blend to 4 drops of carrier oil apply to wound or scrape to help prevent infection, reduce pain and inflammation, and speed healing. You can also apply diluted Thieves®* oil to your gauze or bandage.

Poison ivy, insect bites (mosquito, bee & wasp stings) – Combine 1 drop of oil blend and 1 drop of lavender essential oil for each ounce of water in a spray bottle, and use on insect bites, poison oak, and poison ivy rashes to reduce inflammation, pain, itching, and irritation.

Bad breath, tooth decay – Add a drop of the oil blend to your toothbrush to kill germs in your mouth and sanitize your toothbrush. Or, alternatively, add a couple drops to 4 tbsp. of baking soda, place in small container (not plastic) and shake well. Dip toothbrush in mixture and brush.

Immune support – For protection against colds, flu, and other infectious disease apply a few drops of the oil blend undiluted directly to the bottom of feet. You can also rub a few drops into your hands as a safe, natural hand sanitizer.

Caution: The cinnamon bark, clove and eucalyptus oils in the recipe can feel very “hot” or irritating to babies, children and people with sensitive skin. Always test yourself or your child for sensitivity, and dilute your oil blend with a carrier oil like almond, grapeseed or olive oil to the strength you can tolerate. If for some reason you use too much or it feels too strong, use carrier or vegetable oil to quickly remove it from your skin.

Note: Some people recommend ingesting diluted or encapsulated Thieves®* oil blend for health purposes. I am not comfortable with this because the cinnamon bark, clove and eucalyptus oils in the mixture can be very irritating—or even toxic—if not used properly.

Essential oils should only be taken internally if you have received a detailed consultation or a prescription from a trained and qualified aromatherapy practitioner.

For those who have some time, it is easy to make your own Thieves oil recipe for a fraction of the cost of the trademarked blend of Thieves®* oil available from online distributors. Here’s my recipe for making the blend yourself.

With cold and flu season in full swing, everyone should keep this DIY Thieves oil recipe in their natural first aid kit to kill germs and prevent illness.

DIY Thieves®* Oil Blend Recipe

A DIY version of the famous, germ-killing essential oil blend.
Print Pin
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings1 oz.



  • Mix all essential oils together in a 1 or 2 ounce dark glass bottle with eye dropper cap.
  • Shake well to mix.
  • Adjust the ratios to suit your needs and smell preference, if you wish. (I always add more cinnamon and rosemary.)
  • Shake well before each usage.


One 15 ml bottle of essential oil contains approximately 250 drops and one 5 ml bottle contains approximately 85 drops.

*The word “Thieves®” (yes, just the word) is a registered trademark of Young Living Essential Oils, LLC. Small Footprint Family is not affiliated with Young Living Essential Oils, LLC in any way. (And recipes for the oil blend existed long before trademarks did.)

About the author

Dawn Gifford

Dawn Gifford

Dawn is the creator of Small Footprint Family, and the author of the critically acclaimed Sustainability Starts at Home - How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. After a 20-year career in green building and environmental sustainability, chronic illness forced her to shift her expertise and passion from the public sphere to home and hearth. Get the whole story behind SFF here.


Click here to comment. Comments are moderated. (Comment Policy and Privacy Policy.)

Recipe Rating

  • I read an article that explained MOST (over 95%) of virus and bacteria are taken in through the nostrils. Since the oil was used to prevent the black plague, I figured that I might be able to use this oil to prevent flu and colds, etc. Before leaving the house, I use diluted oil with a cotton swab and line my nostrils. (YES it BURNS! but it eases up in 30 seconds,…and sometimes it might trickle down my throat…but it is worth it. ) I baby sit family who have the flu and have YET to catch the flu. When in public with coughing and hacking, I don’t worry as much, and as yet, I have not had a cold or flu in three years (since starting the Thieves Oil) Perhaps I have only been “lucky” but I have several autoimmune diseases and am still doing great at resisting viruses, etc
    Also, I use lip balm containers and make wax versions of Thieves Oil to carry with me to use on the go for second doses or for a cut or scrape…or whatever I need it for. I keep the containers in the refrigerator and grab one when I leave the house. It is also an easy way to share – just grab a lip balm container and hand it out.

    • I do not recommend ingesting it at any age, without the help of a trained aromatherapist. There is some controversy about using eucalyptus oil around young children. Use your best judgement and consult with a trained aromatherapist.

  • Hi there! Thank you for posting this recipe, I cant wait to make it! would it be ok to use cinnamon leaf oil instead of cinnamon bark? Thank you

    • I do not. Endoflex is an essential oil blend created by Young Living, whereas Thieve’s oil is an ancient recipe passed down for centuries. (YL just happened to trademark the name alone.) However, they do disclose the ingredients in the blend, so you might be able to mix up the same oils and come up with a close proximity.

  • Please explain how or if this would be helpful with cancer.I have cancer and was given a bottle of this by a young living rep and told to put in capsules to take three a day

    • I do not know if this would be directly helpful with cancer, nor would I dare tell you it was since I am not a doctor. However, Thieve’s oil is a great natural immune booster and anti-biotic, which might help keep you from getting sick from colds, flus or other germs while your immune system is reduced due to treatment for cancer.

  • I was wondering if I could make this with out the Rosemary oil? I can not seem to find it everyone is either out of stock or on back order for it but I need it now?

  • Can’t thank you enough for this recipe. Been hesitant to buy from the big companies…I knew I would find a recipe somewhere! Are there other companies you recommend?

  • I am looking forward to trying this, but have one question. Will it work with out the cinnamon? Half of my kids have allergic reactions to cinnamon. Even smelling it will trigger migraines. Thank you.

  • Hi, Just made a batch if Theives Oil and was wondering if it works as a good deterrent for knats and misquotes ? I love the scent and I’m hoping those pests don’t ! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe !

  • Great article, Dawn. I’m a huge fan Thieves oil. We’ve used it to prevent the spread of colds and flu by diffusing it and using as a hand sanitizer. I love the scent as well.

  • Hi Dawn,

    I may have missed it in this thread, but I was wondering where you buy/order your oils from? I am new to to oils and so far I have read all sorts of things that make me reluctant to move forward in buying some. I’m hoping you may suggest a reputable site that has top quality oils. Thank You.

    • Dawn,

      Thank you very much for your response. I must have missed the links because I tend to read too quickly. I found the link for Plant Therapy and will be looking over all they have to offer and I am also looking forward to making some Thieves Oil for our home. One more question, do you prefer mixing your own oils as opposed to an already made version? I have no experience with oils so any help is appreciated. Thank you.

      • Oops, one more question…do you buy organic oils or are the non organic oils fine for mixing Thieves Oil and the like? Thanks again.

  • Curios how we know for certain these are the right ratios? About to mix my own now, but wondering where the recipe comes from?

    • We don’t know for sure since Thieves oil is very, very old. But these oils at roughly these percentages have been tested at Weber State University in Utah in 1997, and found to kill 99% of airborne bacteria when diffused into a room.

  • I am curious about the process to request the permission to be able to print part of this information WITH FULL CREDIT to you, the rightful author/owner of this content. However, I did not know the true awesomeness that Thieves oil truly was. I am two ingredients away from making a batch with fresh ingredients – whole cloves, cinnamon bark, rosemary twigs, lemon zest, and eucalyptus (will be essential oil instead of actual plant as per recipe). I got the recipe from Karma Parker at http://diynsave.com/?p=273 and her article about how to make Thieves Oil at Home for a household cleaner. I am excited to learn the wonders of this stuff and can’t wait to distribute some of the homemade stuff to my friends and family for Christmas gifts. I am intrigued by the straight five oil blend and curious about how the two versions compare as far as their range of awesomeness that they are capable of. Any thoughts? And may I please share your information about the wonders of Thieves Oil with my family and friends?

  • Thank you Dawn for this recipe! I have heard that you can put one drop of Thieves oil under your tongue when you are around a lot of sick people and it will act as a shield against the bacteria!!
    I also want to use it in a cold humidifier for my per duck to inhale, he is very sick with a fungus in his lungs….

  • Thanks for a timely recipe for Thieves oil. I recently purchased this oil, but now I will be able to make my own when it is gone. I am so glad I found this post on “Small Footprint Fridays” link up.

  • I used thives on my 1 month old baby (duel 1:10 coconut oil) rubbing on the bottom of her feet when she got RSV. It was gone In 2 days I swear by the stuff now

  • Wow. I have never heard of Thieves Oil before, and tonight I have seen it referenced several times. I could have used some this week. Looks like I have a busy weekend ahead of me, mixing this up and making your probiotic gummy candy as well. Thanks for all the great ideas!!!

  • thank you so much, i have been looking for a recipe to make my own. i’m new to essential oils and still trying to figure this all out. i do have a question about any of this oils being an issue during pregnancy? i want to make sure before i start using this. thanks!!

  • Are these seperate oils? (10 drops of Essential Oil of Tea Tree, Lavender, Cedar or other anti-microbial, aromatic essential oil.).
    Or are they combined as one?

  • Dawn,

    Oh, my goodness. This is exactly what we’ve been needing in our house this week! I’ll be mixing up a batch tonight. 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing it in this week’s Thank Goodness It’s Monday carnival.

    Kresha from NourishingJoy.com

  • I thought thyme was a major ingredient in thieves blends? This is a great posts – love the recipe, and the other suggestions are great ideas even if you decide to buy it pre-blended!

  • My niece introduced me to thieves oil a few months ago, I haven’t tried it yet, but hear it is amazing stuff — thanks for the recipe to be able to make my own. Thanks for sharing with Hearth & Soul Hop. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday. I have heard about Thieves Oil on Facebook but this is the first time I’ve seen a recipe for it. I’m definitely going to try this.

  • Just found your site and love it so far. Just one small point, as a lifelong resident of Utah I can say with some confidence that there is no Webster University in Utah. There is Weber State University located in the Ogden, Utah area – could that be the one you credit as having done the efficacy testing?

  • Thanks for putting together this recipe! I love thieves oil and have been using a small bottle of Young Living’s Thieves oil spray. I had gathered all the oils to make my own but had yet to do any research as to ratios.
    I just mixed up a small bottle and put about twenty drops into a hot Epsom salt bath as I am currently battling a nasty bug that keeps coming at me one symptom at a time! What the heck? I am definitely bringing out the big guns now!
    Do you ever use alcohol in your sprays for cleaning and disinfecting? It’s the first ingredient in the YL spray. I gave up using isopropyl alcohol years ago after reading Hulda Clark’s books but have found that Everclear (grain alcohol) works anywhere that isopropyl (rubbing/wood alcohol) is called for. It makes a great addition to homemade window cleaner! (I use Crunchy Betty’s recipe for that… best glass cleaner ever!)

  • I love Thieves oil! I usually buy it as a blend, so it’s really interesting and useful to see a recipe. I use it so often that I had actually run out (again) and put it on my Christmas list! I use it mostly for headaches and immune support and generally follow the not-so-precise method of shaking a few drops onto my tongue.

  • I wonder if there is a recipe that does NOT use lemon? My daughter is allergic to citrus of any kind and this definitely won’t be good for her! 🙂 Any ideas?