How to Make Thieves Oil: A Safe, Natural Disinfectant & Health Aid

bottle of Thieve's oil on a table next to rosemary branches

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 is a combination of essential oils that can stimulate the immune system, circulation and respiratory system, and help protect against the flu, colds, 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 known to have antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties. In fact, Thieves®* oil blend (sometimes called Four Thieves oil) was tested by Weber State University in Utah in 1997, and found to kill 96% of airborne bacteria when diffused into a room.

Ingredients in Thieves®* Oil

Thieves®* oil is traditionally a blend of five essential oils:

  • Cinnamon: Made from the bark, leaves, or twigs of several species of cinnamon tree
  • Clove: Made from the undeveloped buds of the flowers of the clove tree, Eugenia caryophyllata
  • Eucalyptus: Obtained from the leaves of Eucalyptus trees
  • Lemon: Extracted from lemon rinds, Citrus limon
  • Rosemary: Made from the herb rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis

A lot of research has been done on the benefits of the individual oils that comprise Thieves®* oil. For instance:

  • 2017 study found that cinnamon and clove oils had high antimicrobial activity against persistent cultures of Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen involved in Lyme disease.
  • 2018 study found that vapors of cinnamon oil inhibited the growth of respiratory pathogens like Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae in a petri dish.
  • 2019 study in mice found that topical application of a component of cinnamon oil promoted wound healing. It also reduced the amount of bacteria in wounds infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • 2018 study in rats found that a special preparation of eucalyptus oil promoted wound healing.
  • 2012 study showed that eucalyptus oil had antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (skin infections).

How to Use Thieves®* Oil

Essential oils are strong and must be diluted in either oil or water for safe use, whether you plan to use them on their own or as ingredients in something like a massage oil, skin lotion, or aroma spray.

Whichever dilution method you choose, the essential oil content should only account for 0.5% to 2% of the total blend. This works out to 3 to 12 drops per ounce of finished product.

Good carrier oils for essential oils include:

Here are some suggestions for how you can use your Thieves®* oil.

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Thieves®* Oil for Household Use


Diffusing – Diffusing the oil will purify the air and eliminate odors. Diffuse several drops of thieves oil for 20-30 minutes in an essential oil diffuser, 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.

Thieves®* Oil Disinfectant Spray – This spray solution cleans and disinfects around the home, purifying the air and eliminating odors. Fill a spray bottle with half water and half 91% isopropyl alcohol and add 10 drops of essential oil blend for each ounce of water in the bottle. Shake vigorously before each use.

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

While Thieve’s®* oil is certainly no substitute for proper medical treatment, the oil blend can provide at-home relief for a number of minor ailments.

Massage oil – Add 1 drop of the essential oil blend to 5 milliliters of a nice massage carrier oil like almond, jojoba, grapeseed or olive oils. Massage on the feet, back, neck and arms. On children, massage just their feet. Test your skin for sensitivity first, before using.

Colds, flu and bronchitis – Dilute 2-3 drops of the oil blend with 5 milliliters of a carrier oil like almond, olive or jojoba. Apply to your back, chest, and back of neck to help with symptoms. For coughs and bronchitis, also apply to your feet 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 of Thieves®* oil in a steaming bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel and inhale vapors.

Sore throat – Add 2 drops of oil to 1 ounce of water and gargle. Spit out after.

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 oil in the mixture can burn. Use olive or almond oil to wipe it off if you do.

Cuts and scrapes – Dilute 1-2 drops of the essential oil blend in 20 drops of a carrier oil like almond, olive or jojoba oil, and apply to a 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 and 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 spray on insect bites, poison oak, and poison ivy rashes to reduce inflammation, pain, itching, and irritation.

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

Thieves®* Oil Precautions

Skin Irritation

The cinnamon bark, clove and eucalyptus oils in Thieves®* oil can irritate your skin if applied undiluted. Always test yourself or your child for sensitivity, and dilute your oil blend with a carrier oil like almond, grapeseed, jojoba or olive oil so the essential oil blend is no more than 2% of the solution.

If topical application of Thieves®* oil causes redness, swelling, or itching, use carrier or vegetable oil to quickly remove it from your skin, and avoid using it in the future.


Lemon oil can cause photosensitivity, which means that exposure to the sun or other ultraviolet light with lemon oil on your skin can lead to skin burning or pigmentation changes. If you’re topically applying Thieves®* oil, avoid going out in direct sunlight without proper sun protection.


Some people recommend ingesting diluted or encapsulated Thieves®* oil blend for health purposes. However, the cinnamon, clove and eucalyptus oils in the mixture can be very irritating—or even toxic—if consumed.

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

It is easy to make your own Thieves®* oil recipe for a fraction of the cost of store-bought blends available from online distributors. Here’s my recipe for making the blend yourself.

bottle of Thieve's oil on a table next to rosemary branches
4.10 from 10 votes

DIY Thieves®* Oil Blend Recipe

A DIY version of the famous, germ-killing essential oil blend.
CuisineHerbal Remedy
Makes1 oz.
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
This recipe may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.



  • 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. Remember that this solution is highly concentrated. Always dilute it properly before using it.


YouTube video


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.)

Updated November 11, 2021


84 thoughts on “How to Make Thieves Oil: A Safe, Natural Disinfectant & Health Aid”

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  1. Avatar photo
    Roseanne Schoof

    5 stars
    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.

    1. 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.

  2. Thank you for sharing this useful information! In fact, I haven’t heard about thieves oil and its great uses! I’ll definitely try it out asap! Best wishes!

  3. 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

    1. Cinnamon leaf oil is not as strong as cinnamon bark oil, so you might not get the same anti-bacterial effect and yummy smell.

    1. 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.

  4. 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

    1. I do not think this would be directly helpful with cancer, since there is no scientific evidence to show that the ingredients can treat cancer. I also would not recommend ingesting eucalyptus oil, as it is toxic. However, Thieve’s oil is a great natural disinfectant, 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.

    2. Wel I’m creole David my grand uses aloe and eucalyptus plants get them fresh and then if you chose dry them out. All the strategies you will need a mason jar for storage. If you are going to infuse thee oils freshly make sure to fill the pot half way with water and then place Pyrex glass bowl inside. Cover only the Pyrex or stir to you pace. Peppermint oil will make you feel wonderful

  5. 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?

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

    1. It will somewhat less effective without cinnamon and won’t technically be Thieve’s oil, but the other oils combined are also quite effective together.

  8. 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 !

    1. I have not found it particularly effective for mosquito repellant, but other essential oil blends can do that quite well!

      1. I haven’t tried it, but I heard that lemon grass repels mosquitos. I attract them like crazy and I’m not too fond of using Off or other commercial brands on my skin.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. The links in the post will take you to listings for a few of my favorite companies that distribute excellent essential oils.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. I prefer to use the purest oils, especially for diffusing and using on the skin. Mountain Rose and other high-end companies make the best quality for these uses.

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

    1. 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.

  12. 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 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?

    1. About 2, but that’s because the ratio of oils is so spread out. You will go through the clove and lemon much faster than the other oils.

  13. 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….

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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!!!

  17. Be careful with tea tree oil around pets. It’s highly toxic. They absorb the oil through their paws and their liver cannot metabolize the oil. Just wanted to pass this along to any pet owners.

    1. Sorry, I don’t know what “endoflex oil” is and I’ve never bought anything from Young Living.

  18. 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!!

    1. If used topically or in the air, there is no issue in using Thieves oil while pregnant. I wouldn’t ingest it though.

    1. A dark bottle helps the oils from spoiling or going rancid. You definitely don’t want to expose essential oils to light or heat.

  19. 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?

  20. Avatar photo
    Kresha @ Nourishing Joy


    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

  21. 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!

  22. I’m a great fan of Thieves oil, besides the huge list of uses you’ve posted I also find it works well to keep down molds and mildew. And mice hate it.

  23. 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.

  24. 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?

  25. 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!)

    1. I too use alcohol for window cleaning and sometimes surface disinfection, but I am not using Everclear. I’ll have to give that a try! Thanks for your comment!

        1. A tincture is an extract of plant or animal material dissolved in alcohol. This is just an essential oil blend. I would definitely NOT ingest this blend.

    2. I use vodka, just the cheapest one I find at Trader Joes, instead of isopropyl alcohol, especially for a room spray. It has natural disinfecting qualities but isn’t so harsh. And for room spray it doesn’t evaporate as fast as alcohol.

  26. 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.

  27. Thank you for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesdays! I would love to have you stop by and vote for your favorite post on the People’s Choice Awards at:

  28. 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?

    1. Just take it out! It might not be quite as effective and synergistic with the other oils, but the other four oils are quite powerful by themselves. You can also substitute the lemon oil with 10 drops of lavender, cedar or tea tree oil, as was mentioned in the optional ingredients list. The smell will be different, but you will still get great results. Best to you!



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