Self

25 Ways To Use Lavender For (Pretty Much) Everything In Life

Photo: FabrikaSimf / Shutterstock
woman smelling lavender

My love affair with lavender started early on. My mother would create lavender sachets from the flower garden, and the aroma would seep through my clothes.

Later, I discovered the usefulness of this flower for so many things. And when it comes to uses for lavender, there are plenty of benefits apart from the pure joy of looking at its beauty and inhaling its fragrance.

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What is lavender and where can you find it?

Lavender is mostly known for its calming and soothing effects, but there are actually a lot of other lesser-known uses for this wonder plant.

Lavender (Lavandula) has over 45 species and is a member of the mint family. Its name stems from the Latin verb "lavare," which means "to wash," likely because of its use in baths to purify the mind and body. The flowers can range from white to various shades of blue to the purple flowering namesake.

To truly experience lavender, you must visit a lavender farm. Provence, France is the world's largest lavender region. However, if you can't make it there, there are some magnificent lavender farms around the world, including in Croatia, Bulgaria, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the US.

This shrub grows mainly in dry, sandy soil in full sun in temperate climates. It requires minimal effort to grow and maintain, and is harvested by hand primarily in June and July. If you take good care of it, your lavender will bloom for 10 years!

The best time to pick lavender flowers is in the morning. Just tie an elastic band around a fresh lavender bundle, then hang them on a hook to dry them out for about two weeks. As for lavender's great scent, that's thanks to the spikes on the shrub that produce the oil that gives its delightful smell. 

What is lavender used for?

Lavender has been used historically for many purposes.

Ancient Egyptian civilizations used lavender as part of the embalming process, and it was said to have been found in King Tut's tomb.

The Ancient Greeks learned much from the Egyptians about perfume, and anointed their feet with lavender oil. Ancient Romans adopted it, too, and hung lavender in the bedrooms to arouse their spouses.

Throughout the Middle Ages, lavender grew in popularity and was soon used extensively by kings and queens of England to treat everything from lice, migraines and epilepsy. They also used it to perfume their soaps and linens. Lavender was a hot commodity during the Black Plague as it was thought to ward off illness.

Lavender's medicinal use expanded during WWI when it was used as an antiseptic to clean and dress wounds. Many civilizations and cultures have used lavender and its many forms over time, and its use has continued to evolve.

Is lavender safe to use?

The National Institutes of Health say that lavender is likely safe in food in small amounts.

The exceptions are pregnant and breastfeeding women, as there aren't enough studies to validate its effects. The oil should not be given orally to young kids — particularly boys, as it is thought to be a hormone disruptor.

While lavender has some fantastic sedating, cholesterol-lowering, and blood thinning effects, anyone taking anti-anxiety, antidepressant, sleep medications, cholesterol medication or blood thinners should check with their doctor first before using it.

Avoid using lavender oil directly on the skin; always use a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond or olive oil. Take caution in the sun as lavender may cause photosensitivity.

Assuming you've taken these precautions, lavender in its various forms can be your best friend, there in a pinch to save the day or just to savor! Whether it's using it in essential oils, or picking some from a garden, there are so many ways to use a lavender plant.

Here are 25 ways to use lavender and reap its health benefits.

1. Sleep aid

Get to sleep more easily with lavender's soothing scent cradling you. Multiple studies have found that using lavender improved sleep quality, especially when inhaled as an oil.

Mix a few drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle of water, and mist your sheets and blankets. For little ones, spray it on a Kleenex and tuck it under the mattress for a less intense smell. You can also add lavender sachets to pillow cases or in stuffed animals.

2. Air cleaner

Use an aromatherapy diffuser or make up a squirt bottle of ten drops of lavender oil and water. Spritz it around the house to fill the air with the calming aroma.

3. Drawer perfume

You don't have to entice your sweetheart with a lavender sachet in your bustier as Victorian women supposedly did. Just add a lavender pouch to your drawer and let its marvelous scent do its thing. Everything you put in the drawer will smell heavenly!

4. Moth deterrent

Lavender has been shown to repel moth. So, instead of using heavy chemicals to ward them off, you can prevent moths from invading your space and precious mementos by storing lavender in your cupboards and chests.

5. Carpet deodorizer

Add a few drops of lavender oil to baking soda, then sprinkle it on your carpets and vacuum it right up. No more pet odors!

6. General household cleaner and disinfectant

Whether you want a healthier alternative to bleach and other noxious chemicals, or you're trying to stop the spread of the flu or viruses in your household, lavender oil can do the job.

It's a perfect addition to cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, and adds an extra germ-killing punch. Keep a water bottle handy with about ten drops of essential oil of lavender per two cups of water, then spritz and wipe down surfaces.

7. Toilet freshener

Are you tired of using toxic toilet cleaners? Lavender is known to have disinfectant properties, so you can kill microbes and freshen the bowl at the same time with a lavender oil concoction.

Sprinkle the bowl with baking soda, then spray it with a spray bottle filled with water, a cup of white vinegar, and about ten drops of lavender essential oil. Then scrub away with your sustainable solution.

Don't forget to label your spray bottles so you’re not mixing up your chemicals (and use caution not to mix with commercial toilet bowl cleaners).

8. Laundry and washing machine cleaner

Add a few drops of oil to a natural soap, and hand wash your toughest stains. You can also add lavender to the washing machine to kill whatever germs are lurking in your towels.

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This wonder oil will also sanitize your appliances at the same time, or you can run a separate cycle to remove build-up.

9. Stress reliever

Eliminate tension and anxiety in a flash. Inhale some oil or use a rollerball and rub it on your wrists. Apply lavender body lotion, or hand or foot cream to enjoy the benefits all day and night.

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10. Insect repellant

Are you thinking of going to the cottage or a tropical destination? Some lavender oil mixed with a base oil will deter little pests, especially on places like your ankles, back of the neck and ears.

Rest easy and partake in the bonfire without the need for harsh chemical repellents.

11. First aid

Use it to treat bug bites and stop itching. Or, use it to treat minor burns with its antiseptic qualities. One 2012 study found that using lavender essential oil helped heal wounds quicker and reduced inflammation after surgery.

12. Anti-inflammatory

Add a few drops to jojoba, sesame or other oil, and massage away your aches and pains. Plus, you'll get to enjoy the delicate aroma.

13. PMS relief

Multiple studies have found that lavender acts as a pain reliever for cramps, headaches, swelling and mood swings. Take a sniff or massage some oil (inside a carrier oil), and you'll be back to yourself in no time.

14. Hair tonic and hair loss treatment

Lavender is an excellent hair tonic. It livens up your tresses, and it can even help them to grow (it worked in one study on mice, and it might work for you, too). Use a shampoo with lavender to recover from postpartum hair loss.

You'll also find lavender oil in many natural lice removers. You can even make your own by adding a few drops to some olive oil to make a hair treatment that will scare away those nasty creatures.

15. Bath soother

This is the most common use for lavender. Make your own bath bombs or salts with it and soak away all away your troubles.

16. Refreshing drink

On a hot day, there's nothing more refreshing than a tall glass of lemonade. Add to the detoxifying benefits of lemon juice by adding lavender into the mix.

You can make lavender lemonade by simmering a pint of water, eight ounces of sugar, zest from three lemons, and three tablespoons of dried lavender flowers, then add the juice of three lemons. Cool, strain and enjoy!

You can also experiment with adding lavender to your evening cocktail.

17. Cooking aromatic

Lavender is a definite flavor booster, and it has become a staple in herbs de Provence. It adds a floral and sweet flavor to many dishes.

18. Desserts

If your go-to dessert is a pint of ice cream, you haven't lived until you've had lavender ice cream. Pair it with chocolate for a sinfully good treat.

Traditionally, English lavender buds are used in shortbread cookies and scones, but they are now cropping up in many tasty desserts.

19. Cake decoration

Not only is lavender a fresh addition to desserts, but it's a great topper and all-around cake decorator.

20. Tea complement

Some dried flowers or lavender blossoms make a perfect complement to Earl Gray or mint tea.

Alternatively, you can buy lavender tea that is already infused with lavender. Pair this with a lavender scone and create a dreamy afternoon escape.

21. Potpourri

A dish of lavender potpourri is multipurpose: it elegantly appoints a room and fills it with a beautiful scent. You can also add other aromatic flowers to your potpourri for an even lovelier blend of smells.

22. Art projects

Decorate your home with photos and paintings of lavender. You can dry-press lavender buds and use them in arts and crafts, make your own sachets, or make a relaxing sugar scrub.

23. Gardening

Plant lavender on your walkway and smell the aroma when you pass by each day. The fresh sprigs add color and texture to your garden, while providing you with so many practical uses.

24. Aphrodisiac

Research suggests that lavender not only increases blood flow and arousal, but relaxation as well. One study suggests that combining the smells of lavender with pumpkin pie increased blood flow to men's private areas by 40% when sniffed.

To get in the mood, you can bathe in lavender salts, smooth on lavender lotion, light lavender-scented candles, or arrange bouquets of lavender and lavender buds.

25. Honeybee attractor

Over the years, there has been a call-out from environmentalists to plant bee-friendly gardens to sustain bee populations killed by pesticides. Bees are the most significant pollinators of food crops in the world, and our food sources are dependent on them in the ecosystem.

Lavender is one of the top bee-attracting plants. When you plant lavender, you’re doing your small part for the environment and to save the bees.

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Lisa Petsinis is a certified life and career transformation coach who works with women to get unstuck, empower them to achieve their goals, and live a fulfilling life. She is also a self-described health nut and lavender aficionado.

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