Thieves and On Guard Cleaner Experiments


Do Young Living Thieves Cleaner and doTerra On Guard cleaner kill germs?

Answer: I couldn't detect any bacteria-killing from either of them when diluted according to the manufacturers recommendations. 


Experiment Details

12/20/2016

To test the Thieves and doTerra On Guard cleaners, I did the same countertop experiments that I usually do. I sectioned off squares on my countertop using masking tape. I made "germ water" using dirt from the backyard and water. I filtered it through a paper towel to remove chunks. Then I scraped colonies of bacteria from a previous days agar plate and mixed that in. The previous days plate was a "dirty sink" plate. So, there was lots of dirt and lots of bacteria in these experiments. I put 1mL of germ water onto each square. I tested several products on this day which is why you see other products in the picture. 


I used a gloved finger to spread the germ water around the square. Then I let the squares dry completely which took about 2 hours. If you would like to see pictures of every step in this process, please scroll to the top of this mile-long page. I go into greater detail about my experimental procedure up there. 


I diluted the Thieves 1:15 like the bottle recommends. I put 1 tablespoon of the doTerra cleaner in 8 ounces of water like the bottle says. After the squares were dry, I put .5mL of each product onto its respective square. I spread the product completely around the square using a clean gloved finger. For the dirty positive control, I just put water on the square. For the clean negative control (which didn't have any germ water on it), I just put sterile water onto the square. I set timers and let the product sit on the square for 5 minutes. 


After 5 minutes, I swabbed the square and rubbed the swab all over a clean agar plate. 



The plates were incubated for 48 hours in my warm incubator (about 90 degrees F). 

Understanding Agar Plates

In case you are new at looking at agar plates, let me explain. Agar is a Jello-like substance that bacteria and fungus like to grow on. The whitish/yellowish dots you see are colonies (or piles) of millions of bacteria. Some types of bacteria are not able to grow on these agar plates. Viruses can not grow on these agar plates. So, just because a plate looks clean, doesn't mean that no microorganisms whatsoever were present. We assume that a clean plate means that most bacteria were killed. However, there is the tiny possibility that the cleaning product just stopped the bacteria from growing as opposed to actually killing it. Also, I can't make any determination as to the time it took the product to kill the bacteria since the product was still with the bacteria on the agar plate. (Both the bacteria and the cleaner would be picked up in the sterile swab.) So, I don't know if it took 1 minute to kill the bacteria or hours. These experiments are still very useful when used to compare cleaning products and cleaning methods. 

Results

I diluted the Thieves 1:15 like the bottle recommends. I put 1 tablespoon of the doTerra cleaner in 8 ounces of water like the bottle says.



I'm not impressed with the diluted Thieves cleaner or diluted doTerra cleaner in these experiments.  Please remember that most cleaners don't do well in these experiments. I will test them on a real kitchen sink without artificial contamination to see how they do. Lots of products that don't do well in this experiment, still do okay on the kitchen sink. 

Do the concentrated Thieves and On Guard cleaners kill germs?

Answer: Yes, I detected some bacteria killing from the concentrated cleaners but it doesn't compare with 3% hydrogen peroxide. 

Experiment details

I repeated the countertop experiment but this time I did not dilute the cleaners. 

As you can see, the full strength concentrated products do kill some bacteria. 

Does doTerra On Guard cleaner kill germs in the sink?


Answer: Not siginficantly

Many cleaning products are not strong enough to do well in my countertop experiments with dirt and lots of germs. So, I also like to test everything in a real life situation, the kitchen sink. Any cleaner that we expect to kill germs, should be able to kill germs in my kitchen sink experiments. To do these experiments, I use my neighbors' kitchen sinks. They don't disinfect their sinks very often so they are usually germy enough for me to do a good experiment. Although, the sinks are always visibly clean with no debris when I do the experiments. I can only do one experiment per week per kitchen sink because there needs to be time for plenty of bacteria to grow again.




For these sink experiments, I used my neighbor's sinks. Their sinks had not been disinfected for about 1 week. The sinks looked visibly clean. I rinsed the sinks off with water to remove any food debris before I started. Then I swabbed each side of the sink and rubbed the swabs on agar plates for the dirty controls. I diluted  the ON Guard cleaner concentrate by adding 1 tablespoon of the cleaner concentrate into slightly less than 8 ounces of water. The final volume was 1 cup of diluted On Guard cleaner. I put it in a spray bottle and sprayed one side of the sink with 30 sprays of the diluted ON Guard cleaner and let it sit for 5 minutes. I sprayed 30 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide to the other side of the sink and let that sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I swabbed both sides of the sink again, and rubbed the swabs onto agar plates. I did not rinse the On Guard off the sink. So, the On Guard was picked up with the germs and was transferred to the plate with the germs. The plates were incubated in my warm incubator for 48 hours. 





As you can see from the results, I did not detect any significant bacteria killing ability from the diluted On Guard cleaner. It wasn't with the germs for only 5 minutes, either. I did not rinse it off the sink, so the On Guard cleaner spent 48 hours with those germs. It smells wonderful, though, and does a good job removing grease and grime from the countertops. I wouldn't depend on it for disinfecting. The bottle does not say anything about germ-killing either. 

Disclaimer: I can't be 100% certain that any product that I test is actually killing bacteria as opposed to somehow preventing the bacteria from growing on the agar plate by some other means. I also can't tell how long it takes a product to kill the germs since the product is picked up in the swab with the germs and stays on the agar plate during incubation. 

Does Thieves Cleaner kill germs in the sink?

Many cleaning products are not strong enough to do well in my countertop experiments with dirt and lots of germs. So, I also like to test everything in a real life situation, the kitchen sink. Any cleaner that we expect to kill germs, should be able to kill germs in my kitchen sink experiments. To do these experiments, I use my neighbors' kitchen sinks. They don't disinfect their sinks very often so they are usually germy enough for me to do a good experiment. Although, the sinks are always visibly clean with no debris when I do the experiments. I can only do one experiment per week per kitchen sink because there needs to be time for plenty of bacteria to grow again. So, these experiments take some time.


Just like for the On Guard experiments, I used my neighbor's sinks. Their sinks had not been disinfected for about 1 week. The sinks looked visibly clean. I rinsed the sinks off with water to remove any food debris before I started. Then I swabbed each side of the sink and rubbed the swabs on agar plates for the dirty controls. I diluted the Thieves cleaner concentrate by adding 1 tablespoon of the cleaner concentrate into slightly less than 8 ounces of water. The final volume was 1 cup of diluted Thieves cleaner. I put it in a spray bottle and sprayed one side of the sink with 30 sprays of the diluted Thieves cleaner and let it sit for 5 minutes. I sprayed 30 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide to the other side of the sink and let that sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes,  I swabbed both sides of the sink again, and rubbed the swabs onto agar plates. I did not rinse the Thieves cleaner off the sink. The cleaner was picked up on the swab with the germs and was transferred to the plate. The plates were incubated in my warm incubator for 48 hours. 



As you can see, the Thieves cleaner did not have any striking bacteria killing ability. The bottle does not mention germ-killing either. It was not with the bacteria for only 5 minutes. I did not rinse the Thieves cleaner off the sink so the cleaner spent 48 hours with those bacteria on the agar plate. I think they are both good for removing grease and grime. I wouldn't rely on it for disinfecting. They both smell wonderful!

Disclaimer: I can't be 100% certain that any product that I test is actually killing bacteria as opposed to somehow preventing the bacteria from growing on the agar plate by some other means. I also can't tell how long it takes a product to kill the germs since the product is picked up in the swab with the germs and stays on the agar plate during incubation. 

If someone in the house comes down with any type of vomiting or diarrhea illness, I recommend cleaning with a solution of 10% chlorine bleach in water or the the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide spray and wipes. The Clorox Hydrogen peroxide products have been tested and shown to kill the norovirus surrogates. 



If you would like to suggest an experiment, please post on my facebook page. I also really need to earn money from this website in order to keep doing experiments (agar plates, essential oils, and cleaning products are expensive). If you want to contribute, please use my Amazon affiliate links. Just click on any of my links that go to amazon, and buy whatever you want. You don't have to buy what I recommend or even the product that the link goes to. Here is a link. I'll get a small percentage of the sale and use the money to buy experiment supplies. Thank you.



--Annie Pryor, Ph.D.