Postharvest diseases are one of the major causes for the postharvest loss of horticultural fresh produce during the supply chain. The incidence of postharvest diseases can affect the quality and restrict the shelf life of the horticultural fresh produce. At present strict regulations are enforced by the fresh produce importing countries regarding the minimum pesticide residue levels in the edible portion of the fresh produce. Some fungal pathogens were reported to develop resistance to synthetic fungicides. Waste disposal of fungicides has an impact on environmental footprint. All theses above-mentioned reasons have necessitated the search for a natural novel fungicide to replace the synthetic fungicide application in the packing line as postharvest treatment.Consumer preference to organic fresh produce is increasingly becoming popular in the developed countries. Therefore, this review summarises the use of essential oils in the control of postharvest diseases of horticultural commodities, their mode of actions, effects on the defence mechanism and quality of fresh fruit. Future research must be focused on conducting large scale trials to prove the feasibility of combination treatments. The cost benefit analysis of the treatments needs to be carried out in order to implement their application and the commercial applications of essential oils and host pathogen infection must be investigated in detail in order to control latent infections during postharvest storage. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.