Try our 9 uses for tea tree oil and find out why we think everybody should have this antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory oil in their cabinets.
Worried about bugs crashing your backyard barbecue? Got a scrape while gardening? There’s a natural solution to pesky problems we face outdoors, indoors, and on our bodies: tea tree oil. Armed with a few glass bottles, water, and 100 percent tea tree oil, you can be your own summertime apothecary.
The Swiss Army knife of essential oils
For more than 80 years, tea tree oil has been steam distilled from the leaves of the native Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia. The benefits of the melaleuca plant have long been praised by Indigenous Australian peoples.
Traditional uses included crushing the leaves, inhaling them to treat colds and coughs, applying medicinal preparations to wounds, and soaking the leaves to create infusions for sore throats and skin ailments. Today, leaves are harvested from melaleuca plantations in Australia and then steam distilled, creating an aromatic essential oil with well-documented healing properties.
More than 300 scientific articles provide evidence of the antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil. It’s a treatment for everything from cold sores to athlete’s foot.
Commonly found in cosmetics, as well as skin and hair products, tea tree oil is also known for being the active ingredient in many over-the-counter acne treatments. Many supermarkets and natural health retailers carry the oil at 100 percent strength.
Save space, time, and money by making your own eco-friendly remedies and cleaning solutions from tea tree oil. One of the benefits of homemade solutions using tea tree oil is the reduction of your household exposure to harsher chemical commercial products, cleaners, and medicines. Discover nature’s antimicrobial and medicinal superpower and take advantage of the many everyday uses for tea tree oil.
1. Repel mosquitoes
2 1/2 tsp (12 mL) 100 percent tea tree oil1 cup (250 mL) waterA few drops of clove or citronella oil (optional)
Avoid strong-smelling, harsh chemical bug sprays by making your own mosquito repellent with tea tree oil. Adding clove or citronella oil helps to repel mosquitoes and provides an added aroma. Spray on body as you would any bug spray.
Alternatively, add both citronella oil and tea tree oil to a diffuser to repel mosquitoes by activating these essential oils in the air.
2. Clean naturally
2 1/2 tsp (12 mL) 100 percent tea tree oil1 cup (250 mL) water2 1/2 tsp (12 mL) lemon essential oil (optional)
Reduce your family’s exposure to synthetic fragrances and harmful chemical commercial cleaners by mixing these ingredients in a clean spray bottle. Use glass to prevent tea tree oil from eroding plastic. For additional cleaning power and a lemony scent, add lemon essential oil, shake, and use as you would any commercial all-purpose home cleaner. This concoction will kill germs, viruses, and mold and may even assist in repelling pests.
3. Banish breakouts
2 1/2 tsp (12 mL) 100 percent tea tree oil1 cup (250 mL) water
Prevent general acne by making a daily face wash with these ingredients and storing it in a glass bottle or spray bottle. Apply to face using a cotton ball. Spray directly on body acne.
4. Treat minor cuts and abrasions
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) tea tree oil1 cup (250 mL) water
Clean wounds without the sting! Apply this tea tree oil solution to a cotton ball and dab minor cuts and abrasions twice daily to fight infection and promote wound healing.
5. Boost laundry detergent
3 drops of 100 percent tea tree oil Natural laundry detergent (amount as directed per load)
Rewash forgotten laundry, refresh clothes, and kill microbial buildup in your washing machine by adding tea tree oil to detergent. This is a highly effective way to kill any bad odours emanating from your washing machine. You can also wash your running shoes and exercise clothes with a few drops of tea tree oil to kill unwanted smells and banish hard-to-beat bacteria.
6. Treat and prevent lice
3 drops of 100 percent tea tree oil1 Tbsp (15 mL) natural shampoo
Apply tea tree oil/shampoo mixture to hair and let sit for 10 minutes. Wash and repeat twice daily to kill and repel lice. Prevent infestations by cleaning combs with the all-purpose tea tree oil cleaning solution (2) and washing clothes and bedding with the tea tree oil laundry detergent (5).
7. Rejuvenate skin
Make use of tea tree oil’s aromatic and anti-inflammatory properties by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your bathtub to soothe your skin from head to toe. A full dunk in a tea tree oil-infused bath may assist in promoting healing of various skin conditions including acne, bug bites, athlete’s foot, scalp psoriasis, and scabies. Speak to your health care practitioner about appropriate tea tree oil concentrations to treat these conditions more rigorously.
8. Fight nail fungus
Apply 100 percent tea tree oil directly to infected areas twice a day for six months. Research suggests tea tree oil is as effective at treating fungal nail infections as a popular over-the-counter product.
While some authorities cite tea tree oil as generally safe to use at full strength, others note there is increased risk of sensitization to neat tea tree oil. Consult your health care practitioner about the best concentration and duration of use for you.
9. Soothe coughs and congestion
Add a few drops of 100 percent tea tree oil to a large bowl of boiling water. Cover head with a towel and inhale steam for 10 minutes.
Tea tree oil precautions
- Speak with your health care practitioner before using tea tree oil as a treatment.
- Do not ingest or apply tea tree oil directly to sensitive areas of the body such as the eyes.
- Severe allergic reactions are rare, but if you do experience vomiting, dizziness, or skin irritation, see a health care practitioner immediately.
- Before applying tea tree oil to any area of the body as a remedy, first test a small patch of skin on arms or legs with 100 percent oil and watch for any redness or irritation before continuing use.
- Due to a lack of studies, tea tree oil is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Consult a health care practitioner before using on children.