Tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca oil) is an essential oil which is steam distilled from the leaves of the Australian tea tree. While it has been used for hundreds of years by the Indigenous peoples of Australia as a traditional medicine, scientific research supports the idea that tea tree oil has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and insecticidal properties, making it one of the most practical and useful essential oils to have around the house.
We love finding natural solutions to common household issues, and tea tree oil’s ability to multi-task makes it one of our favorites. From cleaning surfaces and banishing mold, to repelling insects and fighting bacteria, we’ve compiled some of our favorite ways to put tea tree oil to good use, both in regards to your home and your body.
Tea tree Oil Uses Around the Home
Note that while tea tree oil is used topically to treat many different skin related issues, in more sensitive people, it can sometimes result in dermatitis (allergic skin reaction) and irritation, itching and redness, and as such should always be diluted in a carrier oil (such as jojoba, almond, grapeseed, or rosehip oil) at the appropriate dilution ratio. Discontinue use if you experience any reactivity. Tea tree oil is also toxic when ingested, so keep away from small children and pets.
1. Keep your plants fungus free
If you notice signs of fungus on the leaves of your plants, tea tree oil is a great natural solution. Create a plant spray by combining 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray on affected areas in the morning and keep them out of direct sunlight to avoid burning the leaves.
2. Scrub the sink
Your kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest places in the home in terms of bacteria and germs. Combine 1/2 cup baking soda to 10 drops tea tree oil and enough water to form a paste, and scrub the sink with the paste, allow to sit for 10 minutes, and rinse.
3. Disinfect sponges
While you’re cleaning the sink, disinfect your dish sponge/cloth/scrubbers too—mix 10 drops tea tree oil per ounce of water in a jar, place sponge or dish brush in the solution and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before air drying.
4. Deter insects
Dealing with ants or spiders and looking for a natural way to send them on their way? Tea tree oil’s strong scent is offensive to many insects, and spraying it around the affected areas of your home can help.
Ants in particular work together and rely on their ability to follow scent trails; place a few drops of tea tree oil near their point of entry or across any known ant trails to throw them off. Wiping down any door or window frames in the area with a tea tree oil mixture can also deter them from finding another way in.
5. Surface cleaner
For a more general, all-purpose surface cleaner, mix together 10 drops of tea tree oil with 2 cups of hot water and 1/2 cup white vinegar (avoid using on porous surfaces like granite or marble as the acidic nature of the vinegar can wear it away). Allow to dry naturally.
6. Fight mold and mildew
For use in the shower or anywhere else that moisture tends to create mold and mildew growth, mix together 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil with 1 cup water in a spray bottle, and spray liberally where and when needed.
7. Antibacterial soft scrub
For the more scratch-sensitive surfaces such as porcelain, try this soft scrub which combines the cleaning powers of baking soda, salt, and Castile soap. While this recipe calls for sweet orange oil, simply sub in tea tree and you’ve got additional anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial support!
8. Laundry freshener
Sometimes simply washing your clothes with detergent isn’t enough to combat tougher odors that come from a buildup of bacteria; add in a 5 drops of tea tree oil to one load’s amount of liquid detergent.
9. Disinfect sweaty surfaces
Perfect for cleaning your yoga mat, vinyl seats, or exercise equipment, this easy to make sanitizing spray combines 1 cup water, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, and 3 drops tea tree oil in a small spray bottle to blast away odor-causing bacteria.
10. Soothe insect bites
You can also dilute tea tree oil in a carrier oil (5 tea tree drops per tablespoon of carrier oil) to reduce swelling and itchiness. Apply either recipe directly to bug bites several times a day or as needed to tame the itch.
11. Athlete’s foot
Get the antifungal power of tea tree [source] to stop the itching and redness of athlete’s foot in this easy-to-make foot powder. Add 10 drops of tea tree oil and 5 drops of rosemary oil into 8 ounces of baking soda. Mix together thoroughly and store in an airtight container.
Sprinkle the powder inside shoes when you remove them after a busy day so that it can absorb moisture overnight. You can also apply this antifungal powder directly to your feet, and be sure to change socks regularly.