Affordable, readily available, time-tested, versatile… these are just a few of the many reasons why tea tree oil (also called melaleuca oil) has become one of the most popular essential oils in the home.
Some have come to call tea tree oil the “jack of all trades” herbal oil because of its many uses for natural health and throughout your home.
One little bottle goes a long way, but before we talk about how to use tea tree oil, let’s get to know this natural gift from down under.
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree or melaleuca oil comes from the leaves of the Australian tea tree plant known as Melaleuca alternifolia.
According to the researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia, several native aboriginal communities have long used tea tree and its extractions for natural health purposes, specifically for topical applications.
As is so often the case, our ancient ancestors seem to have been one step ahead, as we’re still just discovering all that tea tree oil has to offer.
The name “tea tree” comes from a British explorer by the name of James Cook, who in the 1770s watched the native Australians brew batches of tea using the plant’s leaves. Cook referred to the plant as the tea tree and began making his own “health tea” to serve to his crew in order to help keep them well for their travels.
10 Everyday Uses for Tea Tree Oil
1Beautifying Skin Cleanser
The most popular way to use tea tree oil is in any number of different skin care applications. Of those, this simple skin cleanser recipe reigns supreme.
All you need is just a few drops of tea tree oil diluted in 30 drops of witch hazel. This combination can be used daily for your skin cleansing needs, but be careful not to overdo it. As with any cleanser, it can dry out your skin.
2Refreshing Foot Bath
Let’s face it; if there’s one body part that usually gets ignored, it’s your feet. But they do so much work for us throughout the day--they deserve a little pampering, too.
For a rejuvenating, comforting (and fresh smelling) foot bath, combine the following all-natural ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon powered ginger
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon Epsom salts
- 10 drops tea tree oil
Combine the rosemary, sage and ginger in a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil, and then remove from heat, cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain out the herbs and mix in the baking soda, Epsom salts and tea tree oil. Pour the concoction into your foot spa or any basin big enough for your feet, and soak for up to 15 minutes.
Add 5-10 drops of tea tree oil to two tablespoons of warm coconut oil. Allow the mixture to return to a solid state and apply to hands, knees, elbows or any area of your body that deserves a little extra moisturizing and softening attention.
4All-natural Bathroom Cleaner
The bathroom is probably one of the rooms in your home that gets cleaned the most. Instead of using store-bought cleaners with all of their toxic chemicals (which end up going down the drain), try this tea tree oil bathroom cleaner recipe instead:
- Combine one cup of vinegar (apple cider vinegar, perhaps) with half a teaspoon of tea tree oil
- Add this mixture to a spray bottle and get cleaning! Feel free to double or triple the recipe depending on the size of your spray bottle… or how many bathrooms you need to clean.
Add 5-10 drops of tea tree oil to the water reservoir of your humidifier. The tea tree oil’s natural cleansing properties will refresh and renew your humidifier so that is provides the freshest, healthiest humidified air for your home.
This all-natural cleaning solution is ideal for parents with little kids in the house who regularly run small humidifiers to help the little ones sleep.
Few people think about cleaning their toothbrush, but it’s strongly recommended. Add a drop or two of tea tree oil to a small cup of water and soak your toothbrush in the solution while you’re at work. You’ll come home to a fresh toothbrush.
7Natural Pest Control
Tea tree oil has a distinctive smell that will naturally (and safely) keep ants and other insects away.
You can apply tea tree oil directly to small areas of your home where bugs may be entering in from the outside, but you can also make your own homemade insect repellant lotion by combining a few drops of tea tree oil with some coconut oil.
Adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your regular detergent will make your laundry smell crisper and fresher when it comes out to dry. Its natural properties will also boost the cleansing power of your regular wash cycle.
Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil with two cups of apple cider vinegar inside a spray bottle. Use this potent combination to attack mold growing around your windowsills (a common issue that can arise from uncontrolled humidity levels) or on the surfaces in your bathroom.
10Tea Tree Oil Deodorant
There are a lot of natural DIY deodorant recipes out there, but the most popular (and reportedly most effective) ones all have one thing in common: tea tree oil.
You’ll need a third of a cup of baking soda, half a cup of cornstarch, five tablespoons of coconut oil and 15-20 drops of tea tree oil. Mix the baking soda and cornstarch together first while combining the softened coconut oil and tea tree oil together in a separate bowl. Add the two mixtures together and allow to set into a solid form.
Is Tea Tree Oil Safe?
The quick answer is yes, but as with anything, you need to follow label instructions and recommendations. Skincare is the most common use for tea tree oil, but it can dry out your skin.
Always dilute it before applying to your skin, and start with a low concentration until you determine how your skin will react. Tea tree oil is not safe to inject. It is only meant for topical applications and the various cleaning applications covered above.
What Else Should You Know?
Tea tree oil is incredibly versatile, but that’s a trait it shares with many other essential oils. Don’t stop with just tea tree… check out our guide to aromatherapy and using essential oils, and discover the complete world of natural herbal oils.