Everyday Uses for Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that can be used for several purposes, including keeping skin, hair and nails healthy.
In addition to its scientifically backed benefits, tea tree oil is inexpensive and safe when used as directed.
What Is Tea Tree Oil and How Does It Work?
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree native to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia.
Tea tree oil has been used as a traditional medicine by Aborigines for centuries. These native Australians crush tea tree leaves to extract the oil, which is then inhaled to treat coughs and colds or applied directly to the skin for healing.
Today, tea tree oil is widely available as a 100% undiluted or “neat” oil. Diluted forms are also available, ranging from 5–50% strength in products designed for the skin.
Tea tree oil contains a number of compounds, including terpinen-4-ol, that have been shown to kill certain bacteria, viruses and fungi. Terpinen-4-ol also appears to increase the activity of our white blood cells, which help fight germs and other foreign invaders.
These germ-fighting properties make tea tree oil a valued natural remedy for treating bacterial and fungal skin conditions, preventing infection and promoting healing.
Read on to learn about the many uses and benefits of this versatile oil.
- Hand Sanitizer
Tea tree oil makes an ideal natural hand sanitizer.
Studies have shown that it kills several common bacteria and viruses responsible for causing illness, including E. coli, S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae.
- Insect Repellent
Tea tree oil has been shown to kill or repel insects. In some cases, it is as effective or more effective than standard insecticides or repellents.
- Natural Deodorant
Tea tree oil’s antibacterial effects may help control underarm odor related to perspiration.
Sweat itself does not smell. However, when secretions from your sweat glands combine with bacteria on your skin, a moderate to strong odor is produced.
Our underarm area contains a large concentration of these glands and is mainly responsible for what is commonly referred to as “body odor.” Tea tree oil’s bacteria-fighting properties make it an ideal natural alternative to commercial deodorants and antiperspirants.
- Antiseptic for Minor Cuts and Scrapes
Injuries that result in broken skin make it easy for germs to enter your bloodstream, which can lead to infection.
Tea tree oil can be used to treat and disinfect minor cuts and abrasions by killing S. aureus and other bacteria that can cause infection in open wounds.
To disinfect a cut or scrape, follow these steps:
- Clean the cut thoroughly with plain soap and water
- Mix one drop of tea tree oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil
- Apply a small amount of the mixture to the injury and cover with a bandage
- Repeat this process once or twice daily until a scab has formed
- Boost Wound Healing
In addition to preventing infection in cuts and abrasions, tea tree oil may also encourage wound healing.
A few drops of tea tree oil can be added to wound dressing each time a new dressing is applied.
- Fight Acne
Tea tree oil can be a powerful weapon against acne. Gels containing tea tree oil have been shown to reduce the number of lesions and severity of acne in a number of studies.
You can make your own acne treatment by mixing one part tea tree oil with nine parts water and applying the mixture to affected areas with a cotton swab once or twice a day, as needed.
- Get Rid of Nail Fungus
Fungal nail infections are quite common. Although they aren’t dangerous, they can be unsightly. There are medications that can treat nail fungus, though some people may prefer a more natural approach.
Tea tree oil has been shown to help get rid of nail fungus when used alone or in combination with other natural remedies. You can use a few drops of tea tree oil alone or mix it with an equal amount of coconut oil and apply it to the affected area. Be sure to wash your hands immediately after applying in order to avoid spreading the fungus to other areas.
- Chemical-Free Mouthwash
Research suggests that tea tree oil may fight germs that cause tooth decay and bad breath
To make your own chemical-free mouthwash, simply add a drop of tea tree oil to a cup of warm water, mix thoroughly and swish in your mouth for 30 seconds or so.
Like other mouthwashes, tea tree oil should not be swallowed. It can be toxic if ingested.
- All-Purpose Cleaner
Tea tree oil makes a great all-purpose cleaner that also sanitizes surfaces.
Plus, it does so without leaving traces of chemicals you wouldn’t want your family members or pets coming in contact with.
Here’s an easy recipe for an all-natural, all-purpose cleaner:
- Combine 20 drops of tea tree oil, 3/4 cup of water and a 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle.
- Shake well until thoroughly mixed.
- Spray directly onto surfaces and wipe clean with a dry cloth.
- Make sure to shake the bottle before each use in order to mix the tea tree oil with the other ingredients.
- Soothe Skin Inflammation
Tea tree oil may help relieve inflamed skin.
A common form of skin irritation is contact dermatitis, which occurs when skin comes in contact with an allergen, such as nickel. Exposure to the allergen leads to red, itchy and sometimes painful skin.
Use this recipe to relieve inflamed skin:
- Combine 10 drops of tea tree oil with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of melted coconut oil.
- Mix well, and store in a sealed container.
- Apply to the affected area up to twice a day until symptoms resolve.
- Control Dandruff
Dandruff, or white flakes of dead skin that fall from the scalp, isn’t dangerous.
However, it can be annoying and embarrassing.
To help reduce dandruff, try adding a few drops of tea tree oil to a dollop of shampoo when washing your hair.
- Treat Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot can be frustratingly hard to control.
Known medically as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection on the feet that can also spread to the toenails and hands. Symptoms include peeling, cracking, blisters and redness.
Antifungal medications are considered standard treatment for athlete’s foot. Yet studies suggest that tea tree oil may be an effective alternative for relieving symptoms
Here is a natural treatment to relieve the symptoms of athlete’s foot:
- Combine 1/4 cup arrowroot powder, 1/4 cup baking soda and 20–25 drops of tea tree oil
- Stir to combine, and place in a covered container
- Apply to clean, dry feet twice a day
- Banish Mold on Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh produce is undeniably delicious and healthy.
Unfortunately, it’s also susceptible to the growth of gray mold known as Botrytis cinerea, particularly in warm, moist climates.
To protect against mold, add 5–10 drops of tea tree oil to water before rinsing your produce and drying it thoroughly.
- Relieve Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition characterized by outbreaks of red, itchy, scaly skin. Although there are medications that can improve symptoms, the condition itself is chronic and there is no known cure.
Tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory compounds, which, according to emerging evidence, may be helpful for easing psoriasis symptoms.
To provide relief for psoriasis flares, combine 10–15 drops of tea tree oil with two tablespoons of melted coconut oil. Apply this to the affected area 2–3 times per day, as needed.
Cautions When Using Tea Tree Oil
Research has shown that tea tree oil appears to be safe overall, however, there are some things to be aware of before using it.
- Tea tree oil should not be ingested because it may be toxic if swallowed.
- Therefore, tea tree oil should be stored out of reach of children.
- Prior to using tea tree oil for the first time, test a drop or two on a small area of your skin and wait 24 hours to see if any reaction occurs.
- Additionally, using tea tree oil in pets may not be safe.