Tea tree oil refers to the essential oil distilled from Melaleuca alternifolia, an Australian tree. This powerful botanic oil has an abundance of beneficial properties; it is antiseptic, antifungal, antibiotic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. Found in many natural skin- and body-care products, tea tree oil treats a variety of skin conditions from acne to athlete’s foot. It also adds a punch to homemade cleaners. Read on for 11 of our favorite uses for tea tree oil.
1. Mildew buster: Combine 1 cup white vinegar and 25 drops tea tree oil in a reusable spray bottle. Spritz on mold or mildew and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe away with a damp sponge.
2. Simple soap: To make a basic antiseptic soap, combine 2 cups melted glycerin soap base and 2 tablespoons tea tree oil. Stir until blended, pour into soap molds and cool.
3. Acne fighter: Studies have shown that a 5 percent solution of tea tree oil works similarly to benzoyl peroxide but without the drying effects. Apply diluted tea tree oil—blend the oil either with water or skin-beneficial vitamin E oil—to blemishes daily.
4. Laundry booster: To heavily soiled laundry such as cloth diapers, add 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil to the wash. The powerful antifungal properties of tea tree oil will help prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
5. Earache eliminator: To make natural ear drops, place 2 drops diluted (use a carrier oil suchas almond or avocado oil) tea tree oil into infected ear.
Note: Do not use this remedy if the ear drum is perforated or if fluid is leaking from the ear.
6. No more flakes: To help alleviate dandruff, add 1 to 2 drops of pure tea tree essential oil to a mild natural shampoo. Lather for about 5 minutes. Rinse and follow with conditioner, if desired.
7. Athlete’s foot fix: For a powerful athlete’s foot treatment, mix 2 teaspoons tea tree oil with 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Apply to infected area one to two times daily.
8. Sweet feet: Keep your tootsies smelling nice with this homemade foot powder. Mix 1⁄4 cup cornstarch, 1⁄4 cup baking soda, and 10 drops each lavender and tea tree oil for an effective homemade foot powder.
9. All-purpose power: In a reusable spray bottle, mix 15 drops tea tree oil with 1 quart warm water for a multipurpose cleaner. For a more powerful antiseptic spray for areas that need more attention—such as toilets—use 2 teaspoons tea tree oil with 2 cups water.
10. Wart be-gone: Because of its antifungal properties, tea tree oil can naturally treat warts. Place 1 drop of tea tree oil, diluted in water, on warts twice a day, keeping wart covered with a bandage. Continue for four weeks, changing bandage daily.
11. DIY deodorant: Use tea tree oil to make your own deodorant. Simply mix 1/3 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup cornstarch with 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil, then add 15 to 16 drops tea tree essential oil. Store in an airtight container. A little goes a long way.
Victoria Pitcher is Web Editor at Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.