How to Use Tea Tree Oil: 10 Surprising Uses and Benefits
Tea tree oil. Everyone has heard of it, and most people have it in their house. And while most people use tea tree oil for one or two things (the most popular being fighting infection), tea tree oil can actually be used for a number of different things.
In fact, there are so many tea tree oil uses that it’ll likely become a permanent part of your medicine cabinet – and you’ll soon find out why.
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has been around for quite some time. It is an oil derived mainly from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia, and has been documented in a variety of different studies, demonstrating its ability to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
The primary active ingredients in tea tree oil include terpene hydrocarbons, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. These compounds are what make tea tree oil so powerful. They’re what give the tea tree its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal activity.
Top 10 Uses and Benefits of Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has a number of uses and benefits for the body and other things, too.
1. Fight Acne & Other Skin Conditions
The strong antibacterial properties of tea tree oil make it a great remedy for all-things skin related (like acne). In fact, many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of tea tree oil in treating mild to moderate acne.
One study in 2017 evaluated how well tea tree oil gel worked compared to a face wash without tea tree in the treatment of acne. Participants in the tea tree group applied the oil to their faces twice a day for a 12-week period. Those who used the tea tree oil experienced significantly fewer facial acne lesions compared to those using the face wash (1).
Tea tree oil also works as a great remedy for other inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It is also highly anti-fungal and can help heal Athlete’s Foot, eczema, yeast infections, and many other types of bacterial and fungal skin infections.
2. Works as Ant Repellent
Tea tree oil works as an excellent ant repellent, too. All you need to do is put a few drops of tea tree oil anywhere where ants are coming from, and it will help keep them at bay.
Alternatively, you can make a tea tree oil spray by combing the following ingredients:
– 2/3 cup white vinegar
– 1/3 cup water
– 20 drops clove essential oil
– 20 drops tea tree oil
– 1 tsp. liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronners)
Combine all of the ingredients in a spray bottle and gently mix. Use on any areas you want to keep ants from traveling.
3. All-Natural Disinfectant
Tea tree oil has become an increasingly popular ingredient in disinfectant sprays – and for good reason, too. Because of its powerful antimicrobial activity, tea tree oil can kill off bad bacteria in your home. It can be used as an all-purpose cleaner for your bathtub, kitchen, living room, and just about anywhere else you think needs a little deep cleaning.
A few drops of tea tree oil can be added to your dishes to help disinfect them, or you can add tea tree oil to the soap dispenser in your dishwasher and disinfect that way, instead.
If you’re sick, consider diffusing tea tree oil to prevent the spread of germs. But remember that tea tree oil is poisonous to cats, so never diffuse tea tree oil if they’re in the house.
4. Soothes Skin Irritations
Tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory properties, which also make it a great way to soothe skin irritations and wounds. One pilot study found that after being treated with tea tree oil, patients’ wounds began to heal and reduce in size (2). Other studies have found that tea tree oil is effective in treating chronic wounds (3).
Tea tree oil is also effective in soothing sunburns, sores, and insect bites, making it the perfect complement to lavender, which is also beneficial for all three of these conditions.
5. Naturally Cures Bad Breath
Bad breath comes from bacteria in your mouth, especially those that colonize the back of your tongue, throat, and tonsils. And, because of its antimicrobial activities, tea tree oil can help kill the bacteria that make your breath smell bad.
One study found that tea tree oil acts as an effective antiseptic agent against oral pathogens like Candida albicans, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli. This makes tea tree oil especially useful in scenarios such as post-oral surgery (like root canals or wisdom tooth removal), which increases your risk of developing bacterial and/or fungal infections (4).
If you swish your mouth with tea tree oil, apply a few drops to a cup of water and swish. Never swallow – tea tree oil is not meant to be used internally.
6. Improve Dry Scalp
If you suffer dry patches on your scalp and dandruff, you may have seborrheic dermatitis. The good news? Tea tree oil can help. In fact, recent research suggests that tea tree oil is able to improve symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis.
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology studied whether a 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo would work in patients with mild to moderate dandruff. After a four-week treatment period, participants in the tea tree group had 41% improvement in the severity of dandruff, whereas the placebo (no tea tree oil group) only had 11% improvement. Researchers also noted improvement in patient itchiness and greasiness after using tea tree oil shampoo (5).
If you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis or want to ease the amount of dandruff your hair produces, consider adding a couple of drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo.
7. Treat Head Lice
Not many people know that they can treat head lice naturally, but it is possible. And one of the most important factors in killing lice is by utilizing essential oils like tea tree oil and peppermint oil. Studies conducted on head lice and tea tree oil have also found promising results.
One study conducted in Italy determined whether tea tree oil was effective against lice and their eggs. Tea tree oil was used alone, and in combination with nerolidol (conventional lice treatment) and tested at different ratios against 69 head lice and 187 eggs over a six-month period.
The results? The tea tree oil was more effective against head lice, with treatment resulting in 100 percent mortality after just 30 minutes of exposure. Using a higher concentration of tea tree oil was able to induce the failure of 50 percent of the eggs to hatch (6).
I always suggest using coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil together so that you can effectively suffocate and kill the adults while dehydrating the eggs. Using a nitpicker to ensure all eggs are gone is also essential.
8. Laundry Freshener
If you have clothing items that are musty, moldy, or particularly stinky (gym clothes, anyone?), tea tree oil can help freshen things up. Because it possesses antibacterial properties, tea tree oil works great on laundry that needs deeper cleaning than standard detergent.
If you want to freshen up your laundry, add 5-10 drops of tea tree oil to your laundry detergent. You can also spot-clean areas that smell bad by using a mixture of tea tree oil, vinegar, and water.
9. Mold Killer
Tea tree oil works as an effective mold deterrent thanks to its anti-fungal and antiseptic properties. It is important to stop mold when you see it, as most people experience symptoms from mold that turn into “mysterious” health conditions later on. Black mold is particularly concerning. Consider diffusing tea tree oil to help kill mold spores and other bad bacteria. You can also spot-clean areas of mold with straight tea tree oil, and then letting it dry. You can re-apply a couple of days later, and then once a week after that to ensure the mold doesn’t return.
10. Natural Deodorant
Being naturally antibacterial, tea tree oil can help combat the bacteria that contribute to smelly body odor. You can make homemade tea tree oil deodorant by mixing a couple of drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and baking soda. Alternatively, you can mix tea tree oil into myBase Deodorant, which is a natural deodorant product specifically designed so you can add whatever essential oil you want, each time you use it!