20 Benefits of Tea Tree Essential 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 Essential Oil?
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree native to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia.
Although Melaleuca alternifolia is known as the tea tree, it should not be confused with the plant that produces leaves used to make black, green and oolong tea.
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 Terpinen-4-ol also appears to increase the activity of your 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.
1. Natural 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. influenzaeer, a study testing several types of hand wash shows that adding tea tree oil to the cleansers boosted their effectiveness against E. coli.
Here is a simple recipe to make your own moisturizing, all-natural hand sanitizer using tea tree oil.
Using tree oil as a natural hand sanitizer may help kill a number of germs responsible for colds, flu and other illness.
2. Insect Repellent
Tea tree oil may help keep pesky insects away.
One study found that 24 hours after being treated with tea tree oil, cows had 61% fewer flies than cows not treated with tea tree oil.
Furthermore, a test-tube study revealed that tea tree oil had a greater ability to repel mosquitoes than DEET, the most common active ingredient in commercial insect repellents.
Try this easy-to-make insect repellent using tea tree oil and other natural ingredients.
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.
3. 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.
Your 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.
Here is a safe and effective natural deodorant that can be made from tea tree oil and a few other ingredients.
Tea tree oil contains compounds that fight bacteria responsible for body odor. It can be used to make a safe and effective deodorant.
4. 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:
1. Clean the cut thoroughly with plain soap and water
3. Apply a small amount of the mixture to the injury and cover with a bandage
4. Repeat this process once or twice daily until a scab has formed
Applying a mixture of tea tree oil and coconut oil can help prevent minor cuts and abrasions from becoming infected.
5. Boost Wound Healing
In addition to preventing infection in cuts and abrasions, tea tree oil may also encourage wound healing.
Research has shown that tea tree oil helps reduce inflammation and triggers the activity of white blood cells that are instrumental in the healing process.
In a small study of 10 people with wounds, adding tea tree oil to conventional wound treatment led to decreased healing time in all but one participant.
A few drops of tea tree oil can be added to wound dressing each time a new dressing is applied.
Tea tree oil may help speed wound healing by reducing inflammation and increasing white blood cell activity.
6. Fight Acne
Tea tree oil can be a powerful weapon against acne. Several studies have shown that it helps reduce the amount and overall severity of acne.
In one study, applying a 5% tea tree gel to acne lesions was shown to be more than three times as effective at reducing the number of lesions than a placebo. It was nearly six times as effective in reducing severity.
In another study, tea tree oil was found to be as effective against acne as benzoyl peroxide, the most common anti-acne medication.
Alternatively, 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.
Gels containing tea tree oil have been shown to reduce the number of lesions and severity of acne in a number of studies.
7. 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.
In a controlled study, people with nail fungus used straight tea tree oil or an antifungal medication for six months. At the end of the study, about 60% of people in each group experienced partial or full resolution of the.
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.
Tea tree oil appears to be as effective against fungal nail infections as antifungal medications applied to the area.
8. Chemical-Free Mouthwash
Research suggests that tea tree oil may fight germs that cause tooth decay and bad breath.
One study found that tea tree oil was more effective against plaque-causing bacteria than chlorhexidine, a common disinfectant and oral rinse. What’s more, its taste was found to be less objectionable.
On the other hand, an older study reported that tea tree oil didn’t seem to have much of an effect on plaque formation.
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.
Tea tree oil can be diluted with water to create a mouthwash that helps fight bad breath and dental plaque.
9. 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:
1. 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.
2. Shake well until thoroughly mixed.
3. Spray directly onto surfaces and wipe clean with a dry cloth.
4. Make sure to shake the bottle before each use in order to mix the tea tree oil with the other ingredients.
Tea tree oil can be mixed with water and vinegar to create a chemical-free, all-purpose cleaner for your home.
10. 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.
Animal and human research suggest that applying tea tree oil may help reduce the severity of these.
In a study comparing the effects of different treatments for contact dermatitis, tea tree oil was found to reduce symptoms by 40%, which was significantly more than standard medications applied to the skin.
In addition, tea tree oil may provide relief from bug bite reactions by reducing the itching, redness and swelling that occurs when your body releases histamine to defend against the insect’s saliva.
Use this recipe to relieve inflamed skin:
1. Combine 10 drops of tea tree oil with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of melted coconut oil.
2. Mix well, and store in a sealed container.
3. Apply to the affected area up to twice a day until symptoms resolve.
Applying a tea tree oil mixture may help combat skin inflammation related to contact dermatitis or insect bites.
11. Nourish your scalp and control Dandruff
The best use of tea tree oil is really all about the scalp. You don’t have to buy a specially formulated shampoo to get the benefits (though if you do, we like this one). NatureForYou recommends adding a few drops to your shampoo before working it into your scalp because it breaks up the product buildup on your scalp—and a healthy scalp leads to shiny, healthy hair.
Plus, tea tree oil also helps to nix the itching and flaking associated with dandruff by limiting the growth of the yeast, Pityrosporum ovale, that’s responsible for dandruff.
Dandruff, or white flakes of dead skin that fall from the scalp, isn’t dangerous.
However, it can be annoying and embarrassing.
Although there is little published research on tea tree oil’s effectiveness in treating dandruff, one controlled study suggests that it may be helpful.
In this four-week study, the group who used a shampoo containing tea tree oil had a 40% improvement in dandruff. Moreover, the tea tree group reported significant improvements in dandruff severity, itchiness and greasiness.
To help reduce dandruff, try adding a few drops of tea tree oil to a dollop of shampoo when washing your hair.
Although research is limited, one study suggests that tea tree oil may help reduce the severity of dandruff and improve other symptoms.
12. 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.
In a controlled study of 158 people, 72% of the tea tree oil group had significant clinical improvement in athlete’s foot, compared to 39% in the placebo group.
However, another study found that although tea tree oil helped relieve scaling, inflammation, itching and burning as well as antifungal medication, it wasn’t as effective at actually getting rid of the fungus.
Here is a natural treatment to relieve the symptoms of athlete’s foot:
1. Combine 1/4 cup arrowroot powder, 1/4 cup baking soda and 20–25 drops of tea tree oil
2. Stir to combine, and place in a covered container
3. Apply to clean, dry feet twice a day
Tea tree oil’s antifungal properties may help alleviate symptoms of athlete’s foot.
13. 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.
Studies have shown that tea tree oil’s antifungal compounds terpinen-4-ol and 1,8-cineole may help reduce the growth of this mold on fruits and vegetables.
To protect against mold, add 5–10 drops of tea tree oil to water before rinsing your produce and drying it thoroughly.
Tea tree oil contains compounds that help fight the growth of mold on fruits and vegetables. Adding tea tree oil to water when rinsing produce may help your produce remain mold-free.
14. 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.
Applying a mixture of tea tree oil and coconut oil may help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis.
15. Clean your kitchen sink
Your kitchen is a treasure trove of grime, bacteria, mold, and fungus. While you may think your bathroom is the dirtiest room in the house, a kitchen sink alone typically has more than 100,000 times the bacteria than the average toilet. Not exactly an appetizing thought.
Mix tea tree oil into warm water or add a few drops to baking soda before scrubbing your sink. Be sure to get around the drain and all of the grooves at the base of the faucet to remove mold, mildew, and bacteria. You can similarly use a natural cleaner that already includes tea tree oil like this castile soap.
Soothe bug bites and stings use tea tree oil in bee stings
In addition to disinfecting the bite and helping to prevent infection, tea tree oil is also anti-inflammatory which helps to reduce itch and prevent bug bites from swelling. Dilute the tea tree oil in a carrier oil, like antibacterial coconut oil, before applying twice a day until the bite is healed.
16. Clean your toothbrush or retainer
Your toothbrush can harbor bacteria, especially if it’s stored wet in a dark cabinet. Christine NatureForYou of Desert Essence, which makes essential oil-based personal care products, recommends placing a single drop of tea tree oil on the bristles when you are done brushing your teeth each night to help control the growth of bacteria on your toothbrush. You can also give your toothbrush and your retainer a tea tree oil soak once a week. Simply add a drop of tea tree oil per ounce of water in a jar and let the toothbrush sit in the liquid for 10-15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly and air-drying.
17. Disinfect your dish brush and sponge
Don’t clean your dishes with dirty brushes and sponges. Use the same dilution as your toothbrush soak to disinfect your kitchen cleaning tools. If you have a dish brush with a wooden handle, be careful to keep the wood out of the water to prevent splitting.
18. Clear congestion
Breathe easier when you have a cold with the help of tea tree oil. Place a few drops of tea tree in a carrier oil into the tub or shower before you get in to release the oils into the steam.
Or, you can also use small bowl of hot water for aromatherapy. Add a couple of drops each of tea tree, peppermint, and eucalyptus essential oil before placing a towel over your head and around the bowl to trap steam. In addition to their antibacterial properties, the essential oils will help to reduce swelling and open up your sinuses.
19. Deodorize pet bedding - use tea tree to deodorize pet beds
Pet beds and toys are notorious for trapping noxious odors that can leave your whole house smelling like a wet dog. Clear the air by washing your pet’s bedding and soft toys with a natural laundry detergent and a teaspoon or two of tea tree oil. Pro tip: This also works wonders on smelly gym clothes, according to NatureForYou experienced.
20. Deter household pests - tea tree oil can deter ants
Stop ants, spiders, and other creepy crawlers at the door by filling a spray bottle with water and a couple drops of tea tree oil. Shake the bottle before spraying along your door and window frames. You can also add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to a wet rag and wipe down the frames for a more concentrated application. Tea tree oil is a natural deterrent and toxin for many insects including ants and spiders.
Clean your washing machine - tea tree oil can clean your washing machine
Get rid of the musty smell and mildew that’s growing inside of your washer. Clean out your machine by adding two teaspoons of tea tree oil before running it on an empty self-cleaning or hot cycle. Leave the door open to allow the washer to dry completely when you’re done and at the end of every load to help prevent mold and mildew growth.
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. In one case, an 18-month-old boy suffered serious injuries after accidentally swallowing tea tree oil.
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.
This is important because ironically, some individuals who use tea tree oil develop contact dermatitis, one of the conditions tea tree oil may help treat.
Likewise, people with sensitive skin may experience irritation when using undiluted tea tree oil. If your skin is sensitive, it’s best to mix tea tree oil with an equal or greater amount of olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil.
Additionally, using tea tree oil in pets may not be safe. Researchers reported that more than 400 dogs and cats developed tremors and other nervous system problems after receiving between 0.1–85 mL of tea tree oil on the skin or orally.
Although tea tree oil is generally safe when used on adults’ skin, allergic reactions may occur in some people. Tea tree oil may be unsafe for young children and pets.
As you can see, tea tree oil can be helpful for a number of reasons.
It’s an inexpensive natural alternative to chemical-based skin and nail treatments, personal care products and disinfectants, among other things.
However, tea tree oil is not a magic cure-all. In fact, some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reaction after using it.