Tea tree oil is one of Australia's most amazing exports (after Hugh Jackman, of course). This aromatic oil doesn't just smell great: it also naturally kills a number of microorganisms and soothes the skin. It's a good thing to have in the medicine cabinet and around the house for a variety of tasks from soaking tired feet to treating wood so it will resist insects to cleaning the tub.
Ready for some uses of tea tree oil that might surprise you?
1. Body Care
Many companies make tea tree oil soaps, moisturizers, and more. It's great for your skin, and it's especially handy for dental care products, where it can naturally eliminate odor-causing organisms and make your mouth feel fresh and clean. Have cracked nails or cuticles? Try adding a few drops to your nail cream, or to a bucket of soak water, to help them draw in moisture and get healthier. Oily skin? Use a cotton pad with a few drops of tea tree oil to lift some of the oil away and prevent acne.
Sore, achy, or itchy skin and muscles from hiking, sunburn, or other events? A tea tree oil soak, or a washcloth dunked in a hot water and tea tree oil solution and applied to the spot, will bring relief.
2. Toothbrush Cleaner
Toothbrushes can get really disgusting, because they spend a lot of time being wet and warm, great growing conditions for mold and bacteria. Put a drop of tea tree oil on your brush now and then to clean it.
Using a formula of one drop tea tree oil to one cup of water, spray down moldy areas. Allow the mixture to sit, and then wipe away. The tea tree oil should remove some of the staining and it will kill the underlying fungus so it won't come back.
4. Natural Pest Control
A trick that won't leave you calling the exterminator: insects don't like the strong smell of tea tree oil, and they'll avoid areas where it's used. Apply some to the point of entry and any hot spots to discourage ants and other unwanted visitors.
5. Bath and Tile Scrub
Tea tree oil solutions are great for cutting through soap scum and hard water stains. Use them in the bath, sink, and along the counters to spray the surface down before wiping to remove dirt; this natural cleaner is totally safe to use on your San Francisco tile! Added bonus: the antimicrobial qualities of tea tree oil will prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Stubborn stains? Mix it with salt or baking soda to create a gentle abrasive cleaner.
6. Laundry Freshener
Give your laundry some zip with a few drops of tea tree oil added during the wash cycle. In addition to making things smell crisper, the tea tree oil will kill organisms that might be hanging out in your washer. If you accidentally forgot to stick clothes in the dryer and now they smell a little funky, run them again with warm water and tea tree oil to kill the mildew.
7. All-Purpose Cleaner
The same tea tree oil and water solution you use to fight mold makes a good all-purpose cleaner, too. It cleans without staining (and actually lifts stains), leaving surfaces sparkling, and it can be used on a wide variety of materials, including wood, yoga mats, linoleum, ceramic, stone, and more.
8. Wood Treatment
Rub a tea tree oil solution into wood to help it resist insect pests. Don't use this trick on wood you use around the kitchen or for eating, as tea tree oil is not safe to ingest, but it's fine for deck furniture and indoor furnishings.
9. Moth Fighter
Use tea tree oil-soaked cotton balls to fight moths and other insects in stored clothing.
10. Sports Equipment Deodorizer
Use tea tree oil's odor-fighting power in one of the most perilous areas on earth: the locker room. Tea tree rinses are a must for garments worn during sports, and use tea tree solutions for wiping down gear to remove sweat, stains, and bacteria that are trying to hitch a ride.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.