10 Uses for Tea Tree Oil

Photo: John Tann/Flickr

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.

WARNING: Tea tree oil is for external use only, because it is toxic if swallowed.

Are you ready for some uses of tea tree oil that might surprise you?

  1. Body Care

Do you have cracked fingernails or cuticles? Try adding a few drops to your nail cream, or to a bucket of soak water, to help nails 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 or sunburn? 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.

  1. Lice Remedy

A dilute tea tree oil solution has been proven amazingly effective against head lice, killing 100 percent of head lice within 30 minutes. At higher concentrations, it also kept as many as half of all lice eggs from hatching.

  1. Mold Treatment

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 kill the underlying fungus so it won't come back.

  1. 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.

  1. Bath and Tile Scrub

Tea tree oil solutions are great for cutting through soap scum and hard water stains. Use them for the bath, sink, and counters -- 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. For stubborn stains, mix the oil with salt or baking soda to create a gentle abrasive cleaner.

  1. 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 fresher, the tea tree oil will kill organisms that might be hanging out in your washer. If you accidentally forgot to stick wet clothes in the dryer and now they smell a little funky, run them through a rinse cycle with warm water and tea tree oil to kill the mildew.

  1. 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. The solution it can be used on a wide variety of materials, including wood, linoleum, ceramic, stone, and more.

  1. 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 food, as tea tree oil is not safe to ingest, but it's fine for deck furniture and indoor furnishings.

  1. Moth Fighter

Use tea tree oil-soaked cotton balls to fight moths and other insects in stored clothing.

  1. 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 tea tree solutions are great for wiping down gear to remove sweat, stains, and bacteria that are trying to hitch a ride.

Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.

Updated January 4, 2018.

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