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a person applies a drop of tea tree oil to her hand

Finding a multipurpose essential oil is like uncovering treasure — and tea-tree oil is a veritable gem. It eases inflammation of the skin, supports wound healing, and can even be used to disinfect surfaces. Make sure you purchase organic tea-tree oil, made from the leaves of the native Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia, from a reputable company to ensure quality. Give it a try with these uses.

Disinfecting Spray

With its antiseptic properties, tea-tree oil helps sanitize countertops, doorknobs, and even yoga mats. Mix about 10 drops with about 2 cups water in a spray bottle; add a sweeter-smelling essential oil of your choice (such as lavender) to tame the medicinal smell from the tea-tree oil.

Bug Repellent

Mosquitoes and gnats avoid the strong scent of tea-tree oil. Try this recipe from Farmers’ Almanac: Mix six drops tea-tree oil, six drops peppermint oil, nine drops citronella oil, and one tablespoon carrier oil (such as almond, coconut, or jojoba), and smooth on skin before heading outdoors.

Note that deep-woods explorations may require stronger protection, especially to prevent tick attachment.

Cut and Wound Support

Prevent infection and help small cuts heal faster with a drop or two of antiseptic tea-tree oil applied directly on a bandage. If applying to skin, mix one or two drops with 12 drops of a carrier oil, such as coconut.

Foot Treatment

The antifungal properties of tea-tree oil make it useful in preventing and controlling athlete’s foot. Researchers have also found tea-tree oil to be more than twice as effective as a placebo in relieving associated burning and itching.

Mix one or two drops of tea-tree oil with 12 drops of carrier oil and apply to soles of feet and between toes.

Hair, Skin, and Nail Care

Tea-tree oil is a common ingredient in treatments for itchy scalp and eczema, and studies have found it to be effective in treating dandruff. Add a few drops to shampoo and wash as usual.

Mix one or two drops of tea-tree oil with 12 drops of a carrier oil and apply to skin to soothe acne inflammation and encourage healing, or smooth on cuticles to treat nail fungus. (Tea-tree oil can dry the skin, reduce or discontinue use if irritation occurs.)

Thanks to its antibacterial properties, you can also use tea-tree oil to quell underarm odor. Make your own deodorant with our recipe.

Good to Know

Tea-tree oil can be dangerous to pets, so use caution and check with your veterinarian. Learn more about the dos and don’ts for essential oils at “What You Need to Know About Essential Oils“.

Profile picture of Courtney Lewis Opdahl
Courtney Lewis Opdahl

Courtney Lewis Opdahl is Experience Life’s managing editor and a member of the Inclusion Council at Life Time.

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