Commercial household cleaners contain chemicals—thousands of them—and some are toxic. Pounds of the stuff remain on hard surfaces, are absorbed by soft ones, and fill the ambient air after cleaning. When you breathe or touch something with which these chemicals have come into contact, they go right into your bloodstream.
Many natural cleansers exist that will have the same effect as the chemicals without threatening your family’s health. In addition, natural antibacterials are becoming more critical as humans battle with “superbugs” and antibiotic resistance. Few are as successful as tea tree oil at killing germs as there are many novel uses for this extract of the Australian melaleuca tree.
Melaleuca oil extracted from trees’ leaves has antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal properties (1). Following are ways to use it around your home, replacing potentially toxic chemicals.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil Around the Home
It’s incredibly versatile!
A 2010 study compared tea tree oil’s effectiveness on 5 common household bacteria against commercial disinfectants Listerine, Quad 10, and an unnamed industrial cleaner. Researchers found that tea tree oil “had the best bacterial action”. (2)
To use: add 12-24 drops of tea tree oil to every 16 ounces of water and spray or mop any surface in your home that requires disinfecting.
2. All-purpose Cleaner
While Melaleuca is an oil, it’s not greasy so it’s a great all-around cleaner to kill mold and any germs that may be lurking. Coupled with vinegar, it’ll cut through grime, kill germs, and deodorize. The addition of borax provides a gentle abrasive to remove dirt. Combine 3-4 drops of tea tree oil to 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of borax. Add to 12 ounces of water in a spray bottle and fill with water. Shake to mix. You can use this cleaner on any hard surface as you would a commercial all-purpose cleaner.
3. Disinfecting Dishwashing Soap
Washing is good; in some cases, disinfecting is better. For the most part, simple washing with soap and water is enough to dispel harmful germs. When washing items that have come into contact with animal products, however, disinfecting is a good idea to prevent the spread of potentially harmful bacteria. To make your natural dishwashing soap a germ-killing powerhouse, add 1-2 drops of tea tree oil to your liquid dish soap dispenser before filling with your regular dishwashing soap.
You’d be surprised at what commercial dish soap has in it. Some contain formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, and other carcinogenic chemicals. You surely don’t want your children eating off of plates that can make them sick if there’s any residue.
4. Antimicrobial Laundry Detergent
Adding melaleuca oil to your washing machine will serve 2 purposes: get rid of any germs in your clothes and keep mold and mildew from forming in the mechanisms of your washer. You can add a few drops to your pre-wash cup or along with liquid detergent (find a DIY recipe here) to get your laundry truly clean while adding a subtle fresh scent.
5. Ant Repellant
Ants are a common home nuisance in the spring and summer. Placing dangerously toxic chemicals on the floor to get rid of them poses a hazard to children and pets. Fortunately, ants (and cockroaches!) don’t like tea tree oil so you can deter them from ever coming inside. Place a few drops of tea tree oil in the spot(s) where you notice ants entering your home. With the melaleuca line of defense, they’ll turn around and look for other options. You can also mix a few drops of tea tree oil with water and spray around the baseboards near doors and windows to block off any avenue these tenacious creatures may find.
Tea tree oil is a versatile non-toxic germ killer.
Other home uses of this essential oil include:
Now that you know how to use tea tree oil, give chemical cleaners the boot to clean and deodorize naturally.