Tea Tree Essential Oil Uses And Benefits (And How to Use)

If you could pick one essential oil to take with you to a deserted island, which would it be? My bet is on tea tree! Even those with next to no familiarity with essential oils have heard of this rugged little shrub, and with good reason.

Tea tree is everywhere, appearing in a multitude of mainstream personal care products including shampoos, conditioners, body washes, soaps, and hand sanitizers. The properties this powerhouse essential oil’s chemical constituents have been well researched and documented.

Are you ready? Let’s go explore what tea tree oil can do for us!


Botanical Name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Origin: Australia
Extraction Method: Steam distilled
Plant Parts Used: Leaf
Note Classification: Middle
Scent: Menthol, herbaceous, earthy, woody
Blends Well With: Basil, Black Cumin, Cinnamon Bark, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Lavender, Myrtle, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Ravintsara, Rosemary
Shelf Life: 2 years

Maximum Dilution: 15%

5 Benefits of Tea Tree Essential Oil

All essential oils have their own unique properties and areas they are best suited to assist us in. When we have limited space or budget, it can be hard to narrow down which oils to choose.

Tea tree though, should be a no brainer inclusion in our essential oils collection. It is one of the pillars of the essential oils family because of all the ways in which it can be used.

Throughout history, oil from the humble tea tree plant has proven to be wonderfully beneficial for: promoting healthy skin, supporting our physical wellbeing, aiding our mental wellness, enhancing our emotional stability, and maintaining our homes.

Tea Tree Oil For Healthy Skin

Fix The Flake With Tea Tree

Who likes a dry, itchy, flakey scalp? Not me! I would prefer that the shoulders of my black sweaters stay black and not accumulate a layer of white flakes, thank you very much. Still, I am not exactly a fan of all the scary ingredients that are used in commercial dandruff shampoos.

That is why I was so excited to learn that in 2002 scientists conducted a human study to see if tea tree oil really could help reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate dandruff.

The results were pretty impressive with 41.2% of study participants seeing an improvement when using a 5% tea tree shampoo compared to an 11.2% improvement in the placebo group. [1] Now we know why we saw a sudden influx of tea tree bath products around that time.

Clearer Skin By Tea Tree

Acne, cold sores, warts, athlete’s foot, chicken pox – our skin really gets assaulted by all sorts of bacteria, viruses, and microbes. No infection is my idea of fun, but when the ailment is on my skin and visible for everyone to see, that makes it even worse and makes me all the more motivated to get rid of it.

In the homeopathic world, tea tree is often applied “neat” (undiluted) on cold sores, warts, and athlete’s foot. We find it partnered with jasmine for mild to moderate acne and blended into a lotion with lavender and chamomile to soothe the itchiness that accompanies chicken pox.

Want to understand why these remedies have historically been so effective?

Science alert: Tea tree’s main chemical constituent is a monoterpene called “terpinen-4-ol.” Don’t worry, there’s no spelling or comprehension test on that later. The key takeaway here is that studies have shown terpinen-4-ol to have impressive anti-microbial and anti-fungal effects which can support our body. [2] [3]

Tea Tree Blocks Body Odor

Funk is a type of dance, not the body odor we want to emit. Harness all the germ killing powers of tea tree oil and include it in your deodorant and in your laundry detergent to keep you and your clothes funky odor free.

Happy Tea Tree Feet

Bacteria love warm, moist, dark breeding grounds and especially in closed toe shoes, our feet provide those bacteria the perfect location to call home.

Happy feet are clean and free of all these extra cooties. Tea tree oil can help keep our feet happy when we add a couple drops to a relaxing foot soak. Go ahead and exfoliate your feet or give yourself a calf massage like they do at the nail salon while you’re at it.

Best Ways To Use Tea Tree Oil For Healthy Skin

1. Tea Tree Scalp Moisturizer

  • 4 ounces fractionated coconut carrier oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 9 drops tea tree
  • 9 drops cedarwood atlas
  • 6 drops lemongrass

Mix all of the ingredients and place in a dark colored glass jar with lid. Massage into scalp daily prior to shampooing and leave on for 15-20 minutes if possible. Rinse out, then shampoo and condition hair normally using natural products.

Safety: Not suitable for use during pregnancy.

2. Tea Tree Hand Sanitizer

  • 8 ounces aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon witch hazel (the alcohol free version is less drying on skin)
  • 18 drops tea tree
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 8 drops clove bud

Add all 3 essential oils to a glass bowl and mix. Blend in the witch hazel then the aloe vera gel. Transfer the mixture to a sealed dark glass container and use as you would a commercial hand sanitizer.

Safety: Not suitable for use during pregnancy. After first 16 weeks of pregnancy, this recipe may be used by eliminating the clove bud oil.

3. Tea Tree Deodorant

  • 3 tablespoons fractionated coconut carrier oil
  • 3 tablespoons shea butter
  • ¼ cup arrowroot powder
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon beeswax
  • 10 drops tea tree
  • 10 drops lavender

Melt the coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax together using a double boiler technique. This technique can be simulated without a true double boiler by standing a glass canning jar in a shallow pan of boiling water.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into container of your choice (old deodorant stick, muffin tin, jar, etc. Allow to cool and set.

Tip: The beeswax will help keep the deodorant from re-liquefying, however if you are in a particularly hot climate, you may also store the deodorant in the refrigerator to ensure it stays solid.

Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Tea Tree Oil For Physical Well being

Cleanse & Soothe Your Sore Throat With Tea Tree

Sore throats are a real distraction when we are trying to enjoy life and focus on getting work done. Often they are painful enough to be irritating but not so serious that we feel we need to make a trip to the doctor.

In the case of mild throat soreness and irritation, gargling with a mix containing tea tree oil can prove soothing and cleansing.

Of course if your sore throat makes it hard to breathe or swallow or if the sore throat lingers and doesn’t get better, please do consult a physician.

Better Smelling Breath by Tea Tree

Speaking of breathing, are you one of those people who carry gum or mints around all the time, afraid of standing too close to others because you don’t want them to smell your bad breath? Good, I’m not alone! While natural cinnamon and peppermint gum are total lifesavers out in public, at home I also find a DIY mouthwash containing baking soda, tea tree oil, and peppermint oil to be very effective at cleansing my throat and reducing bad breath.

Tea Tree Speeds Wound Healing

There is actually scientific backing for the effectiveness of tea tree oil as a wound healer. One impressive study found that the use of tea tree dressings sped the healing time of wounds infected with Staphylococcus aureus (staph). [4]

The next time your child runs up to you and tells you she has a “boo boo,” help it heal by simulating what the researchers did.

After thoroughly cleansing the scrape with soap and running water, pat dry. Add 1 drop of tea tree to 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Dab some of this mixture onto the pad of an adhesive bandage before applying the bandage over the wound.

Fight Bacteria With Tea Tree

Ouch, that burning pain and incessant pressure of a bladder infection. What about the intense itchiness of a yeast infection? Once you’ve had either, you know you NEVER want to experience it again!

Help support your body’s natural healthy balance by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your bath and soaking for at least 20 minutes.

Use Tea Tree To Support Immunity

Just being in the same room as someone who has a cold is enough to put us on edge. Every time they sneeze, where are all those tiny little germ carrying droplets going? Maybe if I hold my breath long enough, those germs will fall to the ground before I inhale them…Or maybe I should stop playing these mental games and just diffuse some tea tree oil throughout the house.

Tea tree oil has historically been used to support immunity and diffusing it allows those little energetic tea tree warrior drops to be dispersed in the air where they can take on environmental threats.

Breathe Easy Tea Tree

Try something for me – take a deep breath. Let it out. Now open a bottle of tea tree oil, place the bottle under your nose, close your eyes, and inhale again. How does it feel? How does the oil smell? What do you notice?

Did you notice that you were able to breathe just a little deeper and easier when smelling the tea tree? Did its smell remind you of eucalyptus and commercial camphor style rubs?

When we have a mild cold, sinus congestion, or other condition that causes our respiratory system to crave a little support, tea tree oil is a welcome companion. She encourages us to breathe from deep in our core rather than shallowly from our upper chest. Paired with eucalyptus, the duo urges us to expand our lungs and utilize their full potential. Breathe a little easier with tea tree.

Lice Be Gone

Can we all agree that we wish that it was creepy crawly bugs like lice going extinct instead of polar bears and Bengal tigers? Scientists may not have found a way to fully eradicate lice and their nits (eggs) from the planet yet, but they HAVE done some studies on the effectiveness of tea tree oil to combat the lice colony you just found setting up shop on your child’s head.

Lice have been becoming more resistant to standard treatment methods, and this prompted scientists to explore both tea tree oil and nerolidol (a constituent of Baccharis dracunculifolia and other essential oils) as replacement treatment options.

Ready for the exciting results? A 1% concentration of tea tree oil killed 100% of lice within 30 minutes of application. Yes, you read that correctly – every single bug was exterminated in less than the time it takes to watch an episode of your favorite TV show!

Now to deal with the nits – both tea tree oil and nerolidol were effective here with nerolidol needing a lower concentration. Tea tree oil killed 50% of the eggs in 4 days at a 2% concentration and nerolidol had the same results at a 1% concentration.

The scientists concluded that a 2:1 ratio of tea tree oil to nerolidol will kill 100% of lice within 30 minutes and prevent 100% of eggs from hatching within 5 days. [5]

Not that I hope to need a lice treatment, but if I do, I will be looking for a natural option containing a tea tree and nerolidol blend.

Best Ways To Use Tea Tree For Physical Well being

1. Tea Tree Mouthwash

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 drops tea tree
  • 7 drops peppermint

Mix all ingredients together in a sealable glass jar. Prior to each use, shake the jar to re-integrate the ingredients. Gargle with mouthwash 1-2 times daily to cleanse and refresh mouth. Follow with a cool water rinse.

Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Do not swallow the mouthwash.

2. Tea Tree Sore Throat Rinse

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 drop tea tree
  • 1 drop lavende
  • A crushed aspirin tablet (1)

Mix all of the ingredients in a glass and gargle as needed to cleanse throat and soothe pain.

Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Do not swallow the rinse.

3. Tea Tree Sinus Steam

  • Add 1 drop each of tea tree, eucalyptus, and silver fir to a large bowl of boiling distilled water.
  • Lean over the bowl so your face is about 6-8 inches from the water (avoid getting closer so you aren’t scalded).
  • Make an airtight tent over your head and the bowl using a towel.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Continue the stream treatment for up to 10 minutes.

Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. For use with children, substitute lavender in place of eucalyptus.

Tea Tree Oil For Mental Wellness

Tidy Our Minds With Tea Tree

While tea tree is best known for the effects it has on the body, did you realize that those same qualities can also help our minds?

I don’t know about you, but I often find that my mind feels cluttered from continuous exposure to all the distractions, expectations, obligations, and unending to-dos that I find myself navigating. With all that jumble and mental chaos, it can be hard to focus and find the clarity to pursue just one priority at a time.

Tea tree oil pushes through all that noise and uses her cleansing powers to dispel the chaos and reinstate order and harmony.

Best Way To Use Tea Tree For Mental Wellness

1. Tea Tree Mental Clarity Diffusion Blend

The energy in our homes or offices can get stagnant at times, bogged down by an accumulation of emotional negativity. When we are in these spaces, our own energy is affected and our mental clarity decreases.

Tea tree’s purifying, cleansing powers can work wonders in these types of situations and the easiest way to harness them is to use a diffuser.

Plug in your diffuser and pour in distilled water up to the fill line.


  • 2 drops lemon
  • 2 drops eucalyptus
  • 1 drop tea tree
  • 1 drop peppermint

Turn on the diffuser and set the timer if desired. Take some deep, cleansing breaths and feel the less than positive energy dissipate as mental clarity is renewed.

Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Tea Tree Oil For Emotional Stability

Ground And Stabilize With Tea Tree

When life is chaotic and stressful, when you feel your emotions swirling all over the place, when you are frustrated or angry or feeling stuck, tea tree is there for you. She is that down-to-earth friend who will listen to your problems then provide some much needed perspective that you were unable to see because you were so caught up in things.

For days when you know you will need tea tree’s guidance, carry her with you in the form of a perfume. Tea tree provides grounding while her more sensual friends ylang ylang, patchouli, orange sweet, lavender, sandalwood, and jasmine bring feminine grace and softness to balance the fragrance.

Best Way To Use Tea Tree For Emotional Stability

1. Tea Tree Emotional Grounding Perfume

  • 1 tablespoon beeswax
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sweet almond carrier oil
  • 2 drops tea tree
  • 2 drops sandalwood
  • 1 drop ylang ylang
  • 1 drop patchouli
  • 2 drops sweet orange
  • 1 drop lavender
  • 1 drop jasmine absolute

Place the beeswax and sweet almond oil into a glass canning jar and sit in a shallow pan of boiling water, stirring until the wax melts.

Remove from heat and add the essential oils. Mix and pour into containers to create solid perfume. Old chapstick containers are perfect for roll on application and little tins work if you would rather apply with your fingers.

A Note On Blends

Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the oils for this recipe. The beauty of perfumes is that they can be customized according to your preferences and to the oils you already have. Just keep the total number of essential oil drops at 10 and you can play around with the combinations.

When used in blends, each essential oil is categorized as being a top, middle, or base note. The most harmonious blends will include a balance of these categories. If this is something you want to learn more about, a quick online search will give you the category for each oil and help you with mixing and matching.

Above all, relax, have fun, and focus on the feelings each fragrance inspires in you. Our responses to scent are deeply personal and built upon our pre-existing experiences and associations. Choose essential oils for aromatherapy as you would choose friends – embrace those who uplift your spirit and help you to grow as an individual. Avoid those who you do not connect well with.

Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Tea Tree Oil For Home Maintenance

Fix The Trash Can & Diaper Pail Stench With Tea Tree

Have you heard of or perhaps used those little specialty boxes of baking soda with the fabric sides that are meant to trap odors in the fridge? Baking soda also works wonders to keep trash can and diaper pail stink from permeating the house. Up its power by pairing it with another odor eliminator: tea tree essential oil.

Tea Tree Slays The Shoe Bacteria Beast

Oh shoes, why must you stink so? Well, the nasty truth is that the stench comes from bacteria proliferating in the cozy dark recesses of those innocent looking sneakers. Let’s stop the cycle with tea tree! Use a blend of 3 tablespoons baking soda, 1 tablespoon corn starch, and 5 drops of tea tree oil to kill the bacteria and neutralize the existing odor. Just shake it into the offending shoe, allow it to sit overnight, and then dump the powder out into the trash.

Clean Hard Surfaces With Tea Tree

Harsh chemical sprays may work to clean counters, but have you ever noticed how they make you feel? What is your energy and the energy in the room like after chemical cleaners have been used? Hospitals feel sterile because they are, but our homes are the centers of our lives and energetically, we always want them to feel vibrant and shimmering with life.

The perfect solution is to use natural cleaners which include essential oils. Cleaning products like baking soda or vinegar pair with essential oils to clean and uplift your home so it sparkles on both a physical and an energetic level.

Banish Bugs Using Tea Tree

Let’s not even go into detail about how scary unhealthy chemical bug repellents are for our bodies. We want to keep the mosquitos and other bugs off of us but not damage our health in the process. What are our choices?

Have you ever found yourself sitting around the campfire swatting bugs and wondering how our ancient ancestors dealt with these same pests in a time when there wasn’t an easy chemical deterrent option?

They actually disguised their scent using smoke or mud and in Australia, they turned to the tea tree plant. Try making some tea tree bug repellent of your own instead of layering on chemicals.

Best Ways To Use Tea Tree For Home Maintenance

1. Trash Can & Diaper Pail Deodorizer

  • ¾ cup baking soda
  • 5 drops tea tree
  • 5 drops peppermint

Mix the ingredients until the oils are fully incorporated into the baking soda. Sprinkle some of the mixture into the bottom of each new trash bag to help trap odors and slow the growth of stench inducing bacteria.

Tip: A large recycled spice or dried parmesan cheese shaker container works well for this recipe.

  • Not suitable for use during pregnancy. After first 16 weeks of pregnancy, this recipe may be used by eliminating the peppermint oil and increasing tea tree to 10 drops or by using lavender in place of peppermint.

2. Tea Tree All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 10 drops tea tree oil
  • 6 drops bergamot
  • 4 drops cedarwood atlas

Mix ingredients in a glass spray bottle and swirl/shake to mix solution prior to each use.

Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After first 16 weeks, this recipe may be used by eliminating cedarwood and replacing it with more bergamot essential oil.

3. Tea Tree Bug Repellent Spray For Adults

  • 2 ounces water
  • 6 ounces witch hazel
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • 15 drops tea tree
  • 15 drops eucalyptus

Mix ingredients in a 10 ounce glass spray bottle and apply as needed, avoiding eyes and mucus membranes.

Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Tea Tree Essential Oil Safety

Essential oils are potent and it is important to always know and follow established guidelines for safe use. Some important safety information to be aware of when you are using tea tree oil includes:

  • Tea tree oil has a low risk of skin sensitization. Discontinue use if sensitization occurs. More dilution can help to decrease risk of sensitization.
  • The maximum recommended dilution for tea tree oil is 15%.
  • Tea tree oil is not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.

The Bottom Line

  • Tea tree oil is extracted by means of a steam distillation of the plant’s leaves
  • This oil has a menthol, herbaceous, earthy, woody scent which is classified as a middle note
  • Tea tree blends well with Basil, Black Cumin, Cinnamon Bark, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Lavender, Myrtle, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Ravintsara, and Rosemary
  • Tea tree oil has an average shelf life of 2 years.
  • The 5 main areas of benefit for tea tree oil are: promoting healthy skin, supporting our physical well being, aiding our mental wellness, enhancing our emotional stability, and maintaining our homes.
  • Tea tree oil promotes healthy skin by reducing scalp flakiness, promoting clearer skin, blocking body odor, and cleansing feet.
  • This oil supports our physical well being by cleansing and soothing sore throats, improving the smell of our breath, speeding wound healing, fighting bacteria, supporting immunity, aiding breathing, and eliminating lice.
  • Tee tree oil aids our mental wellness by “tidying up” our minds.
  • Tea tree oil enhances our emotional stability by grounding us.
  • It helps us maintain our homes by reducing noxious odors in our trash cans/diaper pails, killing bacteria in shoes and on hard surfaces, and repelling bugs.
  • Tea tree oil, like all essential oils is potent and should be used with care according to established guidelines.
  • Tea tree oil has a low risk of skin sensitization. Discontinue use if sensitization occurs.
  • The maximum recommended dilution is 15%.
  • Tea tree oil is not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Read next:

[1] Satchell, A. C. et al. “Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo.” J. Am. Acad. Dermatology (2002) 47:852-855. Web. 09 Oct. 2018.
[2] Carson, C.F. et al. “Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties.” Clinical Microbiology Reviews. (2006 Jan. 19) (1):50-62. Web. 09 Oct. 2018.
[3] Hammer, K.A. et al. “Antifungal activity of the components of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil.” Journal of Applied Microbiology. (2003); 95(4):853-60. Web. 09 Oct. 2018.
[4] Chin, K.B. et al. “The effect of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on wound healing using a dressing model.” The Journal of Alternative And Complementary Medicine. (2013 Dec.) 19(12):942-5. Web. 10 Oct. 2018.
[5] Di Campli, Emanuela. “Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs.” Parasitology Research. (2012 Nov.). 111(5): 1985–1992. Web. 10 Oct. 2018.

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