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  • Tea Tree: The Best Essential Oil for Spring Cleaning

    Supposedly… according to the calendar anyway… it’s spring. That means it’s spring cleaning time. And there’s no better essential oil to help you sanitize your house after close to 6 months of progressively stagnating air and numerous coughs, colds, and other wintery infections, than tea tree.

    Melaleuca leaves with seeds

    Basic Information About Tea Tree

    Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is highly prized for it’s potent anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. With those types of properties, it’s not surprising that it has a very medicinal smell. However, it also has herbaceous, woody, fresh, and earthy tones to its aroma. So despite the medicinal tones, many people don’t find it to be an unpleasant scent. Bonus: it blends well with a lot of oils that have a very pleasing scent, so you can greatly reduce or even cover the medicinal tones.

    Some studies have shown that Tea Tree’s anti-bacterial action is most effective at very dilute concentrations, i.e. 2% or less. I’ve said it over and over, when it comes to essential oils less is more.

    What is Tea Tree Used For?

    The most common uses for Tea Tree include:

    • Acne
    • Athlete’s foot
    • Candida
    • Chicken pox
    • Cleaning solutions
    • Cold sores
    • Colds (diffused)
    • Corns
    • Cuts
    • Flu (diffused)
    • Insect bites
    • Itching
    • Nail fungus
    • Oily skin
    • Ringworm
    • Sinusitis (diffused)
    • Warts

    Precautions

    Although it’s commonly stated that tea tree can be applied to the skin undiluted, I have known too many people who have have ended up with skin irritation and minor burns from doing so. I highly recommend diluting it to no stronger than 15% before applying to the skin.

    WARNING: Do not use topically if you have diabetes or insulin resistance syndrome; people with diabetes are far more prone to have skin reactions from Tea Tree.

    EVEN STRONGER WARNING: Do not use if you have diabetic neuropathy.

    Blends Well With These Oils

    • Atlas Cedarwood
    • Bergamot
    • Black Pepper
    • Eucalyptus
    • Ginger
    • Lavender
    • Lemon
    • Peppermint
    • Rosemary

    How to Use Tea Tree for Spring Cleaning

    Tea tree oil can be added to many cleaning products to add some extra germ killing power. Or you can make your own cleaning products. A few simple ones are all you need. Try one or more of these:

    • Mildew fighter – Combine 1 cup white vinegar and 25 drops tea tree oil in a reusable spray bottle. Shake well. Spritz on mold or mildew and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe away with a damp sponge.
    • Laundry – For sick bed linens, couch blankets that have warmed many a coughing, sneezing body, etc.,  add 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil to the wash. The powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of tea tree oil will help purge the germs. *Do not use on pet bedding as it’s toxic to them.
    • All-purpose cleaner – In a reusable spray bottle, mix 15 drops tea tree oil with 1 quart warm water for a multipurpose cleaner. For a more powerful antiseptic spray for areas that need more attention—such as toilets—use 2 teaspoons tea tree oil with 2 cups water.
    • All-purpose cleaner, pt. 2 – If you want a little extra cleaning power, mix 3 cups water, ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ teaspoon tea tree oil in a 1 qt. spray bottle. Add a few drops of another essential oil (like the ones listed above) if you want it to smell less medicinal. Good for use on hard surfaces such as countertops, sinks, and floors.
    • Bathroom scrub – Combine ¾ cup baking soda with ¼ cup castile soap in a mixing bowl. Add in 1 tablespoon water and 10-15 drops tea tree oil to the bowl and stir with a fork until you achieve a paste-like consistency (add a little more baking soda if necessary). Store in airtight glass container, grab a sponge, and start cleaning! (This cleaner can be used on hard, non-porous surfaces and is effective for at least a month after making it.)
    • Carpet cleaner – Mix ½ cup baking soda with 20-40 drops tea tree oil in a shaker container. (An old spice jar works, cinnamon/sugar shakers, or make one yourself by poking holes in the lid of a ½ – 1 cup container.) Let sit for 24 hours so the oil soaks into the baking soda. Sprinkle on carpet, let sit 10-15 minutes, and vacuum.
    • Purify the air – Diffuse 3-5 drops with your favorite diffuser. Add a few drops of another essential oil to make it smell less medicinal.

    If you’ve never used homemade, natural cleaning products before be aware – you may need a little more elbow grease than you’re used to needing. The extra effort is worth it, though. especially since many store bought cleaning products have warnings and disclaimers to use in a well ventilated room. I don’t know about you, but my home hasn’t been well ventilated since sometime in October. And given the current weather forecast, it’ll be several weeks (at least) before it’s well ventilated again.

    It may not be warm enough to throw the windows open yet, but at least you can clean the air and surfaces inside.

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