No green cleaning kit or natural medicine cabinet is complete without tea tree oil. Made from the leaves of the Australian tea tree, the essential oil has been used for hundreds of years to treat cuts and wounds and to prevent infection. The oil has powerful antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a fantastic natural remedy and safe cleaner.
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However, before you get started, take some precautions to make sure you’re using this powerful oil safely: Tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed, and it can be dangerous for children and pets, in particular. Do not use tea tree oil on broken skin or burns, and The National Capital Poison Center recommends not using it anywhere in or around your mouth. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also be cautious and potentially avoid tea tree oil since little is known about how it may affect them or infants. (Plus, read about the 6 times you should never use essential oils.)
Also, some people are allergic to tea tree; if you do react to it, it’s best not to use it anywhere around your home, especially on your body or in sprays that aerosolize the essential oil. While it’s always important to dilute tea tree oil in a carrier oil before using it on your body, people with sensitive skin should dilute the oil even more or choose a product that is pre-diluted for sensitive skin.
That said, tea tree oil is incredibly useful for beauty, cleaning, and first aid. (It’s even one of the five essential oils you should always have in your medicine cabinet!) Here are 10 incredibly useful ways you can use that prove you should always keep some on hand.