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How Do I Use Tea Tree Oil for Cleaning?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 16, 2024
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Tea tree oil, commonly used as a natural beauty treatment, can also make an excellent cleaning agent. Capable of killing various bacteria, viruses, and fungi, this natural oil can generally replace the use of bleach or other harsh chemicals. To use tea tree oil for cleaning, dilute the oil in a spray bottle for disinfecting hard surfaces and refreshing fabrics, and use baking soda and the same mixture to clean hard surfaces thoroughly. If you live in a humid climate and often experience issues with your laundry becoming musty if not dried immediately, try adding a small amount of tea tree oil with your laundry detergent to keep everything fresher longer.

The easiest way to use tea tree oil for cleaning is to dilute it with water and use it as a disinfectant. For this, add 4 cups (about 946 milliliters) of water to a spray bottle, and then add 50 to 60 drops of tea tree oil. Gently mix it and use the concoction in the same manner as you would a store-bought disinfectant. Spray it on hard surfaces and let it dry to kill bacteria, and spray it on mold or mildew to remove the smell and kill the fungi. Just like most disinfectants, you will typically have to saturate the surface and let it air dry for the best results.

This same mixture of water and tea tree oil can also be used to refresh fabrics and carpets. Test the mixture on a hidden area first to make sure that it does not react poorly with the fabric. If the mixture is safe for the fabric, you can lightly spray upholstered furniture, curtains, or carpets to remove any unwanted smells. This method is especially beneficial when fabrics take on a musty smell, which is typically caused by mildew. For some, the smell of tea tree oil is not appealing; however, it tends to dissipate as soon as the spray dries, leaving everything smelling clean and fresh.

For an all-purpose cleaner, simply sprinkle a light coating of baking soda over the surface that you wish to clean, making sure that it is evenly coated. Spray the area with the same diluted tea tree oil that you use as a disinfectant and fabric refresher, letting it sit for a few minutes. Then use a rag or sponge to scrub and wipe down the area.

You can also use tea tree oil for cleaning when doing laundry. Letting wet clothes sit in the washer can lead to mildew, prompting the need to redo the load of laundry; this often occurs rapidly in humid climates. To rectify the problem, add approximately 15 drops of tea tree oil to your wash along with your detergent. This will help to inhibit the growth of fungi, keeping your laundry fresh. Using tea tree oil for cleaning in this manner is also a great way to keep bath towels smelling fresh between washings.

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Discussion Comments
By anon948653 — On May 01, 2014

It's only toxic if it's ingested in a strong concentration. If you're diluting it to clean, I'm sure even if your child licks the carpet they will be fine. It's safe enough to use on the body every day when diluted, so cleaning things that are only partially in contact with them is fine.

By anon940917 — On Mar 20, 2014

@fify: I don't believe it is toxic to children as long as it is diluted. I put tea tree oil in my daughter's shampoo to repel lice. It doesn't kill the lice but it keeps them away from her. And her hair smells great in the process. I also put some in our laundry detergent as well! There have been no ill effects since I began doing this in August 2013.

By SarahGen — On Nov 14, 2013

We had a mite infestation at our home last month and I used tea tree oil for everything. I used it for laundry, I sprayed it on the mattress and on the carpet. It worked really well. The mites were gone in less than a week and we didn't have to move to a new apartment.

I'm continuing to use it diluted with water around the house for maintenance. My husband travels a lot for work and I don't want another infestation.

By fify — On Nov 14, 2013

Using tea tree oil for laundry might be okay, but I don't think that it's safe to clean with tea tree oil when there are pets and children in the house.

Tea tree oil is very toxic for small animals and children. It cause serious neurological damage and it can cause organ failure or death. It's harmful for adults too if it's ingested.

I've thought about cleaning floors with it, but I have two dogs, a cat and a toddler. I'm sure that they would get the oil on themselves and I can't take that risk. I would only use it if they were away from the house for a while but that never happens. Just a warning for those with pets and kids.

By turquoise — On Nov 13, 2013

Tea tree oil is great. It can be used for so many different things. It can be used diluted on cuts and scrapes, lice, acne and toenail fungal infections. It can also be used to clean bathrooms and floors. A little goes a long way and it's completely natural. I don't know what I would do without it.

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