Tea tree oil is derived from leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant. While tea tree oil is a common ingredient in many traditional recipes for external ailments, the Mayo Clinic states the effectiveness of this oil is still under debate as very few studies have been conducted (as of late 2010) to determine its safety and reliability in treating medical conditions. While the scientific community needs more data to ensure tea tree oil is an effective remedy, many people still use this ingredient in household and personal hygiene applications.
One use for tea tree oil is to clean bathroom tiles, due to its antimicrobial properties. To create a cleaner made out of this oil mix 1 ounce of Murphy's oil with 14 ounces of water, 3 tablespoons of sea salt and 10 drops of tea tree oil. Stir these ingredients together and use a sponge to clean bathroom surfaces. Make sure to wear gloves while using this cleaner as tea tree oil is known to cause irritation if excess amounts come in contact with the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The strong aromatic qualities of tea tree oil when diffused in steam can help relieve sinus congestion. This may also help relieve coughing and other respiratory ailments. To utilize tea tree oil in this way, bring 6 ounces of water to a boil. Pour the water into a heat-safe container, and put three to five drops of tea tree oil into the steaming water. Drape a towel over your head and lean over the steam. Breathe normally for two to five minutes before removing the towel. Keep tissues close by, as the steam and oil mixture may cause the excessive mucus trapped in the sinuses to drip out.
Due to tea tree oil's antimicrobial qualities, it can be used as an antiseptic, and may help reduce the severity of athlete's foot. The Mayo Clinic states that medical studies have shown this oil can help reduce the activity of foot fungal species; however, the clinic is unable to either promote or denounce the effectiveness of tea tree oil for athlete's foot. The University of Western Australia Tea Tree Oil Research Group states tea tree oil does contain anti-inflammatory properties similar to other antiseptics, thus it may help relieve inflammation associated with this condition. Tea tree oil may also help reduce the odor of athlete's foot as well.