On a recent trip to our local Whole Foods in search of soap nuts (and not only did they not have any, they had never heard of them!) I browsed around the essential oils section. I had read of Tea Tree oil in many cloth diapering blogs, not to mention various blogs on cleaning with natural products. Curious, I bought a small brown bottle of it.
I refreshed my memory with a quick online search and was astounded by the dozens of uses for Tea Tree Oil! Tea Tree oil comes from Melaleuca alterfolia (the Tea Tree) which got its name because the leaves were often substituted for tea. The concentrated oil from the leaves has incredible antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. I just so happened to have a small cut on the palm of my hand that was feeling infected and tender. I put one drop of tea tree oil on it and took away the pain and infection in less than a day. I also had a sore pinky toe (I had cut the nail too short) and it was starting to throb–obviously infected. That too was healed within a day. I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking it would help but honestly, I’m beginning to think this stuff is a miracle in a bottle.
What else did I learn about Tea Tree oil? Well, of course I was wondering about using it to wash cloth diapers. Here’s what I learned: the problem with using a few drops of Tea Tree oil to clean your diapers is that it gets too diluted in the water to kill all of the bacteria that maybe lurking. In fact, using” a few drops” of Tea Tree oil, you risk creating Super Bacteria or super resistant strains of Staph because the weaker bacteria will be killed by the diluted oil but the stronger strains will not. The only way you could kill of the strongest bacteria in the diaper wash would be to use A LOT of Tea Tree Oil and that would not be good for your cloth diaper stash, not to mention, it would be expensive. I found this helpful information on The Everything Birth Blog (everythingbirthblog.com)
Another important detail about Tea Tree oil is that it should NEVER be ingested or put into the eyes. Also, be careful using it on mucosal areas of the body–genitals, mouth, nose. Though it is a homeopathic product, it should be kept where little hands cannot reach it and used with caution. That being said, my enthusiasm for this stuff is increasing with every blog I read. And guess what? It’s environmentally friendly, not tested on animals and economical. Do you use Tea Tree Oil? And if so, what for?