|Tea Tree Oil: A Natural Home Disinfectant for the Flu Season|
|Thursday, 01 November 2012 00:00 | Written by Maggie Baxter | Article|
A few days ago, I was reminded of the strength of tea tree oil when I accidentally spilled a few drops on a freshly painted dresser. Within moments, it ate through the paint. Whoever says that natural products aren’t as potent as their artificial counterparts has yet to encounter the powerhouse that is tea tree oil. Just one whiff of this essential oil’s harsh medicinal smell is enough to clue you in to its might.
Derived from a plant native to New South Wales, tea tree oil has tremendous antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties. Yes, it may be a small component of the anti-acne astringent you put on your face each morning, but did you know that when used at just 5-10% concentration it’s strong enough to kill the bacteria responsible for causing staph infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)? How’s that for powerful protection this flu season?
And although bacteria can develop resistance to most antibiotics used to combat staph, they remain vulnerable to the essential oil. In fact, tea tree oil is so mighty that it’s almost always used in a diluted form, no matter the intended purpose.
Gladly, it’s no longer necessary to limit the power of tea tree oil to your cosmetics bag; it can enhance your ability to safely clean and disinfect your entire home. Many homemade household cleanser recipes incorporating tea tree oil are found online and in books such as the Australian Tea Tree Oil Handbook: 101 Plus Ways To Use Tea Tree, but you can also experiment on your own.
The bathroom is the best place to start. Goodbye bleach, hello tea tree oil. Along with a squirt of liquid soap, put a few drops of the oil in a spray bottle filled with water and use it to wipe down anything and everything, paying close attention to handles, faucets, doorknobs, etc. Don’t stop there. According to the above handbook, tea tree oil can make its way into the dishwasher, washing machine, humidifier and more. In fact, the possibilities are endless.
The cold and flu season is a perfect time to incorporate these germ-killing practices into your household cleaning routine. Then year-round, it helps lessen your dependency on harsh household cleaners, which pose risks to the environment and to your family’s health.
Lastly, if your baby’s skin isn’t too sensitive, do away with store-bought diaper wipes, which are wasteful and often full of unnatural ingredients, and try homemade diaper spray and cloth wipes instead. To make your own diaper spray, simply fill a spray bottle with water, squirt in a bit of liquid baby soap, and add a drop or two of tea tree oil.
Take measures to be cautious though; considering its potency, it should come as no surprise that tea tree oil is toxic if swallowed. Even topical exposure to undiluted or lightly diluted amounts may cause skin irritation. Therefore, like all household cleansers, always keep tea tree oil away from children and pets.
Don’t underestimate the power of tea tree oil and the many ways it can be used in the home—especially during the cold and flu season. It may not make cleaning and sanitizing more fun, but it can definitely make your efforts greener and more effective. So take some time to discover the methods that work best for you and your household. Start with a tiny bottle; a little goes a long way. You’ll be glad you did. Just make sure not to spill it on your dresser.
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