Tea tree oil, distilled from leaves of the Australian paperbark tree, is known for its antiseptic properties. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, several clinical studies have found the essential oil to be antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. Its medicinal and household applications don’t stop there: from clearing up a sinus infection to removing mold, this natural extract packs a powerful punch.

1 Purify the air.


Place a few drops in an oil diffuser to naturally deodorize and disinfectant air. Blogger Brittany ofVasseur Beauty does this to remove “bacteria, viruses, mold and other germs” from her home’s atmosphere. Additionally, tea tree oil aromatherapy can supplement treatment for cancer patients byreducing anxiety and improving sleep, according to a review published in African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

2 Make a multi-purpose cleaning spray.


Add 10 drops to 2 cups of hot water, plus a half cup of white vinegar, for a general disinfectant cleaningspray. A word of caution: Don’t use this solution on granite or marble—the acidic vinegar can eat away at the stone.

Get the recipe at Clean Mama.

Clear up a sinus infection.

Place a couple of drops in a bowl of steaming hot water and drape a towel over your head as you lean over the bowl. Breathe in the vapors for 5 to 10 minutes.

4 Disinfect yoga mats and other exercise equipment.


Make your own antibacterial spray using tea tree and eucalyptus oils, witch hazel and water.

Check out Simply Nicole for a recipe.

5 Remove ticks.


This tip doesn’t have a lot of science to back it up, but some people swear by dousing disease-carrying ticks with a few drops of tea tree oil—the idea is that the saturation causes ticks to back out of the skin for easier removal.

Fight acne.

Dab a drop on trouble spots (make sure skin’s clean first!) to clear them up. When “used in conjunction with glycolic acid, which is an exfoliant, tea tree oil helps destroy the bacteria that can cause acne flare-ups,” California aesthetician Brenda Harper toldWebMD.

7 Make your own bathroom scrub.


Mix an all-natural bathroom cleanser (blogger Jill of One Good Thing‘s recipe is a dead-on dupe for one popular brand name) using 10-15 drops of tea tree oil, water, vinegar, baking soda and castile soap. Bonus: Tea tree oil is a natural mold fighter!

8 Treat toenail fungus.


Applying pure tea tree oil to infected areas twice a day for six months can cure fungal toenail infection. The National Institutes of Health report that 60 percent patients saw an improvement in “nail appearance and symptoms” after six months of treatment. Eighteen percent were cured completely.

Ward off lice.

When head lice is going around your kid’s school, this solution is your best friend. Mix up a batch with 20 drops of tea tree oil and this recipe from The Chic.

10 Get rid of athlete’s foot.


Apply a thin coat of 100 percent tea tree oil to the affected parts of your feet two to three times a day. Repeat this process for a couple of weeks after symptoms have cleared up to eradicate the fungus completely.