Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a native to Australia, and has a thick, whitish papery bark. The oil that is made from its leaves have strong antiseptic, antiphlogistic and germ killer effect; the Australian aboriginals have known and used its curative power for ages.
Nevertheless the name "tea tree" isn't originated from them. When Captain Cook arrived to Australia in the 1770s, he observed, that the indigenious people made tea from the leaves of the tree, so they named the tree tea tree in English. However the medicinal powers of tea tree hasn't been known until 1920, when Arthur Penfold Australian chemic's researches revealed its antiseptic effect.
Although doctors and cosmetic producers are primarily using its active substance against yeast and germs, the natural cleaning "movement" has discovered its uses in the household too. Because you don't need synthetic, environment and health harming chemicals to clean the household, but natural materials like vinegar, citric acid, baking soda or tea tree oil. In addition these products aren't just more ecological, but cheaper too! Tea tree oil can be used on several occasions, when cleaning.
Tea tree oil kills the mold and germs that often live in bathrooms effectively. For cleaning moldy surfaces, spray on the mixture of 0.5 dl vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil, let it rest for at least half an hour, then wipe off the mold, repeat if necessary. If the surface is inaccessible, drop undiluted oil on it, and rinse after half an hour.
Use it diluted for cleaning the tub, sink or toilet: mix 3-5 drops of oil with 1-1.5 liters of water.
Its antiseptic effect means, that it is not only covering the smells, but elinimating them, so its a great alternative to synthetic air fresheners. To sterilize the air vaporize the oil in an oil diffuser.
Put 2 tablespoons of baking soda into a bucket of hot water with 2-4 drops of tea tree oil. The hot water and the sodium bicarbonate dissolve fats, the tea tree sterilize and scent.
The eco-friendly alternative of conventional fabric softeners is vinegar. If you pour 2-5 drops of tea tree oil into it, it will scent and sterilize the clothes.
This is a great option for mothers who are using washable diapers, because tea tree oil won't hurt the skin of the baby. Tea tree oil doesn't harm textiles, and doesn't cause rash after sterilizing.
Mix a few drops of oil with warm water and sterilize the counter top or the cutting board with it.
For making your own dishwasher liquid, soak 4 pieces of soapnut shells in half liters of hot water, and let it chill. Add 3 tablespoons of washing soda and mix until it dissolves completely. Finally add 1 drop of tea tree oil and a teaspoon of vinegar. This dishwasher cleans even fatty dishes effectively.
Bugs don't like the characteristic smell of tea tree oil and lavender oil. You can use tea tree oil as a natural insect repellent instead of conventional ones: pour 1-2 drops of oil on the trail of ants, they will move soon. You can also wipe the "gates" (wall cracks, windows, doors) with a cotton ball soaked in tea tree oil.
It's really important to only use 100% pure essential oils, because synthetically made oils won't have the same effects as the natural ones.