This information is not going to be popular. I know how the cloth diapering community loves its tea tree oil. If only I had a nickel for every time I read the phrase, “Just add a couple of drops of TTO to the wash…”
When I was a child, we were fairly pediatrician dependent. There was a prescription for every ailment. These days, my belief is that Mother Nature provided us with a natural remedy for every possible ailment we could encounter. When you mix my upbringing with my new natural persona, what you have is a “SCM” or a Skeptical Crunchy Mom. I believe in the potential of natural remedies, but I don’t automatically accept them just because another mom claims something to be true on Diaper Pin. When I hear of a new method, I research the crap out of it from every angle. I read the hippie sites, the crunchy sites, the manufacturer’s information, customer reviews, but also I search medical journals and try to learn the science behind it, which also includes the critics’ evaluation.
Let me explain to you the science behind tea tree oil as an antiseptic. TTO will kill most normal bacteria at even 1 percent dilution. However, thanks to western medicine, most bacteria is no longer “normal bacteria.” These days our every day run of the mill bacteria is the super strong and resistant to nearly everything. Unfortunately, tea tree kills most staph it touches, but not all of the staph that it touches when it’s diluted. This is the same recipe for disaster that antibiotics have caused. If a weapon against bacteria touches it, but only maims it, that bacterium rebuilds itself and then goes and tells all its bacteria friends how to defeat that weapon. (If anyone watches Star Trek, bacteria is like The Borg.)
So, when you add a couple of drops of TTO to your wash of diapers, you are using far less than even 1% dilution. With that, you’re not even killing the weak bacteria. So you’re creating super strong staph in those diapers and in your home. If you could get a 4% dilution in your wash, you could kill everything, but picture how much tea tree oil constitutes 4% of a whole washing machine.
I love TTO. That doesn’t mean that I misuse it though.
If you want to add something to your wash to kill bacteria, add Oil of Oregano or Colloidal Silver. They do kill every single bacterium that they touch. So even if they don’t kill all the bacteria in your wash, if they touch it, they kill it. No one left to relay the weapon’s strategy.
This doesn’t mean your bottle of TTO is useless though. TTO is an amazing weapon. It’s one of only two medicinal oils that are perfectly fine to use straight on the skin. If your baby gets a patch of eczema, a cut, a boil, a mosquito bite or a pimple, one drop of straight undiluted TTO will annihilate any bacterium that wants to wage a war against your baby’s skin. You can use one drop to clean tweezers or the nasal aspirator. You can even use it on your nipples when breastfeeding because tea tree oil is safe for ingesting. My personal favorite though: I like to take one drop and wipe it along my baby’s fingernails when she has an itch that she won’t stop scratching. That way, I don’t have to worry about infection.
For more information on the 4% rule and how to properly use tea tree oil, please refer to these books: