Tea Tree Oil For Fleas – A Guide For Pets, People And Your Home

Tea tree oil, sometimes referred to as “melaleuca oil” as it is extracted from a shrub called Melaleuca Alternifolia. It is widely used for its antibacterial qualities, and can kill certain bacteria, viruses, fungi, head lice, and even weevils. Can this oil be used to safely control fleas? This guide will explore what the latest research has to say.

  1. In a hurry? Click here for a quick summary of this guide.
  2. Does tea tree oil kill fleas, and can it keep them away?
  3. Can I safely use a tea tree oil solution on all of my pets?
  4. How to use it to soothe bites and repel fleas from people?
  5. How to use tea tree oil on your dog and around your home?

Does tea tree oil kill fleas, and can it keep them away?

The answer is yes! With insecticide resistance developing in fleas (especially those found on cats) and ongoing mutation of these critters to become even more hardy, tea tree oil can become a powerful weapon in our war against them. In addition to killing them on contact, the pungent odor of tea tree oil will repel fleas as they simply hate the smell, which is excellent news for us!

So these little insects will try and stay away from the overpowering smell, but how does it actually kill them? Well, tea tree oil interferes with a flea’s nervous system, and the oil can block their tracheas (these run along the sides of their body and are critical to their survival). Either way, this will result in their swift demise, which makes this essential oil a great choice for flea control.

A Little History: Despite its name, tea tree is very rarely used in a tea (it has a super bitter taste) and is actually a rather large bush. Before it was extracted as an essential oil in the 1920s (by Arthur Penfold), research shows that it was used for centuries by Aborigines in traditional medicines. Unknown to them, a compound called Terpinen-4-ol was responsible for its strong antibacterial properties.

Can I safely use a tea tree solution on all of my pets?

The answer is no. The popularity of this oil has resulted in almost all households having a bottle handy on a shelf. However, just because it has useful properties have been extolled through the media and via anecdotal evidence, it does not mean that it is safe to use on all your pets.

Improper use of tea tree oil does have the potential of causing real harm to your family and your pets. That being said, provided you follow the following safety precautions, it is very good solution for fleas on dogs, people and in the home.

Never consume tea tree oil: Even if you are an adult, please never consume this essential oil as it can cause serious toxicity problems. The same applies to your pets (and especially young children), so please be careful when you have this in the house.

Speaking of storage, you should keep it in a safe place and preferably in the dark, as it can have it’s potency reduced if exposed to sunlight. Lastly, although it is unlikely, if you have any skin irritation (redness, itching, etc.) please discontinue use immediately.

Use the correct concentration: Even though tea tree oil is safe for topical use on dogs and people, this only applies if you are using it in the correct strength. If you use too much, it will still kill or repel fleas, but you will also setting yourself up for potential health risks. This is serious, please don’t ignore this warning because it is a “natural” product.

On a related note, I have found some people have been using it neat (without dilution) in large quantities around the home to repel fleas, thinking that “since it is not on my skin, I will be safe”. This is wrong, as the terpenes (or the “smell”) contains active agents that can pose potential health risks in sizable amounts. It is fine to smell tea tree oil, but it is not OK to be breathing it into your lungs (or your dogs) throughout the day!

Do not use on or around cats: There are commercial shampoos and sprays available for cats that contain tea tree oil, and this may make you believe that it’s possible to just whip up a concoction at home. The truth is that the dilution ratio for topical application is very low (between 0.1% to 1%, and that varies based on their weight).

With that in mind, that raises two major problems. Firstly, the potential to overdose (especially on a small cat) is a real concern, and secondly, since our fastidious felines love to groom, it’s also likely that they could ingest trace amounts of tea tree oil into their systems.

My recommendation: I feel that treatment method is too high a risk for our cats, and I recommend that you explore other options to get rid of fleas on your cat. For example, you can use coconut oil and certain essential oils (that are cat-friendly) to keep those critters away. If you want more ideas, check out my other articles or just reach out to me, I will respond and would love to help you!

How to use it to soothe bites and repel fleas from people?

Fortunately for us, we are not the ideal target for a flea meal, and since we are not covered in fur, they have a hard time clinging onto our skin. That being said, fleas need to feed, and if there are no dogs or cats around, they will try and bite you.

If you are under attack, I have some good news for you. Not only will tea tree oil keep fleas away, but it can also be used to smooth those itchy bites. Here are the steps:

Picture of tea tree oil that can be used to control fleas and to sooth their bites

Using tea tree oil for bites on your skin:

Step 1: Wash the bites with a little soap (ideally without strong fragrances) and some cold water. Don’t use hot water as this can stimulate itching instead of soothing the skin. This step will immediately help the discomfort.

Step 2: Put two drops of tea tree oil in a quarter of a cup of carrier oil of your choice. Coconut oil is a great choice, but if you don’t have any, you can just use water. Mix it up and pour it into a little bottle with a lid (I like to use one with a cork as it seals nicely).

Step 3: Using a cotton bud, apply directly onto each bite. You can also just apply it with your finger if your hands are clean. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in the oil will relieve itchiness, kill any bacteria, and reduce the swelling. This is especially useful if you find it difficult to resist scratching, which can make it worse.

PRO TIPS: This oil mixture can be reapplied 2-3 times a day. Only use one drop of tea tree oil in the recipe above for young children, and avoid use on babies younger than three months of age. Although it’s unlikely, please remember to discontinue use if you notice any adverse reactions. Lastly, as mentioned in the safely section, don’t let pets lick the treated area as ingestion can make them sick.

Using tea tree oil to repel fleas from your legs:

Step 1: Since you will be applying this solution onto your legs (or at the bottom of your pants) to keep fleas away, I recommend that you avoid using a carrier oil like the recipe above. Mix 4 drops of tea tree oil into a cup of water, and pour it into a little spray bottle of your choice.

Step 2: Spray the solution on your legs, feet, and clothing (such as jeans, etc.). Fleas absolutely hate the smell, and when they catch the scent of this mixture, they will jump in the opposite direction, making this one of my favorite repellent for these nasty insects.

PRO TIPS: If you don’t like the slightly antiseptic smell of this oil, you can add 2-3 drops of another sweeter smelling essential oil (such as lavender or rosemary) to mask the odor a bit. If your head is itching, please remember that it is very unlikely to be fleas, but if you want to make sure, a quick wash with shampoo will kill them instantly. Please consult your doctor if it is still itching after this.

How to use tea tree oil on your dog and around your home?

For this section, my goal is to keep the discussion focused on using tea tree oil, but remember that there are other essential oils that are safe for your dog and for use in your home (read my guide on this). I have also written a detailed review on commercial flea sprays if you don’t want to make it yourself. If you have skipped to this section, please read the safely precautions before continuing to read these steps.

Tea tree spray for dog fleas:

Picture of a white dog that can use tea tree oil to get rid of fleasStep 1: Soak your dog’s fur with water (can use a hosepipe, or put him in the bath or shower) and rub in some Dawn dish soap. This kills fleas instantly, and it helps to have a clean slate before applying the tea tree oil. If Dawn is not available in your country, feel free to use something else that is not too harsh on the skin.

Step 2: The safe concentration range is between 0.1% – 1.0% of 100% tea tree oil, so put 8 drops of it into 2 oz (60ml) of carrier oil. If your dog is less than 15lbs (7kg), please only use 3 drops. My personal favorite is coconut oil as it also deadly to these pests, so it synergizes very well. You can use jojoba oil, olive oil, or just some tap water.

Step 3: Shake the mixture properly and put it on your dog, starting from the neck down to the tail. It is essential to lift the fur as you apply it (so that it reaches his skin). Lastly, please note that you are not trying to cover your entire dog, in fact, we are intentionally putting it where he cannot lick it off (on his back).

PRO TIP: Some dogs may manifest an allergic response to essential oils, while others tolerate them with absolutely no reaction at all. Always do a patch test on a small area of your dog’s skin first. Wait an hour, and if your pooch shows signs of skin irritation, just wash it off with some soap and water. If you have any concerns, please ask me in the comments section and I will help you.

Tea tree for fleas in your home:

If you are living in an house that is infested by fleas, you can use tea tree oil to help get the problem under control. However, please don’t make this if you have pets, as even if you keep them outside during application, there is always the chance that they could lick it up. If you have dogs or cats, rather use something like baking soda or regular salt instead.

Step 1: Fill a 33oz (1L) spray bottle with water and add 20 drops of tea tree oil, 20 drops of eucalyptus oil or peppermint oil and one cup of witch hazel. Shake vigorously to mix the oils with the water and start spraying it on your carpets, flooring, and furniture.

Step 2: You can repeat this process every 2-3 days, but please remember to shake up the solution often to keep all the ingredients of the spray blended. A couple of my readers have suggested putting this into a diffuser, and although I haven’t tested this, I am sure that it will work.

A quick summary of this guide if you are short on time:

Tea tree oil can help you to treat flea bite marks, repel them from your dogs, home and people, and kill them by interacting with their nervous system. It can even get rid of fleas if they are nearby, as the smell can be just as deadly for them as the actual oil itself.

It is safe for dogs and people in low dosages (0.1% to 1%), but avoid consuming it, using it on pregnant/elderly pets, or anywhere near cats. For home use, don’t overdo it as breathing in the terpenes all day can negatively affect your health or that of your pets.

Although some commercial cat flea products contain tea tree oil, it is challenging to match their low concentrations without proper equipment. It’s not impossible, but given their hypersensitivity, the risk does not justify its use in a DIY environment.

If you are excited to use tea tree oil to fight fleas (presuming you have read over the safety precautions already), please make sure that you follow the steps in this guide to the letter. Don’t increase the concentrations to try to make it work quicker, your health comes first!

I hope you are inspired to use this amazing oil to annihilate those annoying pests and give you, your family and your dogs a happy flea free environment in which to live. If you have any questions, I will be glad to help you in the comments section below! If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media.


  1. Avatar Esha says:

    Is it effective to spray coconut oil on my cat AND the areas where it sits? Will this help kill any fleas/flea eggs in the areas?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Esha! I wouldn’t put coconut oil in her sleeping/play areas. However, something like DE will kill fleas (see my guide on this), and a safe essential oil (NOT tea tree oil, it is toxic to cats) will keep those fleas away. Please check my guide on essential oils to choose one for your cat.

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