How to get rid of the smell of tea tree oil
July 10, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of tea tree oil that's stubbornly refusing to come up from a laminate counter? I spilled a small bottle today and the smell is atrocious. Clorox wipes have been unsuccessful thus far.
posted by Hello Darling to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bar Keeper's Friend has helped me get rid of some truly astonishingly horrible stuff, and it says it's safe for laminate counters.
posted by SMPA at 9:59 AM on July 10, 2012

Can you dilute it with another oil, and then soak it up?

If it were me, I'd glop on piles of dish detergent or another strong soap that cuts oil.
posted by Sara C. at 10:02 AM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

You need something to first remove as much oil as you a alcohol based solvent or detergent. Then to get rid of the smell you might try making a paste of baking soda and water and spreading it over the area and letting it dry/sit for a while.
posted by Captain_Science at 10:08 AM on July 10, 2012

Yeah, I'd try a detergent (like dish soap) on it first, which definitely won't hurt the counter.
posted by rtha at 10:17 AM on July 10, 2012

Dawn to rid the surface of oil. I have not met another dish soap that is as awesome at cutting grease/oil.

Scrub with Bar Keeper's Friend per instructions on bottle.

Cover in a pile of baking soda to absorb odor and perhaps pull oil out of surface. Leave overnight.
posted by fief at 10:31 AM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Dish detergent to get rid of the oil. Then leave a little puddle of white vinegar on the spot for a minute or two to get rid of the smell. (It'll smell like vinegar afterward of course, but not for long.)

Baking soda idea proposed by others seems like it would work too; haven't personally tried it on counters, but I use baking soda to clear the smell out of the fridge/microwave/oven/trashbin every now and then.
posted by Urban Winter at 10:34 AM on July 10, 2012

Seconding Dawn. You also might want to try making a thin-ish paste out of Oxy Clean and letting that sit on top of the spill for a while. That stuff can get rid of nearly anything.
posted by slogger at 10:47 AM on July 10, 2012

Seconding Sara C. - I'd add some non-smelly oil for a minute or so and then add the soap.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 10:56 AM on July 10, 2012

Baking soda?
posted by stormpooper at 11:14 AM on July 10, 2012

I spilled a bottle (the whole thing, brand new *sigh*) on my cutting board, ugh, the smell. First I used Dawn and scrubbed the crap out of it. Then I made a paste of baking soda and left it on for a couple of hours. That took care of most of the smell. I was lucky that I could remove it, because I then stuck it outside in the sun all day, which took care of the rest.
posted by upatree at 12:06 PM on July 10, 2012

Would vegetable or canola oil work? It's made my whole apartment smell.

Maybe I should just move...
posted by Hello Darling at 12:38 PM on July 10, 2012

Would vegetable or canola oil work? It's made my whole apartment smell.

No, you need something to break up the oil, like a detergent or de-greaser. More oil will just spread it around. Start with dishwashing soap.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:25 PM on July 10, 2012

I dunno about the "bashing it with detergents" approach - unless you get get your hands on some sodium lauryl sulphate (SDS) or something.

I'm thinking "like dissolves like." Pour a healthy puddle of cooking oil over the patch and leave overnight. Soak up with a paper towel, then wash area with water+detergent.

I've not actually ever had problems with tea tree oil lingering - are you sure its the real thing and not adultered or some synthetic? Is there an ingredient list on the label? It could be something else that's smelling up your joint.

Is it just the smell, or is there a visually noticeable residue on your counter? It's possible that there's something else that soaked up the tea tree oil and is releasing the smell; if the spill is at the edge of a countertop or around a seam, it might have soaked into the un-cladded fiber-board underneath the formica/laminate top. In which case, I hope you can learn to like the smell of tea tree oil.

Oils are volatile, if you heat-gun the area it might speed up the rate of volitilation and get rid of the smell long-term.
posted by porpoise at 8:02 PM on July 10, 2012

The smell dissipated on its own! Looks like I overreacted. Thanks anyway, all!
posted by Hello Darling at 5:36 AM on July 11, 2012

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