Can tea tree oil go bad? (+3 Ways to tell)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can tea tree oil go bad?”, and how to store tea tree oil?

Can tea tree oil go bad?

Yes, tea tree oil can go bad but not as in developing mold or yeast.  Like other essential oils, Tea tree oil does not have an expiry since essential oils do not contain any moisture that makes them susceptible to spoilage. 

But this does not mean that tea tree oil has an indefinite shelf-life. An expired or bad tea tree oil has an altered smell and consistency which are prime indicators of the expiry of the tea tree oil. 

Using expired oil can cause skin allergies and rashes and the symptoms can be worse If you have sensitive skin. Expired tea tree oil can also irritate your lungs If you breathe in it. The following two factors are the major reasons why tea tree oil goes bad.


Oxidation occurs when certain chemical reactions take place within the oil altering its consistency and smell. This happens when the oil is frequently exposed to oxygen. As a result of oxidation, tea tree oil might develop a thick and sticky texture.

Exposure to heat and light 

Frequent exposure to heat, light, and humidity strips the tea tree oil of its healing properties. Heat could be coming directly from the sun or other heat sources in the pantry like the stovetop.

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How to store tea tree oil?

  • Use dark-colored or opaque containers to store tea tree oil. For example, stainless steel containers, lined aluminum bottles, or cobalt blue/dark amber glass bottles. 
  • Plastic storage containers are a big no as the plastic can react to the oil and irritate the skin. Plastic also reduces the shelf-life of tea tree oil.
  • Make sure the lid or cap of the container is tightly sealed between uses.
  • The rule of thumb is to keep tea tree oil somewhere dark, dry, and cool away from heat sources like direct sunlight and the stovetop.
  • Tea tree oil can be refrigerated for a short period only because other food items in the fridge might pick its odor. Refrigeration is particularly recommended in the case of citrus oils because they are highly prone to spoilage due to oxidation.
  • If stored correctly, tea tree oil can easily last two years in storage.

How can you tell If your essential oil is expired?

After opening the bottle of oil, you must label the bottle with the date you opened it so that you can keep track of its shelf-life. However, If you forgot to do that, look for the signs below to confirm expiry.

  • The oil gives off a strange or foul smell
  • The oil appears cloudy or the overall color of the oil has altered considerably
  • The consistency is thicker or thinner than It was before

What is the best way to dispose of expired essential oils?

Draining the expired essential oils is a bad idea as It can clog the pipes and is hazardous for the environment. So, you might ask, how can you responsibly discard the expired essential oil? Do not worry because we have you covered. Follow the tips below for the safe disposal of expired essential oils.

  • Read the procedures of your city/county/municipality to get rid of the expired oils.
  • Contact the waste management company that picks up your trash and inquire them about the safe disposal of the chemicals.

How to recycle your essential oil containers?

After discarding your expired essential oils, you must be wondering what to do with their containers. First of all, wash them clean. 

For this, soak them in soapy water overnight and rinse and clean them with fresh water the next day. If the container still gives off a bad smell, soak them in rubbing alcohol and water mixed in a 1:1 ratio.

How long do essential oils last?

The shelf-life of the essential oil varies with their type and how they were stored. Most of the essential oils have a shelf-life of about 3 years. 

However, essentials oils like patchouli P. cablin, sandalwood S. spp., vetiver V. zizanioides, and ylang-ylang C. odorata var. genuina oils age like fine wine. Older or expired essential oils can also be used for cleaning purposes after diluting them.


In this article, we answered the question “Can tea tree oil go bad?”, and how to store tea tree oil?


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