4 Clever Uses for Cloves

Break out the winter spice to clear up colds, mold, and skin problems

Experts weigh in on four uses of cloves you may not have heard of.

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Congestion RX

Believe it or not, a tea that contains cloves can help you kick a respiratory infection. "Cloves work as an expectorant, loosening mucus in the throat and esophagus so you can cough it up," said Neil Schachter, MD, a professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

After seeing your own healthcare provider (to rule out a bacterial infection), try Dr. Schachter's healing brew: Combine 2 cloves, a stick of cinnamon, and 2 crushed cardamom seeds in an infuser; place in a large mug with a black tea bag. Add boiling water and let steep for 1–2 minutes.

Then sip away your symptoms.

02 of 04

All-Natural Sachet

To give your clothes an intoxicating aroma (and sweeten up musty spots such as the basement), toss a few whole cloves in the bottom of an old clean sock and tie with a ribbon.

The spicy scent covers up odors and keeps your stuff smelling fresh, noted Summer Rayne Oakes, an eco-activist and author of Style, Naturally.

Swap out the cloves every 2–4 weeks so the scent stays at its sweet and spicy peak.

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Breakout Buster

The spice helps clear acne, thanks to eugenol, a natural antiseptic that balances the skin, stopping future breakouts, said Cornelia Zicu, global chief creative officer for Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas.

Try Zicu's complexion-perfecting mask: Combine 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 3 drops of fresh lemon juice in a small bowl.

Apply to your entire face and leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse with cold water for clear skin.

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Got mold? Skip harsh chemicals and eliminate it with cloves.

"Because it works as a natural antiseptic, clove oil can reduce existing outbreaks and prevent future ones in affected spots," said Sara Snow, eco-expert and author of Sara Snow's Fresh Living.

Snow's mold-slashing solution: Add a dash of clove oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) to 2 cups of water and pour it into an empty spray bottle. Scrub the susceptible spot (shower walls, outdoor cushions), spritz on, and let sit to deter further growth. Then sit back and breathe easy.

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