Titania–zeolite Y composites were synthesized by a facile solid-state dispersion method. The synergistic effects of porous zeolite structure and novel photocatalysis properties of titania nanoparticles were exploited. The physical properties of the composites were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray, X-ray diffraction, diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy and photoluminescence spectroscopy. Porosity and surface area of the composites were determined from Brunauer–Emmett–Teller studies. The antibacterial effect and the photocatalysis properties of these composites were studied. Composites exhibited higher growth reduction of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus as compared with the pure forms (P25 titania and zeolite Y). Maximum growth reduction of both types of bacterial cells (gram-positive as well as gram-negative) was observed with 20\% titania–zeolite composite. The composite demonstrated 40 and 30\% enhancement in the growth reduction of E. coli and S. aureus, respectively, as compared with the pure forms; 10\% composite exhibited 50\% enhancement in the photocatalysis efficiency of methylene blue dye degradation as compared with P25 titania nanoparticles and led to a complete removal of the dye in the first 60 min of photocatalysis process. Mechanisms for both applications have been proposed in light of the observed results. © 2020, Indian Academy of Sciences.