Stop Throwing Out Your Used Tea Bags

updated Mar 12, 2020
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(Image credit: Stephanie Russo)

It feels so good to be able to do something with the things we’d normally discard. Coffee grounds as rose fertilizer and clementine peels saved for DIY candles come to mind, not to mention composting in general.

If you’re a regular or occasional tea drinker, you can add your tea bags to the list of garbage you shouldn’t throw out just yet. Here are some ways to re-use them post brew:

  • Add a hint of flavor to rice or grains. Hang your used tea bags in boiling water to infuse your food with a touch of flavor. Think jasmine tea with rice or chai tea with oatmeal.
  • Protect house plants from fungal disease by re-brewing a used tea bag and using the weak tea (cooled) to water your plants.
  • Neutralize odors naturally. Spread dried tea leaves in stinky spots like the cat litter box or in the bottom of your garbage bags.
  • Make cleaning the fireplace safer and easier. Dump the damp contents of tea bags onto the ash to weigh it down before sweeping out the fireplace.
  • De-grease pots and pans. Soak hard-to-clean dishes in water with a used tea bag tossed in. The tea will help loosen stuck-on food and break up grease.
  • Add them to your bath. The antioxidants in tea are good for your skin and the gentle scent will add some aromatherapy to your soak.
  • Take the sting out of insect bites and sunburns. Using a cool compress will reduce pain and inflammation of the affected areas.
  • Make a hair rinse. Remove product buildup without using another product. Soak 3-4 used tea bags in warm water and pour it over your head after shampooing and conditioning as usual. Don’t rinse. Pro tip: Chamomile brightens blondes and black tea adds a coppery shimmer to brunettes, according to Housewife How-Tos.
  • Deodorize carpets by scattering the dried contents of several teabags over your rugs before you vacuum.
  • Depuff tired eyes. Place cool tea bags over your eyes, cucumber style. According to Chasing Green, the tannins in the tea leaves may reduce bags and dark circles.
  • Clean leather shoes by buffing with a damp teabag.
  • Wash stinky hands, using a tea bag as you would a bar of soap to help eradicate garlic, onion, or fish odors.

Do you have any other smart uses for used tea bags?