used tea bag

For you greenies who feel bad throwing (almost!) anything away without first racking your eco-conscious brain for another way to put that about-to-be-garbage to use, these ideas will get you all steamed up! 

A cup (or two, or three, or four) of hot or iced tea a day adds up to a mini mountain of used tea bags. After the kettle has long gone cold and you have enjoyed your brew, what do you do with that used tea bag? If it’s trashcan-bound, then try out one (or all 10) of these methods to put those tea bags to good re-use.

1. Hydrate your skin

Your skin can delight in tea as much as your tastebuds do. Instead of your usual bath salts, run your bath water over several used tea bags for an aromatic and skin-rejuvenating soak. The tealeaves will help restore your dried out skin from too many summer days spent outdoors to velvety softness. The antioxidants in green tea are particularly good for revitalizing skin.

2. Break down grease

Baking soda isn’t the only tough grease remover in your pantry. Give baking soda a run for its money by soaking pots and pans covered in unrelenting caked-on food in a sink filled with hot water and several used tea bags. The tannins in the tea will break down that stubborn residue in no time. (Don’t tell baking soda.)

3. Make plant food

Nourish those hungry plants with used tea leaves. Break open a nutrient-rich tea bag and disperse the contents over the soil or add them to your compost. Roses and ferns especially like the acidic tannins in tea. You can also nurse your sickly plants back to health by watering them with twice-brewed tea.

4. Relieve tired eyes

This method’s an oldie but a goodie. Place cooled tea bags on your eyes, spa-style, for 10 minutes to relieve puffy, red eyes. The tannins in tea will reduce discoloration and inflammation. Chamomile’s soothing properties work particularly well to relieve agitated eyes.

5. Control odors

Freshen up stinky spots around the home (think anywhere you’d employ baking soda) with used tea bags.

  • Stick a few used tea bags in a bowl and place it in the fridge to suck up food odors.
  • Sprinkle the dried leaves on wooden cutting boards, carpet (be sure to vacuum them up), garbage cans and litter boxes.
  • Make a natural air freshener with twice-brewed tea and a combination of your favorite essential oils.

6. Take the sting out of bug bites

When insects decide to munch on you, relieve the pain of bites and stings by making a used tea bag compress. Simply place a cooled tea bag on the painful area to sooth the ache and reduce inflammation. This method also works on sunburns.

7. Enhance wooden furniture and floors

Spiff up your wooden décor with twice-brewed tea. Boil 6 to 10 used tea bags in about a gallon of water. Mop your floors like normal or use a soft cloth dampened in the water to clean furniture. The acidic tannins in tea will make your wooden floors and furniture shine. 

8. Eliminate bad breath

Before you get up close and personal with your significant other, do the classic sniff-and-smell breath test. Does yours smell a bit, well, bad? Make an impromptu mouthwash using twice-brewed tea. Simply swish around a generous amount of twice-brewed green or mint tea in your mouth to kill the bad breath bacteria. Now, go ahead, pucker up.

9. A homemade pedicure

Your mouth isn’t the only body part that can benefit from odor-neutralizing tea. Next time you plan to treat yourself to a natural pedicure, give your stinky tootsies an antibacterial boost by soaking your feet in a basin of warm water topped with several used tea bags. Luxuriate for 15 minutes.

10. Make flavored rice 

Reuse your tea bags in… what better place than the kitchen? When cooking rice, add your used herbal tea bags to the water to create a mild-flavored rice that’s all your own. Our suggestion? Drop in a few used jasmine tea bags to your boiling water. 

image: justmakeit

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