13 Surprising Green Ways to Reuse Tea Bags

tea bags reuse

Reuse your tea bags in multiple ways. In this guide we use simple, black tea and herbal teas where stated. 

Like our popular guide on reusing air conditioner water, old tea bags ? … that’s easy. As an avid tea drinker, I was intrigued when I stumbled upon a variety of sources that promoted the eco-friendly use of tea bags, outside the teacup. Arthur W. Pinero, an Englishman, of course, said, “Where there’s tea, there’s hope.”  That’s definitely true.  Brewed tea bags can provide a pick-me-up in ways you’d least expect.  Here are 13 of them. You can use tea…

1. As a cold compress.

Got tired eyes, bruises, or sunburn? Bee stings or mosquito bites?  Did your child just get a shot at the doctor’s but the free lollipop wasn’t consolation enough?  Apply a cool, moist tea bag made from black tea to these kinds of affected areas on the skin to get soothing relief and quicker healing.

2. As a hot compress.

Trying to get rid of pinkeye, canker sores or fever blisters?  Or maybe a plantar wart smack dab in the middle of the sole of your right foot?  Warm, wet tea bags can draw out the infections.

3. To clean your carpets.

For more delicate, Persian or Oriental carpets, sprinkle almost-dry tea leaves on the carpet, and then sweep them away when dry.  Tea leaves on more heavy-duty carpets can be vacuumed.

4. To take a flavored bath.

Treat your skin as you would your taste buds, in the bathtub.  Give your bath salts a run for their money by running the bath water over several used tea bags.  You’ll have yourself an aromatic, skin-softening soak in no time.

5. To feed your garden.

Cultivate your healthy plants and bring your dying ones back to life by breaking open a soaked tea bag and disseminating the contents over the soil.  Roses and ferns do especially well with the acidic tannins found in black tea.

Don’t have a garden? Add the used tea leaves to your enrich your compost pile – and if you don’t have that, make one.  (Remember to take the staples out of the tea bag, if there are any.)

6. To eliminate odors around the house.

Put dried tea leaves in your garbage can and your kitten’s litter box.  They’ll also suck up food odors when stuck in a bowl in the fridge.  And combine them with your favorite essential oils to make all-natural air fresheners.

Odors might also be closer than you think: especially if you’ve been handling fish, your hands might smell…fishy.  Rinse your hands with old tea.  As for your mouth and all that bad-breath bacteria, skip the shocking Listerine and go for a gentle mint tea mouth rinse.

7. To give your locks some love.

Tea acts as a sort of leave-in conditioner: Make your dry hair shiny by rinsing your hair with unsweetened tea.  Leave your head alone to dry, then rinse out the tea. This works well in areas with hard water.

8. To polish your wooden floors.

You might need to amass quite a few tea bags for this one.  Mop your wooden floors with brewed tea, and while you’re at it, shine up some furniture, too.

9. To say goodbye to greasy dishes.

Whatever it may be that is caked onto your plates from dinner, do not fear.  Soak the dishes in hot water with a few brewed tea bags.  The more the grease, the more time will be needed to break it down; soaking the pile overnight is recommended.

10. To recreate potpourri.

Rarely do used tea bags lose their scent completely.  Dry out your favorite teas (any kinds will do) and add the leaves to potpourri; they’ll blend right in, aesthetically and also in form. After all, potpourri is made of dried fruit peels, herb leaves, flowers, and spices.

11. To replace Windex.

Maybe your kids had their hands all over the windows, or maybe the glass is just dusty.  Make them sparkle by rubbing a damp teabag over them or applying brewed tea from a spray bottle, then wiping it away with a cloth.

12. To discover your inner Michelangelo.

Artists have started to use strong black teas to paint backgrounds or accentuate black-and-white sketches.

and my favorite…

13. To make flavored rice.

When cooking rice, add your used herbal tea bags to the water to allow a new, mild flavor to permeate throughout. Jasmine tea, one of my personal favorites, is a great choice for rice-flavoring.

After steeping a tea bag two or more times (because once is never enough) to enjoy my favorite hot drink,  I always felt bad tossing it.  Knowing now of brewed tea bags’ reusability, I’ll be able to leave the leaves out of the trash for a little while longer.

Now read on for 10 surprising green ways to use olive oil. And surprising uses for kitchen salt.

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8 thoughts on “13 Surprising Green Ways to Reuse Tea Bags”

  1. Kelly Vaghenas says:

    Good one! Invisible #14 🙂

  2. Maurice says:

    Put them in your worm bed as well. Those red wrigglers like to eat tea bags along with other food wastes.

  3. S. Havrisko says:

    Very interesting! Will certainly have to try some of those amazing ideas.

  4. K. Baker says:

    Love the rice idea!

  5. Beth Yaremczak says:

    Great ideas, Kelly.I had never thought of flavoring my rice. Keep the ideas coming.

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  7. Kelly Vaghenas says:

    Bill, I’ve never heard of that cleaning practice, but I’m sure I’ll see it (or rather, I’ll look for it!) someday when eating Chinese. Thanks for reading and sharing your own insights.

  8. That explains why they use tea to wipe off tables in Chinese restaurants. I have tried using tea as plant food for houseplants and found Philodendrons to like it. Nice article, Kelly!

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