A typical person drinks tea and throws away a used tea bag without a second thought. If you want more bang for your buck, your used tea bags can actually be used for many different things. Don't throw the bag away – try making it work in as many ways as possible for you!
Stay tuned for 20 of our favourite uses for old tea bags.
1. Eye Bag Reduction
If you don’t get enough sleep, and have large under-eye bags to give it away, one cheap solution is to use tea bags for puffy eyes. It works well, but keep in mind that you have to do this often to see visible results.
Pick a tea that has lots of caffeine and tannins, like green and black tea, which have the ability to shrink and tighten tissues in our skin. These teas are also rich in antioxidants that soothe the skin.
Just refrigerate tea bags until they're cool and damp, then place them onto the area of puffy skin under the eye and leave them for about 20 minutes. Remove them and wash your face.
2. Brew a stronger tea
If you like your tea to have a stronger taste, save your used tea bags and add one to the next cup you brew. While a used bag doesn’t pack the same punch as a fresh one, the twice-brewed leaves will still lend a bit more flavour to the second cup.
This technique will work with any kind of tea, but is best with green or red varieties. White teas are generally too delicate to be used in this manner.
3. Add flavour to grains and pastas
Once you’ve brewed your cup of tea, you can re-use the bag to flavour other foods. Hang the pre-brewed bags into a pot of water while it comes to a boil to flavour the water, then remove the bags and add your pasta, rice, or other grains.
Try jasmine or chamomile tea with rice, green tea with pasta, and Chai or cinnamon spice tea with oatmeal.
4. Feed your garden
Rebrew used tea bags in a bucket of water and use the resulting weak tea to water your plants and protect them from fungal infections. You could also open up used tea bags and sprinkle the damp leaves around the base of your plants to fertilize the soil and deter garden pests like mice.
Finally, try adding previously-brewed tea bags to your compost pile for a boost of nutrients. Just remember to remove the metal staple if your tea bags are the kind that have them.
5. Clean carpets and rugs
One of the best uses for pre-brewed tea is to clean and deodorize your floor coverings. Store used tea bags in the refrigerator in a cup of water to keep them from spoiling until you have enough to cover the surface you want to clean.
Then open the used tea bags and let all of the leaves dry until they’re still slightly damp, but no longer wet. Sprinkle the loose tea over rugs and carpets and leave them until they’re totally dry. Then vacuum them up or sweep the dried tea leaves away.
6. Neutralize odours
Used tea is also great for removing lingering odours from your home. You can use it everywhere, from adding dried used tea leaves into cat litter to storing pre-brewed tea bags in the refrigerator to keep it smelling fresh.
You can even drop a few dry used tea bags into the bottom of your rubbish bins to neutralize bad smells before they can escape into your kitchen. These are just a few examples, but the possibilities are endless.
7. Make a DIY air freshener
A fun tea bag use is to add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to dry used tea bags to create air fresheners for your home, office, or vehicle. Since most tea bags come with a string built in, hanging them is easy.
Once the oil wears off, simply add a few more drops to refresh. Also, because tea leaves absorb odours, these creative homemade air fresheners will work double-time to keep your living areas smelling great.
8. Deter household pests
Mice don’t particularly like the smell of tea. If you’re trying to avoid a mouse or rat infestation, place used tea bags into cupboards, pantries, and in any areas where these pests may enter your home to make them think twice about coming inside.
For added protection, try saturating the bags with peppermint essential oil. Not only will this further deter pesky rodents, it will also repel a variety of other household pests like spiders and ants, while making your home smell minty fresh.
9. Degrease dirty dishes
Used tea bags are an alternative to chemicals to help remove that baked on food and grease. Just soak your dishes in warm water with a couple of used tea bags to break up grease without the application of harsh chemicals.
The tea will also help to loosen any stuck-on food and save you from the endless scrubbing.
10. Make a deodorizing hand scrub
After handling foods like garlic, onions, and fish, you can use pre-brewed tea bags to scrub your hands and remove those lingering scents. You can also make a tea-based sugar scrub using 1 part tea with 3 parts sugar, as well as honey, lemon, yogurt or other favourite ingredients if you choose to, and rub it onto your body in the shower as an exfoliator.
11. Soak your feet
The tannic acid in strong black tea kills bacteria and closes pores to help your feet sweat less. Tea can also be used to soften calluses on your feet and nourish your skin.
Just make yourself a cup of tea as usual, then remove the bags and dilute the tea with two quarts of water. Let the mixture cool down if necessary, then soak your feet for 30 minutes. Repeat daily to enjoy the best benefits for your feet.
12. Make an antioxidant bath
Because tea leaves contain antioxidants, bathing in warm water steeped with pre-brewed tea bags is great for your skin. Either hang the used bags over the faucet and let the water run through them as you fill your bath, or drop the bags directly into the water to create a nourishing tea bath.
As an added bonus, use fragrant tea like Jasmine for an aromatherapy experience or try pre-brewed Chamomile tea to relax your whole body while you bathe.
13. Soothe irritated skin
Cool, moist tea bags are an excellent way to naturally soothe skin irritations. Try massaging them over sunburn to cool skin and reduce inflammation.
You can also place tea bags against bruises to ease discomfort and help speed healing, or gently rub them over stings and bites to draw out the toxins and lessen pain and swelling.
14. Draw out infections
Some types of tea, like green tea, chamomile, rooibos, and black tea, all have anti-inflammatory properties. Also loaded with antibacterial properties, tea bags fight against bacteria and reduce inflammation and pain.
Apply warm, moist pre-brewed tea bags onto skin affected by pinkeye, canker sores, fever blisters, plantar warts, or any other similar infections to draw out the infection, reduce pain, and help speed the healing process.
15. Eliminate bad breath
Some types of teas, especially green tea and peppermint tea, are antioxidants. Because of this, drinking or rinsing with these teas can help to cleanse and rinse off the bacteria from your mouth as well as helping you to get rid of toxins in your body, giving you a refreshing feeling throughout the day.
You can use twice-brewed tea to make an all-natural breath-freshening mouthwash. Simply brew up some weak tea using your used tea bags.
16. Condition hair
Not only does tea provide us day-long comfort sipped from a mug, it can also help your hair look its best. Tea rinses have been popular for centuries and their benefits are endless.
White tea rinses can be used on all hair types but are especially beneficial for people with light hair like blondes and red heads, natural or dyed, while chamomile tea rinses can enhance any blonde barnet – try it combined with honey and a little lemon juice and some sunlight.
Rooibos tea rinses smell beautiful and can help bring out the best in red or light brown hair, and dark coloured tea can help improve the colour of brown or black hair, and may even help hide greys.
Just brew up some weak tea with your used bags and use after your shampoo to condition and nourish your hair and scalp.
17. Renew wood surfaces
A black tea-and-water combination is an effective home remedy for cleaning wood surfaces and floors. The acidic level in black tea lifts dirt from the wood, and removes the dirt without harming the finish of your floors and surfaces.
Just use weak tea made from pre-brewed bags, and you’ll be able to add shine to your hardwood floors and polish wood furniture.
18. Make a homemade glass cleaner
Re-brew used tea bags and spray the weak tea onto windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces to loosen up dirt, grime, fingerprints, and other gunk. This cleaning hack has taken off in the past year, with it being labelled as a “game changer” by cleaning enthusiasts across the world.
Just be sure to wipe the tea away with a clean, lint-free cloth to minimize streaks and dust particles after cleaning.
19. Marinate your meats
Boil some tea with your leftover tea bags to make a delicious marinade for your meats. Tear those leftover tea bags open and rub them into your meats for a dry marinade and to let the flavours infuse in.
Leave them overnight and brush away the tea leaves for a deliciously fragrant dish. You can also add cooking wine or some other marinade sauces for an even richer flavour.
20. At-home facial
You can use a couple of old tea bags to do an at-home facial steam treatment. Place the tea bags into a bowl of hot, steamy water, then lean over the bowl for 5 to 10 minutes and let the steam work its magic.
The steam will open your pores, allowing the antioxidants from the tea to tone and hydrate your skin. Green tea and chamomile tea are particularly beneficial to your skin.
With all of these great ideas for re-using your old tea bags, you’ll most likely want to store a few away until you’re ready to use them. Moist tea bags can be kept at room temperature for a day at the most. Otherwise, you will want to refrigerate them to prevent mould and bacteria growth
When in doubt, use your nose. If your old tea bags smell funky when you take them out of the refrigerator, it’s probably best to toss them and use a fresh bag just to be safe.