For many people, tea bags are a one-use item. One bag equals one cup of tea. Then the used bag goes in the trash bin, right?
Well… not quite. While you may not relish the idea of using the same bag to brew more than one cup of tea, there are still plenty of other uses for those little packets of damp tea leaves.
Read on and discover eighteen genius ways to reuse your old tea bags…
1. Brew 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 flavor 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.
2. Add Flavor to Pasta & Grains
Once you’ve brewed your cup of tea, you can re-use the bag to flavor other foods. Hang the pre-brewed bags into a pot of water while it comes to a boil to flavor the water, remove use tea bags, then add your pasta, rice, or other grains. Need some delicious ideas to get you started? Try jasmine or chamomile tea with rice, green tea with pasta, Chai or cinnamon spice tea with oatmeal.
3. Feed Your Garden
Rebrew used bags in a bucket of water and use the resulting weak tea to water your plants and protect them from fungal infections. Alternately, 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. You can also add 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.
4. Clean Carpets and Rugs
Use pre-brewed tea 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 are still slightly damp, but no longer wet. Sprinkle the loose tea over rugs and carpets and leave them until they are totally dry. Then vacuum them up or sweep the dried tea leaves away.
5. Neutralize Household Odors
Used tea is also great for removing lingering odors from your home. Mix dried used tea leaves into cat litter. Store pre-brewed tea bags in the refrigerator to keep it smelling fresh. Drop a few dry used tea bags into the bottom of your trash bins to neutralize bad smells before they can escape into your kitchen. These are just a few examples, but the possibilities are endless.
6. DIY Air Freshener
Add a few drops of your favorite 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 a snap. Once the oil wears off, simply add a few more drops to refresh. Also, because tea leaves absorb odors, these creative homemade air fresheners will work double-time to keep your living areas smelling great!
7. Deter Household Pests
Mice don’t particularly like the smell of tea. Tuck 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 at the same time making your home smell minty fresh!
8. Degrease Dirty Dishes
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.
9. Deodorizing Hand Scrub
After handling foods like garlic, onions, and fish, use pre-brewed tea bags to scrub your hands and remove those lingering scents.
10. Soak Your Feet
Add used tea bags to warm water and soak your feet to neutralize foot odors, soften calluses, and nourish your skin.
11. 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.
12. Soothe Irritated Skin
Cool, moist tea bags are an excellent way to naturally soothe skin irritations. Place them over sore, tired eyes to ease discomfort. Massage over sunburn to cool skin and reduce inflammation. Place against bruises to ease discomfort and help speed healing. Gently rub over stings and bites to draw out the toxins and lessen pain and swelling.
13. Draw Out Infections
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.
14. Eliminate Bad Breath
Use twice-brewed tea to make an all-natural breath-freshening mouthwash. Simply brew up some weak tea using your used tea bags. (While this will work with many kinds of tea, peppermint and green teas tend to work best.)
15. Condition Hair
Brew up some weak tea with your used bags and use after your shampoo to condition and nourish your hair and scalp.
16. Renew Wood Surfaces
Use weak tea made from pre-brewed bags to clean and shine hardwood floors and polish wood furniture.
17. 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. Be sure to wipe away with a clean, lint-free cloth to minimize streaks and dust particles.
18. Dye Paper and Cloth
Steep used tea bags and use the weak tea water to turn boring white paper into sepia-toned, antique parchment. Or use weak tea made from pre-brewed bags to dye white cloth in shades of warm brown, orange, or pale green.
A Final Note
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 mold and bacteria growth. Just remember that all natural foods – tea included – will go bad after a long enough period of time, even when kept chilled. 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.