In our quest to reuse, recycle, and re-imagine, it’s always a plus to find new uses for something. Even better if it makes our lives easier in the process.
The once- or twice-dunked tea bag usually went right in the trash. But no more! Try these ideas for your used tea bags to help with some tasks around the house.
Uses For Used Tea Bags You Probably Didn’t Know
1. Eliminate Foot Odor: Great for athletes and anyone on their feet a lot, soaking your feet for 30 minutes a day in black tea (just save up those used bags) may result in fresher feet. Believers say it’s the tannins, or tannic acid, that creates a hostile environment for bacteria and/or acts as an astringent which contracts tissue, including sweat glands. Placing dry tea bags in shoes also reduces lingering moisture, which prevents bacteria build-up and odor.
2. Shine mirrors: Re-soak used tea bags in warm water. Dip a clean cloth in the “tea” and wipe mirrors, then dry with another cloth.
3. Coax your compost: Re-soak tea bags and pour resulting liquid (strong is best) and tea leaves on the compost heap. This is said to speed up the composting process and attract acid-producing bacteria for acid-rich compost. Many plants grow best in acid-rich soil, including azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangea, calla lilies—even pine trees.
4. Improve potted plant health by scattering some used tea bags atop the drainage layer at the bottom of the planter before planting. Tea bags retain water and leach nutrients into the soil.
5. Sparkling toilets: Some attest to the use of used tea bags as stain removing agents. Remove leaves from the used bags, toss into the bowl and let sit for a few hours. Then flush.
6. Deodorize fridge: Out of baking soda? Used tea bags can work just as well to absorb odors. Place them in a dish in the back of the fridge and compost after a couple of weeks.
7. Lessen lost tooth pain: Some experts recommend placing a cold, wet tea bag on the spot where a child’s tooth has fallen out. It may reduce pain and lessen bleeding due to the tannins in tea that constrict blood vessels.
8. Tenderize meat: Used tea bags can be soaked again in liquid to tenderize a tough cut of meat.
9. Soothe insect bites and rashes: Apply cold, used tea bags to reduce swelling and redness.
10. De-grease dirty dishes: Dishes, pots, and pans can be soaked in a sink filled with warm water and used tea bags to break up grease and make any necessary scrubbing easier for stubborn, dried, baked-on food.
Beth Herman is a freelance writer with interests in healthy living and food, family, animal welfare, architecture and design, religion, and yoga. She writes for a variety of national and regional publications, institutions, and websites.