Check out these 15 Smart Ways To Reuse Tea Bags before you sit down to have your next cuppa.
Whether you prefer yours hot or iced, green or black or herbal, tea is a beverage that most of us enjoy and I’m definitely in the tea-loving camp. And while we can debate endlessly about how to make the proper cup of tea and the best way to bring out its flavor, one thing all tea-lovers have in common is a slight twinge of guilt that tea bags are a “one and done” thing.
Some people respond to this by using and reusing the same bag to make tea. Honestly, I can’t bring myself to do that: the second cup is never, ever as good as the first. Rather than feeling guilty for tossing the tea bag after one use, I’ve come up with fifteen great ways to reuse them that do NOT involve drinking weak tea.
1. Use them to flavor oatmeal, grains, and pasta.
It sounds crazy until you’ve tried it but adding an old tea bag to the water when you’re making these foods can impart a wonderful, deeper flavor. Try Orange and Cinnamon or Lemon tea in your morning oatmeal. Green tea adds a delicate, rich taste to rice dishes while mint tea in the water leads to a flavorful cold pasta salad.
2. Soothe your skin.
Toss a few tea bags in the tub next time you’re running a bath — the tannic acid helps soften and exfoliate skin. Two used peppermint tea bags and a half cup of Epsom salt in a large bowl of warm water make a soothing soak for tired feet. Or add lemon tea bags and a pinch of baking soda to a shallow bowl of warm water to whiten your fingernails.
3. Depuff Eye Bags.
If allergies or late nights make you prone to puffy eyes you’ll want to keep a few used tea bags in the fridge to treat them. Just place a slightly damp bag over each closed eye and relax with your head up for 5 minutes while the chilled bag does the rest.
4. Make your hair shine.
Tea makes a great rinse to remove product buildup on your scalp and tresses: just soak 3-4 used bags in a cup of warm water and pour it over your head after shampooing and conditioning but don’t rinse. Chamomile will bring out the brightness of blondes while black tea will add a coppery shimmer for brunettes.
5. Make white bras “nude.”
Found the perfect bra but it only comes in white? Don’t worry! You can dye it beige by soaking it in 3 cups warm (not hot) water, 1/2 cup white vinegar (to set the color) and 6 used tea bags. Once it’s reached the desired shade remove the bra from the soaking solution, gently squeeze it out, and let it air dry to finish setting the color. After that, you can wash it by hand using a laundry detergent for delicates to get the scent of tea and vinegar out before wearing.
6. Baby your burned skin.
Cooking burns, blistered heels, and even sunburned skin can all be soothed by applying a used teabag to them. For larger areas, boil used tea bags in milk for 1 minute then let it cool before applying with a cloth or spray bottle.
7. Dry up poison ivy rashes.
Having poison ivy is miserable enough but the weepy, oozing rash that goes with it can cause it to spread. Treat such rashes with a compress of used tea bags to soothe them — the tannic acid will cut through the urishol (the plant oil) and help dry up the area, too.
8. Get rid of garlic and onion odors.
Remove cooking odors from your hands by rubbing a used tea bag between them after washing. To get them out of the air in your home, boil several bags along with a sprinkling of cinnamon and a few cloves.
9. Freshen your fridge and freezer.
Keep an open container of used tea bags in a corner of your fridge and freezer to treat food odors. You’ll want to change this out every few days, of course, but if you’re a die-hard tea drinker that won’t be a problem.
10. Make fireplace cleaning cleaner.
Open up a few used tea bags and sprinkle their contents on the ashes in your wood-burning fireplace before cleaning it. The damp tea will help keep the ashes from flying around as you sweep them up and helps reduce the sooty odor, too.
11. Fertilize acid-loving plants.
Some plants, like strawberries and azaleas, thrive in highly acidic soils. To give these plants a boost, sprinkle the contents of used tea bags around their base every week throughout the growing season. When you water, the tea’s acids will soak into the soil and reach the plant roots.
12. Help for hemorrhoids.
For some, painful piles are a fact of life. Placing a cool, used tea bag on external hemorrhoids can help shrink and soothe them, relieving the itching and burning that cause such misery. For particularly bad flares, make a sitz bath by pouring 3 inches of water into the tub and adding 4 used tea bags.
13. Pest and disease control for house plants.
Sprinkle the contents of used tea bags around the base of houseplants to enrich their soil. Thanks to tea’s slight antibacterial properties you’ll also help prevent mold and keep insects from laying eggs.
14. Help your garden grow.
Adding used tea bags to your compost pile helps speed the rate of decomposition. Before adding whole tea bags to your compost, you’ll want to find out what they’re made of. Most tea bags contain polypropene, which does not decompose. If yours do, or if you’re in doubt, open the bags and use just the damp tea leaves.
15. Make tea-flavored ice cubes for iced tea.
Even those rabidly in the “one cup per bag!” camp are fine with rebrewing tea bags for the purpose of making tea-flavored ice cubes. They’re a great addition to your iced tea since they don’t water it down, but don’t stop there: try adding mint-flavored iced cubes to lemonade — berry-flavored teas are great in it, too!