15 Ways To Reuse Tea Bags

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Check out these clever ways to reuse tea bags next time you finish savoring a cup.

Tea and tea bag in white cup against green background

Ways to Reuse Tea Bags

Whether you prefer hot or iced, green or black or herbal, tea is a beverage that millions of us enjoy. While we can debate endlessly about how to make a proper cup of tea, we all feel a twinge of guilt throwing away a tea bag after one use.

Some people handle this by using the bag to make more than one cup. Unfortunately, the second brew is never, ever as good as the first. So, I’ve come up with fifteen great ways to reuse tea bags that don’t involve drinking weak tea.

1. Flavor Oatmeal, Grains, and Pasta

It sounds crazy until you’ve tried it, but adding an old tea bag when you’re boiling grains or pasta imparts a wonderful, deeper flavor. Try Orange and Cinnamon in your morning oatmeal. Green tea adds a delicate, rich taste to rice dishes. Lemon tea provides a lively flavor when making pasta.

2. Soothe Your Skin

Toss a few tea bags in the tub next time you’re running a bath. The tannic acid in tea helps soften and exfoliate the skin. To soothe and soak tired feet, add used peppermint tea bags and some Epsom salt to a large bowl of warm water. Whiten fingernails by soaking them in a shallow bowl of water with a used lemon tea bags and a pinch of baking soda.

3. Depuff Eye Bags

Keep a jar of still-damp tea bags in the refrigerator to treat eyes irritated by allergies or late nights. Place two on your closed eyelids for five minutes. The cool temperature helps eliminate water retention and feels soothing.

4. Make Your Hair Shiny

Tea makes a great rinse to remove product buildup on your scalp and tresses. 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 brings out the brightness of blondes, while black tea adds a coppery shimmer for brunettes.

5. Turn White Bras Beige

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 out moisture, and let it air dry to set the color. Launder it using a detergent for delicates to remove the scent and let it air dry again before wearing.

6. Cool Burned Skin

Moderate to severe burns need medical attention. For minor burns, applying a chilled tea bag can provide relief. Use a teabag or two on superficial cooking burns or sunburned noses. For larger areas, boil used teabags in milk for 1 minute, then let it cool and apply using a clean cloth or spray bottle.

7. Dry Poison Ivy Rashes

Tea can cut through urishol — the oily sap in poison ivy or poison oak that causes itchy rashes. Press one or more chilled used tea bags against the rash and secure them in place with a bandage. Leave them in place for five minutes, then uncover the area to let it air dry. Repeat as needed.

8. Get of Cooking Odors on Skin

Chopping onions or garlic can leave your hands smelly. Remove these cooking odors by rubbing a used tea bag between your palms. To get cooking odors out of your home’s air, boil several bags together with a sprinkling of cinnamon and a few cloves for twenty minutes.

9. Freshen Your Fridge and Freezer

Keep an open container of used tea bags in the corner of your fridge and freezer to treat food odors. Dip into it as needed for any of the methods in this list.

10. Make Fireplace Cleaning Easier

Open up a few used tea bags and sprinkle their contents on the cold ashes in your wood-burning fireplace. Wait ten minutes, then sweep up the mess. The damp tea keeps ashes from flying around as you sweep. They’ll 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

Placing a cool, used tea bag on external hemorrhoids can help shrink and soothe them, relieving the itching and burning. For particularly bad flares, make a sitz bath by pouring 3 inches of water into the tub and adding 4 used tea bags. See a doctor for internal hemorrhoid treatment.

13. Pest Control for House Plants

Sprinkle the contents of used tea bags around the base of houseplants to enrich their soil. The tea’s slightly antimicrobial properties will also help prevent and get rid of gnats and prevent common plant diseases.

14. Compost More Quickly

Adding tea to your compost pile helps speed the rate of decomposition. Don’t just toss tea bags on the pile, though — most contain polypropylene, which does not decompose. If you’re uncertain, cut the bags open and dump only the contents onto your compost pile.

15. Make Tea-flavored Ice

Steep used tea bags in hot water to make a weak cup, then pour it into an ice cube tray. Pop the tray into the freezer and use the frozen cubes to chill iced tea without making it taste watery.

Or pair the tea-flavored ice cubes with other beverages. Berry tea makes cubes that are delicious in homemade lemonade. Lemon cubes are amazing in Bloody Marys. Vanilla chai tea cubes go well with many flavors of soda. Be creative!

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