25 Ways to Re-Use Tea Bags

January 9, 2011 43 comments View all articles in Re-Use-It

As you've probably read in our Change Your Tea and Change the Environment article, tea is the second-most-consumed beverage in the world after water. Tea is so popular, in fact, that it contributes fifteen hundred tons of waste to landfills each year. So if you're a tea drinker who's also concerned about the environment, you'll be happy to know you can use brewed tea bags in a number of ways before throwing them into the garbage.


  1. If you have a bruise, sunburn, bee sting, mosquito bite, or cold sore put a cool, damp tea bag on the affected area and use like a compress. The tea will bring comforting relief, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
  2. The tannin in tea also helps treat plantar warts. Just press a wet, warmed tea bag directly on the area for ten to fifteen minutes and let the skin dry naturally. If you repeat this treatment for a few days the wart will eventually disappear completely.
  3. Looking for a natural way to soften your skin? Just run your bathwater over some used tea bags and have an indulgent, restoring soak that will leave you with impossibly soft skin. Any kind of tea will serve this purpose, but the antioxidants in green tea are particularly effective for rehydrating your skin.
  4. Warm or cold, tea bags help revitalize tired, achy, or puffy eyes. So lie back with brewed, refrigerated tea bags over your eyes and the tannins in the tealeaves will stimulate blood circulation and diminish the bags and dark circles under your eyes.
  5. Soothe razor burn and relieve nicks and cuts by pressing a wet tea bag to your skin. Not only will the tea take some of the sting out, it will also stop the bleeding.
  6. Drain a blister or abscess without pain by covering the affected area with a wet tea bag overnight; you'll see results by the time you wake up the next morning.
  7. If you've just rolled around in some poison ivy, moisten a cotton ball with strongly brewed tea and dab it on your skin to dry up the weepy rash.
  8. Use tea bags for a DIY, at-home facial that would cost you hundreds at a spa. Simply place a brewed tea bag in a bowl of hot water, position your face above the bowl, and cover your head and the bowl with a towel to hold the steam in. The antioxidants and tannins in the tea will tighten your pores, reduce puffiness, and leave your face glowing!
  9. Give your feet a daily tea bath that calms, restores, and also eliminates offensive odors! Just boil three or four brewed tea bags in one quart of water for ten minutes. Once the water has cooled enough to be comfortable for your feet, soak them for twenty to thirty minutes.
  10. Rinse your hands with water and a brewed tea bag to remove food odors, especially onions and fish.
  11. Warm up a brewed tea bag, take the leaves out of it, roll them in a scrap of fabric, and use as a compress for a painful toothache, canker sore, or fat lip


  1. Cook an incredibly moist turkey by adding a brewed tea bag and a cup of water to the pan. The tannin in the tea is a natural meat tenderizer and adds a unique, delicious flavor.
  2. Did your dishwasher fail to clean that big, greasy dish of stuck-on lasagna? Just soak the dish overnight with hot water and a few brewed teabags and the tannins from the tea with break down the grease by morning.
  3. You don't have to buy a box of baking soda just to get rid of the odors in your fridge. A brewed tea bag will do the same thing and can easily be replaced.


  1. Deodorize stuffy rooms by pouring one quart twice-brewed tea and four tablespoons lemon juice or your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle.
  2. Clean your dark leather shoes by wiping a damp, brewed tea bag in a circular motion.
  3. If you're a smoker or have an ashtray out for guests, put a wet tea bag or the leaves from a wet tea bag into the ashtray. When you or your guests ash in the tray, the wet leaves will hold the ash and absorb some of the smell from the smoke.
  4. The antibacterial contents of tea bags will help neutralize the odor in your litter box, as well. Just sprinkle the dried out contents of a brewed tea bag into the kitty litter.
  5. If you sprinkle the damp tea leaves from a brewed tea bag over the ashes in your fireplace before cleaning it out, the tea will keep the ashes from rising and making a mess when you lift them out.
  6. Wipe cast-iron pots and pans with a brewed tea bag to remove and prevent rust.
  7. Empty the dry contents from several brewed tea bags onto smelly carpets or pet bedding, allow to settle for ten or fifteen minutes, then deodorize the area when you vacuum and leave the refreshing scent of tea behind. This will also deodorize the vacuum cleaner bag at the same time.
  8. Make your mirrors sparkle and shine by using cooled, twice-brewed tea as a cleaner. Just dip a soft cloth in the tea and use it to wipe away dirt and grime, and then buff dry.


  1. Tear open a brewed tea bag and work the contents into the dirt of acid-loving plants like ferns and roses. The tannic acid and other nutrients will be released when you water the plants, spurring their growth. If these plants are ailing, watering them with cooled, twice-brewed tea will set them on the path to recovery!
  2. And for healthier potted plants, place a few brewed tea bags over the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter before potting. The tea bags will retain water and leach nutrients to the soil.
  3. Speed the decomposition process and enrich your compost pile by pouring a few cups of strong, twice-brewed tea into the heap. The liquid tea will hasten decomposition and draw acid-producing bacteria that will create acid-rich compost. Oh, and you can compost any of the used tea bags you can't find use for, as long as you remove the staples first.


Gail on Feb. 2, 2011 at 2:03 p.m.

This is great, Thank you for a good read :)

EWT on Aug. 30, 2011 at 7 p.m.

When you say brewed tea with tannins, it seems to me you are describing black tea or green tea with caffeine. The herbal teas I use do not contain tannins, but I use them for medicinal purposes, and to retain calcium in my system to keep my bones strong. It would be helpful if you would define the type of "brewed tea" to which you are referring.

michael on Sept. 5, 2011 at 8:15 p.m.

Yes, EWT that is because herbal teas are not really tea. Green and black teas come from the tea plant. Herbal "teas" are really just herbal infusions.

Mohan on Sept. 21, 2011 at 7:46 p.m.

Coffee grounds are used to repel slugs and snails in the vegetable garden. Like coffee, tea has caffiene, infact in higher concentrations. Can tea leaves be used to repel snails and slugs.

Chasing Green on Sept. 26, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.

You are correct that slugs do not like caffeine. How well tea leaves would work we can't say; you would just have to experiment. Plantea.com (http://www.plantea.com/slug-baits-coffee.htm)had some success using a coffee spray and perhaps a tea spray would be another option.

gogirl on Oct. 14, 2011 at 1:36 p.m.

I don't think it's absolutely essential to remove stables from tea bags if they're being added to the compost pile. The tiny amount of metal shouldn't affect the quality of the soil significantly.

Sharon on Oct. 17, 2011 at 1:46 p.m.

A moistened black tea bag will stop bleeding. My brother who is on blood thinners was told this by his doc when he bit his tongue and went to the emergency room to stop the bleeding.

Betty Clinkscale on Nov. 7, 2011 at 10:09 a.m.

I want to print the 25 ways to re-use a tea bag and what all the tea bag is for please send it to my e-mail. thanks a lot

JM on Feb. 19, 2012 at 9:53 a.m.

Just stumbled across this - what a great roundup of ideas! I drink *a lot* of tea, and am always looking for ways to multipurpose the things I consume. Thanks!

Topsy on Feb. 27, 2012 at 8:29 a.m.

If you're making more than one cup why not use 'free range tea' (loose tea)--and a teapot. yes its old-fashioned, but it makes sense. You use less tea, you can throw the whole lot on the compost when you've finished.ps I believe some tea bags are not biodegradable so you could end up with lots of bits of bag for years

Kristie on Feb. 28, 2012 at 3:02 a.m.

what do you mean by twice brewed tea?

coconino on Feb. 28, 2012 at 5:09 a.m.

Soaked in wax, teabags make excellent fire-lighters for camping or for open fires at home. See Earthworm's fire-lighter photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/coconino/sets/72157614863328041/with/3358127294/

Beryl Rippon on Feb. 28, 2012 at 6:17 a.m.

Sprinkle the dried contents of tea bags on those areas you don't want pesky cats to dig in. It's like pepper for them and keeps them off.

liz on Feb. 29, 2012 at 2:23 p.m.

Loose tea is is now more expensive than teabags unfortunately. It used to be the other way around and we used loose tea, but now we can't afford to anymore. :-(

NC on March 2, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.

How about just brewing another pot of tea from the already-used tea? I always have my caffeine hit in the morning from first brewed tea leaves, then brew another pot that I stash in the fridge for a non-caffeinated/low-caffeine iced tea lift in the afternoon. The tea is lighter in flavor but still quite tasty, and then after this second brew, I compost the tea leaves.

Double D on March 13, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.

My husband has really bad hemmorids, would a hot tea bag sooth some of the itching?

Wayne on April 5, 2012 at 5:52 a.m.

Very interesting - thank you. I have always used my brewed tea bags for my roses, now I will have soft skin, sparkling mirrors et al!! Brilliant.

THU on April 17, 2012 at 6:28 a.m.

amazing!!! Before i read these information, i hadn’t known a used tea bag that has many uses so much(from the cooking to the healthy nurse and some effective tips for cleaning)! Thanks for your information!

Mari on April 17, 2012 at 11:32 a.m.

Use weak tea to cure conjunctivitis. Just soak cotton wool once the tea has cooled down and wipe the eye, using the cotton wool only once, do this 3 times, twice a day. My Gran used it, my mum, myself and now my daughter.

Gaik on May 2, 2012 at 5:48 p.m.

Thanks! I work at a restaurant. We make loads of tea every day. I will bring some home for my roses and compost!

Zodwa Ngomane on May 17, 2012 at 10:52 a.m.

I never thought tea bags can be used in so many different ways .Thanks to the researchers,google really helped me,I will also advice my collegues.

Paula on May 28, 2012 at 11:09 a.m.

How do you store the used tea bags and how long will they keep?

Catherine on July 30, 2012 at 2:04 p.m.

I used a clean cup of cooled weak tea to sooth my cat eyes...she had conjunctivitis (red eyes and gunky) I wiped over them with a cotton ball that was soaked in the cooled tea to remove the crusty gunk from the top to the bottom of her eye towards the nose and then i gently bathed her eyes in the tea by using a soaked cotton ball , making sure I didn't get any tea in her mouth or nose...I used diffrent cotton balls per eye. This Soothes and calms the problem really well and helps to get rid of the problem... and acts as an anti viral and anti bacterial agent ! :-)

fsmith on Nov. 7, 2012 at 2:47 p.m.

Does anyone know how you store them? Thanks

Chelle on Jan. 9, 2013 at 7:27 a.m.

they can be stored in a plastic 'Ziploc' type baggie in the refridgerator (or in any airtight container really), or to dry them, lay them flat on a few layers of paper towel or hang them 'laundry style' from a line with pins...


Amber on June 30, 2013 at 7:20 p.m.

My dog has itchy dry skin during summer really bad with black or green tea compressions help her relax and soothe the problem I read this some where on Internet this true

Jonathan Hughston on Sept. 27, 2014 at 6:23 a.m.

I have seen my used tea bags go mouldy. Maybe it's the milk, as I usually brew in the cup?.

lucientah on Oct. 22, 2014 at 3:36 a.m.

I have known many uses for teabags but now I am going to try removing foot odor as you suggested.
Thanks for the lesson.

yang on Jan. 11, 2015 at 12:49 a.m.

I have expired lipton black tea, can I still use them for bath or drink them? They expired august 28,2014.

Sue on Jan. 11, 2015 at 10:38 a.m.

Will decaf tea bags do all these same things?

Courtney j Brown on Feb. 17, 2015 at 7:27 p.m.

I also would like to know if decaf tea bags work the same. Thanks

Weavre on Feb. 23, 2015 at 6:06 p.m.

For a torn fingernail: cut a little piece of teabag, then use clear nail polish to paint it onto the entire nail with the tear. Paint over that if you like, or not. Replace about weekly until the nail grows out, to prevent or stop painful tearing into your nail bed. (When I learned this from a friend in college, we always used Sally Hansen Hard As Nails, but any similar polish works.)

Janey on Aug. 16, 2015 at 12:32 a.m.

I think cold (obviously) weak tea is good for house plants too.

pavee on Jan. 17, 2016 at 6:52 a.m.

Do I have to squeeze the tea bag really dry before applying it to my eyes ?

Suzanne on Jan. 19, 2016 at 7:13 a.m.

I also use a black tea solution to clean my hard wood floors. I have very dark wood floors and the tea darkens the scratches to make the less noticeable. The floors are super clean and shiny. Make a dark tea solution (8 bags to 1/2 gallon of boiling water - let cool a little) and be sure not to soak wood floors, I also add a little lemon and peppermint essential oils to make it smell wonderful.

Vicky on March 31, 2016 at 1:09 p.m.

Hi there, can you please email me this thanx..And also reading health and beauty no.8, how long do I leave my face under the towel for and what is the recipe please.

Jan Hill on July 30, 2016 at 9:14 p.m.

I have been told not to throw the strings from the bags on the garden. They can kill birds that mistake them for worms.

Judy on Sept. 7, 2016 at 11:19 a.m.

I REALLY want to try these tips, and was laying out my tea bags to dry out.Unfortunately, they all became moldy. Would greatly appreciate any suggestions as to how to dry them out without them becoming moldy. Thanks!I don't know if you can print an article from Facebook, but if not, could you please email the tips to me

Charlie Suruban on Feb. 15, 2017 at 6:01 p.m.

I was doing a research on the decomposition of the organic amendments and I really appreciate the information concerning the composing and such.. Its is so help and now I can make a better use of the tea bag.

April on April 25, 2017 at 2:37 p.m.

What a great commentary, list for re-purposing tea and forum. the comments are as interesting as the article.

April on April 25, 2017 at 2:43 p.m.

Judy, my teabags also got mouldy so I put them in a zip bag in the freezer, taking them out, one or all, when I wanted them for something. Same with the coffee grounds although I did toss them out back in the herb bed all winter this year. I sprinkle them n my old hardwood floors when I sweep. gets the dust picked up and adds colour to the wood. The Victorians did that.

Marlene on Dec. 9, 2017 at 7:38 a.m.

I have a friend who drinks tea every day and leaves the tea bags in her cup and makes more tea to drink the next day with the same tea bags. Is this healthy?

Carolyn Kephart on March 15, 2018 at 2:09 p.m.

Very helpful... I was wondering if used tea bags would be good for plants and found the answer in this article. Thanks for sharing.

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