How to Use Leftover Tea Bags in Your Home and More
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How to Use Leftover Tea Bags in Your Home and More

Dec 26, 2023

Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read more...

If you drink a lot of tea, you probably end up throwing away a lot of leftover tea bags. In the spirit of upcycling and reducing waste, we rounded up some of our favorite ways to utilize these again after making tea. From tenderizing meat to de-puffing your eyes, here are some ways to use leftover tea bags.

Tenderize MeatFertilize PlantsTackle GreaseFlavor RiceNeutralize OdorsDe-Puff Your EyesMake a Face Scrub

Many meat marinades include wine or another form of alcohol because these drinks contain tannins, which break down the proteins in meat. This makes meat nice and tender before cooking.

Tea also contains tannins and makes an excellent meat tenderizer. Once you’ve finished making your tea, use one or two leftover tea bags to brew another batch. (You may need to stock up on a few bags to ensure that you get plenty of tannins in your new batch.)

Once you’ve made another batch of tea, soak your meat in it for about half an hour before cooking. Keep in mind that your tea will add some flavor to your meat, so be mindful of which tea bags you use.

You can also use this to tenderize meat.

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Tannins are also great for plant growth. To give your houseplants a boost of nutrients, open your tea bag and sprinkle the used tea leaves around the soil of your plant.

You can also water your plants with leftover tea as long as it's free of sweeteners or milk for the occasional nutrient boost. Keep in mind that tea won't fertilize as well as store-bought fertilizer, but it is a great natural way to give your plants some nutrients.

If you want to clean greasy dishes and utensils without harsh chemicals, utilize your old tea bags. Soak your dishes for several hours in the sink with a few tea bags thrown in.

The tea will loosen up grease and stuck-on food, making the rest of the cleaning job much easier for you. Tea also works as a great deodorizer and will have your kitchen smelling great.

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Many Asian cultures have been using tea to flavor rice while cooking for centuries. If you want to add some zing to your next batch of rice, simply throw a tea bag in your rice cooker and let everything cook together.

You can also follow a real recipe for one of these dishes, like this recipe for Ochazuke by Just One Cookbook. Traditional Asian teas, like green tea and black tea, tend to work best when flavoring rice, but you can use whatever tastes good.

A great budget-friendly rice cooker.

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Tea leaves are excellent at absorbing odors. Instead of opening a box of baking soda, stick a few used tea bags in a bowl in your fridge to absorb stinky smells. You can also place dried tea bags inside smelly shoes for similar effects.

If your carpet smells musty, you can open a tea bag and sprinkle the tea leaves on the carpet, letting them sit for a few minutes before vacuuming. You can also use tea bags to deodorize a funky gym bag, as illustrated in the video above.

It's the oldest trick in the book because it actually works. Old tea bags can be used to target puffiness and dark circles around your eyes after being chilled in the fridge.

Simply place a tea bag on each closed eye and let them sit for about 30 minutes. Caffeinated teas help most with puffiness while herbal teas can help soothe the entire eye area.

Stock up on delicious green tea.


The tiny tea leaves inside of your tea bags are perfect for creating a DIY exfoliating scrub. You can turn any face wash into a scrub by sprinkling a few tea leaves into your hand with a dollop of your face wash. Be extra gentle though—the skin on your face is sensitive and scrubbing too hard can cause damage.

You can also make a DIY body scrub by mixing tea leaves with coconut oil or by adding them to a body wash you already own. Although the skin on your body is tougher than the skin on your face, you’ll still want to be gentle when using it.

The next time you make a cup of tea, don't throw away that tea bag! Here are seven ways you can reuse them, from cooking ingredients to DIY beauty treatments.

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