Green and Frugal Ways to Recycle Used Teabags
Tea is the second most-consumed beverage in the world—right behind water and well ahead of coffee, milk, juice, and soda. That means the world is full of used teabags that cry out for recycling. Instead of throwing your used tea bags away, just save them and let them dry out then re-purpose them in a variety of ways.
It's the tannins in real tea (not the herbal infusions) that have almost magical properties that can rejuvenate you, perk up your plants, improve your garden, and clean and deodorize your house while saving you the cost of the commercial products you are using to do the same things right now.
By re-using your teabags, you'll be doing good for the planet and saving money at the same time. And on top of that, you get a nice cup of tea out of the deal. What more could anybody want?
Personal and Medicinal Uses
The tannins in caffeinated tea ( both green and black) have anti-inflammatory properties and are just great for a variety of health and beauty-related things. Try these:
- Refrigerate a couple of used tea bags for an hour or so. Then lie down and close your eyes and let the cool teabags take away puffiness, tighten skin, and rejuvenate your spirit. This is a very ancient beauty trick used by smart women (and some pretty clever men) for generations.
- Wet a used teabag and use it to reduce the swelling and pain of bee stings and insect bites. It also works well for razor burn and sunburn. For sunburn, try a teabag bath as described in the next section.
- Try tossing four or five used teabags (I like green tea for this) into your tub and filling it with water. Climb in the bath, relax and say ahhhhhhhhh. A teabag bath drains away the tension and leaves your skin soft and glowing and is oh so relaxing . . . who needs bath salts?
- Did I mention that a tea bath is also good for soothing poison ivy? It is. You can also wet a used teabag and just put it on a small patch of poison ivy to ease the itch.
- I've never tried this, but I read somewhere that a wet warmed tea bag placed on a plantar wart for ten or fifteen minutes every day for a few days will make it disappear. It can't hurt, and it is definitely worth a try.
- Got a blister on your heel or toe from new shoes? Secure a wet teabag over the blister before you go to bed and you'll be amazed at how the tannins in the teabag takes away redness, soreness, and swelling overnight.
Used Teabags Around the House and In The Garden
Used tea bags absorb strong odors and smell good themselves, which makes them just great for keeping a variety of things smelling sweet around your house. They can also clean, shine, cut grease, and do great things for houseplants and the garden.
- Dry out used tea bags and use them to keep shoes smelling good in your closet. Place one tea bag in the toe of each shoe.
- Open up a teabag and spread some tea leaves into your potpourri to give it more body and make it last longer.
- Use tea bags instead of baking soda to keep your fridge smelling good.
- Sprinkling dry tea leaves on your oriental carpets and then vacuuming them up will keep your rugs smelling good and brighten them up too. It also deodorizes the vacuum cleaner.
- Have a kitty litter odor problem? Cut open a few dried out used tea bags and sprinkle the leaves in with the kitty litter to get rid of litter odor
- To clean a really greasy pan with stuck-on greasy gunk, soak it in the sink overnight in soapy water to which you have added a used teabag. The tannins in the tea will help cut the grease and make morning cleanup a breeze.
- A weak solution of tea-water makes a great cleaner for windows, mirrors, and even floors. You can also dip a soft cloth in tea-water to clean leather chairs or dark leather shoes.
- Feed your house plants with healthy tea tannins by putting a used tea bag over the hole in the bottom of the pot when you repot them.
- Add used tea bags to your compost pile or bury them in the garden to give your soil a healthy boost.
- Sprinkle damp tea leaves over the ashes in your fireplace before cleaning it out. The wet tea will keep the ashes from making a mess when you lift them out of the fireplace.
New Uses for Old Teabags
The above uses for used tea bags apply only to green and black teas made from the tea plant. Herbal teas are really herbal infusions and do not contain the tannins and other things that make used tea bags effective for personal and household use.
Personally, I have found used teabags to be a marvelous and economical substitute for a variety of commercial products from bath salts to garden fertilizers. I keep a small open china crock on my kitchen counter where I simply let old teabags collect and dry out.
I hope you will enjoy these tips. If you have found some ways to give new life to old tea bags that I have not mentioned, please feel free to share them in the comments section. Let's hear it for tea and all the surprising and wonderful uses there are for used teabags. Now I must go put the kettle on. It's time for a nice cup of tea.
© 2011 Roberta Kyle