Easy, Frugal, and Unique Uses for Leftover Tea Bags

Alexis @ Chemistry Cachet
by Alexis @ Chemistry Cachet

What better way to kick off the new year than with a post all about easy, unique uses for leftover tea bags?!

I drink more tea in winter than I do any other time of year, so we always have old tea bags being thrown away. Instead of throwing them out, here are some really fun ways to use them.

As usual, we have science based tips for you, so you can be sure you are getting the best and most proven information out there. These aren’t myths, but actual chemistry based ideas.

I have also tried each one out to make sure they work 🙂

Here is the only guide you need for all those tea bags.

Let’s get started!

Easy, Frugal and Unique Uses for Leftover Tea Bags

Why would used tea bags be beneficial??

You might wonder why used tea bags would benefit anything. To understand this, all you need to do is learn the chemistry.

Inside a used tea bag is tea leaves along with some herbs or other substances used for flavoring. These tea leaves have been used before, but there is still components left in the leaves. In fact, the chemistry going on in one tea leaf is incredible and complex. Scientists have written books and research papers on tea leaves before.

For purposes of this article, we are going to focus on a few of these components. When it comes to your health, be sure to read our article about scientific reasons to drink tea. We focus on the aspects of tea that make it great for your health.

I have a section from the publication titled “Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences.” On page 417 they start a detailed analysis of tea leaves. Along with proteins, amino acids, polyphenols, methylxanthines (our article here goes into details on this), there is also a very large amount of vitamins and minerals. This is what makes used tea bags beneficial for other things.

According to this scientific study, tea leaves are:

  • rich in potassium
  • full of significant quantities of calcium and magnesium
  • contain small amounts of manganese, iron, phosphorous, copper, nickel, and sulphur

Source: Harbowy, M. (1997). Tea Chemistry. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences.

So, there is a lot of activity going on in tea leaves. Even after you use a tea bag, there is going to be components like this still lingering.

Here is how you can use it!

⇒ Please note!! All of these ideas you read below are referring to leftover tea bags with actual tea leaves. This does not include herbal teas since they do not contain actual leaves from the tea plant. These ideas below are best with black or green tea.

Uses for old tea bags in the garden:

The best way to take advantage of leftover tea bags is to start in the garden, yard, or flower beds!

Many of these aspects of tea leaves are very beneficial for all types of plants.

For using tea bags in the garden, be sure the tea bags are made from paper. Do not use plastic tea bags or ones that might have staples.

Plant Food

We have a post about this from last year. You can read more here! This can work for used tea bags or new ones. Cut open the tea bag and sprinkle around plants. All those vitamins and minerals help nourish the soil which nourishes your plants. I use leftover tea bags for potted flowers, flower beds, even the grass. This can work any time of year too.

Create Plant Water With Old Tea Bags

Take a bunch of old tea bags, brew them in a pot of water, allow to cool, then water your potted flowers. This leftover tea bag water is weaker than the tea you drink, but contains just enough nutrition to boost blooms. I talked to a lady who has done this for 30 years, and she swears by it for flower blooms!

Keep Away Insects

The aroma in tea can deter insects like ants, mosquitoes and gnats. You can try this for indoor plants and also outdoor plants. Sprinkle the used tea bag ingredients around the base of plants. For outdoor plants, the directions we talked about above with brewing the water will also work to deter insects.

To make this even better, you can use a peppermint green tea or peppermint black tea to enhance this benefit. Peppermint, as we know, is fantastic for insect deterring.

Add To Compost

One of the easiest things to do with leftover tea bags? Add them to your compost pile! All of the benefits we mentioned above can help and enhance your compost pile and create good bacteria!

How to Use Leftover Tea Bags for Skin

Next up in our epic guide is how to use used tea bags for your skin! All these uses below are also great to use with new tea bags too.

Tea is very beneficial for your skin, and it is a common ingredient in many natural skincare products for this reason.

Used Tea Bags for Eyes

With all the antioxidant activity, caffeine, and minerals in tea bags, it can do wonders for the skin under your eyes! It can lighten dark circles, depuff, help the appearance of fine lines, plus make you feel more awake. Keep a few used tea bags in the fridge, take them out when you are ready to use them, then place them under your eye area. Allow them to sit for about 15-20 minutes to get the benefits!

Used Tea Bags for Acne

You can use either black tea or green tea for this, but green tea will contain more of the catechines we talked about in this article. Green tea will do a few things for acne. It will soothe swelling and inflammation, but it also works as an anti-bacterial. These are all great things for acne.

Take a few leftover green tea bags and brew them in a small pot with about 1 cup of water. Let this liquid cool and add to a spray bottle. Spritz your face after washing it. You can rub it gentle around your face and let is sit for a few minutes, then rinse off. Apply face cream as you normally would.

This is best to use within a few days, store leftovers in refrigerator.

Create a Face Toner

Using the same directions as above with the acne, mix the liquid tea with some witch hazel and apply to your face as a toner after washing. I like to add a few teaspoons of green tea to a few tablespoons of witch hazel. Keep it in a little bottle stored in the fridge, apply it with a cotton ball. This can help reduce redness, irritation, and brighten skin!

Other Fun Things to Do with Used Tea Bags

There are some other household tips for used tea bags!

Here are some of my favorite tips:

Carpet Freshener

This is an older post, but it is a great way to use old tea bags. After you finish up with black tea or green tea bags, sit them out and allow to dry completely. You can also cut open the tea bag, sprinkle the contents onto a paper towel, then let it dry. The key to this tip is DRY tea leaves.

Use them in this great recipe to freshen up your carpets!

Soothe Bug Bites

Remember this post on homemade remedies for bug bites?? One of the tips in there is tea bags! If you have a used tea bag that is still damp, use it to soothe bug bites! Just place the tea bag directly onto the bite. Let it sit a few minutes for relief.

Soothe Tooth Pain

When I had my wisdom teeth removed at 16, my mom had heard about using tea bags inside your mouth for swelling and pain. She brewed up some tea, then added the used tea bags inside my mouth near the incisions. It was so soothing and really helped relieve the aching pain for awhile. We applied used green tea bags for a few days, and it was so helpful! You can try this with any type of tooth pain!

Absorb Odors in Shoes

Make sure you let the leftover tea bags dry out before trying this one. Once tea bag is dry, place it inside shoes to absorb odor. I actually put about two tea bags per shoe, and it works great!

What About Expired Tea Bags?

I am including this section because we have had a few readers asking about expired tea bags. The expiration date is really for freshness. For all the tips above, it is okay to use expired tea bags, but keep in mind, they might not have the full effect.

Don’t Forget To SAVE Our Post!

The best thing about these science based guides, is we are ALWAYS updating it. If I find a new use for an old tea bag, I will add it to this post. Be sure to pin it or save it for later because we are always finding new ideas for you.

And Tag Us!

If you use social media, please tag us if you try out any of these tips. We love to hear from you!

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Alexis @ Chemistry Cachet
Want more details about this and other budgeting & minimalist living ideas? Check out more here!
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