6 Handy Uses for Tea (That Don’t Involve Sipping)

When I was a kid, I’d occasionally see my mother pour the end of a cup of tea out on our kitchen table and wipe it down. I never gave it too much thought, but it turns out she was on to something. It seems the tannic acid in black or green tea is great for breaking down surface grime on smooth surfaces. It doesn’t stop there. Tea is loaded with properties that make it super handy around the house in ways you may not have considered. Score one for mom.

Whether using it as a wood stain, to tenderize meat or to reduce rust on cast iron, once you discover the many magical ways tea can be used other than just a soothing cuppa, you’ll eye that used tea bag or an unfinished cup in a whole new light. Here are a few of the many wonderful ways to put those dregs to use around the house once tea time is over.

Glass Cleaner

Fill a recycled spray bottle with brewed tea for use as an economical and effective cleaner for windows, mirrors or countertops. Use as one might use commercial sprays to leave surfaces sparkling clean.

Water Plants

Give plants with a bias for acidic soil (like ferns or gardenias) an occasional treat by watering with brewed tea. Teas leaves can also be added to the bottom of the pot before planting to allow nutrients to reach the roots as water is drawn from the reservoir tray.

Reduce Puffy Eyes

Place wet tea bags over the eyes for 15 minutes to soothe and tone. Pores will open and the tannins in tea act as a natural astringent to tone and tighten the skin.

Treat Bug Bites

Speaking of astringents, applying a wet tea bag to fresh insect bites will help draw that itchy poison from the site.

Deodorize the Refrigerator

Instead of throwing away used tea bags, tuck them away in a bowl in the back of the fridge to remove lingering smells as effectively as baking soda.

Wash Away Objectionable Scents

Break apart a tea bag and scrub hands using the leaves to remove fish, garlic or onion odor. Tea leaves can also be used on the feet to sooth and deodorize your tootsies at the end of a long day.

If you like these ideas for using tea around the house, I think you’ll also enjoy these other handy posts:

5 Uses for Beer (That Don’t Involve Drinking)

6 Uses for Vodka (That Don’t Involve Drinking)

8 Uses for Mayo (That Don’t Involve Food)

12 Responses

  1. Kellys Distributors says:

    Interesting bits of information about green tea benefits. I use charcoal to deodorise my refrigerator so I'll save my used green tea bags next time. Thanks! http://www.kellysdistributors.net.au/

  2. Lazaro says:

    As i know Tea powder is good for Anthurium Tress.

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  12. Kim says:

    Another use for tea bags for a new nursing mother is to moisten the tea bag or use droplets of tea on the sore areas caused from nursing…it heals and sooths. Can make the difference between nursing or giving up.


About Mick Telkamp 


A former Midwesterner living in North Carolina, I write about my adventures in backyard chicken-keeping and suburban homesteading over at HGTVGardens, and my exploits in the culture of Southern cooking ...

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