Almost 80 billion gallons of tea are consumed around the world each year – and that probably means a lot of tea bags are thrown in the trash. But when you see the results of these ingenious tea bag hacks, you’ll never look at a used tea bag in the same way again. Don’t believe us? Well, just watch what happens when you dip a tea bag in a dirty dish – or apply one to an insect bite. Whether it’s black, green, white or Oolong, today’s used tea bags offer all of the following surprisingly clever uses.
40. Reduces puffiness and dark circles around the eyes
Applying a cool or refrigerated used tea bag on your eyes for ten to 15 minutes can reduce dark circles and puffiness. The magic ingredient is the tea’s tannin – which reduces swelling. For the best results, however, use green tea as it has a higher caffeine content and contains an anti-inflammatory called EGCG. And it’s those two compounds that help reduce the excess fluid that causes the issue in question.
39. Face mist
When the weather heats up, it can be a relief to apply a facial mist throughout the day. Yet University of Illinois alumna Jessica recommends a DIY recipe of green tea and vitamin E on her College Fashion blog. She claims that not only is the concoction an instant freshener, but the EGCG and vitamin E can also help repair damage caused by sun exposure.
38. Keep pests away
Tea is the most popular drink in the world after water. But other creatures — such as rats – aren’t so fond of the stuff. So place used tea bags around your kitchen to keep the room rodent free. The tea experts at website Your Tea Headquarters also suggest adding a few drops of peppermint oil to dry sachets to keep ants away.
37. Plant fertilizer
Tea contains nutrients that can be beneficial to plants. In fact, there is appreciably more nitrogen found in tea leaves than in shop-bought plant fertilizers. What difference does that make? Well, nitrogen helps to encourage abundant growth. Plus, used tea leaves will help keep soil moist as well as discouraging weeds from sprouting around your flower beds.
36. Tea bag bath
There are many antioxidants in tea that have a therapeutic effect on the human body. And according to the scientific research body the Integrative Longevity Institute Of Virginia, bathing in tea is a more effective way of absorbing its nutrients than drinking it. After all, skin is the largest organ. So throwing a few old tea bags in a tub of water is potentially therapeutic and can boost the immune system.
35. Wart treatment
The antioxidants found in green tea can help treat warts. Apparently, consuming two or three cups a day will slow down the effects of the human papillomavirus – which causes warts. Used tea bags can also be applied directly to the affected area. Do this three times a day – for ten to 15 minutes each go around – and after a while the wart will probably dry up and fall off.
34. Fix a broken nail
If you’ve split a nail and need an urgent repair, you can use the fabric of a tea bag as a makeshift gauze. Simply cut a piece big enough to cover the affected area and stick it in place with a coating of clear nail polish. Apply a second coat and, when it’s dry, buff it out with a nail file. Apply base coat and polish as desired.
33. Window cleaner
Believe it or not, tea bags can be handy to lift greasy smears from windows – thanks again to that magical tannin. How? Well, add a black tea bag to hot water and leave it to cool down completely. Some even recommend leaving it for several days. Then simply wipe — or spray — your windows with it and buff clean for a gleaming shine.
32. Soothe a sting or insect bite
For a natural relief from an insect bite, try applying a used green tea bag. By allowing it to sit on the affected area, its compounds can help reduce the inflammation. And if the bag is applied cold, any itchiness will likely be soothed, too. So it might be handy to keep one in the fridge during warmer months.
31. Meat tenderizer
Tannins are what give tea its bitter taste and dry-mouth feel. But they can also tenderize meat, making it easier to digest. Red wine also has a high tannin content and is more typically used in cooking. But for a cheaper or non-alcoholic alternative, why not throw some strong tea into the pot instead.
30. Freshen wood floors
Tea’s astringent qualities have long been used to clean wood floors. First, steep a handful of them in a pot of water for ten minutes. Then transfer the tea to a bucket and allow to cool. Load your mop with the tea and fully wring it out, as you shouldn’t soak the floor. Mop the wood surface as usual, and the tea will easily lift dust and grime – leaving the floor gleaming.
29. Soothes razor burn
The tannin found in tea can also soothe razor burns. So if your skin is irritated, make yourself a brew then place the used tea bag in the fridge for ten minutes or more. Then rub the cooled bag over the affected area for instant relief.
28. Eliminate shoe odors
Bacteria thrives in the warmth and moisture generated by feet when you’re working hard. Often this can cause some unwelcome smelly footwear. But if you place a few unused tea bags in the offending shoes, they can soak up the dampness and stench. Any type of tea will work, too, so perhaps fruity or floral varieties would create a pleasant smell.
27. Mini compost bags
Anyone thinking they’re gifted with green fingers may want to consider a simple starting point: used tea bags. Since tea is a natural fertilizer, damp tea bags are the perfect environment for seedlings to take root. So simply cut a hole in the bag and pop a seed inside. Keep it moist and, once a plant sprouts, transfer it to a pot or flower bed.
26. Polish wood furniture
Much like polishing wood floors, tea also works a treat on wooden furniture. You see, furniture polish is a one-size-fits-all cleaning solution – but not all wood is the same. So apply a wash of cooled tea to wooden surfaces then wipe clean. The tannin will lift any polish build-up and make the wood shine again.
25. Flavoring pasta and grains
There are other ways to work tea into your culinary repertoire beyond hot beverages. For instance, cooking quinoa or jasmine rice in a weak green tea adds an earthy depth of flavor. Black teas also bring out the natural flavors in barley and bulgar. Working green tea powder into homemade pasta and noodles can enhance Japanese dishes as well.
24. Polishing leather
If your leather shoes are looking the worse for wear, you can restore their shine with a few used tea bags. That’s because the same astringent properties that remove grime from windows and wood floors work on leather, too. Simply rub tea bags over the surface, being careful to lift all the dirt, then buff out with a clean cloth.
23. Soothe sunburn
While effective on razor burns, tannins can also help soothe sunburn. If you’ve been soaking up the rays for too long, then, you can find some relief from cold tea. Simply rub the affected area with black tea bags and slather with a strong, cool brew. Don’t rinse it off, as the technique is more effective the longer it has to work. Repeat as many times as necessary.
22. Get a lasting tan
Strangely, if you want to achieve a sun-kissed look without exposure to the sun, tea can help you self-tan. Leave a handful of black tea bags to brew for around 20 minutes and then transfer the liquid to a spray bottle. It’s important for the tea to cool down before spraying it all over your body, of course. And the darker the brew, the more intense the color will be.
21. Treat minor burns
If you’ve suffered a mild burn in the kitchen, tea could help soothe the discomfort. For instance, if you’ve brushed a hand against a boiling pot or kettle, simply place a cold used tea bag on the affected area for instant relief. According to scientists at UCLA, its tannins can provide relief in minutes.
20. Freshen carpets
According to tips website One Good Thing, tea bags can be used to add freshness to your carpets. Remove the leaves from a dried, used tea bag and mix them with a handful of baking soda. Dust the mixture over your carpet and leave for 20 minutes before vacuuming thoroughly. Apparently, the compounds in the ingredients combine to leave your carpet fresh and dirt-free.
19. Remove odors from hands
Quite often, chopping strong-smelling foods such as onions and garlic – or even handling potent fish – can leave your hands reeking. One way of eliminating the stench they leave behind is to wash them with tea. Once again, the tannin works to neutralize odors, removing the stubborn culinary smells from your hands, leaving them fresh.
18. Mask smells from litter trays
As cat owners will know, litter trays are a near-constant source of unwelcome odors. But a simple and cheap solution is to scatter loose tea leaves among the litter and stir it together. It will banish any nasty smells as well as fighting bacteria, which is another bonus. For the best results, use green tea.
17. Mirror cleaner
The technique for using tea bags to clean windows can also be applied to mirrors. So rustle up a brew and dampen a cloth with the tea solution to wipe down the reflective surface for a streak-free shine. The same trick can be used on any shiny surface in the home, too, with the bonus of easy cleaning of microwave and oven doors.
16. Enhance faded black clothes
The color in black t-shirts is prone to fade over time. But instead of tossing the garments away, there’s a clever hack to restoring their hue. According to home and gardens website Dengarden, soaking the clothing in strong tea for ten minutes after a wash will restore some color. While the shirts won’t be like new, repeat soaks may further reduce the fade.
15. Upcycle old clothes
It can be a nightmare trying to remove tea stains from clothes. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that the same liquid can be used to give old clothes new lives by dyeing them. Get creative and create patterns or bunch shirts together before dipping them for a tie-dye effect. The stronger the tea, the darker the colorization will be — and all without harmful chemicals.
14. Steam pores
Beauty routines that utilize steam treatments can soften the skin, improve circulation and increase the absorption of moisturizers. Popping tea into the mix can bring added nutrients to a facial, too. The technique has been used for hundreds of years with herb and floral mixes, of course. There are also studies that suggest white and green teas may be particularly beneficial to the skin.
13. Treat acne
Some people believe that green tea contains nutrients that can help treat acne. You see, green tea contains a compound called catechins. It’s an antioxidant that is effective at reducing inflammation. So while green tea isn’t thought to be a miracle cure for acne, studies indicate that the use of supplements can bring a noticeable improvement in appearance.
12. Make a tea pillow
Tea is the star of ceremonial traditions in parts of the Far East. And, particularly in Taiwan, the craft of making tea pillows has emerged from these rituals. Instead of wasting tea leaves that accumulate from the traditional gongfu-style tea making ceremonies, then, practitioners dry them out and pop them into cloth bags. These tea pillows are thought to have numerous health benefits, including promoting better sleep and improved brain functions.
11. Clean the sink
Sinks can be a breeding ground for lots of nasty bacteria. In fact, some scientists believe that the kitchen sink can be dirtier than the toilet bowl. The anti-bacterial properties of tea can help remove germs, though. Simply pop a few tea bags in a sink full of water for several hours then rinse. It’ll work as a toilet cleaner, too – just remember not to flush them.
10. Cure eye styes
The anti-bacterial properties in tea can be use to treat styes. Styes form when glands become blocked around the eye, forming something like a pimple. A handy home remedy for these is to pop a cooled, used tea bag on your eye and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
9. Freshen drawers
The tannin found in tea is handy for eliminating bad smells. You see, research has shown that it has an ability to neutralize the compounds that form odors. So why not place a few dry tea bags in drawers to freshen them up? Floral, fruity or herbal teas may even add a more pleasant aroma.
Gasoline and other accelerants can be dangerous when setting camp fires or log burners. So why not try a safer option? A dry tea bag could just as easily do the trick. Snip each end off the tea bag and empty the tea. Form it into a cylinder and set it alight. Using the leaves could create a pleasant aroma as well.
7. Condition hair
Tea treatments are a relatively new trend among hair-care experts. Black teas in particular contain nutrients that can potentially protect against hair loss. You see, it’s believed that its caffeine content blocks the hormone DHT that causes hair loss. Some also find that a tea rinse leaves their hair softer, stronger and shinier – as well as stimulating growth.
6. Masking fridge odors
If your fridge is smelling funky and you’re all out of baking soda, there are other ways to combat the bad smell. Simply place a few used bags in a bowl on a shelf at the back of the refrigerator. The tea leaves will then soak up the nasty aroma. Replace them after a few days for maximum freshness.
5. Air freshener
Instead of forking out money for air fresheners, try using some tea bags instead. Bad smells can become intensified in humid environments, after all. But tea bags are adept at absorbing moisture, and hanging a few about the place will sort out the smells associated with cramped confines. There are a wide variety of scents to choose from, too.
4. Treat bad breath
A study conducted at New York’s Pace University showed that green tea was effective at fighting the bacteria that causes halitosis. So adding green tea to your dental routine could reduce the germs responsible for bad breath by around a third.
3. Treat bleeding gums
Green tea can maintain many aspects of oral health. While it’s important to keep a regular cleaning routine with brushing and flossing, adding tea to the mix could make toothpaste and mouthwash more effective. A Pace University study showed that this combination fights bacteria responsible for bleeding gums and tooth decay as well as other viruses.
2. Wrinkle treatment
The antioxidant EGCG found in green and white tea is effective at boosting cell turnover. This in turn makes an effective weapon to combat wrinkles. Chinese citizens even utilize tea as face masks. By combining powdered green tea with a white tea brew, its antioxidants have a plumping effect on the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
1. Lifts grease from pans
The tannin found in tea is a bit of a super-ingredient – as these astringent biomolecules help break down grease from fatty foods. So, after a meal, throw crockery, cutlery and cookware in a sink full of hot water. Then add some used tea bags and by morning all the grease will lift right off.
What other household objects have hidden uses? Well, it’s no secret that salt can be bad for us. Eat too much, and the resulting fluid retention can cause blood pressure to spike – which in turn may lead to an increased risk of stroke, kidney problems and weakened bones. But if you’ve sworn off all types of the stuff, you should think again. You see, while Epsom salt may not be suitable for seasoning at the dinner table, it still has a myriad of uses that may make your life easier – including healing a bruise more quickly. And there’s a good reason why it’s worth putting Epsom salt in the corner of a room, too.
20. It helps to remove splinters
Splinters can be a pain. Yes, while they may be tiny little things – sometimes barely visible to the naked eye – they’ll certainly let you know once they’ve got under your skin. And, sometimes, a splinter can be so far embedded into the flesh that tweezers can’t quite reach it. On such an occasion, though, Epsom salt can come to the rescue.
After immersing the afflicted part of the body in an Epsom salt bath, you see, the splinter will work its way to the surface. If the fragment has lodged itself deep into the skin, by contrast, simply apply some of the mineral to a bandage and then cover the affected area. And after you’ve left the dressing in place for 24 hours, the splinter should then be eased out far enough to enable you to get at it.
19. It’s a hair-care marvel
Each hair follicle on the body contains a sebaceous gland. And as the name suggests, the role of these glands is to generate a substance known as sebum – something that helps keeps hair looking glossy. There may be a problem, though, if you produce too much sebum, as this can lead to greasy locks and oily skin.
Fortunately, Epsom salt can draw oil out of the hair if a little is combined with regular shampoo, which should then be applied as normal. And if it’s combined with conditioner and left for 20 minutes before rinsing, the compound can even help tame frizz. As a bonus, Epsom salt can add volume to flat hair by stripping away any product buildup.
18. It’s a great relaxant
A long, hot bath can be the perfect way to unwind. But if you throw a couple cups of Epsom salt into the tub, you can crank that soak up to a whole new level. You see, the human body contains minerals such as sodium, potassium, sulfur and chlorine. The fourth most prevalent of these, however, is magnesium, which is plentiful in Epsom salt.
So, when you lie in water that has been sprinkled with Epsom salt, its key ingredient, magnesium sulfate, will infiltrate the skin. And this substance not only has a relaxing effect on the nervous system, but it can also help loosen up tense muscles.
17. It can cure a hangover
If you’ve over-indulged on a night out, Epsom salt could provide the hangover cure you need. You see, the chemicals produced by the body when processing alcohol are what causes the pain of the morning after – including those feelings of exhaustion and nausea.
Happily, lying in an Epsom salt bath can help to ease some of the ailments associated with a hangover. Even consuming a teaspoon of the stuff in a little liquid could stimulate the body’s water production and flush the toxins away. Exercise caution, though, when it comes to how much you take.
16. It promotes sleep
Getting plenty of rest is super-important for your health – even more so than you know. You see, prolonged sleep deprivation can mean running the risk of such potentially life-changing conditions as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. So, if you’re struggling to get those recommended eight hours a night in, you should turn once again to Epsom salt.
For one, the magnesium abundant in Epsom salt may encourage the production of melatonin – the hormone responsible for keeping sleep patterns consistent. By taking a bath in the stuff before bed, then, the magnesium content of the water could aid relaxation and so help to achieve a decent amount of shut-eye.
15. It can help produce a soothing foot spa
Feet are the workhorses of our bodies, and so we owe it to our tootsies to give them some tender loving care once in a while. All too often, though, our feet are neglected. And, sometimes, we can be unkind to them without even realizing it.
Treat your feet, then, by giving them a half-hour to an hour’s soak biweekly in a bath or spa containing Epsom salt. The magnesium in the salt will improve muscle performance, boost energy and help decrease any swelling; it may even help ease the symptoms of skin conditions such as eczema and athlete’s foot.
14. Use it as a facial cleanser
Epsom salt can be great for cleaning the face and flushing out dirt in pores. Just add a half-teaspoon into your regular cleanser and gently massage the concoction into the skin. This blend will handily improve hydration as well as scrubbing away any dead cells. Then simply remove the mix with cold water.
For a deeper treatment, however, apply Epsom salt as part of a facial mask. First, dampen your face. Then apply a recipe of cognac, powdered milk, egg, lemon juice and Epsom salt to oily skin. If your skin is normal to dry, however, the mineral compound should be mixed with mayonnaise and shredded carrot.
13. It’s a great exfoliator
Thanks to Epsom salt’s texture, it’s an excellent ingredient in a scrub. And by blending the salt with coconut oil, you’ll have a comparatively cheap and surprisingly effective body exfoliator. Grab a handful of the mixture and gently work into wet skin after a shower, then rinse it off and apply lotion.
It’s even said that Epsom salt can alleviate the effects of certain skin ailments. Some believe, for instance, that the substance can reduce the effects of acne as well as soothe sunburn. But while Epsom salt is not claimed to be a miracle cure for such afflictions, its anti-inflammatory benefits can nevertheless help ease some symptoms.
12. It can help make an effective lip scrub
Many people are prone to dry lips – not least because the skin there is thinner and more fragile than elsewhere on the body. The sun and wind, in particular, can have an impact by parching our lips and so leading them to peel and crack.
However, the body scrub recipe mentioned above can also double as a lip exfoliator. And don’t worry if you accidentally eat some during the polishing process, as Epsom salt is perfectly safe to consume in small quantities – although you should definitely hold off on adding it to your dinner.
11. It relieves stress
The health benefits of Epsom salt aren’t merely cosmetic, however. It can also help balance moods, for instance, as well as calm anxiety, reduce stress and alleviate depression. In fact, a number of specialists believe that magnesium encourages the brain’s production of serotonin – the chemical that promotes mental well-being. Doctors may encourage its use, then, even though there’s no conclusive proof of its medical properties.
How did Epsom salt get its name? Well, it’s taken from a town in southern England, which boasts a spring known for its salinity. The compound is actually comprised of sulfate and magnesium, though, rather than chlorine and sodium – hence why it’s not recommended to consume it in large amounts.
10. It can aid recovery from exercise
Many exercise enthusiasts believe that Epsom salt baths can help in their recovery from workouts. In May 2019 New York-based physical therapist Corinne Croce elaborated on this point to Runner’s World, saying, “Magnesium is known to increase relaxation, reduce inflammation and aid in muscle and nerve function. And the sulfate in Epsom salt is said to help with recovery and detoxification.”
Georgia Southern University’s Greg Grosicki has also acknowledged the link between muscle pain and a lack of magnesium in the body. He explained to Runner’s World, “By taking an Epsom salt bath or by exposing the skin to Epsom salts in a cream, we hope to increase our magnesium levels and reduce muscle soreness.”
9. It eases sprains and bruising
Yes, it’s thought that Epsom salt can not only be used to calm swelling in bruises, but also to ease the discomfort of a sprained ankle. And while it’s important not to treat a painful ankle with salt baths too soon after injury – as this can do more harm than good – such a therapy can ultimately relieve tension in damaged tissue and muscles.
That said, the medical benefits of Epsom salt for sprains and bruises or exercise recovery is entirely subjective. Indeed, while some people may feel better after soaking their limbs in the stuff, there is actually little scientific evidence to definitively say why. But as there’s nothing much to prove that Epsom salt doesn’t work in such instances, either, there’s no harm in giving it a try.
8. It helps with constipation
If a bowel blockage occurs, Epsom salt can help to shift it. Simply mix a couple of teaspoons of the substance into a large glass of water, then drink the liquid. This should go on to loosen the contents of the intestine by encouraging the production of more water. It should be noted, though, that oral consumption of Epsom salt comes with a warning.
Some people may in fact find that eating or drinking Epsom salt causes diarrhea – which in turn may lead to both dehydration and considerable distress. Try just small doses of magnesium sulfate, then, if you want to get rid of constipation quickly.
7. It can alleviate headaches
Epsom salt can be useful for soothing headaches and even easing migraines. How? Well, as mentioned earlier, the mineral compound can encourage the production of melatonin. And imbalances in the pineal gland – which is responsible for the hormone’s secretion – have been found in those who suffer from migraines. These individuals have typically shown low levels of magnesium, too.
Plus, as we’ve previously explained, an Epsom salt bath can also help ameliorate tensions that may have built up in muscles. In particular, tightness in the neck, the shoulders and the back can all be eased after a good soak. And removing the strain in those areas could go some way to alleviating migraines and headaches.
6. It improves heart health
Doctors often warn of the dangers of consuming too much salt. And that’s for good reason, as high levels of sodium in the diet can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure. The burden this places on the heart can, moreover, lead to an increased risk of a stroke or even the failure of the organ itself.
However, Epsom salt can actually help boost our health – not least because it’s sodium-free in its purest form. It’s thought, for instance, that its effects can relax the arteries and so help blood to flow more easily – thereby reducing the chances of clots and sudden heart attacks. Some even claim that the magnesium and sulfate of Epsom salt improve the benefits of insulin, thus reducing any other side effects of diabetes.
5. It’s a handy plant fertilizer
But it’s not only humans who can feel the benefits of Epsom salt, as the mineral compound can also be used around the home and garden to improve the look and health of plants. In fact, it’s believed that when Epsom salt is added to soil or water, flora will flourish – growing bigger and stronger.
What’s more, giving your lawn a sprinkling of Epsom salt may just boost its color. That’s because the magnesium contained in the substance hinders the yellowing of leaves and grass. Epsom salt can even act as a form of pesticide by keeping insects away.
4. It can repel slugs
On a related note, Epsom salt can also be used as a slug deterrent. Simply encircle your plants with the compound; that way, you’ll have created a blockade of sorts that the slimy critters won’t cross. The salt can also be applied to patios and porches to stop slugs from getting into the house.
In addition, Epsom salt can help should any bugs get too close. If you suffer an insect bite or sting, just add the salt to water and apply this mix as a paste or lotion to the affected area. The concoction will then be absorbed through the pores in your skin, and the magnesium will ease the irritation.
3. It’s a tip-top bathroom cleaner
Epsom salt makes cleaning the bathroom a breeze – even when it comes to those tough-to-tackle hard water stains. Simply create a solution of a quarter-cup of liquid dish detergent, half a cup of baking soda and one cup of Epsom salt, and use this to scrub away on surfaces for a glistening finish.
Epsom salt can even be used to tackle dirt and debris that are difficult to remove. The salt grain can help lift mold from tiles and grout, for instance, while a mixture of the substance along with vinegar and dish soap can make a good scrub for the toilet bowl.
2. Use it to clean the washer
Epsom salt is a useful helper in the kitchen, too. After using a solution of hot water, Epsom salt and white vinegar in your washing machine, the device should be rid of any nasty odors. Stop the cycle halfway through and leave it for 60 minutes to allow the mixture to really work, then run a second, clear cycle to rinse.
You can even add a quarter-cup of Epsom salt to your laundry as an alternative to fabric softener. And not only will this help soften your clothes and linen, but it’s also kinder to the environment than using a store-bought product. Mixing the salt with a few drops of essential oil will help your garments smell great, too.
1. Salt the corners of your house
Plenty of people are familiar with the idea of throwing spilled salt over the shoulder for luck. And for centuries, the condiment has been a symbol of good versus evil in religion. Famously, too, good and honest people are often described as being “salt of the earth” types.
But there’s yet another use for salt that you may just want to try out for yourself. Some believe, you see, that sprinkling the substance in the corners of your home will bring wealth, good fortune and peace. Standing in the center of the room and dusting handfuls of salt around you in a clockwise motion, meanwhile, is thought to rid the area of negative energy. And whether it works or not – and as with all the other benefits of Epsom salt – it’s worth a try.