8 Crazy Uses for Tea Bags

Updated: Feb. 15, 2024

From DIY skin care to flavor-infused food, tea bags offer much more than a relaxing drink.

Hand holding a Lipton tea bag over a pot on the stove with two other tea bags already hanging over its sides

After brewing a warm cup of tea, tossing the tea bag into the trash is the most natural thing to do. The first thought that comes to mind isn’t, “Hey…maybe I could reuse this thing!” We totally get it. But rather than letting the remnants from your Spiced Apricot or Apple Spiced tea go to waste, why not put them to good use? Here are some crazy, yet incredibly clever, ideas to get you started.

1. Take Grains to the Next Level

Tired of boring, flavorless rice? Tea can boost the flavor profile of your grains without any extra salt or seasoning. Simply place a leftover tea bag or two in the boiling pot of water and let it do its thing. Then cook rice (or quinoa or barley!) as usual. You’ll be left with a subtle tea flavor that’ll fool your family for gourmet.

Ready to get cooking? Strut out green- or ginger-tea-flavored rice in our recipe for Shrimp with Ginger-Chili Sauce, or liven up Pan-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with lemon-tea-flavored rice.

2. Make a Face Scrub

When your face needs a little TLC, pop open a tea bag and exfoliate away. While tea is typically digested, it can also be used on the skin. Tea is said to help shrink large pores and provide a healthy glow. Simply pour the contents into a bowl and add 1 heaping teaspoon of honey. Gently rub the mix onto your face in circular motions. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinse off with warm water.

3. Neutralize Garbage Odor

Garbage cans give the house an unpleasant, lingering smell. Tea bags to the rescue! Neutralize odor by dropping a few leftover dried tea bags at the bottom of your garbage cans. Bye-bye, bad odor.

4. Make Affordable Fresheners

Skip buying pricey air fresheners. You can make your own good-smelling sachet in minutes. After you’ve brewed up a cup or tea, allow the tea bag to dry. Next, add 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil to the satchet. Hang it in the laundry room or place in your dresser drawers.

Glass cup filled with tea surrounded by tea bags on a wooden countertop

Shutterstock / Africa Studio

5. Relieve Swollen Gums

I bet you didn’t know that tea can also help heal your mouth. Yup! You read that correctly. Dentists have recommended black tea bags for a temporary remedy after tooth extraction because they help stop bleeding, shrink swollen blood vessels and kill some bacteria. To treat gums, simply press a cooled wet tea bag against the gum and surround the tooth. Keep it there for 5 minutes. (And if they are bleeding a lot, see your doctor!)

6. Reduce Puffiness Around Eyes

Allergies, too much sodium, and lack of sleep can leave you with puffy, swollen eyes. To combat this, soak two tea bags in warm water and then pop them in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool. Place one bag on each eye for up to 5 minutes, and you’ll see the puffiness slowly disappear.

7. Protect Your Plants from Fungus

Maintaining a garden of fresh herbs isn’t the easiest job, as they can be susceptible to disease. Fickle fungi can quickly destroy your plants if left untreated. For a natural remedy, steep chamomile tea into a bucket of water, place in a spray bottle and spritz routinely onto seedlings and soil.

8. Repel Pesky Rodents

Mice don’t like the smell of peppermint or tea, so peppermint tea makes a natural repellent. Collect a few leftover peppermint tea bags and steep in hot water. Then add a drop or two of dish washing liquid. Pour into a spray bottle and use around the nooks and crannies of the house to ward off unwelcome visitors.

We hope these ideas inspire you to see tea bags in a whole new way. Who knew they were so versatile?