Cleaning Tip: How to Reuse Tea Bags

If tea bags are a staple in your household, then you probably often brew a pot to start the day or for a calming moment in the afternoon. But when you’re done sipping, the used tea bags don’t have to end up in the trash. Instead, you can reuse the tea bags by enlisting them to clean various items or surfaces in your home. This isn’t just a clever way to reduce waste in the kitchen; it can also make your cleaning routine a little easier and more eco-friendly.

Tea bags are great for cutting through grease and grime on utensils, cleaning glass surfaces like windows or mirrors, shining kitchen appliances, and even polishing wooden furniture. If you’re dealing with items that can be soaked in the sink, like dishes or microwave turntables, just fill the sink with warm water and drop in a few used tea bags. Let everything soak for a few hours. After soaking, you can wash the items as usual, and they’ll come out clean with less effort.

For cleaning surfaces or appliances that you can’t soak, there’s a simple method that works just as well. Start by steeping a few used tea bags in a bowl of hot water. Once cool, soak a lint-free cloth in the tea-infused water. Use this cloth to wipe down the surfaces you want to clean and watch as the smudges and residues disappear. After wiping, you can use a paper towel to dry the surface and prevent streaks.

Tannins are what make tea bags such great cleaning agents

Dried tea bags on plate

Tannins are natural compounds found in tea. They not only give tea its distinct flavor and color, but their mildly acidic nature also helps them cut through grease and grime when used in washing. They also carry antimicrobial properties, meaning they can help reduce bacteria on surfaces. When you use tea-infused water to clean, you’re harnessing the power of these tannins.

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Besides cleaning, used tea bags can also serve as natural deodorizers. Tea’s ability to absorb odors can be helpful in getting rid of bad smells in the kitchen and beyond. You can place a dry, used tea bag in spaces where smells linger, e.g., the fridge, your car, or even inside smelly shoes to help absorb unpleasant odors. They work by absorbing the smells rather than just masking them, providing a simple and effective solution for a fresher home.

After you’ve made the most of your used tea bags and they’re no longer useful for cleaning or deodorizing, don’t just throw them away. Add them to your garden or compost pile to enrich and help your plants grow. Just be sure to remove any metal staples or tags before tossing them into the compost.

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