Tea bags are so much more useful than we give them credit for.

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So you just finished enjoying a mug of steaming hot tea, what do you do now? Your first instinct might be to throw the used tea bag away, but stop right there! There are still so many uses for that tea bag that you're missing out on by throwing it away.

Not only is reusing your tea bags a genius hack, but it's also environmentally friendly and reduces waste. Come on — who doesn't love a cheap, simple, and eco-friendly hack that will make your life so much easier?

Of course, you can use the tea bag for the same purpose: to brew another cup of tea. But there are other ways to use tea bags that will benefit your kitchen, your garden, and even your health.

Get brewing, and try out one of these tricks to repurpose your used tea bags.

Tea Bag
Credit: Meredith

How to Repurpose Used Tea Bags

1. Neutralize Odors

Split open your tea bag, and let the tea leaves dry out. Spread the dried leaves in a stinky place, like the garbage can or fridge, and the leaves will not only remove the odor, but also make the area smell great — especially if you use peppermint or cinnamon tea.

You can also deodorize your smelly carpets by sprinkling a few bags of dried tea leaves onto the carpet before vacuuming.  

2. Degrease Dishes

If you have greasy plates, pots, pans, or utensils, just put them all in the sink with a few used tea bags and let them soak for a couple of hours or overnight. The tea bags will remove the food scum and grease, and there will be very little scrubbing for you to do.

3. Tenderize Meat

Marinate your meat in black tea so the tannins can tenderize it. Brew a few tea bags and pour the black tea over the meat just as you're about to put it in the oven.

4. Clean Glass Surfaces

Tea is a great way to clean mirrors, windows, or other glass surfaces. Either brew a cup of weak tea with the leftover tea bag, or use the tea bag itself to remove fingerprints, dust, dirt, and other grime from the glass. Simply spray the tea or rub the tea bag onto the glass surface, and buff it out with a cloth.

5. Ease Pimples, Sunburn, Bug Bites, or Blisters

Tea, like green tea and black tea, is filled with antioxidants that stick around in the tea bag. If you have a pimple, sunburn, bug bites, blisters, warts, poison ivy, cold sores, or razor burn, placing a tea bag on the site might help you heal faster.

Simply wet a tea bag, and place it on the area until the tea bag dries. If you're not satisfied after the first application, you can re-wet the tea bag and try it again.   

6. Soothe Puffy Eyes

Cool your used, damp tea bags in the fridge for about 20 minutes, then place them over your eyes for about 15 to 20 minutes. The caffeine in the tea can reduce the dark circles while the tannins improve circulation — and chilling the bags also helps any swelling or puffiness go down. Who needs cucumbers or a spa day? Well, we could all use a spa day, but this will work for now.

7. Condition Your Hair

Tea has been shown to remove product build-up and improve hair color, shine, and growth when applied to the hair. Brew a few tea bags before your shower, let them cool, then apply the tea mixture after you shampoo and condition. Let the tea sit in your hair for about 30 minutes, then rinse it out with cold water.

8. Take a Bath

Throw a few lavender, peppermint, or chamomile tea bags into your bathtub before your next soak. Adding tea to the tub will infuse your bathwater with antioxidants, help reduce inflammation, and make your skin extra smooth — plus, your bathroom will smell great!

9. Help Your Garden

Some tea bags are completely compostable, so you can throw them right into your compost pile or bin. And if the bags themselves can't be composted, the tea leaves can. You can also bury your tea leaves or compostable tea bags under your plants to nourish the root and suppress weed growth.

If you have plants that like acidic soil, like evergreens, hydrangeas, or oregano, try watering them with brewed tea every so often. The tea will change the pH level of the soil and make it more acidic for the plants to thrive.    

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