8 Household Uses for Tea

From spent bags and leaves to a leftover drink that won’t be consumed, tea has many great applications around the house.

| January / February 2018

  • White or green tea makes light wood shine; oolong or black tea does the same for darker wood.
    Photo by GettyImages/Peerajit
  • Tea leaves can be substituted for herbs in any soap recipe that calls for a little more scent and exfoliant.
    Photo by GettyImages/barol 16
  • The tannins in black tea make it a great tenderizer for tough meat.
    Photo by GetyImages/Antagain

Tea is delicious and soothing, plus it comes in enough herbal variations to satisfy a plethora of health-related needs. But after a steaming cup of tea is empty, its usefulness hasn’t run out. Spent tea bags and tea leaves are great for household cleaning projects, and tea that won’t be drunk can be used for cooking, dyeing and giving plants a nutritious boost.

1. Make Wood Shine

Tea can shine and color hardwood flooring. After your regular cleaning routine, boil a few tea bags in a liter of water and let it cool. Dip a soft cloth in the brew, wring out the excess and gently buff the floor. Use white or green tea on lighter wood and oolong or black tea on darker wood.

2. Deodorize Anything

Tea, tea bags and tea leaves all effectively soak up odors. Instead of baking soda in the fridge, try used tea bags. Dried tea leaves can help deodorize litter boxes when mixed into the litter. Or rinse your hands with tea after preparing fish or other stinky foods (this also works on cutting boards).

3. Faux-Antique Fabric

Green and black teas have long been used in fabric dyes, particularly for generating that popular vintage look. Soak your fabric in strong, brewed tea until the desired color is achieved. (Note: Tea isn’t a permanent dye, so it will fade if you wash the fabric.)

4. Enhance Garden Compost

Pouring strong tea into a compost bin will help speed up the decomposition process, encourage more friendly bacteria to grow and help increase nitrogen levels in soil. You can throw whole, steeped tea bags into the compost if the bag is made of biodegradable materials — just be sure to remove any staples that may be present.

5. Soothe Sore Gums

For a child who loses a painful tooth, try putting a cold, wet teabag in their mouth where the tooth was lost. This also works to soothe the pain of wisdom teeth removal. Brew a cup of tea and put the cup in the refrigerator, leaving the tea bag in the water. After it’s nice and cold, remove the bag and place it inside the mouth, directly over the hurting gum.

1/4/2018 9:37:20 AM

My geraniums love tea, I always keep extra tea (and bags) in a pot ready to add to the weekly watering pitcher. And the tannin is what makes the redwoods grow so old and strong, I think it helps people too as my mom and aunt were "tea-totallers" and both lived long lives. I'm 81 and still going strong myself. Nothing like tea!

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