6 things to do with used teabags

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been drinking a lot more tea at home over the Covid-19 lockdown period – whether it’s a classic cuppa or a herbal infusion. But before you throw those used teabags in the bin, read on to discover how you can reduce waste and re-purpose them around your home and garden. Here are our top 6 tips for making the most of used teabags.

1. Chill out with an easy DIY eye mask

Chill used teabags, such as green tea, back tea or camomile, then use them as cooling DIY eye masks. Green tea and black tea contain tannins and flavonoids – both antioxidants – with green tea containing higher levels of flavonoids than black. Simply place the cooled teabags over closed eyes, then kick back and relax for 15 minutes or so.

2. Make your own green-tea face mask

Green tea is used in a number of beauty products on the market, from creams and face masks to eye serums, but you can use it straight from the source by recycling your used green teabags to make homemade skin-quenching face masks.

Here are two recipes for DIY face masks that use green tea.

  1. For a rich mask, brew a cup of green tea, then allow to cool and mash with an avocado until a thick, smooth consistency you can lather over your skin. Leave on for 15 minutes as you take a power nap, then rinse off with warm water.
  2. For an invigorating face scrub, brew a cup of green tea, then allow to cool and combine with rice flour and lemon juice. Gently massage into your face, avoiding your eye area. Rinse off with warm water.

It’s not just green tea that you can use for homemade beauty treatments. Herbal teas, such as camomile, rooibos and peppermint, make wonderful face spritzes you can use to cool off over summer. To make a homemade facial mist, re-brew used herbal teabags to make a less concentrated infusion, then cool and pour into a clean spray bottle. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. Hold the bottle 30cm from your face and close your eyes before misting.

3. Soothe your skin

You may use aloe vera for hydration after a day at the beach, but what about black tea, which contains tannins and other antioxidants? You don’t want the tea to be hot or too concentrated when you are applying it to your skin, so soak used black teabags in a bowl of just-warm water until the liquid is dark, then cool the tea in the fridge or using ice cubes and gently dab on your skin for a cooling salve. Our tip? Do this as soon as you can after you come out of the sun.

4. A natural way to reduce household odours

Collect your used herbal infusions such as camomile and peppermint, remove the spent leaves from the bags (don’t forget to add the empty bags to your compost bin), then spread them out and leave them to dry completely (make sure they’re completely dried out before use or they might leave a stain). Sprinkle the tea leaves over your carpet or rug and leave for 15-20 minutes before vacuuming. Herbal tea leaves will help neutralise natural odours with their deliciously delicate fragrance.

The same goes for a smelly fridge – just place a small bowl of used green teabags on one of the shelves and they’ll help absorb any nasty food odours.

5. Protect your cast-iron cookware – used black teabags can help prevent rust

Rubbing a just-damp used black teabag over pans or leaving a solution of used black teabags and water in a Japanese-style teapot can help keep them rust-free. The tannin acid reacts with the metal to form a seal, preventing it from oxidising. Genius!

6. Knock on wood – restore and shine-up floorboards and furniture

For spot marks and scratches on wood, try rubbing a damp used black teabag over the area. It will help to restore and blend the colour. The tannic acid in a solution of black tea can also bring back the shine to your wooden furnishings and floors.

There you have it – 6 great ways you can reduce waste at home by re-using teabags.