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Make Stubborn Dish Gunk Disappear With Something You Usually Toss in the Trash

How often do you let dishes soak in your sink, only to come back and discover the gunk sticking to them still won’t budge? Apparently, we should be grabbing for our favorite bag of tea to fix this problem.

We aren’t talking about brewing a warm drink to help soothe the stress of this cleaning frustration. According to the Kitchn, tossing a used tea bag in with dishes and some warm water can help lift any stubborn bits of food. After leaving it for a few hours (or even overnight), you should be able to simply wipe the debris away — no elbow grease required. 

The home experts at Bob Vila back this method up and explain that the astringent nature of the tannins found in tea are to thank for the handy cleaning trick. That means you’ll want to try it with tea bags that have higher levels of tannins, like black or green tea rather than oolong or white tea. Brewing the tea longer will also build up more tannins, so making a strong cup can fortify the dish cleaning abilities of your discarded tea bag.

Of course, we had to give it a try ourselves. The Kitchn claims this technique works well even on extra-sticky things like oatmeal remnants left sitting around in a bowl. As someone who’s been eating oats every morning for the past few weeks in an effort to start my days with a healthy boost, I will admit I’m also frequently guilty of forgetting to rinse the dish out right after I’m done eating. Sometimes… for more than a day. 

But instead of grabbing my dish brush for some pre-dishwasher scrubbing while finally cleaning up last time, I boiled water to brew a cup of English breakfast tea (which I ironically sipped with dinner instead).

I tend to use two bags per mug no matter what type of tea I’m making, which worked out nicely for the pair of oatmeal bowls I had neglected in my sink. When I was done sipping, I tossed one bag into each of the bowls and filled them with some warm water from the tap. I then let them soak while I caught up on my favorite sitcoms. 

My plan was to leave them to soak overnight, but decided to check one of the bowls before going to bed. It had only been a couple hours, but the oatmeal already slid away from the dish easily! Even the one that had previously been sitting with dried out oatmeal for even longer was a cinch to wipe off. 

I’d tried this countless times without the help of any tea bags before — just letting my gunky dishes soak in warm water, maybe with a little soap. The tea definitely made a huge difference. Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll be just as pleased with the results!

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