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What to Do With Used Tea Bags: 14 Brilliant Uses That Save You Time and Money

Deodorize your shoes, clean your kitchen, fix a broken nail and more!

A hot cup of black tea can help you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and hydrated. But, did you know that your black tea bag can do so much more than just create a mug of joy? From banishing foot odor to rescuing a broken nail, we found 14 new uses for used tea bags (and new tea bags too!). Keep scrolling to discover the ways that tea bags can work for you.

1. Uses for used tea bags: to banish foot odor

foot soaking in bowl with tea bags added
Amber Gray Photography

The hike you went on was completely invigorating. The only problem? All of that walking left your feet sweaty and smelly. To nix the odor, submerge five tea bags in a cup of hot water, then let them steep for 10 minutes. Next, pour the liquid into a basin of tepid water, soak your feet for 30 minutes, and let them air dry. The tannic acid in the tea kills odor-causing bacteria and dries out skin pores to cut down on excessive perspiration.

(Click through for more on black tea foot soaks.)

2. They can stop a paper cut from bleeding

index finger without a bleeding paper cut thanks to tea bags

Ouch! You accidentally sliced your finger on a piece of paper while sorting through the mail. Put an end to the bleeding fast with a used black tea bag. Just hold the damp bag directly on the cut for at least 30 seconds. Tea’s tannic acid promotes clotting to nix the bleeding and soothe any pain.

3. The lift smudges and streaks

When cleaning, the last thing you want is leftover streaks ruining all your hard work. Well, tea bags can help with that. “They’re perfect for cleaning glass and other kitchen surfaces, like the stove, microwave and counters, because they don’t cause streaks,” Jen Stark, owner of, explains. “They’ll also lift fingerprint smudges. Just rub a damp tea bag over the surface you want to clean, then wipe dry with a microfiber cloth or paper towel.”

4. They can hydrate houseplants

plant with tea bags in the soil
DeAnn Berger

Constantly watering your indoor plants to keep them thriving? Enlist the help of tea bags. To do: Tuck two or three into the soil near the base of each plant. Then, whenever you water them, the bags will absorb (and slowly release) any extra liquid that would otherwise drain out, ensuring your soil stays damp for twice as long.

Bonus: The tea also deposits fertilizing nutrients into the soil.

5. Uses for used tea bags: To shrink under-eye bags

Argh! On the morning of a family reunion, you wake up with puffy eyes. To the rescue: Steep two tea bags in hot water for five minutes. Remove bags and squeeze out the liquid. Let cool until the bags are just warm; apply to closed eyes for 15 minutes. “These teas have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can take down swelling,” explains dermatologist Ruthie Harper, M.D. Consider keeping a few chilled in your fridge just in case!

6. They can tenderize beef with ease

The last time you made slow-cooker beef, it was still somewhat tough, even after hours spent in the pot. Next time, do what First for Women’s Food Director, Julie Miltenberger does: Steep four or five tea bags in water for 10 to 15 minutes, then combine the liquid with equal parts double-strength beef stock and add to your stew or roast, says Miltenberger. “Tea’s tenderizing tannins break down the beef’s tough fibers for a buttery-soft texture.”

7. Used tea bags can rescue a broken nail fast

tea bag, nail polish and scissors
DeAnn Berger

One of your fingernails cracked and it went so far down the nail bed, you can’t simply file it away. Try sealing it with a tea bag. To do: Cut a tiny piece of the bag’s netting (it’s similar to gauze), brush clear nail polish over the crack, and gently press the piece on top. Seal with a coat of polish and voilà!

8. They can ensure shoes smell fresh

tea bag held over a sneaker can be used to remove unwanted odors
The Washington Post/ Getty Images

Sure you can place baking powder in your shoe to remove scents, but it leaves behind a powdery mess. Instead? Tuck a few tea bags into each shoe. They will leave a subtle, natural aroma. (Click through for more brilliant ways to get the smell out of shoes.)

9. Used tea bags can rust-proof cast-iron pans

You love using your cast-iron pot to make casseroles, but you’re not a fan of the hard-to-remove rust it’s prone to accumulating. To the rescue: Black tea bags. First, wash and dry the pot as usual, then wipe it down with a damp tea bag. The tea’s tannins help create an invisible protective layer that prevents rust-causing oxidation. Your cookware will remain like new. (Click through for the best way to season a cast iron skillet.)

This Instagram reel from Lynsey Queen Of Clean shows how tea bags work on other pans too:

10. Used tea bags can add shine to wood furniture

Tea-bags on wood
Martina Rigoli/ Getty Images

A low-cost and natural way to spruce up your dining table, which has started to dull over time: Black tea bags. Steep two to three bags in a kettle filled with boiling water and let cool to room temperature. Dip a soft cloth in the mix and use it to clean the furniture. Tannins in the tea will condition the wood and reveal a glossy shine.

This Youtube video from Queen of Clean shows how to use tea to clean your wood floors too:

11. They can soothe a dog’s bug bites

Your pup had a bit of fun playing with the dirt in your yard — until she bulldozed over an anthill and now has multiple bug bites. To soothe her skin, steep a tea bag in boiling water, then let it cool. While still moist, dab the bag onto her bites. Antioxidants and astringent properties in the tea will help soothe irritation and nix any resulting itch, so your pooch feels better in no time.

12. Used tea bags for swelling and bruising

Oh no! Your daughter- fell down at recess and now has a big bruise on her knee! To combat this, place a soaked tea bag on the bruise and the tannins in tea will help constrict the blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the area. The blueish, reddish color of a bruise forms because the blood vessels beneath the skin become ruptured.

Here’s how to use tea bags for burns too:

13. They can freshen up your carpet for pennies

tea bags mixed with baking soda
DeAnn Berger

If your carpet is looking a little dusty, you can freshen it up your with used tea bags! Simply allow them to dry out after you enjoy your tea, then cut them open and mix the leaves with a handful of baking soda. Then, as you would with any other carpet freshening powder, sprinkle the mixture all over your rug and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Vacuum as usual, et voilá! Fresh carpets.

14. Used tea bags can fight hair breakage

If your hair is feeling dry and brittle, don’t waste your money on expensive hair treatments. Instead, make a DIY hair mask by brewing up a strong tea with a few tea bags in a cup of hot water. Once the water has cooled down a bit (but is still warm), saturate your hair with the tea from root to tip. Tie your hair up and allow it to sit for 15 to 30 minutes, or as long as desired. Then wash as usual. This hack will leave your hair feeling soft and looking as shiny as ever! 

For more brilliant uses for everyday household items, click through:

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17 Brilliant Uses for Used Dryer Sheets That Have Nothing To Do With Laundry

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