How to Upcycle Used Tea Bags into Household Cleaners

How to Upcycle Used Tea Bags into Household Cleaners

How to Upcycle Used Tea Bags into Household Cleaners


Reusing old tea bags is a great way to reduce waste and make your own natural cleaning products. Tea contains tannins, which have cleaning and deodorizing properties. By recycling tea bags that would otherwise be thrown away, you can make inexpensive and effective cleaners with ingredients you already have at home. In this article, I will share different methods for upcycling tea bags into all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, wood polishes, and more.

Gather Used Tea Bags

The first step is collecting used tea bags. Here are some tips:

  • Save the tea bags from your daily tea drinking. Let them fully cool and dry out before storage.
  • Ask family and friends to collect their used tea bags for you.
  • Check break rooms and shared kitchens at your office for leftover tea bags.

It’s best to use unflavored black, white, or green tea bags. Herbal and flavored teas may not contain enough tannins. Avoid bags with staples, since they can scratch surfaces.

I store my dried tea bags in a glass jar or reusable container. Aim to collect at least 15-20 tea bags to get started.

Make a Tea Bag Cleaner Solution

Here is the basic process for making an all-purpose tea bag cleaner:

– 15-20 used tea bags
– 2 cups water
– Spray bottle (16 oz size works well)


  1. Boil 2 cups of water. Remove from heat.
  2. Add your collected tea bags. Let them steep for at least 15 minutes. This extracts the cleaning tannins.
  3. Remove the tea bags. Squeeze them lightly before disposal to get all the liquid out.
  4. Allow the tea to fully cool. Pour it into your spray bottle.

And that’s it! You now have a tannin-rich tea cleaning solution. Give the bottle a shake before each use to distribute the tannins.

Usage Tips

  • Spray a small amount onto a soft cloth, then wipe down surfaces.
  • Test on an inconspicuous spot first to check for colorfastness.
  • Shake bottle occasionally as tannins may settle. Add water to dilute if needed.
  • Make a fresh batch every 1-2 weeks for best results.

All-Purpose Tea Bag Cleaner Recipes

Once you have your basic tea cleaning solution, you can customize it for different cleaning needs:

Deodorizing Fridge Cleaner

Fight funky smells in the fridge with this formula:

– Basic tea cleaning solution
– 1 tablespoon baking soda
– 5-10 drops essential oil like lemon or lavender (optional)

Combine in a spray bottle and use as needed in the fridge. The baking soda and essential oil help deodorize as you clean.

Strengthened Wood Polish

Add a little vinegar to make a wood polish:

– Basic tea cleaning solution
– 1/4 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

The acidity in the vinegar helps break down grime. Spray onto wood surfaces like furniture and cutting boards. Wipe with a soft cloth. Not for use on finished wood floors.

Non-Toxic Glass Cleaner

For smudge-free windows and mirrors:

– Basic tea cleaning solution
– 2 tablespoons vinegar
– 1 tablespoon cornstarch

The cornstarch prevents streaking. Vinegar cuts through grease and grime. Spray onto glass surfaces and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth or crumpled newspaper.

Other Uses for Upcycled Tea Bags

Used tea bags have benefits beyond just household cleaners. Here are a few other clever ways to reuse them:

  • Place dried tea bags in shoes and gym bags to absorb odors. The tannins help deodorize.
  • Bury tea bags just below the soil of indoor plant pots to provide nutrients as they decompose.
  • Sew tea bags into small sachets. Tuck them into drawers, closets, or garment bags to freshen them.
  • Compost the tea bags to add carbon and nitrogen to your compost pile.

So don’t throw out your next chamomile or oolong tea bag. With a little DIY spirit, you can upcycle it into an effective cleaning product or odor absorber. Your wallet and the environment will thank you.

Final Thoughts

Upcycling tea bags is a budget-friendly, eco-conscious way to create homemade cleaners. The natural tannins in tea provide cleaning power. Save your used tea bags and follow the simple instructions to make all-purpose, deodorizing, or glass cleaners with ingredients you already have at home. Get creative and experiment by adding essential oils, vinegar, cornstarch, and other frugal ingredients to customize your own tea bag cleaners.