How can I reuse or recycle used tea bags?

Used tea bagsWeeks and weeks of growing, then oxidated until it’s black, then dried, then shipped, then packaged, then shipped thousands of miles, then shipped to a warehouse, then shipped to a supermarket, then shipped to our home, then dunked in a tea pot for three minutes, then thrown onto the compost heap.

Any suggestions for a better ending for that tale?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce: Consider swapping to loose tea and using a strainer/infusing ball instead.
  • Reuse: Teabags can be used to retain moisture at the bottom of plant pots/hanging baskets.
  • Recycle: The tea itself can be composted but take care – some types of heat-sealed bags don’t breakdown.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

(Photo by n_yfe, c/o

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31 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle used tea bags?”

  1. dotCompost says:

    I have trouble with foxes digging up flower beds. I’ve started soaking tea bags in wee..!! (Male pee is better)and scattering the soaked tea bags around the flowers. It’ll rot down in time and add (all my goodness..!!) to the soil :O)

    • louisa says:

      Wow, excellent suggestion!

      We’ve been giggling about it at RecycleThis Towers all afternoon – I really hope it works for you :)


  2. bev says:

    I find the bags don’t break down quickly enough for my quick compost heap so I tip out the tea into the quick one, and throw the bags onto my heap for stuff that takes longer to rot down. It’s a bit of a pain though.

  3. neil says:

    put several old tea bags in the bottom of a hanging basket, then put the soil/compost over them,.
    When you water the basket the water is stored in the tea bags and stops the basket from drying out to quickly

  4. Anonymous says:

    if you have dark circle around your eye, put the tea bag on your eye, it will be better for ur dark circles (read this tip on a mag)

  5. Trevor says:

    I once discovered that camomile teabags (made from the flowers of camomile plants) actually contain seeds which sprout when left out (even after being placed in boiling water!). The wet teabags create almost the perfect germination conditions.

  6. iry says:


    If you wish to read everything about dark circle under eyes under one roof, then you got it. I created a web site called My Dark Circles Blog . I blog about eye cream reviews, makeup tips, eye surgery, home remedies, natural healer and etc.


  7. k dracup says:

    anyone one tryed tea folding

    Learn more about this unique card making technique!
    Tea bag folding is a paper folding technique, with Dutch origins, using tea bags

  8. justabean says:

    I’ve seen this artist who sews together used tea bags into really beautiful artwork, since different teas dye the bags different shades.

    This fair trade company in Africa makes art and useful items out of American tea bags too!

    I’ve been collecting Mighty Leaf biodegradable tea bags myself, hoping to sew them into bookmarks or something.

  9. a person says:

    This stuff is interesting. I should try it.

  10. flick says:

    use them to plant seeds in,saves on compost and u can plant straight into the ground as they rot down

  11. Alice says:

    Beware of mixing the wrong kind of teabags with your compost – I had an unpleasant experience

    Clipper teabags turn out to be both fairtrade AND recyclable, although do let me know if any other brands are too.

  12. karen Jopling says:

    I have not actually tried this myself, but whilst working in Africa recently I noticed that some people put their used teabags into an old jamjar and fill with petrol. The tea bags soak up the fuel and then they are used as fire lighters. Seems to work a treat!

    • Chris says:

      You would use paraffin, not petrol as petrol is highly flammable and dangerous, where paraffin ignites and burns slowly, making a more effective fire lighter.

  13. Gulia says:

    Sprinkle used tea on a woolen carpet and clean it with brush. Colors will become brighter.

    • jockety says:

      All teabags that are sealed with heat contain polypropylene which is classed as non toxic to us humans
      in terms of drinking tea. But, would degrade the soil somewhat if composted. These bags are 30% polypropylene!!
      The teabags that are crimped and stapled are totally natural fibres though and very good for the soil.

  14. Jenny says:

    Very good for dyeing hard boiled eggs for rolling down grassy hills for Easter. Gives a lovely dark-brown colour. So could perhaps be used to dye light coloured tights etc.

  15. Shorty says:

    After tea I soak them in cold water and put them under my eyes, gets rid of dark circles. Then it’s to the compost heap with them!

  16. Olia says:

    Add them to your bath water, it will firm your skin and add some ten.

  17. Megan says:

    I have used them once to dye paper. It gives it an antique look. Just rub the wet tea bag across the paper.

  18. I make my own fuel briquettes using a Peterson press. Used tea bags are one of the many ingredients that I have used in this process. The tea is a good biomass material, clean and good to work with.

    Tea bags used to go on the compost heap but now they are being used as a type of domestic heating fuel.

    Composting Tip: When adding fruit or vegetation from the kitchen to a compost heap make sure it is reduced as small as possible. In other words, mash it all up into a nice brown paste. It will break down much more quickly.

  19. LemonJelly says:

    used teabags can be dropped into an aquarium to lower the pH (alot of tropical fish like their water more acidic than tapwater) and tea also releases tannins into the water, making the water look darker and more jungle-river-like. it also supresses infections in the fish. although caffeine is bad for fish, most of it leeches out of the bag in the first 10 seconds of it being dunked into a mug of boiling water. herbal teabags are good too, but not fruit teas.

  20. Aw, this was a really nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to generate a
    superb article… but what can I say… I put things off a
    lot and never manage to get anything done.

  21. Mike says:

    Spread the tea bags whole or torn open around the base of passionfruit / purple granadilla plants. They will love you for it. It has something to do with the tanins.


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