How To Clean Greasy Dishes With Used Tea Bags

If you're about to toss out a soggy leftover tea bag before it dribbles all over your kitchen, you might want to think twice. Used tea bags don't belong in the trash since they can serve another purpose. They are excellent natural cleaners that can take care of all sorts of messes in the kitchen, including greasy dishes. 

Getting rid of that slimy film of butter, oil, or grease clinging onto a dish often requires a lot of scrubbing and considerable elbow grease, but used tea bags can make the job easier. All you have to do is pop them in a sink filled with water and let the dishes soak in the solution overnight. Wash the plates as usual afterward, and there should be no traces of grease on them. 

How many tea bags you need will depend on how stubborn the grease is and the number of dishes that you want to put in the sink. Ideally, a sink packed to the brim with plates will need anywhere between 10 to 12 used tea bags to be effective.

Used tea bags don't just work for dishes though. Add them to pots and pans filled with water, rub them gently over cutlery, or use them as a scrub to clean a microwave — they can tackle anything that's coated in grease. Think of them as another pantry staple that you can use to clean cooking oil spills!

Tea doubles up as an excellent kitchen cleaner

Tea itself is packed with compounds that have a whole host of benefits; among them are tannins — the chemical that gives wine and coffee their astringent flavor as well as their deep color and aroma. While these can have anti-inflammatory benefits for your body, tannins are also what make tea a great kitchen cleaner. 

Tannins can break down grease and get rid of stuck-on foods and stubborn grime. This is also why some types of used tea bags make for better grease removers than others — the more tannins, the more effective it will be. For instance, black tea has the highest concentration of tannins, which makes it a more suitable kitchen cleaner (black tea bags can even clean a bamboo steamer).

Tea also has antibacterial properties, meaning it can be used as a disinfectant as well. While things like vinegar can be another excellent natural, non-toxic cleaner to get rid of grease, tea has an edge over the former. It has just enough acid to break down grease but is milder than vinegar, with the latter known to damage kitchen knives and utensils made from aluminum or copper.

More ways to put used tea bags to use

Once you've started saving your used tea bags, don't just stop at greasy dishes. Black tea can also get rid of rust, making it a savior for cast iron cookware. Simply brew some tea, pour it into the pan, and scrub gently until you see the rust coming off. Tea bags can also keep your fridge smelling fresh, just as coffee grounds can, but just make sure that they are dry first. 

While any bag of tea can neutralize bad odor, those with herbs, spices, and citruses such as peppermint, cinnamon, and lemon will do the added job of imparting a pleasant aroma. Used peppermint tea bags will also come to the rescue when you're looking for an all-natural pest repellent to keep bugs away from your pantry. Place the bags in pest-prone areas and add a few drops of essential peppermint oil if you think the tea could use more power.

Tea bags can be reused multiple times, which means you can utilize them in cooking too. Though the flavor will weaken with each brew, used tea bags can pack just enough punch when used wisely. For instance, teas like jasmine, chamomile, and lemongrass can add a deep flavor when added to a pot of water with rice. Or, you could use them to marinate meats. As a bonus, tea bags will also tenderize the meat in the process.