Tea drinking may have some drawbacks, as suggested by recent study indicating that pregnant women should consider cutting back on caffeine, but your favorite tea may have more uses in your home than simply being brewed in a cup.
A recent study in the journal BMC Medicine has concluded that caffeine intake is consistently associated with decreased birth weight of newborns, as well as an increased risk of newborns being small for gestational age. But, while reducing one’s consumption of caffeinated drinks, including tea, might be a good idea during pregnancy, there is no reason to let your tea just sit in your pantry and get old if you decide to cut back on your favorite brew, whatever the reason! Tea has many uses outside of just drinking it; here are some of the best ways to use tea around your home that have nothing to do with ingesting it whatsoever—although, in some cases, you may still have to brew it.
Spiff Up the Place!
1. Tea leaves can absorb smells. For a musty smell in carpets or rugs, just sprinkle some dry green tea leaves—and you can actually use already-used leaves, if they have dried while waiting for you to throw them out—and leave them for about 10 minutes. Vacuum up and enjoy your fresh carpet! Much better than one of those chemical rug fresheners, don’t you agree?
2. Bring a shine to wood floors. Tannins found in black tea can actually help shine up your hardwood floors, and can even add a little color, particularly with repeated use, refreshing old floors. It’s simple: two tea bags to a quart of hot water, and let cool. After testing on a small, out-of-the-way area, use the resulting brew to clean your floors, as usual, with a minimal amount of liquid. Let air dry. A light buff with a dust mop will only increase the shine!
3. Bring renewed life to wood furniture. Similar to wood floors, this magic elixir can be used as a furniture polish: Dampen a soft cloth in the brewed tea, and use a small amount to wipe down your wood furniture (after testing on a small, out-of-the-way area).
4. Toilet stain removal? Really; I once knew someone who did this and claimed it worked where commercial cleaners had failed! And, it’s easy enough: Drop a used tea bag or two—whatever kind of tea, just real tea, not herbal—into the bowl, let them soak a few hours and flush. Now, those stubborn stains should come right off with a quick sweep of the bowl brush.
5. Bring a sparkle to glass and mirrors. Put a little brewed tea into a spray bottle, and use it as you would glass cleaner on your mirrors, windows and glass-top tables.
6. Deodorize smelly spots. Areas where you once thought only baking soda could go, tea may just do the trick. For instance, put a few tea bags in the fridge instead of that box of baking soda that always gets turned over by someone digging for a jar of pickles in the back. Or, mix some tea leaves into your cat’s litter box. And, you can even use tea for potpourri! Herbal teas are great for this, and you can even use once-brewed teas if you let the leaves dry thoroughly. You can add them to another potpourri mix, or make little sachets to hide around the house or place in your car—try using small squares of cheesecloth and tying with a pretty ribbon.
Here’s to Your Health!
7. Ouch! Soothe a sunburn. It is getting to be that time of the year again, and you might find yourself a bit crispy after a day in the sun. Use wet tea bags directly on small areas, or even take a soak in a tea bath if you need an all-over cool-down.
8. Pamper your eyes. Ladies have long used the teabag trick to reduce puffiness of tired eyes.
9. Soothe and treat boils and blisters. Some say that covering a boil with a wet tea bag overnight will drain it completely and painlessly. And, fever blisters and canker sores can be treated successfully with hot-but-comfortable-to-the-touch tea bags. Also, the weeping blisters of poison ivy can be treated with strongly brewed black tea, as needed. Just dip a cotton ball into the tea, dab it on the rash, and let it air-dry.
10. Cool the heat of razor burn. Pat a wet tea bag on your face or legs next time you find yourself with a painful case of razor burn after shaving.
11. Take care of your mouth. If a child loses a tooth, a wet teabag can be placed on the gum to reduce bleeding and soothe pain. Also, strongly brewed peppermint tea can be used as a mouthwash.
12. Don’t forget your feet! Soaking your feet in a strong brew of black tea each day for about 20 minutes can help reduce the stench of stinky feet. And, some home remedies claim that pressing a warm, wet teabag to a plantar wart for 20 minutes each day will help heal it more quickly.
13. Natural meat tenderizer. Marinating meat in a strong brew of black tea will make it more tender.
14. On the grill. Tea leaves can be used on the grill or in the smoker to infuse flavor to meats and cheeses.
Take It Outside
15. Repel mosquitoes. Burn tea leaves instead of chemicals to repel these pesky insects.
16. Speed up compost. Instead of using a chemical, use a few cups of strongly brewed black tea to speed your compost and encourage the development of friendly bacteria.
17. Help those roses. Tannic acid is beneficial to roses. Spread your used tea leaves around rosebushes, then add mulch and water.
18. Give houseplants a boost. Using brewed tea instead of water from time to time can benefit houseplants that need a rich, acidic soil. And, when potting the plants, adding a few used tea bags to the bottom can not only help in the retention of water, but will benefit the soil nutrient content over time, as well.
So, even if you decide, for whatever reason, to decrease your intake of tea, just remember: Tea should always be in your pantry, because there is always a place for it in your daily duties!
For more information on the study, “Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with birth weight but not with gestational length: results from a large prospective observational cohort study,” visit the BMC Medicine website.
READ: Give Savory Teas a Try!
Image: Wikimedia Commons