How To Dispose of Loose Tea Leaves (Sink, Drain, Garbage Disposal, and More)

If you are one of the many tea lovers out there, you probably often end up with plenty of used leaves. After enjoying your tea, have you ever wondered where else you could use the …

loose grean tea leaves

If you are one of the many tea lovers out there, you probably often end up with plenty of used leaves. After enjoying your tea, have you ever wondered where else you could use the leftover leaves instead of throwing them away?

Here are five ways you can efficiently dispose of your loose tea leaves:

  1. Use loose tea leaves as a fertilizer for your garden.
  2. Use loose tea leaves as a face or body scrub.
  3. Transform loose tea leaves into a cleaning agent.
  4. Recycle loose tea leaves by adding them to your cooking.
  5. Re-steep loose tea leaves to rinse your hair.

So if you are an avid tea drinker, continue reading this article to learn how to repurpose your loose tea leaves. You’ll be surprised at how useful they can be!

1. Use Loose Tea Leaves as a Fertilizer for Your Garden

Repurposing tea leaves as a natural fertilizer for your garden is a great idea. They can aid in the proper growth of the plants since they contain nutrients, including phosphorus and potassium.

Aside from that, they can also act as a pesticide, keeping unwanted insects and pests from ruining your garden because they dislike the smell.

However, keep in mind that not all plants will react well to loose tea leaves as some plants can not handle caffeine. So before using them as a fertilizer, make sure that your plant is not caffeine-sensitive (source: Tea Steeping).

To help you identify them, here is a list of some plants that will benefit from loose tea leaves (source: Homes & Gardens):

  • Oxalis
  • Begonia
  • Rubber plant
  • Easter lily
  • Camelia
  • Rhododendrons
  • Roses
  • Blue hydrangea
  • Daffodils
  • Spider plants
  • Heather
  • Various herbs
  • Philodendron
  • Azalea
  • African violets
  • Shrubs
  • Various orchids
  • Ferns
  • Poinsettia
  • Some berry fruits
  • Tomatoes

It’s also essential to know which ones you should avoid because the plants listed below need a balanced pH level and will not react well to loose tea leaves:

loose black tea leaves on a plate

2. Use Loose Tea Leaves as a Face or Body Scrub

This works well for the following teas:

  • Poppy
  • Marigold
  • Sunflowers
  • Hibiscus
  • Carnation
  • Boston ivy
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Pink hydrangeas
  • Dahlia
  • Daisies
  • Baby’s breath
  • Cacti
  • Geranium
  • Peony
  • Iris

Loose tea leaves can be used as a face scrub as they provide gentle exfoliation, getting rid of dry skin and leaving your skin soft (source: Sencha Tea Bar). 

The antioxidants found in them also give a healthy glow to your face since it removes any impurities and excess oil (source: NDTV Food).

If you wish to incorporate them into your skin routine, use dry loose green tea leaves and add a few tablespoons to your preferred facial cleanser. Apply it to your face as you normally would and leave it on for five minutes, allowing it to soften the dry skin. Wash it off, and you are all good (source: Today).

And since the exfoliator above is more for daily usage, here is another option you can use as a body scrub. Here is the list of ingredients (source: Live Simply):

  • 1 tablespoon (14.3 grams) of dried loose green tea leaves
  • 1/2 cup (118.29 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (236.58 ml) white or brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons (28.3 grams) of honey

Use a tablespoon (14.3 grams) of this mixture in each area of the body and massage it into the skin for 30 seconds before rinsing it with water. You can store this in an airtight container to avoid moisture from entering that could cause molds.

3. Transform Loose Tea Leaves Into a Cleaning Agent

Loose tea leaves are an excellent cleaning agent. They can be used all over the house to remove unwanted dirt and bad odors (source: The Spruce). 


You can use loose tea leaves to clean your oven or microwave. Boil and cool them before using the liquid to wipe down the dirt inside and outside the appliance. The leaves also eliminate unpleasant odors (source: Simple Loose Leaf).

Additionally, if you’ve just finished handling raw meat or fish, washing your hands with the loose tea leaves is a fantastic way to remove the unpleasant smell (source: FOX News).

And lastly, leaving an uncovered container filled with dry loose tea leaves deodorizes the fridge since the leaves will absorb the funky odors of pungent food.

loose green tea leaves with wooden spoon

Living Room

Using dry loose tea leaves is a great way to clean your carpet. Sprinkle them all over and allow them to sit for between 20 minutes and an hour. Then, vacuum them off the carpet.

You can also use the loose tea leaves to clean wooden floors by boiling them and using the cooled liquid to mop. However, do a spot test first to ensure that your floor will not get ruined. If no discoloration occurs, you can go ahead and finish the rest and let the wooden floors dry.

If you have a fireplace, you can sprinkle wet loose tea leaves on the ashes. Let it sit for a few minutes before cleaning to avoid the dust from going all over the place since the moisture from the wet leaves would have already absorbed it (source: The Daily Tea).

4. Recycle Loose Tea Leaves By Adding Them To Your Cooking

There are several ways to use loose tea leaves for cooking. You can use them for meat, eggs, and even cheese.

For meat, loose tea leaves can help make it tender as they contain a natural tenderizer called tannins (source: Carina North Quality Meats). 

Aside from that, you can use loose tea leaves in smokers to infuse their flavor in meat or cheese. 

Lastly, if you are fond of Chinese cuisine, you probably know of a dish called tea egg. It can easily be made by boiling eggs then adding loose tea leaves and soy sauce to the liquid once cooked. Marinating the eggs in the mixture adds color and flavor to them.

5. Re-Steep Loose Tea Leaves To Rinse Your Hair

Rinsing your hair with re-steeped loose tea leaves can help combat hair loss. Black tea contains caffeine levels that can block dihydrotestosterone, a hormone known to cause it (source: Healthline).

Additionally, rinsing your hair with tea leaves can make your hair shinier and more healthy-looking. It can even help bring out the richness of your hair’s natural color! 

Can I Throw Loose Tea Leaves Down the Sink or Drain?

You cannot throw loose tea leaves down the sink or drain. Doing so is one of the main causes of pipe problems. (Throwing eggshells and coffee grounds down the drain are two other major pipe problems.)

If you wish to dispose of them, I recommend tossing them in the trash or recycling or reusing them in one of the suggestions listed above.

Will Leaf Tea Clog My Drain or Sink?

Leaf tea can clog your drain or sink. The loose tea leaves tend to stick to the pipe’s inner workings causing it to slow down the flow of the water, eventually clogging it — especially when it accumulates. 

So it is best if you avoid throwing them down the drain or sink altogether to avoid any issues (source: Wentworth Plumbing).

loose Rooibos tea leaves in a bowl

Can I Throw Tea Leaves Into the Garbage Disposal?

Since there is a preconceived notion that throwing anything and everything into the garbage disposal is perfectly acceptable, you might think that it also applies to loose tea leaves, right? 

Actually, wrong.

People may not be aware that certain items can cause serious issues if thrown down the garbage disposal, including loose tea leaves.

You should never throw tea leaves into your garbage disposal. Loose tea leaves produce sediments that can cause blockage in the pipes. Hence, they can be just as bit of a problem going down the garbage disposal as they are going down the pipes.

Although this may not occur immediately, it is bound to happen, especially if you consistently throw them there (source: Milani).

Can I Dispose of Tea Leaves Down the Toilet?

You should not dispose of tea leaves down the toilet as doing so will clog your pipes and drains. The loose tea leaves do not break down properly, so it is likely to cause problems if a large amount of them remain in the pipes connected to your toilet.

If you happen to have loose tea leaves lying around in need of disposal, I hope the suggestions and tips above can help you make good use of them!