Callie’s Cabin: Fall into tea cleaning for your digs |

Callie’s Cabin: Fall into tea cleaning for your digs

Assorted herbal tea in wooden box.
Getty Images

Autumn is here around the Lake. Do you feel the chill in the mornings? How about the sun setting sooner than later? And who isn’t noticing vibrant green leaves turning orange and yellow?

Yep, it’s fall and we are getting into the nesting mode. So, I’ve brought you nature’s gift of tea to clean it up and leave you with an inviting aroma to feed your senses. Read on – enjoy easy DIY recipes.

Detox Your Kitchen

Clean up counters: Get fresh and sparkling counter tops, whether it’s marble or wood. Use a soft clean cloth soaked in a tea infusion (white tea or green tea) a wipe away dirt. Polish with a dry cloth until it shines. Not only will it be sparkling, the aroma will be fresh, too.

And wipe glass clean. Use brewed white or green tea mixed with water to get a clean surface.

Stamp out refrigerator stench. To remove bad odor from your fridge and freezer, try loose tea leaves. Place 1/4 cup of flavored black tea leaves (such as vanilla or orange) in a small cup. It will suck up smells from fish to fowl and other scents.

Lighten up pantry cupboards. Instead of renovating the wooden rustic kitchen cupboards, I brewed a strong cup of lemon scented black tea. I soaked a clean cloth with the liquid and wiped one cabinet after another. The wood felt clean and the chemical scent of commercial products was absent.

Wash the Floors. Like wood cupboards using a black tea brew to clean grease and dirt off wood floors and even linoleum can work. Not only do the tannins get rid of the dirt and dust but if you buff it with a dry cloth after cleaning the surface you’ll be greeted with a nice shine. A bonus: If you use a flavored black tea (like one with lemon or orange) the fragrance will linger and not be toxic like store-bought floor cleaners with chemicals.

Into the Living Room

Good-bye dust. Do you have dust bunnies on top of your wood furniture? Brew 1 cup of white or black tea. Pour the warm liquid into a clean spray bottle. Spritz the wooden dusty coffee table, chairs, and even leather (if it has been soiled). Clean with the grain, polish. I used this tea cleaning mix on the weathered kitchen cabinets. Thanks to the antioxidants (tannins) the wood felt clean and there was a shine. Also, the scent was fragrant not intense like cleaners with chemicals, and the eco-friendly tea solution is safe for kids and pets.

Freshen up rugs. Instead of store-bought carpet cleaners, go green. Grind tea leaves (try green tea with citrus) in a herb grinder until powder. Shake and scatter the tea powder on areas that are dull or have an odor. Let it sit for several minutes, vacuum. Repeat if necessary.

I tried using peppermint tea (loose leaf, I didn’t grind it) on my oriental rug with a pet odor in the study. The first time I didn’t let it sit. No results. The second time around, I let it rest five minutes. It didn’t work. The third time I ground a stronger and fragrant blood orange tea (I ground it); let sit for 30 minutes. As the adage goes, “the third time is a charm.”

Wash windows. If your windows have dust, smears and smudges, you don’t have to use harsh window cleaners. Put 1 cup of brewed white tea with 1 cup of water into a clean plastic spray bottle. Spritz and wipe clean. Not only is it natural, you’ll reap the reward of its anti-bacterial properties, too.

Personal Protection

Bathroom sink/toilet bowl. Using white tea leaves (ground fine) in the sink and/or toilet bowl

can help to fade stains and it does act as a disinfectant, too. Let the tea sit for a few hours, rinse

or flush. Repeat as needed.

Scent the air. The aroma of potpourri takes me back to the seventies and present-day shops like our novelty shops with its fragrance that makes you feel energized and/or calm because of the inviting scent. You can duplicate this potpourri heaven by placing tea and tisanes in a small bowl. I used white tea leaves with notes of citrus and placed it on a high shelf in the bathroom. Add pine cones and dried flowers or leaves from your yard for a Tahoe-ish touch. (Keep away from kids and pets.)

Refresh drawers. To remove a musty smell or add a fresh scent to bathroom and bedroom drawers, put tea in nylon. I used favor gift pouch sachet bags with gold tone heart prints, sky blue color which I found online. Use fragrant herbal tea leaves such as lavender or citrus.

Go ahead and try a few of these tea time recipes to freshen up your digs. You’ll enjoy the natural essence of it all. And don’t forget to brew a cup of pumpkin spice tea – or black, white or green types for its caffeine. That way, you’ll get the drive to rake pine needles outdoors. (Adapted from The Healing Powers of Tea.)

Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, HonTey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

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