From stale marshmallows to baking powder, our pantries hold a ton of items that we don’t always get around to eating. Before you let those so-called non-perishables go to waste, read on for 15 brilliant alternative uses for common foods in your pantry.
1. USE UNCOOKED SPAGHETTI TO LIGHT CANDLES.
If you don’t have matches, a lighter, or extra candles lying around your house, light the end of a stick of uncooked spaghetti from your gas stove’s burner. The spaghetti acts as an extra-long match, and it’s long enough that you’ll have plenty of time to use it before it burns down. The strand of spaghetti is also convenient to use if you want to light candles that are hard to reach.
2. RUB HONEY ON CUTS.
Out of antibacterial cream? Head to your pantry for some honey, which can reduce inflammation and eliminate bacteria around minor cuts, burns, and scrapes. One important note: Use only the real stuff. Cheap or imitation honey (with high fructose corn syrup in it, for example) may exacerbate the problem. Opt for Manuka honey, which is 100% pure and boasts the most antiseptic properties.
3. USE VEGETABLE OIL TO REMOVE SPLINTERS.
Splinters may be tiny, but the level of annoyance and pain they can cause is not. If you get a splinter, soak the wound in vegetable oil for a few minutes to soften your skin. The oil should make the splinter much easier to extract.
4. USE BAKING SODA TO POLISH SILVER.
Baking soda can do a lot more than make cookies rise. Use baking soda as a cheap, non-toxic silver cleaner. Put your silver utensils, coins, or jewelry on a pan lined with a sheet of aluminum foil, and pour boiling water, plus a quarter cup of baking soda, on your silver. Let it soak until the grime flakes off.
5. WIPE MAYO ON WOOD TO REMOVE WATER RINGS.
Because guests aren’t always great about using the coasters you not-so-subtly left out for them, your wooden coffee table may have more than a few water rings hanging around. Luckily, mayonnaise can help (really!). Wipe regular, full-fat mayo on the water ring stain, and your wooden furniture should be free of rings in a few hours.
6. SPRAY VINEGAR ON CARPET STAINS.
Instead of buying a commercial carpet cleaner solution, just spray a mixture of 50 percent water and 50 percent vinegar on stubborn carpet stains. This method works best if you catch a spill immediately after it happens. Blot with paper towels or a sponge first, then spray your vinegar mixture on the spot. White vinegar (as opposed to a dark one such as balsamic vinegar) works best.
7. LEAVE CINNAMON STICKS OUT TO DETER SILVERFISH.
Silverfish are pesky insects that plague bathrooms, kitchen sinks, and laundry rooms. Although they can’t hurt you, they eat things such as cardboard, wallpaper, and the glue binding on your books. Tons of natural, homemade remedies for dealing with silverfish exist, but cinnamon can be a particularly useful tool in the fight against them. Silverfish hate the smell of cinnamon, so scatter cinnamon sticks in cabinets, bathroom drawers, and behind sinks to keep the insects at bay.
8. RESCUE YOUR WET CELL PHONE WITH RICE.
Although some people debate its efficacy, others swear that uncooked rice can help save your phone if you accidentally drown it (and when you’re dealing with a potentially defunct smartphone, why not try everything you can to avoid dropping hundreds on a new one?). As soon as you spill water on your device or drop it in water, take the battery out and put your phone and the battery in a big bowl of uncooked rice. Leave it alone for a day or two so the rice can soak up the moisture in your phone, put the battery back in, then cross your fingers and try turning your phone on.
9. USE OLIVE OIL TO REMOVE MAKEUP.
Olive oil is a natural makeup remover that moisturizes your skin and dissolves foundation, eye shadow, and blush. Depending on whether your skin tends to be oily, dry, or a combination of the two, you can use extra virgin olive oil or mix it with castor oil. Wet your face, put the oil on a cotton ball, and rub it on your skin to achieve a clean slate.
10. SPRAY WHITE VINEGAR ON WEEDS.
Commercial weed killers often contain harsh chemicals that contaminate the plants surrounding your weeds. For a more natural alternative, fill an empty spray bottle with white vinegar and spray it directly on the weeds you want to kill. The acetic acid in vinegar draws the moisture out of the leaf, making it an effective herbicide. Just don’t spray the vinegar on the plants you do want to keep—the vinegar will also kill them if it touches them.
11. SPRINKLE ROLLED OATS TO FIGHT SMELLY REFRIGERATORS.
There’s nothing that will kill your appetite quicker than a nasty fridge smell. To combat odors, sprinkle rolled oats on a plate and put it in the fridge. The oats will absorb and neutralize unappealing scents, and can work even quicker than baking soda, which is the typical recommendation for smelly fridges.
12. INCORPORATE MARSHMALLOWS INTO YOUR PEDICURES.
If you have any stale medium to large marshmallows in your pantry, put them to work during your pedicures. Placed between your toes, marshmallows act as a soft barrier, separating your toes and ensuring that your nail polish goes on clean.
13. PUT TEA BAGS ON YOUR EYES TO REDUCE PUFFINESS.
Whether you ate too much salt or got a bad night’s sleep, waking up with puffy eyes can make you look much older than you are. To quell some of the swelling, lie down, cover your closed eyes with two wet tea bags, and rest for 10 to 20 minutes. The tannins in the tea minimize puffiness and redness.
14. USE SUGAR TO EXFOLIATE YOUR SKIN.
You can turn a bag of sugar sitting in your pantry into a natural, exfoliating body scrub. Mix sugar with canola oil or olive oil and rub it on your skin, focusing on your legs, arms, and shoulders. You can even (gently) rub the sugar mixture on your lips. Rinse the mixture off in the shower, and you’ll be left with super soft skin.
15. PUT MEAT TENDERIZER ON INSECT STINGS.
An enzyme known as papain is the active ingredient in meat tenderizer, helping to break down proteins in tough cuts of meat. What you might not know is that papain can also target the toxins in an insect bite. As soon as you realize you’ve been stung, make a water-meat tenderizer paste and apply to skin. After 10 to 15 minutes, rinse off with warm water.