Plenty of chefs—amateur or otherwise—have probably said that no meal is complete without at least a little bit of salt. Known for reducing bitterness and enhancing a dish’s sweetness, the popular seasoning has found its way onto just about every dish across the globe. But believe it or not, salt doesn’t need to be relegated just to flavor duty.
Yup, handy as it may be in the culinary world, salt’s utility transcends your plate. Turns out, there are plenty of uses for table salt that make it perfect for cleaning—and much more. Even better: it’s far cheaper than most cleaning supplies. So, if you’re ever in a pinch, save the big bucks and have someone pass the salt!
1. Clean a messy oven: Scrubbing off that baked-on grease in the oven can feel like hard labor. Make the job easier by dumping some salt on a fresh spill. It’ll soak up a ton of that grease and form an easy-to-wipe-away crust.
2. Stopping a fire: When barbecue flames start acting up or kitchen grease gets a little fresh, smother the flames with a healthy helping of salt. Liberally season the fire until it’s nothing but smoke and ash.
3. Remove stains from the coffee carafe: If sticking your coffee carafe into the dishwasher sounds like a recipe for shattered glass, try doing the cleaning deed with a little salt. Just fill the carafe with ice cubes and a quarter-cup of salt. Let it sit for half an hour, then rinse!
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4. Scrub away pan grease: Pots and pans accumulate grime and grease like you wouldn’t believe and it sometimes feels impossible to scrub it away. Salt can help! Coat the bottom of the pan, and then a few moments later, scrub it all away. (Just make sure it’s a metal pan and not a nonstick one.)
5. Brighten copper pots: Want an easier way to make your copper pots sparkle and shine? Simply add a tablespoon of salt to equal amounts of vinegar and flour to create the perfect natural pot buffer. Voila!
6. Keep apples and potatoes from browning: Oxidized apples might make your breakfast carbs just a little too sweet. Prevent browning by soaking your apples (or potatoes) in salt water. Just remember to wash ’em off before eating them!
7. Test egg freshness: Cracking open a rotten egg can really kill the mood. To avoid this, try putting two teaspoons of salt into a cup of water, then drop in an egg. If it sinks, you’re good to go. If it floats, though, trash it. That thing’s straight rotten!
8. Soak up dried eggs: If you were testing your eggs’ freshness and you dropped it one of them on the floor, have no fear. Sprinkle some salt on top and let it absorb for 20 minutes (if you can stand to let it sit that long). Then come back and wipe it away with ease.
9. Kill ants: Ants invading your kitchen? Let salt rain down upon them from the heavens. Or, you know, just sprinkle a little salt where they like to hang out and that should help deter ’em from coming back.
10. Shell nuts: Unless you have unbelievably powerful hands (you nutcracker, you!) cracking walnut or pecan shells can be a real hassle. Make the process easier by soaking any tough nuts in a bit of salt water first.
11. Remove soapy sink bubbles: Washing dishes with suds rising higher by the second can lead to spills or a lot of bubbly distractions to work around. A pinch of salt on rising suds will reduce the soap to a mere memory—and let you actually see your dishes.
12. Achieve higher peaks: When you whip egg whites and sugar, you tend to create a firm mixture with little curlicues called peaks—this is great for recipes like meringue. With a pinch of salt added to the whites, these peaks will rise higher in less time!
13. Deodorize cutting boards: Kitchen cutting boards can sometimes be neglected in the cleaning department, and when that happens, they start accumulating the flavors—and smells—of everything ever cut atop them. Thankfully, rubbing salt into the board with a lemon will take care of that!
14. Dissolve hand odors: After touching stuff literally all day long, your hands start accumulating some, well… smells. Ditch the soap and grab a handful of salt instead. Scrub with only the salt for a minute, then wash it away. Just like that: clean hands!
15. Eradicate shoe odors: If you think your shoes don’t stink, you’re either lying to yourself, need to see an ENT, or you’re ahead of the curve and already know that a pinch of salt and baking soda left in your shoes overnight takes care of any smell.
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16. Unclog the drain: Ready for a little elementary school throwback? Pour a quarter-cup of salt and a quarter-cup of baking soda down a clogged drain, then add a half-cup of vinegar. You just made a volcano that’ll force any gunk from the drain! Drano? More like no need-o.
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17. Scrub the bathtub: Bathtub cleaning unfolds in three steps—dump chemicals, pass out from the chemical smell, then wake up in a daze and break your back scrubbing. Forget that! Put salt on a grapefruit for a natural scrubber that won’t knock you out.
18. Clean shower curtains: Often more neglected than kitchen cutting boards are shower curtains. Prevent your curtains from becoming mold hotspots by scrubbing them with salt water when they’re fresh out of the packaging.
19. Eliminate carpet stains: You klutz! There you go spilling wine on your off-white carpet again. Don’t panic. First, absorb the bulk of the spill with a sponge and then just unload a pile of salt on the spill. Let it sit—and absorb—for half a day and just wipe it away.
20. Invigorate your skin: Suck gunk right out of your pores by making a sort of paste by mixing warm water and a bit of salt. Gently rub that salty paste onto your face with little circular motions. Let it sit, then wash it away.
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Salt can be so much more than a simple seasoning. Apparently, you can sprinkle it on just about anything for a little cleaning help—weird uses for table salt abound!