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24 Foods You Never Knew You Could Clean With

Who knew they doubled as cleaners?

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Closeup on woman's hands in yellow protective rubber gloves cleaning kitchen cabinets with spongeShutterstock / plantic

Tired of cleaning your kitchen with chemicals you’d never want anywhere near your food? How about cleaning with food instead? Seriously. Your clean kitchen is about to get a whole lot tastier with these foods that do double duty as kitchen cleaners.

Psst! We bet you never knew how useful this item is for cleaning around the house.

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Eco-friendly natural cleaners. Vinegar, baking soda, salt, lemon and cloth. Homemade green cleaningShutterstock / Geo-grafika

Lemon, salt, vinegar, and baking soda


Let’s just get these out of the way because you probably already know how to use lemon to clean a kitchen. Same with salt, vinegar, and baking soda. If not, those clean kitchen secrets are just a click away!

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PHOENIX, ARIZONA, AUGUST 6, 2017: Heinz Ketchup Bottles on Shelf; Shutterstock ID 691739383Shutterstock/designs by Jack

Ketchup

Massage ketchup over your copper pots to dissolve away tarnish. And while you’re at it, why not wear your most tarnished rings—and watch as your jewelry appears to clean itself. Ketchup also cleans brass and sterling silver. Get all of our best ketchup cleaning tips.

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Orange peel stripsShutterstock / kisa2014

Orange peels

Run your orange peels through your garbage disposal to keep that thing smelling fresh, rather than, garbage-y. You can do this with any citrus peel, but if you use orange, you’re going to get that same lovely orange scent you’d get from using orange essence in an essential oil diffuser.

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Tomato juice in clear glass on wooden tableShutterstock / Noi Pattanan

Tomato juice

You can use tomato juice to deodorize just about anything, including your garbage disposal (if you don’t enjoy the scent of orange peel). You can also use it on your travel coffee mug and your reusable plastic water bottles. For best results, soak the item for 20 minutes or so before rinsing. Prefer to drink your tomato juice? Get our homemade recipe.

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potatoShutterstock / Sea Wave

Potatoes


Sure, you can remove rust from cast-iron pans with steel wool and soap, but you can also rub those rust spots with a potato instead. This way sounds more interesting, and we’d like to give it a try.

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Taste of Home

White bread


A sturdy slice of white bread (try the heel of the loaf) does wonders for wiping dust off your moldings. You can also run a chunk of white bread through your meat grinder to make leftover meat bits and grease disappear. Oh, and if you break a glass or a dish? Mop up the teeniest particles with a slice of bread.

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Cold soda iced drink in a glassesPhoto: Shutterstock / Vintage Tone

Cola

Got a clog in the kitchen sink? Dump some cola down the drain (cola’s acidity helps it cut through clogs). You can also pour it on your cast iron pans to get rid of rust (in case you don’t have a potato). Cola also happens to be a key ingredient in this delicious cake recipe. Who knew cola was so versatile?

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Bay Leaf. Bay leaf refers to the aromatic leaves of several plants used in cooking. These include: Bay laurel. Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragranceMohd Syis Zulkipli/Shutterstock

Bay leaves


If you’ve got pantry pests, such as ants or beetles, bay leaves can act as a deterrent. Scatter a few in your pantry and cupboards, and at suspected pest-entry-points, and watch those unwanted pests scatter, sans toxins.

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Basil.Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Basil

Place a few in your fruit bowl to repel flies. Take a big bunch and let it soak in white vinegar (in your refrigerator) for two weeks. Then drain and use the basil-infused vinegar (in a spray bottle) to clean all your surfaces. And don’t miss these fresh basil recipes when your bumper crop goes wild.

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RosemaryNataliia K / Shutterstock

Rosemary

Rosemary has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Infuse white vinegar with rosemary (same method as with basil leaves, above), and use it to clean your floors. For an even fresher-smelling floor, add some lavender to the infusion.  Here are 40 more reasons to love rosemary.

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lemongrass rope and lemongrass slice on wooden cutting boardShutterstock / NUM LPPHOTO

Lemongrass


Infuse water with lemongrass (as with basil leaves and rosemary). Place it in a spray bottle, and use it as a fabric-freshener for your kitchen curtains and any upholstered seating in your kitchen. It’s also the secret ingredient in this comforting soup.

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POZNAN, POLAND - MAY 31, 2017: Vodka is the world's largest internationally traded spirit with the estimated sale of about 500 million nine-liter cases a year.monticello / Shutterstock

Vodka


Mix equal parts vodka and water with basil, rosemary or lavender to refresh your curtains and any upholstered seats in your kitchen. Or, use it as an air freshener after you’ve cooked fish or other smelly foods. You can also use it straight up as window-cleaner or to clean chrome. Psst! These recipes are even better with a splash of vodka.

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Healthy Organic Red Ruby Grapefruit on a Background

Grapefruit

Cut a grapefruit in half, sprinkle it with baking soda, and then rub it on the business end of your kitchen faucet to clean and prevent limescale. Here are some other nontoxic ways to remove mineral deposits.

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coffee groundsMVolodymyr/Shutterstock

Coffee

Coffee not only smells good when it’s brewing; it can deodorize your refrigerator. Simply place dry ground coffee in a bowl, and place in the fridge. You can also use coffee the way you would use rice, as a mild abrasive to clean pots and pans. And you can make a “coffee-satchel” to use in place of a (yucky) sponge by gathering some used grounds into a dishcloth and using a rubber band to secure them in place.

Are you a coffee connoisseur? Learn the mistakes you could be making while brewing your next cup.

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Assorted Beers in a Flight Ready for TastingShutterstock/Ramon L. Farinos

Beer

Don’t waste that flat beer! Use it to clean your wood surfaces. Or use it to make a fruit-fly trap: leave a cup of it on the counter, covered with plastic wrap with a small opening. You can also use beer to clean your brass.

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Coconut with coconut oil on white wooden table background.Shutterstock / kireewong foto

Coconut oil

Coconut oil can be used to remove residue from cookie sheets, condition wood utensils and wooden salad bowls, prevent sticky foods from adhering to measuring cups (try it when measuring your corn syrup for this bourbon-y pecan pie recipe), and shine up your stainless steel.

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Cream of Tartar spilling from a measuring spoon.Shutterstock / Michelle Lee Photography

Cream of tartar

As an alternative to coconut oil for cleaning stainless steel, try this cream of tartar mixture: four parts white vinegar to one part cream of tartar. Scrub away, and enjoy the sparkle!

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Used tea bagsRoman Suslenko/Shutterstock

Used teabags


If you’re a tea-lover, you’re in luck because we’ve got a great use for your used teabags: when you’ve got a ton of greasy dishes, toss a few into a sink filled with hot water, and let everything soak. Dish washing just became that much easier. Here are 8 more ways to use leftover tea bags.

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Cornstarch in a spoonShutterstock / Yuri Tynyankin

Cornstarch

Use two parts cornstarch to one part water for a nonabrasive scrub for your stove and your oven. You can also sprinkle it directly on pots and pans to remove burned foods with ease.

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RiceShutterstock / Nut Niracha

Uncooked rice

Uncooked rice is mildly abrasive, so you can use it to scrub away all kinds of gunk. For example, run it through your coffee grinder and your spice grinder. Try using a handful to clean the inside of a vase. Or use a handful along with salt or baking soda to gently scrub your pots and pans.

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Woman Hands Washing RiceShutterstock / liza54500

Rice water


After you’ve cooked your rice, you can use the starchy rice water as a soak to gently dislodge food particles and degrease your pots and pans or just about anything else in your kitchen that’s greasy.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly in The Huffington Post as well as a variety of other publications since 2008 on such topics as life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. She is also a writer of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.

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