Cornstarch is a low-cost, readily available, humble miracle found in the baking aisle of just about every supermarket and grocery store in the country, and online. Extracted from corn and then processed into a very soft, white powder, cornstarch is sold in boxes and canisters.
Usually, we think of cornstarch as a pantry ingredient used to thicken gravy. That’s true, but there are so many other household uses for cornstarch.
Used around the house, cornstarch can be so useful, with the ability to absorb up to about 10 times its weight in grease and liquids up to 203 F while still remaining a powder.
Dry or mixed into a thick paste with water, cornstarch can remove many kinds of stains on rugs, furniture, clothing and other fabric items. Leave it there and allow to dry because, as it does, it will also absorb the stain. Once dry, brush or vacuum. A cornstarch paste even works to remove blood and grease stains. Repeat as necessary if a single application doesn’t completely remove the stain.
SOOTHE BITES AND STINGS
If you or your kids find yourselves on the receiving end of an insect bite or sting, make a thick paste of cornstarch and water and apply it to the bite. Allow it to dry and then brush or wash it away.
TACKLE GREASE AND OIL
Oil stains are some of the worst, and if you don’t get the oil out before washing and drying, they become nearly impossible to get rid of later. If you get oil splatters on your clothes, sprinkle some cornstarch over the oil as soon as you can. It lifts and absorbs the oil from the fibers of that shirt, towel or apron.
Got stubborn knotted shoelaces, a messy old kite string or fine gold chain? Sprinkle some cornstarch on the problem to reduce friction and make it easier to wiggle the knots out.
REFRESH STUFFIES AND MORE
Do this to freshen grubby fleece hats, mittens and stuffed animals: Pour a cup of cornstarch into a large paper bag; add dirty items; shake well. Leave for a few hours if the items are stained. Remove items from the bag and brush, vacuum or shake off excess cornstarch.
CREAMY SCRAMBLED EGGS
To make extra creamy scrambled eggs, whisk a teaspoon of cornstarch and milk together before adding the mixture into your eggs.
Books that smell musty can be revived with a sprinkle of cornstarch.
If you’ve ever pulled out the silver only to find it has lost its shine and luster, make a paste of cornstarch and water, spread it over your silver and let it dry. Wipe it off with a damp towel and then buff the pieces to bring out the natural shine.
If you ironed a bit too long and scorched the fabric, hope is not lost. Try wetting the stain with cold water and sprinkling with cornstarch. Once it’s dry, brush it off.
Make an exceptional glass cleaner known as Alvin Corn (cornstarch is the secret ingredient), the best DIY glass and mirror cleaner ever. Here’s the recipe: 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 cups warm water. Pour items into a standard size spray bottle and shake well. Spray as you would any glass cleaner, making sure to shake before each use.
Don’t feel like washing your hair? A sprinkle of cornstarch absorbs grease and will help you look presentable at that next meeting. Sprinkle it on, work it into the roots with your fingers, allow to sit for a few minutes and then brush it out. See what I mean?
Because it is such an amazing absorbent, you can use cornstarch to remove some odors. Dust the insides of smelly shoes or boots or liberally sprinkle cornstarch over a dog’s coat (avoiding the face) and leave for a few minutes or longer before shaking to remove or brushing it out.
While it’s better to focus on preventing sunburns in the first place, you can soothe the pain of one by applying a paste of cornstarch and water to the burned areas. Give it time to dry.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, ”Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”