20 Surprising Uses for Bananas (Besides Eating Them)

Bananas aren't just the world's most portable snack. You can also use bananas in your beauty routine, to grow houseplants, polish silver, and more.

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Make a face mask

Make a face maskiStock/tycoon751
Who needs Botox when you have bananas? That’s right: You can use a banana as an all-natural face mask that moisturizes your skin and leaves it looking and feeling softer. Mash up a medium-sized ripe banana into a smooth paste, then gently apply it to your face and neck. Let it set for 10-20 minutes, then rinse it off with cold water. Another popular mask recipe calls for ¼ cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 medium banana. These are other soothing homemade face masks you can try.

Eat a frozen “banana-sicle”

Eat a frozen “banana-sicle”istock/5second
As a summer treat for friends and family, peel and cut four ripe bananas in half (across the middle). Stick a wooden ice-cream stick into the flat end of each piece. Place them all on a piece of wax paper, and then put it in the freezer. A few hours later, serve them up as simply yummy frozen banana-sicles. If you want to go all-out, quickly dip your frozen bananas in 6 ounces melted butterscotch or chocolate morsels (chopped nuts or shredded coconut are optional), then refreeze.

Tenderize a roast

Tenderize a roastiStock/svf74
Banana leaves are commonly used in many Asian countries to wrap meat as it’s cooking to make it more tender. Some folks in these areas say the banana itself also has this ability. So the next time you fear the roast you’re cooking will turn tough on you, try softening it up by adding a ripe, peeled banana to the pan.

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Polish silverware and leather shoes

Polish silverware and leather shoesiStock/FotografiaBasica
It may sound a bit like a lark, but using a banana peel is actually a great way to put the shine back into your silverware and leather shoes. First, remove any of the leftover stringy material from the inside of the peel, then just start rubbing the inside of the peel on your shoes or silver. When you’re done, buff up the object with a paper towel or soft cloth. You might even want to use this technique to restore your leather furniture. Test it on a small section first before you take on the whole chair. Here are more weird ways to polish silver.

Brighten up houseplants

Brighten up houseplantsiStock/zhz_akey
Are the leaves on your houseplants looking dingy or dusty? Don’t bother misting them with water; that just spreads the dirt around. Rather, wipe down each leaf with the inside of a banana peel. It’ll remove all the gunk on the surface and replace it with a lustrous shine. Check out these hacks and tips for healthy houseplants.

Deter aphids

Deter aphidsiStock/PeopleImages
Are aphids attacking your rosebushes or other plants? Bury dried or cut-up banana peels an inch or two deep around the base of the aphid-prone plants, and soon the little suckers will pack up and leave. Don’t use whole peels or the bananas themselves, though; they tend to be viewed as tasty treats by raccoons, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, and other animals, who will just dig them up.

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Use as fertilizer or mulch

Use as fertilizer or mulchiStock/bodu9
Banana peels, like the fruit itself, are rich in potassium, an important nutrient for both you and your garden. Dry out banana peels on screens during the winter months. In early spring, grind them up in a food processor or blender and use it as a mulch to give new plants and seedlings a healthy start. Many cultivars or roses and other plants, like staghorn ferns, also benefit from the nutrients found in banana peels; simply cut up some peels and use them as plant food around your established plants. Here are more tips for growing beautiful roses.

Add to compost pile

Add to compost pileiStock/ChiccoDodiFC
With their high content of potassium and phosphorus, whole bananas and peels are welcome additions to any compost pile, particularly in so-called compost tea recipes. The fruit breaks down especially fast in hot temperatures. But don’t forget to remove any glued-on tags from the peels, and be sure to bury bananas deep within your pile (otherwise they may simply turn out to be a meal for a four-legged visitor). Try these simple steps to get started with composting.

Attract butterflies and birds

Attract butterflies and birdsiStock/beyhan yazar
Bring more butterflies and various bird species to your backyard by putting out overripe bananas (as well as other fruits such as mangos, oranges, and papayas) on a raised platform. Punch a few holes in the bananas to make the fruit more accessible to the butterflies. Some enthusiasts swear by adding a drop of Gatorade to further mush things up. The fruit is also likely to attract more bees and wasps as well, so make sure that the platform is well above head level and not centrally located. Moreover, you’ll probably want to clear it off before sunset, to discourage visits from raccoons and other nocturnal creatures. Here are more tricks for growing a butterfly garden.

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Ripen an avocado

Ripen an avocadoiStock/Grady Reese
Are you an avocado enthusiast? Though you could eat all the avocado toast and guacamole in the world, sometimes avocados just don’t ripen fast enough. In order to satisfy your avocado craving for all your cooking needs, use a banana to help speed up the ripening process. Bananas release ethylene, which triggers ripening in avocados. Simply place a banana in a brown paper bag and roll it up with an avocado. Check it daily until it is ripe enough. Here are some powerhouse benefits of avocado you might not know about.

Slough off dry skin

Slough off dry skiniStock/FotografiaBasica
In order to keep your skin feeling smooth and radiant, create a body scrub with a banana. There are many different variations depending on the kind of scrub you need. For a gentle scrub you can mix a mashed banana with brown sugar. For a medium scrub try mixing in oatmeal or sea salt. If you really need a heavy duty scrub grind apricot pits at home and add it to your banana to really dig deep into your pores.

Assist with first aid

Assist with first aid iStock/Joel Carillet
Banana peels have anti-inflammatory properties, which means they are great when it comes to bug bites, minor scrapes, poison ivy, and sunburn. All you have to do is put the banana peel on the affected area and press it like you would a cool compress. You can repeat this process until you feel some relief.

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Remove warts

Remove wartsiStock/EnkiPhoto
Warts are stubborn and gross, so needless to say nobody wants one. A natural way you can go about removing one is by using a banana peel. Cut a piece of ripe banana peel to cover the affected area using the inside and keep it there overnight by using some medical tape. In the morning you should notice some improvement and you can repeat the process nightly until it’s gone! Or consider one of these natural remedies for warts.

Whiten teeth on the cheap

Whiten teeth on the cheapiStock/second_Banana_Images
Everyone wants pearly whites, but do you really want to spend all that money on treatments? Banana peels contain citric acid, which will help lighten surface stains on your teeth. For natural teeth whitening at home, after giving your teeth a good brush, simply rub the banana peel on the surface for about two minutes every day. Your smile will not only be whiter, but brighter!

Get rid of splinters

Get rid of splintersiStock/ptaxa
Splinters can be a real pain, literally and figuratively. The natural enzymes in banana peels can help loosen splinters that just don’t want to seem to get out of your skin. Press the inside of the peel on your skin for up to 30 minutes and it will help move the splinter to the surface for an easy plucking.

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Make banana “ice-cream”

Make banana “ice-cream”iStock/Lilechka75
If you don’t have the time or calories to spare, try making ice cream out of bananas. All you have to do is freeze your peeled bananas and blend it in a food processor or blender. The result is an ice cream-like consistency and a satisfied craving. Try adding some peanut butter or shredded coconut as toppings. (These are some of the best and worst ice cream toppings, according to nutritionists.)

Create a dog treat

Create a dog treatiStock/Chalabala
Dogs love human food, but most of the time our cherished pooches cannot digest what we eat. Bananas, however, are foods that our pets can enjoy. They are high in fiber, magnesium, and potassium. Mash up a banana and add it to your dog’s favorite food so they can chow down. Always avoid these highly toxic foods for dogs.

Restore dry hair

Restore dry hairiStock/iprogressman
Bananas are great ways to combat that stringy and brittle feeling. To make a banana hair mask, puree one to three really ripe bananas (depending on your hair length) and then massage it throughout your scalp to your ends. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse it in the shower followed by a shampoo.

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Ease heartburn

Ease heartburniStock/Antonio_Diaz
Bananas are an alkaline fruit, which means they may help neutralize acid in the stomach. You can eat bananas regularly as a home remedy for heartburn and GERD. Add a banana to your breakfast to help coat the stomach for the rest of the day.

Prevent a scratched CD from skipping

Prevent a scratched CD from skippingistock/Difydave
Is your favorite DVD or CD playlist for the car scratched? Gently rub the scratched part of the disc with the inside of the peel in a circular motion. Wipe off any residue with a soft cloth and then shine it with some glass cleaner. The wax in the banana peel may help fill in the scratches so you can enjoy your treasured disc once more.

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