iStock/olloClear flower residue in a vase
Once your beautiful bouquet is gone, the souvenir it leaves behind is not the kind of reminder you want: deposits of minerals on the vase interior. Reach inside the vase, rub the offending ring of deposits with salt, then wash with soapy water. If your hand won’t fit inside, fill the vase with a strong solution of salt and water, shake it or brush gently with a bottle brush, then wash. This should clear away the residue.
Clean artificial flowers
You can quickly freshen up artificial flowers — whether they are authentic silk ones or the more common nylon variety — by placing them in a paper bag with 1/4 cup salt. Give the bag a few gentle shakes, and your flowers will emerge as clean as the day you bought them.
Hold artificial flowers in place
Salt is a great medium for keeping artificial flowers in the arrangement you want. Fill a vase or other container with salt, add a little cold water, and arrange your artificial flowers. The salt will solidify, and the flowers will stay put.
Keep wicker looking new
Wicker furniture can yellow with age and exposure to the sun and elements. To keep your wicker natural-looking, scrub it with a stiff brush dipped in warm salt water. Let the piece dry in the sun. Repeat this process every year or every other year.
Give brooms a long life
A new straw broom will last longer if you soak its bristles in a bucket of hot, salty water. After about 20 minutes, remove the broom and let it dry.
Ease fireplace cleanup
When you’re ready to turn in for the night but the fire is still glowing in the hearth, douse the flames with salt. The fire will burn out more quickly, so you’ll wind up with less soot than if you let it smolder. Cleanup is easier, too, because the salt helps the ashes and residue gather into easy sweepings.
Make your own brass and copper polish
When exposure to the elements dulls brass or copper items, there’s no need to buy expensive cleaning products. To shine your candlesticks or remove green tarnish from copper pots, make a paste by mixing equal parts salt, flour, and vinegar. Use a soft cloth to rub this over the item, then rinse with warm, soapy water and buff back to its original shine.
Remove wine from carpet
Argggh! Red wine spilled on a white carpet is the worst. But there’s hope. First, while the red wine is still wet, pour some white wine on it to dilute the color. Then clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. Sprinkle the area with salt and wait about 10 minutes. Now vacuum up the whole mess.
Clean grease stains from rugs
Did that football-watching couch potato knock his greasy nachos onto your nice white carpet? Before you kill him, mix up 1 part salt to 4 parts rubbing alcohol and rub it hard on the grease stain, being careful to rub in the direction of the rug’s natural nap. Or better yet, have him do it. Then you can kill him.
Remove watermarks from wood
Watermarks left from glasses or bottles on a wood table really stand out. Make them disappear by mixing 1 teaspoon salt with a few drops of water to form a paste. Gently rub the paste onto the ring with a soft cloth or sponge and work it over the spot until it’s gone. Restore the luster of your wood with furniture polish.
Restore a sponge
Hand sponges and mop sponges usually get grungy beyond use long before they are really worn out. To restore sponges to a pristine state, soak them overnight in a solution of about 1/4 cup salt per quart (liter) of water.
Relieve stings, bites, and poison ivy
Salt works well to lessen the pain of bee stings, bug bites, and poison ivy:
- Stung by a bee? Immediately wet the sting and cover with salt. It will lessen the pain and reduce the swelling. Of course, if you are allergic to bee stings, you should get immediate medical attention.
- For relief from the itching of mosquito and chigger bites, soak the area in salt water, then apply a coating of lard or vegetable oil.
- When poison ivy erupts, relieve the itching by soaking in hot salt water. If the case is very unfortunate, you might want to immerse yourself in a tub full of salt water.
Keep windows and windshields frost-free
As you probably know, salt greatly decreases the temperature at which ice freezes. You can use this fact to keep the windows in your home frost-free by wiping them with a sponge dipped in salt water, then letting them dry. In the winter, keep a small cloth bag of salt in your car. When the windshield and other windows are wet, rub them with the bag. The next time you go out to your car, the windows won’t be covered with ice or snow.
Deodorize your sneakers
Sneakers and other canvas shoes can get pretty smelly, especially if you wear them without socks in the summertime. Knock down the odor and soak up the moisture by occasionally sprinkling a little salt in your canvas shoes.
Clean your fish tank
To remove mineral deposits from hard water in your fish tank, rub the inside of the tank with salt, then rinse the tank well before reinstalling the fish. Use only plain, not iodized, salt.
End the ant parade
If ants are beating a path to your home, intercept them by sprinkling salt across the door frame or directly on their paths. Ants will be discouraged from crossing this barrier.
Freshen your garbage disposal
Is an unpleasant odor wafting from your garbage disposal? Freshen it up with salt. Just dump in 1/2 cup salt, run the cold water, and start the disposal. The salt will dislodge stuck waste and neutralize odors.
Remove baked-on food
Yes, you can remove food that has been baked onto cooking pans or serving plates. In fact, it’s easy. Baked-on food can be “lifted” with a pre-treatment of salt. Before washing, sprinkle the stuck-on food with salt. Dampen the area, let it sit until the salt lifts the baked-on food, then wash it away with soapy water.
Soak stains off enamel pans
You can run out of elbow grease trying to scrub burned-on stains off enamel pans. Skip the sweat. Soak the pan overnight in salt water. Then boil salt water in the pan the next day. The stains should lift right off.
Keep oven spills from hardening
The next time food bubbles over in your oven, don’t give it a chance to bake on and cool. Toss some salt on the stuff while it is still liquid. When the oven cools, you’ll be able to wipe up the spill with a cloth. The same technique works for spills on the stovetop. The salt will remove odors too, and if you’d like to add a pleasant scent, mix a little cinnamon in with the salt.
Scrub off burned milk
Burned milk is one of the toughest stains to remove, but salt makes it a lot easier. Wet the burned pan and sprinkle it with salt. Wait about 10 minutes, then scrub the pan. The salt absorbs that burned-milk odor too.
Clean greasy iron pans
Grease can be tough to remove from iron pans, because it is not water-soluble. Shortcut the problem by sprinkling salt in the pan before you wash it. The pan will absorb most of the grease. Wipe the pan out and then wash as usual.
Clean discolored glass
Did your dishwasher fail to remove those stubborn stains from your glassware? Hand-scrubbing failed too? Try this: Mix a handful of salt in a quart of vinegar and soak the glassware overnight. The stains should wipe off in the morning.
Clean your cast-iron wok
No matter how thoroughly you dry them, cast-iron woks tend to rust when you wash them in water. Instead, when you’re done cooking, but while your wok is still hot, pour in about 1/4 cup salt and scrub it with a stiff wire brush. Wipe it clean, then apply a light coating of sesame or vegetable oil before stowing it. Don’t clean a wok with a nonstick coating this way, because it will scratch the coating.
Remove lipstick marks from glassware
Lipstick smudges on glassware can be hard to remove, even in the dishwasher. That’s because the emollients designed to help lipstick stay on your lips do a good job sticking to glassware too. Before washing your stemware, rocks glasses, or water tumblers, rub the edges with salt to erase lipstick stains.
Brighten up your cutting boards
After you wash cutting boards and breadboards with soap and water, rub them with a damp cloth dipped in salt. The boards will be lighter and brighter in color.
Clean the refrigerator
We all have to do it sometime, and today it’s your turn. You’ve removed all the food and the racks from the fridge. Now mix up a handful of salt in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) or so of warm water and use it with a sponge to clean the inside of the refrigerator. The mixture isn’t abrasive, so it won’t scratch surfaces. And you won’t be introducing chemical fumes or odors.
Speed cleanup of messy dough
Here’s a way to make short work of cleanup after you’ve rolled out dough or kneaded breads. Sprinkle your floury countertop with salt. Now you can neatly wipe away everything with a sponge. No more sticky lumps.
Erase tea and coffee stains
Tea and coffee leave stains on cups and in pots. You can easily scrub away these unattractive rings by sprinkling salt onto a sponge and rubbing in little circles across the ring. If the stain persists, mix white vinegar with salt in equal proportions and rub with the sponge.
Shine your teapot spout
Teapots with seriously stained spouts can be cleaned with salt. Stuff the spout with salt and let it sit overnight or at least several hours. Then run boiling water through the pot, washing away the salt and revealing the old sparkle. If the stain persists, treat the rim with a cotton swab dipped in salt.
Clean your coffee percolator
If your percolated coffee tastes a bit bitter these days, try this: Fill the percolator with water and add 4 tablespoons salt. Then percolate as usual. Rinse the percolator and all of its parts well and the next pot you make should have that delicious flavor we all love.
Revive overcooked coffee
You made a pot of coffee and then got distracted for an hour. Meanwhile, the coffee continued to cook in the pot and now it’s bitter. Before you throw out the brew, try adding a pinch of salt to a cup.
Prevent grease splatters
How many times have you been burned by splattering grease while cooking bacon when all you wanted was a hearty breakfast? Next time, add a few dashes of salt to the pan before beginning to fry foods that can splatter. You’ll cook without pain and you won’t have to clean grease off your cooktop.
Speed up cooking time
In a hurry? Add a pinch or two of salt to the water you are boiling food in. This makes the water boil at a higher temperature so the food you are cooking will require less time on the stovetop. Keep in mind: Salt does not make the water boil faster.
Shell hard-boiled eggs with ease
Ever wonder whether there’s a secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs without breaking the shell into a million tiny pieces? There is, and now it’s out of the box! Add a teaspoon of salt to your water before placing the eggs in it to boil.
Make perfect poached eggs
You know it’s possible to keep the whites intact when you poach eggs — you’ve had them in a restaurant. But no matter how careful you are, the whites always diffuse into the water when you poach eggs at home. Here’s the secret the restaurant chefs know: Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon salt into the water just before you put in your eggs. This helps to “set” the whites in a neat package. A dash of vinegar also helps, and improves the taste of the eggs too.
Test an egg’s freshness
In doubt about whether your eggs are fresh? Add 2 teaspoons salt to 1 cup water and gently place the egg in the cup. A fresh egg will sink. An old one floats.
Shell pecans easier
Pecans can be tough nuts to crack. And once you do crack them, it can be tough to dig out the meat. Soak the nuts in salt water for several hours before shelling, and the meat will come cleanly away from the shells.
Wash spinach more easily
Fresh spinach leaves are lovely to look at, but their curving, bumpy surface makes it difficult to wash away all the dirt that collects in the crevices. Try this trick: Wash spinach leaves in salted water. Dirt is driven out along with salt in the rinse water, and you can cut the rinses down to just one.
Keep salad crisp
Do you need to prepare leafy salad in advance of a dinner party? Lightly salt the salad immediately after you prepare it, and it will remain crisp for several hours.
Revive wrinkled apples
Do your apples need a face-lift? Soak them in mildly salted water to make the skin smooth again.
Stop cut fruit from browning
You’re working ahead, making fruit salad for a party and you want to make sure your fresh-cut fruit looks appetizing when you serve the dish. To ensure that cut apples and pears retain their color, soak them briefly in a bowl of lightly salted water.
Use to whip cream and beat eggs
The next time you whip cream or beat eggs, add a pinch of salt first. The cream will whip up lighter. The eggs will beat faster and higher, and they’ll firm up better when you cook them.
Keep your milk fresh
Add a pinch of salt to a carton of milk to make it stay fresh longer. Works for cream too.
Prevent mold on cheese
Cheese is much too expensive to throw away because it has become moldy. Prevent the mold by wrapping the cheese in a napkin soaked in salt water before storing it in the refrigerator.
Extinguish grease fires
Store your box of salt next to the stove. Then, should a grease fire erupt, toss the salt on it to extinguish the flames. Never pour water on a grease fire — it will cause the grease to splatter and spread the fire. Salt is also the solution when the barbecue flames from meat drippings get too high. Sprinkling salt on the coals will quell the flames without causing a lot of smoke and cooling the coals as water does.
Pick up spilled eggs
If you’ve ever dropped an uncooked egg, you know what a mess it is to clean up. Cover the spill with salt. It will draw the egg together and you can easily wipe it up with a sponge or paper towel.
iStock/ronstikClean your iron’s metal soleplate
It seems to happen on a regular basis. No matter how careful you are while ironing, something melts onto the iron, forming a rough surface that is difficult to remove. Salt crystals are the answer. Turn your iron onto high. Sprinkle table salt onto a section of newspaper on your ironing board. Run the hot iron over the salt, and you’ll iron away the bumps.
Make a quick pre-treatment
You’re out to a restaurant dining with friends and notice that a little salad dressing has spotted your slacks. You know it can’t be checked with water, but here’s an idea that will stop the stain from ruining your clothing. Drown the spot in salt to absorb the grease. When you get home, wash as usual.
Remove perspiration stains
Salt’s the secret to getting rid of those stubborn yellow perspiration stains on shirts. Dissolve 4 tablespoons salt in 1 quart (1 liter) hot water. Just sponge the garment with the solution until the stain disappears.
Set the color in new towels
The first two or three times you wash new colored towels, add 1 cup salt to the wash. The salt will set the colors so your towels will remain bright much longer.
iStock/littlenyStop weeds in their tracks
Those weeds that pop up in the cracks of your walkways can be tough to eradicate. But salt can do the job. Bring a solution of about 1 cup salt in 2 cups water to a boil. Pour directly on the weeds to kill them. Another equally effective method is to spread salt directly onto the weeds or unwanted grass that come up between patio bricks or blocks. Sprinkle with water or just wait until rain does the job for you.
Rid your garden of snails and slugs
These little critters are not good for your plants. But there’s a simple solution. Take a container of salt into the garden and douse the offenders. They won’t survive long.
Clean flowerpots without water
Need to clean out a flowerpot so that you can reuse it? Instead of making a muddy mess by washing the pot in water, just sprinkle in a little salt and scrub off the dry dirt with a stiff brush. This method is especially handy if your potting bench is not near a water source.
iStock/southerlycourseA pre-shampoo dandruff treatment
The abrasiveness of ordinary table salt works great for scrubbing out dandruff before you shampoo. Grab a saltshaker and shake some salt onto your dry scalp. Then work it through your hair, giving your scalp a massage. You’ll find you’ve worked out the dry, flaky skin and are ready for a shampoo.
Condition your skin
You’ve heard of bath salts, of course. Usually this conjures images of scented crystals that bubble up in your tub and may contain coloring and other stuff that leave a dreaded bathtub ring. Now strip that picture to its core, and you’ve got salt. Dissolve 1 cup table salt in your tub and soak as usual. Your skin will be noticeably softer. Buy sea salt for a real treat. It comes in larger chunks and can be found in health food stores or the gourmet section of a grocery store.
Give yourself a salt rubdown
Try this trick to remove dead skin particles and boost your circulation. Either while still in the tub, or just after stepping out of the tub — while your skin is still damp — give yourself a massage with dry salt. Ordinary salt works well; the larger sea salt crystals also do the job.
Freshen your breath the old-fashioned way
Store-bought mouthwash can contain food coloring, alcohol, and sweeteners. Not to mention the cost! Use the recipe Grandma used and your breath will be just as sweet. Mix 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda into 1/2 cup water. Rinse and gargle.
Open hair-clogged drains
It’s tough to keep hair and shampoo residues from collecting in the bathtub drain and clogging it. Dissolve the mess with 1 cup salt, 1 cup baking soda, and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Pour the mixture down the drain. After 10 minutes, follow up with a 1/2 gallon (2 liters) boiling water. Run your hot-water tap until the drain flows freely.
Remove spots on tub enamel
Yellow spots on your enamel bathtub or sinks can be lessened by mixing up a solution of salt and turpentine in equal parts. Using rubber gloves, rub away the discoloration and then rinse thoroughly. Don’t forget to ventilate the bathroom while performing this cleaning task.