60 Clever Uses for Salt—That Don’t Involve Cooking
From relieving rashes to removing stains to restoring household items to their original luster, salt does more than just season food.
Solutions that are worth their salt
From organic home-cleaning and stain-removal hacks to beauty scrubs and throat gargles, there are so many practical applications for salt. In addition, salt makes food taste really good. For this reason, salt was once so valuable that it was used as currency, according to these surprising facts about salt. Read on for some of the very best household uses for salt that you’ve probably never heard of.
Remove wine stains from carpet
When it comes to red wine spills, it pays to act fast. First, while the stain is still wet, pour some white wine on it to dilute the color of the stain. Then dab the spot with a sponge and cold water. Next, sprinkle the area with salt, wait about 10 minutes, and vacuum up the whole mess. Here are more homemade carpet cleaners you already have in your house.
Make coffee taste less bitter
Move over, sugary lattes. If you drink your coffee unsweetened but prefer a less bitter brew, try tossing a pinch of salt into your mug. The seasoning contains sodium ions that neutralize or cancel out coffee’s bitter taste, research has found. Cooking Light recommends adding about 1/8 teaspoon of salt into the ground coffee beans before turning on your coffee maker. Salt is just one of the 10 surprising things you should be adding to your coffee.
Clean your fridge
You should clean your fridge every three to six months to keep it looking (and smelling) good, but elbow grease alone doesn’t always do the trick. To lift stubborn food stains and smells, scrub the shelves with 1/2 cup of salt mixed with two liters of warm water.
Sanitize cutting boards
Countless studies have found that plastic and wood cutting boards harbor germs deep inside the grooves made by your knife. Luckily, you can keep bacteria at bay by adding one easy salt-scrub step to your washing routine. For plastic boards that you use to handle meat, sprinkle bleach and salt on the board, scrub it with a stiff brush, and rinse with hot water. Wood boards can be sanitized using salt, rubbed in with a lemon wedge, then rinsed clean. Learn which is better, plastic or wood?
Remove watermarks from wood
Glasses or bottles can leave watermarks on wood that 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. Then, restore the luster of your wood with furniture polish.
Restore a sponge
Hand and mop sponges usually get grungy long before they are actually worn out. To revive your sponges to a pristine state, soak them overnight in a solution of about 1/4 cup salt per liter of water. Try these 95 household uses for vinegar you never knew about, too.
Relieve bee stings
If you get stung by a bee, salt is a natural salve. Immediately wet the sting and cover with salt to lessen the pain and reduce swelling. Most bug bites and stings can be treated at home, but here’s how to know when your sting needs immediate medical attention.
Deodorize your sneakers
Sneakers and other canvas shoes can get pretty smelly, especially if you wear them without socks in the summertime. Knock out the odor and soak up the moisture by occasionally sprinkling a little salt in your canvas shoes.
To speed up the healing process and prevent infections, soak new body piercing jewelry in salt water. Just be sure to use the correct ratio: The Piercing Bible recommends ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt for each cup of warm water. You can get too much of a good thing; water with high salt content can irritate your skin, according to the site. These are the most (and least) painful parts of your body to tattoo.
Put out a grease fire
A bucket of water is not necessarily the first thing you should grab in a fire; if you are dealing with a grease fire, water can actually cause the flames to spread. Instead, douse them in salt or baking soda, or quickly cover with a metal lid instead, per Food Network. Never combine these common household items or you could start a fire.
Use as a natural mouthwash
Store-bought mouthwash can contain toxic chemicals and other artificial ingredients. The all-natural alternative? Salt. Stir 1 teaspoon of cooking salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda into half a cup of water, then gargle the mixture. The salt behaves like a disinfectant, killing off bacteria that causes bad breath. There are at least 12 things your bad breath may be trying to tell you.
Keep cheese from molding
Salt’s dehydrating powers can actually help slow the growth of mold on cheese. To reduce food waste (and save money on groceries), dip a paper towel in a mixture of 2 Tbsp. salt and 3 cups of water, and then wrap it loosely around your cheese before refrigerating. Now, avoid this other sneaky ingredient that’s hiding in your shredded cheese.
Chill beverages fast
Warm soda, beer, and wine can spell disaster for any party host. But if you have salt on hand, chilling those beverages won’t take long. Place the bottles and cans in a bucket of ice water and mix in a handful of salt. Once the salt works its magic, the beverages will be cold in no time. Here are some additional ways to quickly chill a bottle of white wine.
Give your lawn a boost
Perhaps the grass on your lawn has seen better (read: greener) days. For an inexpensive fertilizer, mix two tablespoons of Epsom salt and a gallon of water in a spray bottle, and apply it to the grass. Epsom salt contains magnesium, which boosts a plant’s production of chlorophyll—the pigment responsible for their green hue.
Relieve a sore throat
The next time you wake up that telltale tickle, mix some table salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds to ease the pain. It’s not just an old wives’ tale—salt can actually flush out mucus and other irritants that cause a sore throat, research shows.
Prevent dye from bleeding
A new item of clothing won’t run in the wash if you soak it in salt water first. Combine ½ gallon of water with 1/3 cup vinegar and ½ cup salt, and then leave your garment in the solution for one hour. Rinse it off until the water runs clear. Now, learn how to whiten your laundry without using bleach.
Test for rotten eggs
Not sure about that weeks-old egg carton sitting in the back of the fridge? Place an egg in a bowl of saltwater. If it sinks, your batch is fresh. An egg that is rotten, on the other hand, will float. And next time you’re hard-boiling eggs, try this trick for perfect peeling every time.
Protect your garden from pests
While chemical-filled pesticides can protect your garden from snails and slugs, they also pose a danger to animals and young children. For an all-natural repellent, roll the seeds in table salt before covering them with dirt. The pests will steer clear long enough to give your seedlings a fighting chance. For thriving mature plants, DIY one of these nontoxic pesticides.
Ward off fleas
Like snails and slugs, fleas are not fans of salt. If your pup is scratching up a storm, bathe them in a salty solution instead of water and soap. And it can’t hurt to wash the doghouse or pet bedding with saltwater, too. Salt will dehydrate the pests, protecting your four-legged friend from itchy bites.
Make a cloudy vase sparkle again
Uh, oh—your once-beautiful bouquet has wilted, leaving cloudy 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. Find out why hand-washing dishes is not so eco-friendly.
Soothe poison ivy rashes
When poison ivy erupts, salt to the rescue! Relieve the itch caused by poison ivy by soaking in a hot salt water bath. If that doesn’t work try one of these additional home remedies for poison ivy.
Keep wicker looking new
Wicker furniture tends to 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 for best results. Find out more easy ways to clean your lawn and patio furniture.
Make a DIY face scrub
This homemade face mask requires just two pantry staples: salt and olive oil. Make a paste using 1/4 cup of salt and ½ cup of olive oil, and gently apply it to your skin in a circular motion. Leave the mask in place for five minutes before washing it off. The moisturizing olive oil and exfoliating salt will leave your face, hands, and even lips feeling soft and refreshed. Just be sure to avoid these 10 exfoliating habits that could do you harm.
Create non-drip candles
Nothing distracts from a gorgeous candle display like messy wax drips. To keep them from dripping, create a “shell” around the wax and trap the drips inside by using this saltwater trick. Place your candles in a large, flat dish and soak them in a saltwater solution (2 cups water and 2 Tbsp. salt) for 24 hours, then dry them well. Now when you light the candles, they won’t make such a mess.
Remove grass stains
Some laundry products are a waste of money. Before you splurge on pricy stain-lifters, try treating stubborn grass stains with lemon and salt first. Squeeze lemon juice over the stain, sprinkling on a thick layer of salt, and then rub the stain with a lemon rind and watch it fade away.
Ease fireplace cleanup
Stacking wood in a fireplace is a combination of art and science. But how do you safely put one out? 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 the next day will be easier, too, because the salt helps the ashes and residue gather into easy sweepings.
Strengthen your nails
No time to hit the nail salon? No problem. At home, mix one teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, and lemon juice in 1/2 cup of hot water, and soak your fingertips in the mixture for 10 minutes. Then, scrub your nails to rinse them off. The treatment will soften your cuticles and strengthen your nails. Bonus: Dig your nails into the rind of the lemon, and your nails will look brighter and healthier too. Read on for more tips manicurists won’t tell you.
Clean your fish tank
To remove mineral deposits in a fish tank that were caused by hard water, rub the inside of the tank with salt, then rinse the tank well. Now your tank is ready for re-use. Be careful what variety of fish you populate your tank with; some pet combos just don’t work. And when choosing what type of salt to clean with, be sure to use plain, not iodized, salt to protect the health of the fish who will inhabit the tank.
Kill weeds in cement cracks
Cracks in cement allow just enough space for pesky, unattractive grass or weeds to grow—and they are tough to treat with an average weed-whacker. Try sprinkling salt and pouring hot water over the area, instead. The weeds will shrivel, leaving behind a spotless sidewalk or driveway.
Clean up a dropped egg
You may not cry over spilled milk, but a sticky, broken egg on the floor might be worthy of a few tears. Shake some salt over the mess and leave it alone for 20 minutes. When you come back to it, you’ll be able to clean the egg right up—no scrubbing required.
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, helping the flowers stay put. Not a fan of fake flowers? Don’t miss these pro tips on how to fresh flowers last longer.
Keep clothes from freezing on the line
When it comes to laundry, some things should never go in the dryer. When line-drying the old-fashioned way, try tossing a bit of salt in your next load. The extra blast of sodium will keep your clothes from freezing on the clothesline in cold weather. You can also prevent clothes from sticking to the line by soaking the rope itself in salt.
Whiten your teeth
There are foods that whiten your teeth, and those that stain them. But brushing your teeth with salt once a week can brighten up your smile. Yes, really! Salt is a gentle and all-natural abrasive, helping to remove stains on your teeth. What’s more, “sea salts can temporarily raise the pH in your mouth, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to thrive” and protects your gums from injury and disease, William Graves, DMD., told SELF.com.
Make your own brass and copper polish
When cleaning household items that are silver, take care; there are tricks to polishing silver. To shine your candlesticks or remove green tarnish from copper items, 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.
Prevent sliced fruit from turning brown
Keep slices of fresh fruit looking, well, fresh by dipping them in a salt solution—1/8 teaspoon of salt and one cup of water—for a few minutes. Don’t forget to give them a quick rinse in fresh water, or you will be chomping down on salty fruit.
Freshen up a dirty broom
An old-fashioned broom can still be a homeowner’s best friend—witness 8 things you should never do clean with a Swiffer. But a broom’s bristles can be magnets for dirt and dust. Soaking them in a bucket of hot salty water for 30 minutes will loosen up the grime. Then just wipe them off with an old cloth and leave to dry.
Wipe away oven spills
Chefs prize salt as an ingredient that can amp up the taste of almost any dish. Well, it can also be used to fix a home cook’s worst nightmare—oven spills. Covering a spill immediately with salt will not only stop smoke and odors from building, but the mess will also be easier to wipe up after the oven cools. For grime that has already been baked on, using a few dishwashing tabs will do the trick.
Unclog a drain
Fixing a clogged drain doesn’t necessarily require a plumber. Try this quick DIY fix: Combine 1 cup of salt with 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of white vinegar, and then pour it down the drain. Let it sit for 10 minutes before pouring about two liters of boiling water down the drain. Finally, turn on the hot water tap and let it flow; after a few seconds, water should be running freely down the drain. If your problem is a stopped toilet, don’t miss how to unclog a toilet without a plunger.
Extend the life of your toothbrush
The bristles on your toothbrush can last a lot longer with one simple trick. Place a new brush inside a small bowl or cup of hot water and salt—making sure the bristles are fully submerged—and allow it to soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse well with clean water, and your toothbrush is good for another few months. Experts advise replacing your toothbrush every six months, unlike these 5 everyday things that should last a lifetime.
Brighten sweat-stained clothes
Believe it or not, that white undershirt with yellow persperation stains might not be a lost cause. Sweat-stained garments can be revived by soaking them in a pot of boiling water that’s been seasoned with a few tablespoons of salt and baking soda.
Scrub away dandruff
When salt can be an effective treatment for dandruff, why bust your budget on expensive shampoo? Simply sprinkle some salt into your scalp, massage your head for five minutes, rinse, then shampoo as usual. The salt will exfoliate the dry skin on your scalp, and your hair will be squeaky clean after you shampoo. Read on for 10 more natural treatments for dandruff.
Clean gunk off your iron
Minerals from hard water can accumulate on your iron’s metal plate, and that can translate into stains on your freshly laundered and ironed clothes. To get your iron sparkling clean, turn it on its highest setting, then toss a pinch of table salt onto your ironing board and press the iron over it. This trick should remove any gunk.
Keep windows frost-free
You probably know that salt will decrease the temperature at which ice freezes. This doesn’t just come in handy for icy roads and sidewalks, though; it can also keep your home’s windows free of frost. Simply wipe them with a sponge dipped in salt water, and then let them dry. But when you’re out of salt, find out how a mixture of soap and alcohol can work.
Refresh artificial flowers
Artificial flowers—whether they are authentic silk ones or the more common nylon variety—can get dusty and fade over time. But you can refresh them 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. You can also use a few vacuum cleaner tips to freshen up artificial flowers and plants.
Treat puffy eyes
Eating too much salt can make you puffy, so it may seem counterintuitive that applying salt can be a remedy to swollen eyelids. Pour ½ teaspoon of salt into a cup of hot water and stir well, then soak a few cotton balls in the mixture and press them gently against your eyes. Voila!—puffiness problem solved. Read on for 12 more tips to avoid eye puffiness.
Extend your milk’s expiration date
When your milk or half-and-half is approaching the carton expiration date, you can keep it fresh a few extra days longer by tossing a bit of salt into the carton and giving it a gentle shake. Some food expire faster than others. Never use these foods after their expiration date.
Erase blood stains
Blood stains are notoriously tough to remove from linens. Lifehacker recommends soaking the garment in salt water, followed by a wash in hot, soapy water, but we recommend a cold saltwater soak. Here are 11 additional ways to remove blood stains from everyday items.
Lift food scraps from pots and pans
If your pots and pans are dotted with stubborn food stains, leave them to soak in salt water overnight. The salt will soften and lift almost any kind of residue, making those dishes much easier to clean in the morning.
Clean up grease stains
To say goodbye to grungy grease stains on your carpets and couches mix one part salt to four parts rubbing alcohol and vigorously rub it into the area. In the case of carpets, rub in the direction of its natural nap. The stain should fade away easily. Here are 13 additional tips for removing grease stains from other household items.
Rusty knives make kitchen prep scary. Fear not: you can clean rust stains from knives with just 6 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Combine the two ingredients to create a paste and carefully rub it onto the rusted area using a soft, dry cloth. Rinse well then dry, and your knives will look good as new.
Relieve bug bites
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. Most bites are just a nuisance, but here are the bug bites you should never ignore.
Revive faded linens
Did your favorite shirt fade in the wash? Try this: Dip a washcloth in a strong saltwater solution, wring it out, and rub the garment. Doing so should brighten its colors. This works for faded rugs and curtains, too. If your clothes are consistently fading, it could be a sign you’re using too much laundry detergent.
Stop soap spillage
No need to panic over an overflowing washing machine or dishwasher. Stop the suds from spreading by sprinkling salt over the mess until you can grab some extra towels. Consistently overfilling your machine is just one of the ways you’re shortening the life of your washer.
Remove coffee and tea stains from mugs
A bit of salt can make mugs and china cups sparkle like new again; just give each piece a quick scrub with salt and then rinse them in hot water.