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20 Genius Uses for Cornstarch You’ll Wish You Already Knew

Updated: Mar. 20, 2023

If you only use cornstarch as an occasional cooking staple, you're missing out big time.

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Untangle knots

Knots in string or shoelaces can be stubborn to undo, but the solution is easy with these cornstarch uses. Sprinkle the knot with a little cornstarch. It will then be easy to work the segments apart.

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Soak up furniture polish residue

You’ve finished polishing your furniture, but there’s still a bit left on the surface. Sprinkle cornstarch lightly on furniture after polishing. Wipe up the oil and cornstarch, then buff the surface.

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Remove ink stains from carpet

Oh no, ink on the carpet! In this case, a little spilled milk might save you from crying. Mix the milk with cornstarch to make a paste. Apply the paste to the ink stain. Allow the concoction to dry on the carpet for a few hours, then brush off the dried residue and vacuum it up. Or experiment with these other homemade carpet stain removers.

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Create matte nail polish

Matte nail polish is becoming increasingly popular and if you love the look, you can make it yourself at home with a little cornstarch. All you have to do is mix the cornstarch with a nail polish color of your choosing on a small paper plate and then immediately apply it to your nails.

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Lift a scorch mark from clothing

You moved the iron a little too slowly and now you have a scorch mark on your favorite shirt. Wet the scorched area and cover it with cornstarch. Let the cornstarch dry, then brush it away along with the scorch mark.

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iStock/&#169 Robert Antell

Make finger paints

This simple recipe will keep the kids happy for hours. Mix together 1/4 cup cornstarch and 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until the mixture becomes thick. Pour your product into several small containers and add food coloring to each container. You’ve created a collection of homemade finger paints.

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Give carpets a fresh scent

Before vacuuming a room, sprinkle a little cornstarch on your carpeting. Wait about half an hour and then vacuum normally.

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Get rid of bloodstains

The quicker you act, the better. Whether it’s on clothing or table linens, you can remove or reduce a blood stain with this method. Make a paste of cornstarch mixed with cold water. Cover the spot with the cornstarch paste and rub it gently into the fabric. Now put the cloth in a sunny location to dry. Once dry, brush off the remaining residue. If the stain is not completely gone, repeat the process. Find out other things that remove bloodstains.

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Dry shampoo

Fido needs a bath, but you just don’t have time. Rub cornstarch into his coat and brush it out. The dry bath will fluff up his coat until it’s tub time.

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Make your own paste

These cornstarch uses are great money savers, and this one is no different. The next time the kids want to go wild with construction paper and paste, save money by making the paste yourself. Mix 3 teaspoons cornstarch for every 4 teaspoons cold water. Stir until you reach a paste consistency. This is especially great for applying with fingers or a wooden tongue depressor or Popsicle stick. If you add food coloring, the paste can be used for painting objects.

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DIY deodorant

Cornstarch has an excellent ability to absorb moisture. If you feel your drugstore deodorant isn’t cutting it, try making your own. Mix together 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1/8 cup of baking soda and 1/8 cup of cornstarch and done! You have yourself a natural deodorant.

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iStock/Photography Firm

Say good riddance to roaches

There’s no delicate way to manage this problem, but these cornstarch uses might make it a little easier. Make a mixture that is 50 percent plaster of Paris and 50 percent cornstarch. Spread this in the crevices where roaches appear. It’s a killer recipe.

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Make windows sparkle

Create your own streak-free window cleaning solution by mixing 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/2 cup ammonia and 1/2 cup white vinegar in a bucket containing 3-4 quarts (3-4 liters) warm water. Don’t be put off by the milky concoction you create. Mix well and put the solution in a trigger spray bottle. Spray on the windows, then wipe with a warm-water rinse. Now rub with a dry paper towel or lint-free cloth. Voilá! Don’t miss these other household uses for vinegar.

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Translucent face powder

Translucent powder is the perfect finishing touch after you’ve applied all your makeup. It minimizes pores, absorbs oils, prolongs the wear of your foundation, lip color, and eye color, and compliments all skin tones and types. The only thing is it can be a bit pricey, so if you don’t feel like spending those extra bucks, you can create your own. Simply combine ½ tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of baby powder and put it in a sealable container. Check out these natural face cleansers you can make yourself, too.

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Clean stuffed animals

To clean a stuffed animal toy, rub a little cornstarch onto the toy, wait about five minutes, and then brush it clean. Or place the stuffed animal (or a few small ones) into a bag. Sprinkle cornstarch into the bag, close it tightly, and shake. Now brush the pretend pets clean.

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Treat athlete’s foot

This smelly foot fungus grows on the skin of feet due to warm and wet places such as your sweaty shoes. To prevent yourself from developing this condition, sprinkle some cornstarch in your shoes to help absorb any moisture. You can also try these other ways to treat athlete’s foot naturally.

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Polish silver

Is the sparkle gone from your good silverware? Make a simple paste by mixing cornstarch with water. Use a damp cloth to apply this to your silverware. Let it dry, then rub it off with cheesecloth or another soft cloth to reveal that old shine.

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Remove grease spatters from walls

Even the most careful cook cannot avoid an occasional spatter. A busy kitchen takes some wear and tear but here’s a handy remedy for that unsightly grease spot. Sprinkle cornstarch onto a soft cloth. Rub the grease spot gently until it disappears.

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Separate marshmallows

Ever buy a bag of marshmallows only to find them stuck together? Here’s some cornstarch uses we bet you never thought of: getting marshmallows unstuck. Here’s how to get them apart: Add at least 1 teaspoon cornstarch to the bag and shake. The cornstarch will absorb the extra moisture and force most of the marshmallows apart. Repackage the remaining marshmallows in a container and freeze them to avoid sticking in the future.

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Draw a soothing milk bath

Cornstarch can soothe and calm dry skin. Especially during the cold winter months, you can find that your skin is rougher and itchier than usual. In order to help combat irritated skin, treat yourself to a moisturizing milk bath. You will need 2 cups of whole powdered milk, ½ cup of cornstarch, ½ cup of baking soda, and an essential oil of your choice (use about 10 drops depending on how strong you want the scent). Combine all the powders in a sealable container and shake it until well blended. Then remove the lid and add the essential oil, closing it again and giving it another mix. Let it sit for 24 hours before using and store in a cool, dark place. When you are ready to use it all you have to do is pour 1 to 2 cups of the stuff in a hot running bath. Then sit back and relax! Next, be sure to check out 43 extraordinary uses for household staples you already own.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest