Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Versatility Tuesday

I have decided that every Tuesday, I will tell how I use one item around the house for various things.
Today, a simple staple most have in their kitchen...


Cornstarch is usually in everyone's kitchen cabinet, but is usually woefully under-used.
Most know that added to sauces, soups, stews and gravies, it thickens up to be smooth and creamy. Much better than flour, in my opinion, as it doesn't leave a *flour-y* taste behind and there is much less chance of lumps developing.

But how can you use cornstarch other than cooking?

Cornstarch makes an excellent and non-irritating powder for baby's bottom, for hot feet, to ward off heat rash, etc.
If you MUST have scented powder, put cornstarch in your container for powder, add a small (1 inch x 1 inch) piece of gauze that you have sprinkled a few drops of your favorite essential oil on. Let the gauze stay in the cornstarch for 24 hours, undisturbed, then shake, let set another 24 hours and the cornstarch should be well scented.

Is your bath hating dog smelling, well, too *doggy*? Sprinkle your canine all over with cornstarch and work it into his/her fur a bit. Let set 5 to 10 minutes, then vigorously brush it out.

In high school, when it was necessary to wash my hair, but just no time to do it...I used to sprinkle cornstarch in my hair, work it through a bit and then brush it out. Excess oil gone and hair was fresh looking and smelling!

Cornstarch is a good *refresher* for that collection of stuffed animals that can't be washed. Put stuffed critter in a plastic bag (or several at a time in a plastic trash bag), sprinkle in cornstarch...for an average 10 inch tall teddy bear, figure about a quarter cup or less of cornstarch. Shake bag (great activity for energetic kids!) for about 5 minutes. Let set another 10 minutes, remove stuffed toys and brush off well. Clean and fresh!

Homemade finger paints...messy outdoor fun, easily cleaned off kids! Neater kids can do their art work inside, lol! Mix 1/4 cup cornstarch with two cups cold water and mix well. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Pour into separate little containers and mix in food coloring. Soooo much cheaper than buying finger paints and no worries about toxic or dangerous additives!

Like baking soda, you can sprinkle corn starch on carpets before vacuuming to take out unpleasant smells and refresh your rugs!

Cornstarch removes stains, too. To get ink or make-up out of carpet and off of many fabrics, make a paste of milk and cornstarch, rub into stain, let dry and then brush out. You may have to do this 3 to 4 times before the stain completely lifts.

If a stain is protein based (like blood), make the paste out of cornstarch and water and rub into the stain and dry the fabric item in bright sunlight until dry. Then brush out. Re-treat if necessary.

Cornstarch is great in absorbing oil stains out of leather. Just sprinkle it on the spot, let set overnight and then brush away!
For oil stains on fabric, make a paste of corn starch and water and rub into oil stain. Let set 12 hours or overnight, brush off and launder.

Cornstarch will dry out water damaged books and other paper documents. If it's a book, sprinkle corn starch between the pages, let set overnight and then brush it out. Best to do this job outside, so as not to have mold spores attacking your indoor spaces! For important documents, get a piece of cardboard a little larger than the document and sprinkle the cardboard generously with cornstarch. Place the document on top of the cornstarch and then sprinkle cornstarch generously directly on the document. Place another piece of cardboard on top and let dry overnight.In the morning, remove document and shake off cornstarch. Examine document to make sure it is completely dry, if not, treat again. If dry, gently brush remnants of cornstarch off. A friend of mine saved several precious family documents after Hurricane Katrina using this method, including her great-grandparents beautiful wedding certificate!

People have used a 50-50 mix of cornstarch and plaster of Paris to kill cockroaches for years! You can get the plaster of Paris at most hardware stores.After you have mixed it, sprinkle it in cracks and crevices, behind your fridge, etc to kill the creepy crawlies.

Two tablespoons of cornstarch with one tablespoon of shortening. Voila! White clown face-paint! Add a few drops of food coloring to make other colors.

If you have silver, cornstarch made into a paste with water is perfect for polishing it! Apply with a damp cloth, let dry, then rub off with a dishtowel.

A paste of cornstarch and water applied to an insect bite or bee-sting takes the venom and/or the itch or *owie* out.

For sunburn, mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with a quart of water, put in a spray bottle, shake and then spray on the affected area.

Have a musty smelling old suitcase? Sprinkle cornstarch inside, close and let set overnight. The next day, brush out the cornstarch. Repeat if necessary.

Old furniture can smell *off* and musty, too, particularly if it has been stored away for a long while. Sprinkle drawers and/or all the wood with cornstarch and let set overnight. Brush off the next day. Repeat if necessary.

Upholstered pieces can be refreshed by cornstarch as well. Sprinkle sofa cushions and such with cornstarch, let set 5 minutes and then vacuum.

If a piece of upholstered furniture has a strong musty or off smell, sprinkle generously and let set overnight before vacuuming.

Now, there are dozens of cornstarch play dough and goo recipes out there, so I am not going to add to taht mix as I don't have little ones to entertain around my house. If you don't have a good recipe, google it. If you have a good recipes, feel free to post it in the comments!

Do you have any other uses for cornstarch ---out of the kitchen uses?

1 comment:

  1. Cornstarch is one of my all time favorite staples around the house too. I can't think of any uses you haven't already covered ...a couple that you mentioned were new to me, such as using it to ease sunburn or insect bites. So thanks for sharing!

    : )


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