By Ande Waggener
Common table salt actually has myriad household and personal uses beyond the dinner table. We normally use salt for flavoring food, but what are some other household uses for salt? Here are seven ways I’ve found that salt can be an effective cleaner and household-helper.
1. Clean Glass Vases
One of my favorite household uses for salt is as a vase cleaner. I don’t often have cut flowers, but when I do, I enjoy them so much I want to leave them out as long as possible. Because I tend to be lazy about changing out the water in the vases, I end up with ugly brown rings on the insides of my glass vases.
No amount of scrubbing with ordinary dish soap has touched these stains. Salt, however, works wonders. All you need to do is sprinkle two to three tablespoons of salt on the damp interior surface of a stained-glass vase. Wait a few minutes, and then scrub away the brown rings with a damp bristle brush.
2. Clean Brass or Copper
Another great way to use salt as a cleaner is as a natural alternative to commercial brass and copper cleaners. In my search for ways to clean brass, I’ve tried several non-commercial products, even using cola as a cleaner. But the best natural copper and brass cleaner I’ve found combines salt with flour and vinegar to make a tarnish-busting paste. Just use equal parts of all three, salt and flour and vinegar. Form a paste, and then rub the paste on the copper or brass. Let the paste sit for at least an hour then clean the surface with soft brush or cloth. Finish off by buffing the metal with a dry cloth.
3. Clean up Wine Spills
If you like to clean without commercial chemicals, you’ll love that you can remove one of the toughest stains with just a salt shaker and some cold water. The next time you spill red wine, don’t panic. Just blot up as much of the wine stain as you can with a clean cloth, and then grab the salt. Cover the remaining wine with a pile of salt and let it sit for at least a half-hour. Then clean up the salt and soak whatever wine stain is left over with cold water. If you get a wine stain on your clothes or a tablecloth, after giving it the salt treatment, wash it as usual in the washing machine. For wine stains on a rug or carpet, after you’ve used this method and allowed the stain to completely dry, vacuum up the salt pile, and the wine stain may be sucked up with it.
4. Remove Perspiration Stains
Another way to use salt as a stain remover is to combine it with hot water to remove sweat stains. Perspiration stains are notoriously stubborn, but they can be removed with a combination of 4 tablespoons of salt dissolved in a quart of hot water. Just apply this solution to the stained fabric, wait a few minutes, and then wash the fabric as usual.
5. Extinguish Grease Fires
Even if you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen (and you absolutely should), keep an easily opened box or container of salt near your range or stove and oven. If you ever have a grease fire, you can put it out by dumping salt over the flames. When salt hits fire, it attacks the fire in two ways: It dissipates the heat, and it also forms a crust that keeps oxygen from getting to the fire, thus smothering it.
6. Clean Silk Flowers or Plants
For many years, I wondered how to clean silk flowers and plants without painstakingly vacuuming them or using some sort of silk flower cleaning chemical. Salt has finally solved this problem for me. When your silk flowers or plants get dusty, just grab a paper bag, dump a few tablespoons of salt into the bag, and then add the silk flowers or plants. Close up the bag and shake the flowers inside the bag for two minutes. The salt will clean the dust off the silk surfaces!
7. Refresh Sponges
I used to microwave sponges to refresh and sanitize them, but then I learned that even microwaving them doesn’t kill off all the bacteria, and can actually make room for more potentially harmful bacteria to grow. So now I soak my sponges in a solution of very hot water combined with a half-cup of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of salt. I let the sponge sit until the water is cold, and then I rinse the sponge and soak it again in just cold saltwater for another 10 minutes. Although this solution won’t completely kill off all the bacteria, it will destroy some of the types than can cause illness.
8. Diminish Drips from Candles
Even supposedly drip-free candles usually drip more than you want. So when I first read about this salt trick, I couldn’t wait to try it. I’m delighted to say it works. All you need to do is soak new candles in a strong saltwater for a few hours. Then remove the candles, dry them thoroughly, and when you use them, they will barely drip. (No, the solution doesn’t make them drip-free, but it does greatly minimize dripping.)
I hope you find these unorthodox salt uses as helpful as I do. Do you have more uses for salt around the house? Please share them in the comments below!
Images used with permission, courtesy of Ande Waggener and www.shutterstock.com