More than just a key ingredient when baking a pie, or cooking up some gravy, cornstarch is useful for a wide variety of tasks, all over your home. You probably have some sitting in the back of a cupboard somewhere, even if you’re not a chef, and breaking it out may just save you some money the next time you’re washing windows, polishing silver, or going crazy because someone left a grease stain on your leather couch. This low cost ingredient comes in is a small box, and is available at any grocery store. With a wide variety of uses, and such a low price tag, it can easily keep dollars in your pocket while allowing you to save time and effort on common tasks.
What Is It
Well, it’s obviously derived from corn, but the fine white powder looks a whole lot different than the yellow kernels it’s made from. There are several names this substance goes by, so be aware that corn starch, cornstarch, cornflour and maize starch are all the same thing. Most people use it as a thickening agent when cooking, and it was originally discovered in the year 1840. In order to make it, the starch is separated from the endosperm of the kernels by steeping large quantities for about two days, separating out the germ, then grinding, washing and drying to leave the starchy goodness all by itself. Once the process is finished, the fluffy white stuff that you’re familiar with is all that is left. Find out more.
Using Cornstarch Around The House
As an additive, all by itself or as part of a homemade concoction, this simple ingredient can make your life easier and save you some cash at the same time. Buy some the next time you are making turkey and gravy, but keep it at the front of the cupboard for a whole bunch of other uses. The list below will provide some of the best uses for cornstarch along with the directions and explanations necessary to get you started. We think we came up with a pretty good collection of tips, but if you have anything to add, please use the comments section below to help everyone out.
1. Polishing Silver Stuff
Because it’s slightly abrasive, you can use it to make a paste that will provide a cheap and easy way to make silver platters and fancy utensils shine.
- To do it, just mix water and cornstarch together to create a thick vat of sludge.
- Once blended, apply to the metal and then let it sit to dry.
- Once totally dry, come back with a high quality cleaning cloth to buff the dried white stuff off to reveal a polished surface underneath.
2. Cleaning Windows
Add it to regular window cleaner to boost performance, or use as an ingredient to make your own. The gentle abrasive properties come into play again when you add a small amount to your bottle of blue stuff, or when you mix up an inexpensive batch in your kitchen.
- To use as an additive, open up your store bought cleaner when new, then add in up to one tablespoon of corn starch.
- Shake well to blend, then use like normal.
- When used in combination, it can ease the task, and improve the end results.
For a home remedy that will make your windows sparkle, follow the steps below.
- Get together 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Combine together and blend thoroughly, then add to a spray bottle.
- Get a streak free shine by using newspaper to wipe off the cleaner you just made.
- Simply spray onto the glass surface, then wipe using a crumpled up wad of Sunday paper. You will avoid any lint leavings, and you don’t have to worry about the ink because it’s soy based so it won’t rub off on glass.
3. Cleaning Carpets
If you spill something yucky on the floor, this stuff can save the day. It works especially well on oily or greasy liquids, but it may help with other stuff too. It basically absorbs the moisture, and lifts it out of the nap of the carpet while you let it sit. For colored liquids, it might not remove the stain completely, but for other oily spots, it should work pretty well. You’ll have the best luck if you act quickly, so don’t let the spilled liquid soak in.
- To try it, simply cover the stained area with some of the white fluffy stuff.
- Once completely covered, let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
- After it has had time to soak up the mess, use your vacuum to suck it all up.
Even expensive cleaners can have trouble with this type of stain, but this cheap alternative seems to provide good results.
4. Removing Oils Stains On Leather
Couches, chairs, boots, coats and other expensive stuff are often made from leather, and it can be pretty tough to clean. Oil stains are some of the most difficult to remove, and going about it wrong can cause even more damage. It doesn’t matter if it is a hair product or spilled food causing the stain, a bit of cornstarch can make it disappear.
- Lightly sprinkle the area to cover the oil spot, then let it sit overnight.
- The next day, take a gentle brush or cloth to remove the powder and the stain all at once.
- If you see some improvement, but the pot is still there, just repeat the process to eliminate it.
Easily save some green when you avoid replacing furniture and clothing, or calling in the professionals to fix it for you.
5. Making Spray Starch For Clothing
Like your shirts neatly pressed? Save money by making your own spray starch at home. You’ll keep a couple extra dollars in your pocket, but you won’t compromise your tailored look, and you’ll have the piece of mind that comes from using a natural product that you made yourself. Your homemade version can deliver the same results as products purchased at the store, but at a fraction of the cost.
- Dilute a small amount into a spray bottle of water and you’ll be good to go.
- Just spray it down as you iron to ensure wrinkle-free garments with crispy creases.
6. Removing The Stink From Sneakers
Sweaty feet lead to shoes that reek. There are a wide variety of deodorizers and antiperspirants available at the store, but you could also use cornstarch to combat the stinky swamp brewing in your kicks and it will be far more cost effective.
- Lightly coat the interior after a workout and the powder will absorb sweat and neutralize odors.
- Let it sit overnight to work.
- Then dump and shake out before wearing the next day.
The moisture will be lifted off instead of soaking in, so lingering odors will be avoided, and your shoes will feel and smell much more fresh.
7. Making Your Own Body Powder
Make your own body powder to stay fresh and dry while spending less money. Not only will it be way cheaper, you’ll also be able to customize the fragrance to your exact preference. When applied to your body, it will stay in place to absorb moisture and deliver time released fragrance to keep you feeling fresh and clean all day. As an added use, the same powder can be used in problem areas to relieve chafing.
- To make your own, get a small container with a lid.
- Add in one cup of corn starch and a few drops of essential oil.
- Close the lid and shake well to mix.
8. Eliminating Oily Stains On Clothing
If you spill salad dressing or another oil based food on your clothing, you can avoid a permanent stain and prevent a costly replacement. Once again, the incredible absorption power of corn flour comes into play. Set in oil stains are some of the most difficult to take out, but if you act right away, you can stop the process and thwart disaster.
- Simply coat the area and then let it sit overnight.
- As it remains in place, it will absorb the moisture and prevent it from bonding with the fabric.
- After it has had time to work, launder like normal to finish the job.
9. Renewing Wood Furniture
When buying wood cleaners at the store, you have to worry about expensive price tags and the chemical residue left after you finish. When you mix up your own cleanser instead, it will cost you next to nothing, and there will be no greasy film or sticky coating left on the surface. The results can be just as good when you do it yourself, so try this naturally gentle abrasive the next time you want to remove marks and improve the look of aging wood furniture.
- Mix together equal parts of cornstarch and water to make a paste.
- Apply to the surface using a damp cloth in a circular motion.
- Allow time to sit, then remove by buffing with a dry cloth.
10. Rejuvenating Old Books
Aging books are often found in pretty rough shape. Years on the shelf allows time for the pages to absorb moisture and grow mildew. Not only will this cause visual damage, it will also result in a pretty awful smell as well. When used correctly, corn starch can improve the health of elderly books in order to make them last longer, look better, and smell less disgusting.
- Lightly sprinkle over moisture damaged areas to cover.
- Allow time to sit so liquids can be absorbed and odors can be neutralized.
- After sitting for some time shake off or wipe gently with a cloth or brush.
11. Healing Diaper Rash
Wet diapers lead to itchy and painful rashes. Some babies are sensitive to available products, and you may find that many options just don’t work. Instead of spending more money on another cream or powder to make your baby feel better, try a bath with cornstarch in it. The natural soak will soothe the irritation the damaged areas. Your child will feel better instantly, and the skin will heal more quickly, so the rash won’t last as long.
- Draw a warm bath and add in a generous amount of powder.
- Let your child sit and soak.
- Repeat 1-2 times daily until the rash is gone.
12. Preventing Smelly Pits
Combine with rubbing alcohol to create a money saving combo that will prevent you from buying deodorant at the store. It can be a great money saver, but it’s also nice for people with sensitive skin. Traditional deodorants and antiperspirants are often irritating due to the ingredients, so a simple homemade alternative may be the perfect option. When applied to underarm skin, rubbing alcohol will eliminate odor while the cornstarch keeps you dry. Add some essential oil to your corn powder and you’ll have a time released scent, and a homemade product that will keep you dry and smelling good, all day long.
- To apply, wipe underarms with rubbing alcohol.
- While still damp, dust with cornstarch.
- To add fragrance, make a mixture of starch and essential oil by adding a few drops in a pre-mixed container.
- Use in the morning, after showering, for all day protection.
13. Improving Oily Hair
If you have regular hair and you’re short on time, or if you have oily hair and want to preform occasional treatments to make it more manageable, this inexpensive powder will do the trick. It will absorb the natural oils coating your locks in order to eliminate the greasy look that makes it look dirty.
- Apply a small amount at the top of your head, and some down by your neckline.
- Gently work into your hair, and let sit.
- Brush out all powder to finish.
- Also good for dogs and cats.
14. Making Face Paint
Save money when you throw your next birthday party by mixing up a batch of face paint that’s safe and natural. You’ll keep costs down without limiting fun, and the kids will be able to use as much paint as they want without any worry about the ingredients. This simple recipe can be whipped up ahead of time, and because you’re adding the pigment yourself, you get to choose the colors. Stick to traditional choices, or go with a select few to match the theme of the party.
- To make it, simply mix together corn starch and vegetable shortening to create the base.
- Separate into several containers with lids.
- Use food coloring to blend in color.
- Once you have the perfect color selections, place the lids on, and store for use at the party.
15. Thickening Sauces and Fluffing Eggs
This is what most people use it for, and despite the fact that it’s an intended use, it will still save money because it will prevent the use of pre-packaged alternatives, restaurant prepared dishes, or the cost that comes along with eating run-of-the-mill food. When whipped into eggs it will make them light and fluffy, and when cooked into things like gravy, it can add the perfect, creamy consistency.
- The next time you’re preparing an omelet or scrambled eggs, sprinkle in some cornstarch before you mix them up. The end result will be thicker eggs with a fluffier texture.
- Use this gluten free ingredient when cooking soups and stews to turn runny and watery sauces in to thick and savory gravy.
16. Soothing Sunburns and Bug Bites
Too much sun exposure can cause lasting damage, but the immediate pain is what we notice the most. Bug bites cause similar discomfort, although the pain is often mixed with itchiness too. Coating the affected skin with a starchy paste can relieve the painful, burning or itching sensation in order to provide immediate relief.
- Simply mix together water and powder to create a loose paste.
- Apply to skin in a thick wet coat.
- As it dries, it will soothe the skin.
- Once dry, rinse off with warm water. Repeat as desired.
- Good for burns, bites and stings.