7 Unexpected Things You Can Clean with Cornstarch

From polishing silver to removing grease stains, cornstarch has many household cleaning uses.

<p>Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images</p>

Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images

From cleaning windows to removing odors and stains, cornstarch can be used to freshen almost any area of your home. This pantry staple has long been used as a natural cleaning method that can be used to clean everything from shoes to silver.

Cornstarch, which is typically sold on the baking aisle of most grocery stores, makes an excellent household cleaner for two reasons: It’s a natural, superfine abrasive that boosts cleaning power by physically removing stains and dirt from surfaces without scratching them. It’s also absorbent, so it easily soaks up moisture, dirt, oil, and smells.

Plus, cornstarch is environmentally friendly, so you can use it as a safe alternative to harsh chemical cleaners. It’s more affordable than commercially-made cleaners, too. Sprinkle cornstarch on dirty items straight out of the box, or mix it with warm water or vinegar to make a cleaning spray or paste. These are a few of our favorite ways to use cornstarch to clean common household items.

Related: Homemade Cleaners You Can Make with Ingredients from Your Pantry

1. Clean Glass and Windows

Cornstarch makes a great natural glass cleaner. Mix a tablespoon each of cornstarch and vinegar with 2 cups of water and stir until dissolved. Pour into a spray bottle and use as you would a commercial window and glass cleaner. Spray on and wipe off, and your glass and windows will be free of grime, handprints, and streaks.

Related: How to Clean Glass Shower Doors for a Bathroom That Sparkles

2. Remove Grease Stains From Clothing

Pour a scoop of cornstarch directly on grease-stained clothing and let it sit for 12 hours. Shake off the excess cornstarch, toss the clothing into the washing machine, and run it through a normal laundry cycle. The cornstarch will pull the grease straight out of the fabric. This works best if you apply the cornstarch when the stain is new, but can still be effective on older grease stains.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Removing Every Type of Fabric Stain from Clothing

3. Polish Silver

Cornstarch is one of the best ways to naturally polish silver, and it's easy to do. Mix a half cup of cornstarch with enough water to form a paste. Apply the paste to silver jewelry or tableware and rub with a soft cloth until the tarnish is gone. The cornstarch acts as a gentler abrasive, physically removing the tarnish without harming the silver. Rinse the cornstarch paste off the silver items, and wipe the object with a clean, soft cloth until it is dry and shiny.

Related: How to Clean Silver Jewelry in a Matter of Minutes

4. Dry and Deodorize Stinky Shoes

Cornstarch can absorb odors and moisture from foul-smelling footwear. Sprinkle cornstarch inside boots and shoes after you take them off. Let them sit overnight, then shake out the cornstarch the next morning. The cornstarch absorbs the smells and moisture, leaving shoes fresh and dry. You can also use your vacuum to suck the cornstarch out of your shoes before wearing them again.

Related: How to Clean Shoes, Including Canvas, Leather, Suede, and More

5. Remove Stains and Smells from Carpet

For overall freshening and cleaning, sprinkle cornstarch on a rug or carpet. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, then vacuum it up. The cornstarch will absorb odors and dirt, which are then removed by the vacuum. Cornstarch is also great at pulling oily spots out of rugs and carpets. For spot cleaning, sprinkle it on the stain or problem area. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum it up.

6. Clean Pots, Pans, and the Kitchen Sink

Make a simple non-abrasive scrubbing cleaner you can use on just about anything in the kitchen. Mix 1 part water with 2 parts cornstarch to make a loose paste. Use it to scrub stains and burned-on food from pots, pans, your cooktop, and even the kitchen sink.

Related: How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans So They Shine Like New

7. Clean Stuffed Animals

If you can't throw a smelly stuffed animal in the wash, use cornstarch instead. Sprinkle the toy liberally with cornstarch, then gently rub or brush it to distribute it all over. The cornstarch will absorb dirt, oils, and odors that have been transferred to the toy. Let the powder sit on the stuffed animal overnight, then use a vacuum attachment to clean all the cornstarch off the toy.

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