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12 Surprising Uses for Herbs & Spices

12 Surprising Uses for Herbs & Spices

Need to keep your clothes bright, your salt intake down, or your radiator sealed? Look no further than your spice rack. Yep, there are plenty of really fantastic ways to use herbs and spices to solve problems both big and small. Read on to check them out, and tell us your favorite unusual way to use herbs and spices in the comments!

Earlier: 7 Fruits and Vegetables That Boost Your Immune System


Around the House & in the Garden.

1. Clean the Floors. With just liquid soap, vinegar and herbal tea, you can make a really effective, and great-smelling, floor wash. Click here for the recipe.

2. Repel Moths. Combat hole-y sweaters with cinnamon sticks, cloves and black pepper. In a bowl, combine 3-4 cinnamon sticks broken up into pieces, 1/2 cup whole cloves, and 1/2 cup whole peppercorns. Scoop out 1 tablespoon into  small squares of fabric, tie them up and stick them in your dresser drawers and closets.

3. Repel Mosquitos Naturally. Having rosemary around not only smells nice, but it also repels mosquitos. They just can’t stand the oils in rosemary.

4. Clean Drains. Clear your drain with ingredients from your pantry! In  a bowl, combine 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar. Dump it, along with 1 cup water, in the drain. Let it sit for about 5 minute, and run the faucet for about 30 seconds.

5. Fix A Radiator. Believe it or not, a few tablespoons of ground black pepper, paprika or mustard powder poured into a radiator will actually help seal the hole.

Related: 8 Easy Vegetables & Herbs to Grow Indoors


Health, Beauty & Fashion.

6. Get Rid of Dandruff. Skip the crazy cocktails in most dandruff shampoo and make your own. There are several herbs that will help, but for particularly bad cases, one of the best methods is adding a pinch of turmeric to olive oil. Gently massage on the scalp, let it sit for 1 hour, shampoo, and rinse. You can also use rosemary or thyme. Steep either herb in boiling water, covered, for about 20 minutes. Let it come to room temperature. After you’ve shampooed and conditioned, pour the rosemary or thyme water over your scalp and let it sit. Don’t wash it out. The rosemary will help prevent the development of the oil that can lead to dandruff, and the thyme will help kill the bacteria that’s growing on your scalp.

7. Soothe an Upset Stomach. From morning sickness to motion sickness, chemotherapy to nausea, ginger is one of your best natural remedies for a whole slew of intestinal issues. A simple way to do this is to steep about 1/2 teaspoon of powdered gingerroot in 1 cup of hot water and drink hot, like tea.

8. DIY Shampoo & Conditioner. A whole slew of herbs make really great shampoos and conditioners. Click here for detail instructions and recipes.

9. Cut Back on Salt. Need to curb your salt intake? Here’s an easy and painless solution: fill that void with dried herbs and spices!

10. Wash Whites. Presoak your whites in a mixture of 1 quart water and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar before doing laundry.

11. Wash Brights. On the other end of the spectrum, adding 1 teaspoon of black pepper to your brights will keep the colors bold and strong.

12. Relieve Congestion. One of the main ingredients in Vick’s Vapor Rub is thymol, an oil found in, you guessed it, thyme. Thyme and its  herb cousins, like rosemary, sage, lavender and marjoram are all great ways to relieve cold symptoms.

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
11:31AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

I will definitely give a try on these tips. I enjoy learning something new. Please keep doing these articles. Thank you.

11:38AM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

I strongly suggest you DO NOT do number 5!!! One of my friends did, and had their head gasket blow because of clogging up smaller cooling lines in the engine. Saving the cost of a used radiator ($150-$200) to rebuild an engine is penny wise and pound foolish, IMHO.

7:02PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

Love this , Thanks for sharing !! :)

6:17AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

Good article

2:04PM PST on Mar 2, 2014

Wow, some things worth trying here. These are ideas that I had never thought of.

3:33PM PST on Feb 27, 2014


8:20AM PST on Feb 20, 2014

Great tips! Loved the recipe for floor cleaner,I have always washed my floors with vinagar but never with herbal tea.Should add a nice scent and I love that peppermint is also antibacterial.
For the drain cleaner I have also found pouring a cup of vinegar down the drain after the baking soda helps clear out a tough clog.

8:10AM PST on Feb 20, 2014

useful advice, thanks

1:31PM PST on Feb 12, 2014

THIS! this is being bookmarked and everything will be tested!

3:25AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Thanks--i'll be trying out some of these!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thank You

Interesting. Will try to apply most suggestions:-)

Thank you for these beautiful tips! Blessings for everyone ! Animals included !

There are plenty of facial scrubs made without plastic, parabens, petrochemicals, and "fragrance." S…

Thanks for sharing.


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