15 Foods That Make Excellent Cleaning Products

Your kitchen is full of exciting meal-making possibilities. And your fridge and pantry probably hold several methods to clean your home that you might not even realize. Here are 15 foods that make excellent cleaning products.

1. Rice

Rice is a wonderfully versatile ingredient in recipes, and it even has a place in your cleaning arsenal. Good Housekeeping recommends using uncooked rice to gently, but effectively clean hard-to-reach spots in vases and other glassware. Simply fill the vessel with water, dish soap and rice, and swish the mixture so the rice scrubs the inside. Then, drain and rinse the glassware.

Additionally, you can use rice to remove built-up oils from a coffee or spice grinder, according to The Kitchn. Pulverize roughly a quarter cup of rice in your grinder, and then wipe it out with a damp towel. The oils will cling to the rice, leaving the grinder fresh for its next use.

2. Ketchup

Besides acting as fries’ sidekick, ketchup can be a powerful cleaning product. According to Good Housekeeping, you can use ketchup to remove tarnish from copper-bottomed cookware just by massaging the surface with the acidic condiment. Some people even use this method to shine away tarnished spots on their cars. And if the ketchup isn’t enough to dissolve stubborn tarnish, you can try adding a pinch of salt for a bit of scrubbing action. (Or add potatoes, and have yourself a nice snack.)

3. Coffee grounds

Don’t dump those grounds after you enjoy your morning coffee. They have many uses around the house. Healthline suggests using coffee grounds to fertilize your garden — or to create more nutrient-rich compost. Plus, you can use them to repel pests, including mosquitoes, fruit flies and beetles. Furthermore, a bowl of coffee grounds in your fridge can help to neutralize odors. And you can use them as a natural cleaning scrub on nonporous surfaces — as well as to exfoliate your own skin.

4. Tea

a glass mug of black teaCredit: Uniquestock/Getty Images

Not a coffee drinker? No worries. Tea has many cleaning uses, as well. “The astringency of tea actually cuts through grease and dust,” according to The Spruce. “Plus it also adds a shine to hardwood floors and furniture.” As a hardwood floor cleaner, simply brew a pot of tea with five or six tea bags. Then, pour the tea into your mop bucket, and add cool water if needed. Just be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area before mopping your whole floor.

5. Potato

Potatoes: They’re great mashed, baked, fried … and as a rust cleaner. If your favorite cast iron skillet or other cooking utensils have gotten a little rusty, just grab a raw potato, according to The Kitchn. Slice it in half, “dip the cut end in dish soap or baking soda and firmly rub it over the rusted area.” Repeat until you’ve removed all the rust, slicing off a new cut end if necessary.

6. Bread

Sliced bread was a pretty great invention, especially when you consider its more offbeat uses. That spongy piece of dough is excellent at cleaning up messes, according to Good Housekeeping. Use a slice to clean marks off walls or gently dust artwork. It even is effective at picking up glass shards. Simply press a slice over the broken glass, and even tiny shards should safely stick into the bread.

7. Banana peel

After getting your potassium fix, hang on to that banana’s handy peel for a little bit of cleaning. SFGate recommends using banana peels to dust houseplants, especially the ones you can’t spray with water. Simply wipe the leaves with the inner wall of the peel to remove dust and dirt and leave behind a healthy, banana-scented glow. And that’s not the only household item banana peels can make shine. According to Apartment Therapy, you also can use them to naturally polish silver. Blend up the peels to make a paste, and then work that paste onto your silver item with a cloth. Finally, dip the item in water to remove any remaining paste.

8. Baking soda

With its plethora of uses around the house, baking soda is as much a cleaning product as it is a cooking ingredient. Mix it with a little water to make a surface scrub, use it with dish soap to help cut grease and grime on cookware or even add it to mop water to clean marks off floors. A water-baking soda combo is excellent at cleaning the inside of your oven or microwave, it can polish silver and remove coffee and tea stains from pots and mugs. Plus, baking soda can deodorize most areas of your home, including the refrigerator, trash cans and even drains. Those little boxes certainly pack a major punch.

9. Lemon

a pile of fresh lemons with some cutCredit: oxyzay/Getty Images

Baking soda might get a lot of cleaning glory, but lemon is right there with it. One of the easiest ways to clean your microwave is to chop up a lemon, add it to a bowl of water and heat it until your microwave window is steamy, according to Good Housekeeping. Wait at least 15 minutes for it to cool, and then wipe down the inside.

You also can clean wooden cutting boards by sprinkling them with a little salt, rubbing a cut lemon over it and then rinsing. Plus, lemon juice mixed with salt makes an effective brass cleaner. And don’t forget to add a little lemon rind to your natural all-purpose cleaner for a scent boost and some added cleaning power.

10. Olive oil

Olive oil isn’t just to make salads taste delicious. Add a bit of oil to a cloth, and buff stainless steel appliances to remove grime and make them shine, The Kitchn recommends. You also can use olive oil mixed with lemon juice to clean and condition wood (but test a small area first). Plus, an olive oil-coarse salt scrub can remove stuck-on food from cast iron skillets.

11. Vinegar

White vinegar might rival baking soda for its cleaning versatility. You can use it to “freshen laundry, lift stains from carpet, brighten windows, and so much more,” according to Good Housekeeping. Plus, it makes a powerful all-purpose cleaner when mixed with water and baking soda (and essential oils if you wish). Soaking glassware in vinegar is an easy way to remove hard water stains. And a bowl of vinegar is an effective room deodorizer.

12. Salt

We might find salt in a lot of our favorite snacks, but it’s also an important ingredient in many effective cleaners. Salt adds a gentle abrasive factor to cleaning concoctions, making it useful to scrub away stains, food particles and even rust and tarnish, according to The Kitchn. Plus, it’s absorbent, which is why it’s a key factor in keeping wooden cutting boards sanitary. It soaks up all the liquid in the grooves, giving bacteria a less friendly environment to reproduce. And you even can sprinkle salt over liquid spills to help prevent stains.

13. Walnuts

shelled walnuts in a bowl on a red checkered table clothCredit: ffolas/Getty Images

If you have wood furniture or floors, it’s almost inevitable that they’ll get some dings and scratches. And that’s where walnuts come in. The natural oils in walnuts — Brazil nuts work well, too — darken the wood and hide scratches, according to Good Housekeeping. Simply rub the damaged area with the nut until it blends better with the surrounding wood. It might not be a forever fix, but it does last for a while depending on the mark. And it’s cheap, easy and natural.

14. Club soda

Cleaning red wine stains with club soda has been a longstanding method. Some people swear by it while others claim there’s no scientific reason for it to work (though the secret might be in the bubbles). Still, this carbonated beverage has other cleaning applications. Use it to gently clean surfaces, including porcelain, stainless steel and even your car windshield. Its fizz plus slightly acidic nature helps to wash away marks and particles.

15. Vodka

If you have laundry that smells a little off, try spritzing it with a little vodka. No, really. According to Good Housekeeping, the vodka will kill odor-causing bacteria and dry completely scent-free. Just be sure to do a spot test first. Plus, a cloth moistened with a little vodka can work to shine chrome, glass and porcelain fixtures. And as an added bonus, it should clean away any mold on the surface, too. Cheers to that!

Main image credit: Easyturn/Getty Images

104 comments

Daniel N
Daniel N9 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer10 days ago

I loved this article. Thanks.

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer10 days ago

WOW!!! What a super great list of ideas!!!

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Paula A
Paula A19 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Mona M
Mona M26 days ago

always something to learn here. thank you.

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Jan K
Jan S29 days ago

Thank you for posting

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Richard B
Past Member about a month ago

Thank you

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Greta L
Greta Labout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

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David C
David Cabout a month ago

thanks

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Alexandra Richards
Alexandra Richardsabout a month ago

Thank you.

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