5 Most Versatile Pantry Items Outside the Kitchen

Many pantry items are versatile in the kitchen: eggs, potatoes, cheese and cauliflower to name a few. But a few special pantry items are so versatile that they pull double-duty (or even triple-duty) around the house and yard in the realms of cleaning, beauty, and pest control. But just what is it that makes them so special? Well, they typically fall into one of three basic categories: acids, alkalis, and fats.


Mild acids are perfect for removing alkaline residues like hard water deposits and stains, soap scum and mildew. Theyíre also great for polishing metals and eliminating rust stains. They can also help exfoliate the skin, but look for a tried and true recipe to keep your skin safe. The three most versatile kitchen acids are lemons, coffee, and vinegar, all with unique uses.


Lemonís popularity†in cleaning and personal care comes from its magnificently fresh scent. Who doesnít want their house and hands to smell like lemons? The essential oil is an insect deterrent and an air freshener. Simply boil lemons with your favorite mulling spices to clear the air!


Check out 22 Surprising Uses for Lemons†for more great ways to use lemons.


Coffeeís usefulness beyond the morning pick-me-up, comes in one or two parts, depending on how you make your brew: liquid coffee and coffee grounds. Liquid coffee is less well-suited to cleaning white bathroom surfaces for obvious reasons, but its deep rich color makes it ideal for dyeing fabric or repairing scratches in your wooden dinner table.† The grounds make a lovely face and body scrub and both can enhance the fertility of your garden when added in the right proportions.


Check out 12 Surprising Uses for Leftover Coffee†and 15 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds for more great ways to use coffee.


Vinegar is not so pleasantly scented as lemon and coffee, but itís a pure acid, which makes it a very useful cleaner. It works great on its own for polishing mirrors, glass, and pans as well as with its good friend baking soda for bubbling out clogs and loosening caked on messes.


Check out 23 Ingenious Uses for White Vinegar for more great ways to use vinegar.


Alkaline substances are emulsifiers, which makes them experts at lifting up and removing grease and dirt, something acids can’t do. This makes them perfect for cleaning greasy surfaces like ovens, clothes, and skin! No surprise here that your laundry detergent and oven cleaner are alkaline.

Baking soda

Sodium bicarbonate is famous for its amazingly versatile alkaline, abrasive, and deodorizing properties. Itís the star ingredient in homemade toothpastes, deodorants, scrubs, shampoos, and detergents. And it doesnít hurt that itís cheap and readily dissolved and degraded in the environment. Itís even useful in the garden to repel pests.


Check out 51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda for more great ways to use baking soda!


Fats, both liquid and solid, moisturize and lubricate materials and machines, including the human body. They keep wood cutting boards healthy and cast iron pans seasoned. They can even clean up water-phobic substances like bacteria from in between your teeth!

Coconut oil

Coconut oil has gained popularity in recent years for its fatty acid profile, but it might get more use around the house than in the kitchen because of its incredible properties. Its aroma and melting point make it an incredible moisturizer as it melts right into your skin. It also has antibacterial properties which makes it the perfect selection for oil pulling.


Check out 30 Uses for Coconut Oil for more great ways to use coconut oil!


Photo credit (main, vinegar, baking soda, coconut oil): Thinkstock

Photo credit (lemon): Flickr user brazilnut72

Photo credit (coffee): Flickr user epsos


H M.
H M3 years ago

I'm going to have to find some coconut oil near me.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nimue Pendragon

Lemons, vinegar, coconut oil, baking soda, some of my favourite things :)

Nimue Pendragon

Lemons, vinegar, coconut oil, baking soda, some of my favourite things :)

Karen M.
k Mulkhan4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa4 years ago

Thank you

Corey Brideau
Corey Brideau4 years ago

Man lemons are good for everything lol

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa4 years ago

Thank you

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey4 years ago

Thanks some good ideas.