15 Surprising Things You Can Clean with Salt

When you want a natural household cleaner, look no farther than your salt shaker. Good old sodium chloride is great at tackling grime and stains for three reasons: First, it absorbs water, so it can keep a fresh spill from becoming a stain. Second, it’s abrasive, so it makes a good scrub. Third, if you pair it with an acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, you can whip up a powerful cleaner.

Here are some surprising around-the-house uses for ordinary table salt.

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Stained Coffee Mug

You know that dirty ring on the inside of your favorite coffee mug? The one left behind by all the java and tea you drink? Blast it with salt. Make a paste with salt and a dab of liquid castile soap (or dish soap.) Dip a soft cloth in the mixture and buff the brown ring. Those sharp-edged little salt crystals will scrub away the stain.

Clogged Bathroom Sink

Soap scum, hair and residue from cosmetics and lotions can clog a sink. To clear it, mix a solution that’s one cup salt, a half cup vinegar and one cup of baking soda, and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then flush the pipe by pouring a kettle of boiling water down the sink. If the sink is still running slow, do it again.

Vase

Leave flowers in there too long and you end up with a film of slime that’s tough to clean, mostly because you can’t reach it without a bottle brush. Instead, fill the vase with warm water, add 1/3 cup of salt, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then put your hand over the top of the vase and shake to swirl the scum loose. Rinse it out, and you’re ready for more flowers.

Oven Spills

Drat, the macaroni and cheese bubbled over in the oven again. While that blob of cheese and sauce is still hot as lava, sprinkle it with salt. The salt will keep the spill from hardening, so you’ll be able to wipe up the spill with a cloth when the oven cools, no scrubbing required. This works for stovetop spills, too.

Garden Tools

Blast rust by soaking trowels and clippers overnight in a solution that’s half salt and half vinegar. It will chew the rust off the steel. In the morning, pour it out and wipe off the rust with a steel wool pad. Make a second mixture of two cups of water and two tablespoons of baking soda, and submerge your tools in it for five minutes to neutralize the acid. Wipe dry.

READ MORE: How to Clean and Care for Your Garden Tools in 8 Easy Steps

Cast Iron Skillet

Stop! Don’t clean that skillet with soap and water! You can make it rust, and a rusty skillet is a ruined skillet. Clean it with salt instead. Here’s how: When you’re done cooking, but while the skillet is still hot, pour in 1/4 cup of salt and scrub it with a wire brush. Wipe the skillet clean, dry it, and rub a light coat of vegetable oil on it before stashing it. Your skillet will have a much longer life.

Wooden Cutting Board

Deodorize it with a mixture of salt and lemon juice. Here’s how: Sprinkle salt on the board, then rub the board with half of a lemon, squeezing it as you go to release the juice. Let it sit for five minutes. Scrape the salt and dirty liquid off, then rinse and dry the board. Your cutting board will be fresher and visibly brighter.

Greasy Pans

Fried food is awesome, but cleaning the grease out of the pan isn’t. Make it less miserable by sprinkling a greasy pan with about 1/16-inch layer of salt. Let it sit for five minutes and wipe it out. The salt absorbs most of the grease, making the pan much easier to clean with soap and water.

Water Marks on Wood Furniture

You know the drill, someone sets a glass on your coffee table and makes an ugly white ring on the wood surface. Why didn’t they use the coasters?!?! To get rid of the ring, mix one teaspoon of salt with a few drops of water and dab the paste onto the mark. Use a super soft cloth to gently rub the paste until the ring disappears. The salt works by absorbing the water from the stain. Restore the shine to the spot by putting furniture polish on it.

WATCH: How to Remove Water Rings

Copper Pots

Who needs Brasso? Polish tarnished cookware by mixing up a paste that’s equal parts salt, flour and vinegar, and rubbing it all over the item with a soft cloth. Rub till the tarnish comes off, then rinse the pot with warm, soapy water and buff till it’s shiny.

Stains

Get rid of those gross, yellow sweat stains on the underarm of shirts by sponging the fabric with a mixture of four tablespoons salt dissolved in one liter of hot water. Keep cleaning till the yellow is gone. For blood stains, soak the clothing overnight in a mixture of one quart of water and two tablespoons of salt before washing.

READ MORE: Laundry Care: How to Remove Tough Stains

Burned Pans

You burned marinara in your favorite pot, but you won’t have to scrub the black stain till your arms fall off. Just fill the pot with a mixture of salt and hot water, and let it soak overnight. The next day, put the pot on the stove and boil the saltwater. The stain will lift off.

Errupting Soap Bubbles

Someone put too much soap in the dishwasher or washing machine, and a tidal wave of bubbles is beginning to pour out onto the floor. Don’t scream. You can avert a massive cleanup by opening the washer and sprinkling the suds with salt. Salt slays suds because it raises the surface tension of the water, stopping the production of foam.

Iron

You’re careful when you iron but you still end up with goo on the metal plate because you run over a plastic button or a stain on the clothing. Salt will save the day. Put a piece of paper on your ironing board, and sprinkle it with salt. Run the warm iron back and forth over the salt, and you’ll iron its metal plate clean.

READ MORE: How to Clean Your Iron

Raw Eggs

Drop an uncooked egg on the floor and you end up with a slimy mess that’s hard to mop up. Make cleanup easier by covering the busted egg with salt. It absorbs the moisture, drawing the spill together so you can wipe it up with a sponge or paper towel.

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