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Food & Recipes

10 Ways Onions Can Fix Your Biggest Home and Health Woes

What could be better than a vegetable that can do everything? We know you love onions in your cooking, and so do we. But what if we told you that onions could do so much more than just spice up your favorite dishes? 

From banishing stubborn odors to lifting dirt and grime, the enzymes in onions are powerful when it comes to breaking down your toughest messes. On top of that, onions are also a natural remedy for a number of common ailments. Scroll down to see just a few of the many different ways you can utilize the common kitchen staple.

1. Soothe an earache fast.

The little one in your life has an earache, and of course you want to help him or her feel better fast. We have just the thing to help: Heat half an onion in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it’s warm (not hot), and then wrap it in a washcloth. Hold the flat side of the onion against the ear for 10 minutes. Heating the vegetable releases sulfur, a gas with anti-inflammatory properties that will relieve pressure and pain inside the ear canal.

2. Eliminate a musty odor overnight.

While sorting through the stuff in your basement for your yard sale, you might notice a funky smell in the air. To get rid of it, cut an onion in half and leave it on a plate in the room overnight. The onion will release enzymes that neutralize odor, leaving your basement smelling fresh (not like onions) by morning.

3. Keep scorch marks from setting.

Whoops! You set your iron too high and burned your favorite shirt. To the rescue: an onion. Simply rub the cut side of a halved onion on the spot, and then soak the garment in cold, soapy water for an hour before laundering as usual. Compounds in the onion will break down the carbon particles in the scorch mark, so the stain comes right off in the wash.

4. Insect-proof your garden.

The blooms in your garden are looking gorgeous, but they’re constantly being invaded by aphids and beetles. To keep the pests at bay, make an onion “tea.” Slice an onion and place the slices inside a watering can, and then fill with water. Place the can in the sun for a few hours to allow the onion to steep, and then use the tea to water the plants that the pests are drawn to. Insects hate the smell of onion, so they’ll steer clear. Repeat a day or so after a rainfall.

5. Prolong the life of avocados.

After whipping up a bowl of guacamole, you’ve got half an avocado you’d like to save. To ensure the pricey fruit doesn’t turn brown before you’re ready to eat it, place it in an airtight container with half an onion. The onion releases sulfur dioxide, which prevents the oxidation that turns the avocado brown.

6. Remove rust from a knife.

You’ve had your kitchen knives for years, and after near-daily use, they’re starting to rust. Save them by carefully stabbing each knife into a large onion and sawing the utensil back and forth. The acids in the onion will break down rust so your blade looks — and works — like new.

7. Quickly ease the pain of a bee sting.

Ouch! You had a run-in with a bee while setting up for a backyard barbecue. To ease your discomfort, remove the stinger, and then cut an onion in half and hold the cut side over the affected skin for 10 minutes. Enzymes in the onion will reduce the inflammation caused by the sting, giving you some much-needed relief.

8. Polish brass for pennies.

You finally got around to painting your front door and it looks great — but now the tarnish on your bronze door knocker stands out. To get it gleaming without using pricey polishes, fill a pot with one cup of water and half a sliced onion; let simmer on low heat for two hours. Let cool, and then dip a washcloth in the solution and use it to buff the fixture. The hot water releases the onion’s natural acids, which will break down the tarnish.

9. Lift stubborn grime from a dish.

Your berry cobbler was a hit at the church potluck — if only you could get the tiny bits of cooked-on food out of the dish. To minimize the scrubbing, rub the dish with the flat side of a cut onion and let sit for a few minutes, and then wash as usual. Enzymes in the onion will break down the grime, so you can easily rinse off the stuck-on bits.

10. Get soft, beautiful feet.

You can’t wait to show off the sandals you bought at the mall, but your callused feet aren’t quite ready for prime time. The remedy: Place half an onion in a bowl and add enough white vinegar to cover it; let sit for four hours. Before bed, peel off the top layer of the onion and cover the callus with it. Secure with plastic wrap, and then slip on a sock before you go to bed. The onion’s anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory properties and vinegar’s acetic acid will soften the callus while you sleep.

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