Cornstarch: you probably have a container of it sitting in the back of your pantry that’s brought out occasionally. But did you know you can actually put it to work? From helping with your cleaning to coming in clutch during your beauty routine, it’s a magic ingredient that can make a big difference.
Untangle pesky jewelry knots.
Gah! You go to put on one of your favorite necklaces but find it got tangled up in stubborn knots in your jewelry box. The easy save: sprinkle the knots with cornstarch, then use tweezers to gently pull them apart. Brush away any excess powder. The slippery cornstarch particles act as a lubricant so you can easily pull knots apart and wear your beautiful necklace again.
Uncover radiant skin for pennies.
Reveal your stunning complexion with a two-ingredient face mask. Mix one teaspoon of cornstarch with one egg white and beat until thickened. Rub the concoction onto your face and let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse it off. Cornstarch will draw oils and dirt out of pores while the astringent egg white will shrink them for beautiful skin. (Click through to our sister publication to see how a sprinkle of cornstarch can outsmart itchy armpits.)
Ward off blisters from new shoes.
If winter boots or new sneakers are causing painful hot spots on your feet, try this: pat cornstarch on your feet where the shoes are rubbing before slipping them on. The powder will help absorb perspiration that would otherwise cause uncomfortable friction between skin and the inside of the shoe. You’ll be able to wear the pair pain-free every time.
Smudge-proof your furniture.
Lately you’ve been noticing stubborn fingerprints on your coffee table even after polishing it. The likely culprit? Oil residue. To help prevent this nuisance, sprinkle cornstarch on the surface and buff with a soft cloth right after polishing. The cornstarch will absorb the leftover oils that make smudges and dust more noticeable. Problem solved!
Give a dog a quick “bath.”
Your pup has been looking — and smelling! — less than fresh, but it’s too cold to give him a full bath. Instead, rub half a cup of cornstarch into his fur (less for smaller dogs), then use a brush to work it in. The kitchen staple will act like a dry shampoo to soak up oils and odors from fur.
Guarantee stiff whipped cream.
For homemade whipped cream that keeps its shape, whip heavy cream into soft peaks. Then add one tablespoon of cornstarch for every cup of cream used and beat until the peaks are firmer. Cornstarch will stabilize proteins in the cream so the end result stands tall.
Easily roll out cookie dough.
You’re ready to start making cookies, but the dough keeps sticking to the rolling pin. What can help: dusting your cutting board and rolling pin with cornstarch instead of flour. The silky powder absorbs the moisture and oils that make the dough sticky, so rolling it out will be a cinch. And since cornstarch is gluten-free, it won’t make the dough heavy or tough.
Rescue a musty book.
You were thrilled to find a box of your mother’s favorite books tucked away in the basement. The only problem: after years in storage, the classics have taken on a musty smell. To deodorize them, fan out the pages and lightly sprinkle with cornstarch. Let sit overnight, then use an old blush brush or your hands to brush the pages clean. The absorbent granules will draw the odor-causing dampness out of the paper.
Stop a nick from bleeding.
Ouch! While shaving in the shower, you cut your ankle with your razor. Put a quick stop to the bleeding by dusting a bit of cornstarch over the cut. Leave the powder on for five minutes, then rinse it off with water. The absorbent cornstarch granules will cling to the nick, soaking up moisture and promoting clotting.
Make pillows look new again.
The throw pillows on your couch are looking a bit lackluster, but you can’t toss them in the wash to refresh them. Instead, place them in a large trash bag with one cup of cornstarch and shake for one minute, then brush off the pillows. The powder will absorb any fluff-flattening residue on the fabric’s surface while the shaking will remove dust, leaving all of your pillows plump and pretty.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.