If you’ve got a nub of old butter in your fridge, don’t toss it away! You can use it for much more than cooking — from shining up shoes to keeping your onions fresh. It’s a win-win: You don’t have to waste, and you might save some money on expensive fixes. Check out these butter hacks below.
Restore shine to leather shoes.
While cleaning your closet, you find an old pair of leather sandals that are stiff and dull. To revive them, gently knead the leather with 1 teaspoon of butter, then place them in a plastic bag, seal, and leave overnight. In the morning, buff away residue with a soft cloth. The porous leather will absorb butter’s fatty acids to provide softening moisture and the milk fats will renew luster.
Erase stubborn water rings.
Hot cup of tea leave a white ring on your wooden table? To erase it: Apply one tablespoon of butter to the mark and rub in with a soft cloth. Let sit overnight, then wash away any excess grease with soapy water. Butter’s oils seep into the wood’s pores, dislodging the trapped moisture causing the ring.
Keep cut onions fresh.
You have half an onion left after making your famous kebabs, but worry it will spoil before you can use it. The save: Coat the onion’s cut surface with butter, wrap it in foil or plastic wrap, and store in the fridge. The butter’s milk fats create an airtight seal on the surface of the onion to keep bacteria from growing, so it will stay fresh longer.
Soothe a fussy cat fast.
You’re excited for your sister-in-law and her family to visit — if only guests on your sweet kitty’s home turf didn’t make her so stressed. To help soothe her nerves, rub one to two teaspoons of butter on her front paws. The urge to lick off the creamy spread will keep your kitty busy and distract her from the commotion just long enough to make her comfortable again.
Avoid hard-to-open jars.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a jam jar that won’t open! To prevent the sticky drips that seal the lid shut in the first place, rub a ¼ teaspoon of butter on a soft cloth and swipe it around the lip of the jar and the inside of the lid before closing it. The oily film will repel drips and ensure the lid stays lubricated.
Revitalize cracked cuticles.
During your next at-home manicure, give your cuticles a little TLC with butter. To do: Simply massage a thin layer of butter onto cuticles and leave in place for four to five minutes before rinsing off. Oils in the spread will moisturize and soften dry skin in no time.
Lift food odors from skin.
The salmon you prepared for dinner was a huge hit! Too bad the prep work left behind a hard-to-remove odor on your hands. To nix the strong scent, rub ½ a teaspoon of butter into your hands, wait one minute, then wash with soap and warm water. The butter’s fats will seep into your pores and dissolve the fish oils causing the funky smell. Bonus? This works for any food odor!
Prevent pot spillovers.
When you’re whipping up a complicated recipe, it can be tough to keep a constant eye on a pot boiling on your stove. To sidestep any unexpected boil-overs, simply rub a dab of butter on the inside of the pot, about an inch below the top. Any bubbles that form while the liquid cooks will break down once they rise and hit the grease. No cleanup on the stovetop required!
Painlessly remove gum from hair.
Yikes! The little one in your life got a bit too enthusiastic with her bubble gum blowing and accidentally popped the bubble in her hair. To the rescue: butter! Rub the spread over the gum and let it sit for a few minutes. The fat and oil content will help break down the sticky material so it can slide right out of her locks without any pulling or tugging.
Silence a noisy door hinge.
The door leading to your porch has been squeaking whenever someone opens it, but you don’t have any WD-40 in the house. The quick fix: Rub a small amount of butter on the hinge. The slick food will lubricate the metal so the door can move quietly again. Aah…that’s better!
Want more butter hacks? Check out these 10 additional tricks.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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