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Life Hacks

10 Brilliant Uses for Stale Bread

Did you accidentally let your bread go stale? Don’t worry — it could be a good thing! Instead of tossing your bread in the trash, you can reuse it in a number of ways. And no, none of our tricks involve eating that old slice (yuck) or incorporating it into a new dish. Start fresh with these 10 ideas.

Guarantee happy indoor plants.

Even with regular watering, some of your houseplants are starting to look a little brown and droopy. The simple way to revive them: Grind stale bread in a food processor or blender to create fine breadcrumbs, then mix the pieces into your plants’ potting soil. Nutrients in breadcrumbs will give your greenery a much-needed boost and help them thrive.

Lift muddy spots from suede.

After a day of running errands in terrible weather, your favorite suede boots have some mud stains on them. The save: Gently rub the suede surface with a slice of stale bread. The bread works like fine sandpaper to carefully lift the dirt without damaging the material in the process.

Easily pick up glass shards.

Oops! You accidentally dropped a glass ornament when you were putting away Christmas decorations. Ensure you get every last shard by using stale bread. To do: After sweeping up and discarding large pieces, use the bread to carefully pat down the area where the ornament shattered. Tiny hard-tosee glass pieces will stick right into the bread so you can safely toss them.

Make dog treats on the cheap.

Rewarding Buster with snacks for good behavior doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Make your own treats using stale bread! To do: Cut the crust off your bread, then flatten the slice with your fingers. Next, spread a layer of peanut butter on the bread and roll it up as tightly as you can. Place in the microwave on a paper towel for 60 seconds and let cool for a few minutes. After it cools, the hard bread roll will be a tasty crunchy treat for your pal.

A few notes: Make sure that you use all-natural peanut butter with no xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Also, never feed your dog bread that contains garlic, onion, raisins, or poppy seeds (all of which are toxic as well).

Attract birds to your yard.

Sure, you know birds will eat stale bread. But you can entice even more feathered friends by adding extra goodies. Just coat chunks of stale bread with unsalted butter and roll in crushed nuts or graham cracker crumbs. Place outside in a dry spot and birds will swoop right in!

Soften tough foot calluses.

When winter makes calluses dry and rough, try this: Soak a piece of stale bread in apple cider vinegar (ACV), tape the bread to the callus and cover with a sock. Leave overnight. The bread contours to your foot and keeps skin-softening ACV on the callus.

Avoid smoky broiler messes.

In colder months, you often turn to your broiler to cook up steaks, thanks to its speed and ease. The problem? The drippings that collect in the pan below often smoke, splatter, or flare up. To avoid this, simply line the bottom of the pan (under the rack) with slices of stale bread before placing it in the broiler. The absorbent slices will soak up any fatty juices that fall so they don’t smoke or catch fire.

Slice onions without tears.

Yummy onions boost flavor in many of your favorite dishes — if only cutting them didn’t make you cry! What can help: Slide a slice of stale bread onto your knife until it’s up near the handle. Then use the tip of the knife to chop the onion as usual. As you cut, the bread absorbs most of the onion’s strong sulfur compounds before they reach your sensitive nose and eyes. (You can also try this wet paper towel trick.)

Nix unwanted fridge odors.

Eek! The tuna casserole you made for dinner was a hit, but now the leftovers are starting to leave behind a distinctive odor in your fridge. To the rescue: stale bread! Simply place a few slices on the fridge’s shelves and let sit overnight. Since the bread absorbs odors, you can just throw the slices (and the smells) into the trash in the morning.

Prevent cookies from going stale.

You’re baking up a batch of your famous homemade cookies for a potluck dinner next weekend, and you don’t want them to go stale before the event. To ensure they last, store them in an airtight container with a piece of stale bread. The slice will absorb excess moisture so your cookies stay perfectly crisp. Yum!

Not ready to part with your bread just yet? If you think your loaf can be revived, check out this trick for softening it in just a few minutes.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for Women.

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