Sure, they keep your drinks cold, stop bumps from swelling, and feel great on a hot summer day, but did you know that ice cubes are also the key to grilling juicier burgers, helping your makeup look its best, and much more? Here are ten unexpected — and genius — uses for ice cubes that will have you filling up your ice trays again and again!
Banish stubborn drink stains.
You want to make some fruity sangria, but your favorite pitcher is discolored from the iced tea you’ve been serving. To erase the stains, simply toss a few ice cubes inside with 4 Tbs. of salt. Then swish the pitcher around vigorously for a few minutes before rinsing with water. The abrasive salt combined with the force of swirling ice will scrub away the stains.
Prep skin for all-day glow.
On hot days, trying to apply makeup to skin that’s even slightly sweaty can cause it to cake up. The simple solution: Before applying, rub an ice cube on your face and pat dry. The ice will cool skin fast so makeup goes on flawlessly and looks perfectly smooth all day long. Problem solved!
Deodorize a garbage disposal.
Over time, food particles can get stuck on the blades of your garbage disposal and prevent it from properly grinding, resulting in an unpleasant odor. To the rescue: ice cubes! Simply run a handful of the frozen cubes through the disposal once a week. The sharp ice will knock any residue off the blades to keep the appliance working (and smelling) like new.
Ease the pain of a pup’s teething.
If you’ve got a puppy, this will be one of your favorite uses for ice cubes! Poor Buster is teething, and he’s gnawing on everything in sight. To soothe his discomfort and protect your belongings, simply put a few ice cubes (or crushed ice for small breeds) in his food bowl. The ice will satisfy your pup’s desire to crunch while also numbing his gums for fast relief.
Speed up nail-drying time.
The next time you decide to touch up your nails with a DIY manicure, you don’t have to sit around waiting for them to dry. Instead, dip your fingertips into a bowl of ice water when the polish feels tacky but not wet. The ice-cold water will help speed up drying by fusing the polish pigments together.
Caulk like a pro every time.
To get rid of mildew around your bathtub, you decide to re-caulk. To ensure a precise touch-up, use an ice cube to smooth the caulk lines immediately after applying them. The ice glides over the material without sticking, easily tidying up the edges.
Remove wrinkles from delicate fabrics.
You can’t wait to wear your favorite silk top, but you notice it’s full of wrinkles. Since the steam setting on your iron may be too hot for the fabric, try this: Wrap an ice cube in a soft cloth and run it over the fabric. The ice will add just enough moisture so you can set your iron on warm and generate enough steam to banish the creases without harming the silk.
Grill up healthy, juicy burgers.
Yum! You love sinking your teeth into a delicious burger, but the lean beef and turkey you prefer to use for healthier patties can quickly dry out on the grill. To prevent this, mold each ball of ground meat around an ice cube. As the burger cooks, the ice slowly melts and bastes the meat from the inside, guaranteeing juicy burgers every time you fire up the grill.
Get back on task in a blink.
When the temperature outside is climbing, it can be hard to stay on task because the brain is focusing its energy on keeping organs cool. The solution: Hold an ice cube until your palms feel cold. Studies have shown that cooling the heat-transfer veins in your palms quickly normalizes your core temperature, reducing the risk of tiredness for up to 2 hours. This trick — one of the best uses for ice cubes we know — will leave you feeling more like your peppy self even on the hottest of days.
Thicken up low-fat salad dressing.
Oops! You decided to lighten up your vinaigrette by using less oil than usual in your recipe, but the dressing turned out a bit thin. To give it a creamier texture, pour all of the dressing ingredients into a jar, add an ice cube, and shake for 30 seconds. Then remove the cube with a spoon. The cold ice will thicken the oil and help emulsify the dressing, ensuring a creamy yet low-fat vinaigrette.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.