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Life Hacks

15 Surprising Uses for Sugar That You’re Sure to Be Sweet On

From erasing stains to boosting makeup, who knew sugar could do so much?

You’ve likely got a big bag of sugar in your pantry, which you pull out when you’re whipping up your famous chocolate chip cookies or making a batch of lemonade. But there are plenty of uses for sugar besides sweetening your food and drinks. Read on for 18 time-and money-saving uses for sugar.

1. Pest-proof a picnic lunch 

Flies can quickly ruin the vibe of a backyard picnic. The fix: Mix ¾ cup of sugar, 2 cups of milk and 2 oz. of ground pepper in a small saucepan. Let simmer 10 minutes; pour into several shallow bowls and place around your yard. The aroma of the milk and pepper will attract flies to the glue-like mixture created by the sugar and trap them for a fly-free gathering.

“Flies are attracted to the delectable aromas,” says Sara McDaniel, an interior designer, home renovation expert and owner of Simply Southern Cottage” This is a simple way to lure them away from your picnic and allow you to enjoy your meal in peace!”

Related: Natural Spider Repellent: 4 Easy DIY Sprays That Keep The Bugs Away

2. Uses for sugar: Lift dried-on paint from hands

The chemical-free way to clean paint from hands: Pour sugar into each palm, then scrub your hands as usual with soap and warm water. The abrasive sugar granules will help scrape off any stubborn pigment on the skin so it rinses off with ease. 

“Sugar gets down in all the crevices of your skin & scrubs away every last piece of pigment,” explains Noell Jett, mom of 5, author of Create Your Dream Home on a Budget and the force behind @jettsetfarmhouse. “Bonus: You walk away with softer skin after this sugar scrub treatment!”

3. Stop annoying hiccups—fast

The next time you’re saddled with a long-lasting case of the hiccups, try sprinkling a bit of sugar on the very back of your tongue. The sweet granules stimulate the vagus nerve in your throat — which is causing the ­hiccups — ending the spasms in a flash. Problem solved! 

4. Uses for sugar: Easily clean a litter box

Fluffy keeps ripping holes in the plastic liner in her litter box, causing her pee to accumulate in the pan itself. The result? A wet mess that’s hard to clean. To avoid this, sprinkle sugar in the box before adding a new liner. The sugar will soak up any dampness that seeps through the liner. (Note: The ­litter will mask the sugar’s scent, so it won’t attract ants.) 

Related: What Human Foods Can Cats Eat? Vet Shares the Best Picks + 9 You Should Always Avoid

5. Guarantee all-day lip color

uses for sugar: Female applying red lipstick, close up
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The secret to long-lasting lip color? Sugar!Apply lipstick as usual and dab a bit of sugar onto lips; let sit 2 minutes, then lick it off. Sugar soaks up excess moisture so the lipstick’s dry color pigments stick to lips better and longer! You’ll look flawless for hours.

Related: Here’s the Best Red Lipstick for Your Skin Tone + The Makeup Artist Trick to a Plumper Pout

6. Uses for sugar: Enhance the natural sweetness of corn

Juicy corn on the cob is always a summertime favorite. The easy way to enhance the veggie’s natural sweetness? Add a little sugar to the water (4 tsp. per gallon of water) when boiling. The sucrose won’t make the corn too sweet, but it will prevent the kernels’ natural sugars from escaping during the boiling process. Your corn is guaranteed to be extra delicious!

Related: How to Reheat Corn on the Cob So It Stays Juicy, Crunchy and Sweet

7. Fire up the grill in a flash

uses for sugar: Close up of a blazing match firing up a fire starting brick over a layer of charcoal inside a barbecue fireplace
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You’re ready to start barbecuing burgers, hotdogs and kebabs, but you’re having some trouble getting the coals to burn. What can help speed up the process: Toss a few spoonfuls of sugar onto the briquettes, then carefully light as usual. When exposed to high temperatures, sugar quickly decomposes and forms a chemical that easily ignites. You’ll be enjoying your grilled fare in no time!

Related: Texas Roadhouse Steak Seasoning: Make It At Home To Enjoy Big Flavor for Less Money

8. Uses for sugar: Erase stubborn grass stains 

If tending to your garden has left your clothes covered in green spots, enlist the help of sugar. Simply place ½ cup of sugar in a bowl and stir in just enough water to make a paste. Apply to the stains and let sit for 30 minutes before laundering as usual. Sugar’s enzymes will break down the chlorophyll pigment in the grass so the stains can come off easily in the wash. 

Related: The Vodka Trick That Gets Red Wine Stains Out of Clothing — Even After It Dries

9. Clean your coffee grinder

uses for sugar: Close up coffee beans in grinder
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Coffee-bean residue stuck in your grinder can give your morning brew an off flavor. The save: Once a month, pour ¼ cup of sugar into the appliance and run it for 2 minutes, then dump out the remains and wipe the grinder clean. The abrasive sugar granules will scour away buildup and absorb stale odors, ensuring a perfect cup of joe.

““It is exceptionally hard to truly clean your coffee grinder,” says McDaniel. “The abrasive properties of sugar will have your grinder clean in no time!”

Related: Expert Cleaners Reveal How To Get Coffee Stains Out of Any Surface (Really!)

10. Uses for sugar: Fade age spots effortlessly

If you notice brownish sun spots on the backs of your hands and want to lighten them, skip pricey remedies. Instead, add ½ tsp. of sugar to a bowl filled with the juice of half a lemon. Use a cotton ball to apply to the backs of your hands, leave on for two or three minutes and rinse. The combo of slightly abrasive sugar and lemon’s natural bleaching agents will gently fade dark spots.

11. Extend the life of flowers

uses for sugar: Shot of an unrecognisable woman covering her face with flowers in living room
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Few things make you smile quite like a vase filled with fresh garden blooms. The problem? They always die so quickly! To help the flowers last longer, add 1 Tbs. of sugar and 1 Tbs. of vinegar to the vase before adding flowers. The sucrose in the sugar provides nourishment for the blooms while the vinegar kills bacteria that could cause them to become faded and wilt. 

12. Uses for sugar: Soothe a tongue burn

Ouch! You eagerly sipped your morning cup of joe before it had a chance to cool down and ended up burning the tip of your tongue. The save: Suck on a sugar cube or put a little sugar on the burned spot. As the sugar dissolves, the natural sweetness helps distract your mind from the discomfort of the burn, so you feel relief almost instantly! 

13. Uses for sugar: Fight infections from cuts

uses for sugar: Forefinger of a woman hand with a band aid
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While cutting up vegetables for your homemade soup, you accidentally nicked your finger with the knife. To help the wound heal fast, sprinkle some sugar on it, then cover it up with a bandage. Sugar’s absorbent granules will soak up the moisture that allows bacteria to thrive. This not only helps the cut heal faster but it also reduces any pain.

14. Uses for sugar: Tame too-spicy salsa

uses for sugar: Mexican Tomato Salsa with lime, onion, jalapeno pepper, parsley and tortilla chips.
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Your salsa is always a hit — it has just enough oomph without setting mouths on fire. But if a batch comes out a bit too fiery, you can tone down the heat by adding sugar to the bowl, ½ tsp. at a time, until the salsa is to your liking. Since sweetness and heat are on opposite sides of the flavor wheel, the sugar will neutralize the salsa’s bite.

15. Uses for sugar: Get smooth, glowing skin

For a pampering body wash that costs just pennies, reach into your kitchen cabinet! Simply pour 1 Tbs. each of sugar and vegetable oil into your palm to make a paste, then massage the mixture into skin, concentrating on rough patches. The abrasive sugar granules will gently exfoliate while the oil infuses skin with moisture, leaving your body silky-smooth.


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