If you're like most people, you've had occasion to use a huge range of cleaning products for an incredible number of purposes. There are products made for cleaning specific materials such as glass and silver; products for removing odors; products for cleaning specific parts of your house such as the bathroom or garage. While these products can be effective, they have several downsides. First, they're expensive. Second, they take a good deal of precious storage space. Third—and perhaps most important—many are either toxic to humans or harmful to the environment, or both.
What did people do before they had dozens of different cleaning products on the supermarket shelves? Many turned to a humble, low-cost, miracle product: cornstarch. This powdery carbohydrate is extracted from corn, which is then processed and sold in boxes and canisters at pretty much every food outlet in America. Here are just a few of the things you can clean with a box of cornstarch and, in some cases, a sponge and a little warm water.
Grease Stains on Clothing
Apply a big scoop of cornstarch to a grease stain on a piece of clothing and allow it to sit for 12 hours. Then proceed with washing it normally. The cornstarch will absorb the grease directly from the clothing.
A homemade paste of 1 part cornstarch to 2 parts water can be used to polish silver. Rub the paste all over the silver with a gentle cloth and then rinse it off. Be sure to test this in some hidden areas before you use it on all of your silver, but it's an inexpensive way to remove tarnish.
Remove Carpet Stains or Odors
Sprinkle cornstarch on the carpet. Allow it to sit for 10 to 20 minutes before vacuuming. This can work as an all-over treatment or be used to treat specific spots on your carpet. Cornstarch is especially good at drawing out oily spots on your carpet. Cornstarch also can absorb odors and freshen carpets. Sprinkle a little cornstarch over your carpets and allow it to sit for up to 15 minutes before vacuuming thoroughly
Clean Stuffed Animals
Put stuffed animals in a zip-top plastic bag. Sprinkle cornstarch onto the animals in the bag. Shake the bag and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before shaking and brushing the animals to remove the cornstarch.
Freshen Rubber Gloves
To prevent dampness in your rubber gloves and allow them to slide on and off more easily, sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch into each glove. This will remove any lingering odor and make them more enjoyable to use.
Clean Pots, Pans, and Cooktops
Mix 1 part water with 2 parts cornstarch to make a non-abrasive scrubbing cleaner. This can be used to scrub bathrooms and other surfaces like cook-tops in the kitchen. Scrub pots and pans with a small sprinkle of cornstarch to really remove stains and burned on foods. It doesn't take a lot to make a big difference in your messiest pots and pans.
Sprinkle cornstarch onto a bare mattress. Pay special attention to wet areas that need to have the liquid absorbed. Leave a pile of cornstarch on the surface for up to an hour before vacuuming the cornstarch up.
Remove Oily Driveway Stains
Oils and dirt can stain your driveway leaving unsightly blobs. These stains can be difficult to remove because they soak deep into the surface. Sprinkle the area liberally with cornstarch and allow it to sit for several hours. Vacuum or sweep away the cornstarch, and you'll find that it has soaked up the stain from the concrete.
Deodorize and Dry Damp, Smelly Shoes
Cornstarch can actually help significantly with smelly shoe odors. Just sprinkle a little cornstarch into the shoes and allow them to sit until the next morning. Dump out the cornstarch the next morning before wearing the shoes. You'll have absorbed wetness and odors. You can also use a vacuum cleaner hose to vacuum the shoes out before wearing them again.