Alternative uses for corn starch

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I always have a box of corn starch in the pantry even though I only use it once or twice a year when making homemade gravy. And more times than not, I have more than one box because I’ll forget I already have a box tucked away somewhere behind the canned goods, which is why, when cleaning out the kitchen cabinets the other day, I found three boxes, two of which had not even been opened yet.

Well, I figured that just like baking soda, white vinegar, and other kitchen items I use to clean with, there had to be some other uses I could use that cornstarch for. And there were…


Bug Bites, Sunburn, Hives & Poison Ivy – To relieve and soothe irritated skin, mix 1/4 cup corn starch with about 3 tablespoons of water until a thick paste forms. Apply with your fingertips and let dry. Rinse with lukewarm water.

Deodorant – Apply rubbing alcohol under your arm and then apply corn starch. This will keep you dry and odor-free.

Scented Powder – Add a few drops of your favorite scented oil to corn starch, mix, and shake well. I keep mine in a mason jar stored in a cool, dry area in the bathroom and apply with a powder puff.

Athlete’s Foot & Stinky Sneakers – Avoid athlete’s foot by applying corn starch to the feet and inside of shoes. For stinky sneakers, apply corn starch inside the sneakers and let sit overnight.

Dry Shampoo – One of my favorite tips! Apply corn starch to an oily scalp or greasy bangs and rub in with your fingers. It instantly absorbs the oil, and makes your hair appear fuller. Start with a small amount and add as needed.

Stop Bleeding From Shaving Nicks – Stop shaving nicks from bleeding by dusting just a bit of corn starch over the cut. Leave on for 5 minutes and rinse with water.

Diaper Rash – I read that some people apply corn starch to baby bottoms suffering from diaper rash. Babies can inhale the larger particles of corn starch (just like they can inhale the very fine grains of talcum powder,) which could cause lung problems, so apply carefully or instead, add about 1/4 cup corn starch to baby’s bath water.

Oily Face – Here’s a couple of ways you can help an oily complexion with corn starch. For an oil-absorbing facial mask, mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with warm water to make a fine paste. Apply, let dry, and rinse with lukewarm water. Or you can simply use corn starch in place of your face powder by applying a light coating with your powder brush. Corn starch is very white so this works best on those with paler complexions and you want to apply it sparingly. For those with darker complexions, you can mix the corn starch with unsweetened cocoa powder until you get the shade you want. And if you’ve bought loose face powder that’s a bit too dark, you can mix a small amount of corn starch to lighten it.


Freshen Throw Pillows & Stuffed Animals – Throw pillows and stuffed animals can absorb dust and fluff-flattening moisture over time. To refresh them, simply toss the cushions or animals into a large trash bag with a cup of cornstarch. Seal the bag, give it a good shake and leave overnight. The next morning give them a good brush off or vacuum.

Mildewed Or Musty Books – I love holding a real book and am always picking them up at thrift stores and garage sales. Sometimes though they can smell really musty or even be a bit moldy, depending on how they’ve been stored. To deodorize them, lightly sprinkle corn starch over the book and pages and let sit for a couple of hours to overnight, then brush off with your hands or clean makeup/paint brush.

Silver Polish – Save money by making your own silver polish, which when bought at the store, can cost a pretty penny. Make a paste of corn starch and water and with a damp cloth, apply to tarnished silver. Let dry and rub off with a soft cloth.

Carpet Freshener – No need for a commercial carpet freshener that can cost a lot of money and be full of chemicals. Just sprinkle on carpet, wait about 30 minutes and vacuum.

Grease & Oil Spots – Whether it’s an oil spot in the driveway, grease splatter on the wall or oily areas on leather, you can easily get it absorbed with corn starch. Sprinkle on oil/grease area, let sit overnight, and clean off with a brush. For the greasy splatter on the wall, you can apply corn starch with a cotton ball, let sit for a bit, and wipe off.

Ink Stains On Material – Mix corn starch with milk to make a thick paste. Put paste on stain, let dry, brush off, and wash as usual.

Muddy Sneakers – An easy, scrub-free way to get that caked-on mud off sneakers is to place them in a plastic bag with about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch onto each sole. Let sit overnight and the dirt will come right off.

Sticky Deck Of Cards – For that deck of cards that sticks together, put the cards in a paper bag, sprinkle some cornstarch in the bag and shake. Wipe off the cards.

Sporting Equipment – Dust handles of sporting equipment like tennis rackets and golf clubs with a bit of cornstarch for a dryer, firmer grip.

Cleaning Pots & Pans – Since corn starch is a gentle abrasive it’s ideal for cleaning stainless steel, aluminum, glass, and non-stick surfaces with no scratching.

Laundry Starch – Mix up a batch of laundry starch for ironing with this easy solution. In a large bowl, add 1 cup cold water to 1/2 cup of corn starch. Stir 4 quarts of boiling water into bowl. Once cool, put in spay bottle and shake before using. This will make a “medium” starch. For something with a heavier finish, add more corn starch.

Smudge-Proof Wood Furniture – Depending on how you dust your wood furniture, an oil residue from the polish can actually cause more fingerprint and dust accumulation after just a couple of days. To keep your wood looking better for a longer period of time, sprinkle corn starch on furniture after polishing and then buff with a soft cloth.


Detangle/Freshen Dog Hair – You can freshen and even detangle dog hair with corn starch, which is so much less expensive than specialty pet grooming products. Rub corn starch into fur, work it throughout the coat, spending a little more time where the hair might be tangled. And then give your precious pet a brushing which will also help loosen dirt while fluffing up their coat. I would apply with hands versus shaking it over your dog so it is not breathing in the particles.

Non-Toxic Finger Paint – I admit I haven’t tried this yet so I honestly can’t say how well it works. I found 2 recipes for easy, fun, non-toxic finger paints, with both getting good reviews and comments.

Method 1 – Mix equal parts corn starch and cold water and divide among jars, then stir a few drops of food coloring into each.

Method 2 – Mix 2 cups corn starch with 1 cup cold water and stir. Add 4 cups of boiling water, 1 cup at a time, stirring mixture after each cup of boiling water. If too thin, you can always add more corn starch. Divide into jars and add food coloring into each.

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