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Thursday, February 16, 2023

23 Clever Uses for Cornstarch

 Original Article


23 Clever Uses for Cornstarch

Many of us have a box of cornstarch on our pantry shelves. However, if your supply remains tucked away until you need it for a holiday gravy, a pie recipe, or a special casserole, you are missing out.

Cornstarch is one of those staples with many other uses in the home other than its well-known role as a thickening agent in the kitchen. This article explores 23 clever uses for cornstarch.

What is Cornstarch?

As its name implies, cornstarch is a white, powdery substance made from the endosperm of dried and ground corn. First developed in 1844 in New Jersey, cornstarch is produced today in the U.S, Brazil, China, and India.

Cornstarch is composed of starch molecules which unravel and swell when moistened and heated. This gelatinization process is what makes the substance excellent as a thickening agent.

Cornstarch is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour thickeners used in gravy and sauce recipes. Another advantage of its use in gravies, sauces, soups, pies, and other recipes is that its gel is transparent and nearly flavorless.

Clever Uses for Cornstarch

Here are some of the many other ways you can use cornstarch in the kitchen and throughout your home.

1. Ease Insect Bites and Stings

Make a paste by mixing three tablespoons of cornstarch with one tablespoon of water. Place the paste over the painful area and let it dry. Leave it on overnight to relieve pain and swelling.

2. Untangle Knots in Shoelaces, Necklaces, and Strings

Simply sprinkle a stubborn knot with a bit of cornstarch to loosen it.

3. Absorb Furniture Polish Residue

If traces of polish and oil remain on your furniture after cleaning, you can sprinkle the surface with a little cornstarch. Then, wipe and buff the surface.

4. Remove Carpet Stains

Make a paste with cornstarch and milk. Apply the paste to ink, wine, blood, and other troublesome stains on your carpet. Allow it to dry for several hours. Then vacuum. (As with other modes of carpet cleaners, it’s best to try this remedy on a small out-of-the-way area first.)

5. Protect Feet from Blisters

Cornstarch can help provide a barrier between your feet and your shoes. You can sprinkle cornstarch directly into your shoes or onto protective foam pads.

6. Make DIY Matte Nail Polish

Mix a small amount of cornstarch with your favorite nail polish to create a matte finish.

7. Reduce (Or Even Remove) Ironing Scorch Marks

Dampen the scorched area of clothing before sprinkling it with cornstarch. Let it dry, and then brush the cornstarch away.

8. Make Fingerpaints and Other Fun Stuff

Here’s how to make fingerpaints with cornstarch:

  • Mix together 1/4 cup cornstarch and two cups cold water.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling until it thickens.
  • Pour the substance into several small containers and add a different food coloring to each one.

Another idea is to make your own “Slime” or “Oobleck” with cornstarch. Here’s all you need to do:

  • Add a few drops of food coloring to one cup of water.
  • Mix water with two cups of cornstarch.
  • Press the substance into a ball with your hands and watch it return to a liquid state when you let go.
  • Store in a lidded plastic container in the refrigerator until next time. (Please note: Slime can clog your drain, so throw it in the trash, not in the kitchen sink.)

9. Use as a Substitute for Eggs

Making a cake or other recipe that calls for eggs, and you’re all out? You can substitute cornstarch for eggs in some baked foods. One tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved and mixed well with three tablespoons of water roughly matches the consistency of an egg.

10. Freshen Stale-Smelling Rugs and Carpets

Sprinkle cornstarch on your carpeting and then vacuum for a fresher scent.

11. Treat Stains on Table Linens and Clothing

If you act quickly, you can use cornstarch to remove blood, grape juice, red wine, and other hard-to-remove stains with a cornstarch and water paste. Cover the spot with the paste and then rub it gently into the fabric. After it dries, brush off the paste. Repeat if necessary.

12. Make a Dry Shampoo

Cornstarch will soak up hair oil, making it useful as a dry shampoo ingredient. Combine two parts cornstarch with one part baking soda. Lightly dab the mixture on your hair roots. Then brush it through thoroughly.

13. Detangle and Freshen Pet Hair

Sprinkle cornstarch on your shaggy doggy’s coat to help get out tangles and keep it fresh smelling between baths. Brush thoroughly.

14. Make a Kid-Friendly Paste

Mix three teaspoons of cornstarch with about four teaspoons of water to make a construction paper paste for kids’ art projects. Kids can use their fingers to apply the paste or try a wooden popsicle-style stick.

15. Create Your Own Deodorant

Since cornstarch absorbs moisture, you can use it to make a DIY chemical-free deodorant. All you need to do is combine equal amounts of cornstarch and baking soda. Then, use a makeup brush or a cotton ball to apply the mixture to your underarm area.

16. Get Rid of Roaches

Mix equal parts cornstarch and Plaster of Paris, and sprinkle the result mixture into cracks and crevices or anywhere you have seen cockroaches in your home. The cornstarch attracts them, but the Plaster of Paris kills them. Note: Plaster of Paris is poisonous to humans as well, so use with caution.

Cornstarch in Bowl Next to Corn

17. Shine Silver

Rub a thick paste of cornstarch and water on your silver. Allow it to dry before buffing with a soft, dry cloth.

18. Clean Windows and Glass

Mix two tablespoons of cornstarch, 1/2 cup ammonia, and 1/2 cup white vinegar into a three- or four-quart bucket of warm water. (The solution will look milky in color.) Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray on windows, rinse with fresh water and then rub dry with a lint-free cloth.

19. Freshen Up Stuffed Animals

Place a well-loved stuffed animal into a bag. Sprinkle cornstarch into the bag, close the bag tightly, and shake. Brush off the cornstarch.

20. Prevent Athlete’s Foot

Sprinkle cornstarch in your shoes to help absorb moisture.

21. Soothe Sunburn Pain

Gently dab sunburned skin with a cornstarch and water paste. Allow it to dry before gently brushing off. Another idea is to sprinkle cornstarch on your bedsheets to reduce friction that can hurt sunburned skin while you sleep.

22. Separate Marshmallows

Do you know how marshmallows have the annoying habit of sticking together in their bag? You can solve the problem by adding a teaspoon of cornstarch to the bag. Close the bag and shake to loosen the marshmallows.

23. Moisturize Irritated Skin

You can use cornstarch as one of the ingredients for a soothing milk bath. Mix together two cups whole powdered milk, ½ cup cornstarch, ½ cup baking soda in a sealable container. Cover the container and shake until well blended. Then remove the lid and add about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil before shaking some more.

Allow the mixture to sit for 24 hours before using. Then, pour one to two cups of the mixture into warm running bath water. Store the remaining mixture in a cool, dark place.

Where to Buy Cornstarch

You can find cornstarch in the baking section of any supermarket or grocery store. A 16-ounce container like this one usually costs less than $2. Or, if you are inspired by the many uses you’ve read about, you can purchase it in bulk quantities online.

You also can find cornstarch made from non-GMO corn online (like this one) and in natural food stores and natural foods sections at the supermarket.

Since cornstarch absorbs moisture, it is necessary to store it in an airtight container and in a cool and dry location. When it is stored correctly, cornstarch will last indefinitely.

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