Salt is one of those staples you always have in the kitchen. But don’t limit its use to just flavoring food. It’s a true household workhorse and we’ve found more than two dozen hacks beyond the usual culinary uses.
Salt makes food taste better, but it’s also great for cleaning because of its absorbent qualities. You can use salt around your home for all sorts of cleanup jobs or incorporate it in your self-care routine. Salt scrub, anyone?
Skip the expensive cleaners and grab your salt shaker. We’ve gathered 26 different uses for salt that might surprise you.
What Type of Salt Should You Use?
When you think of salt, you probably think of fine-grain table salt, but you might occasionally need sea salt, kosher salt or Epsom salt for these hacks.
Iodized table salt is the cheapest option — 26 ounces of Walmart’s Great Value store brand is just $.48 — and the most likely one to be in your cabinet. The finer grains make it a great option for many jobs.
Sea salt and kosher salt have larger-grain sizes than table salt. You’ll pay more for kosher salt (about $3 for 3 pounds at Walmart) and sea salt (about the same price for 26 ounces at Walmart). But if you need more abrasion for the task, the price is still cheaper than specialized cleaning products.
Epsom salt isn’t actually salt at all, but magnesium sulfate. You can find it in the pharmacy or beauty section for less than $5 for a 4-pound bag.
26 Uses for Salt Beyond Food
We’ve rounded up ways to use salt as a cleaning agent, as a beauty and health aid, and a few other surprising uses.
Using Salt as a Cleaning Agent
1. Scrub your cutting board.
Is your cutting board looking a little worse for wear? Use salt and a lemon to get rid of stains from last night’s dinner. Wipe your cutting board with a damp cloth, then sprinkle coarse salt liberally all over it. Slice the lemon in half and use it to scrub the salt into the board. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it all off. Remove any excess moisture with a cloth and stand it up to dry.
2. Clean your fridge.
Salt can also be used to clean your fridge. Dissolve a cup of salt into a gallon of hot water to give it a quick clean. You can also use the other half of that lemon to give the water a pleasant scent.
3. Freshen up your sponges.
Has your kitchen sponge seen better days? Put ¼ cup of salt in two cups of water and let the sponge soak in the solution overnight to clean it.
4. Clean a glass coffee pot.
You can clean old coffee stains off your coffee pot with 4 tsp salt, 1 cup of crushed ice and 1 tablespoon of water. Make sure your coffee pot is at room temperature and mix everything together. Swirl it around until the pot is clean, then rinse.
5. Clean coffee and tea stains from mugs.
Once your coffee pot is clean, why not clean out your mugs? Get the inside of the mug wet, add 1 tablespoon of salt and scrub it around with a microfiber cloth. Rinse the mug out with water.
6. Make a new broom last longer.
Before you use a broom for the first time, soak it in a solution of one part salt to one part vinegar. Leave it in for 30 minutes and then stand it upside down to dry. This will prevent the broom bristles from fraying.
7. Erase spots off wooden tables.
Do you have water rings left on your table? Combine salt with a small amount of water to form a paste. Use a cloth or sponge to rub the paste into the stain until it’s gone.
8. Remove wine stains from clothes and carpets.
Blot the stain to remove what liquid you can, then sprinkle kosher salt on the stain. Allow the salt to sit for two or three minutes, then rinse with cold water. If using the salt method on a carpet, you can simply vacuum it up afterward.
9. Keep your brass bright.
Restore the shine to your brass and copper items with salt. Combine 1 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of flour with enough vinegar to form a paste. Rub the brass or copper vigorously on to brass or copper and allow it to dry. Wash the item in warm soapy water and dry with a microfiber cloth.
10. Clean up your old change.
Do you have dingy old pennies in your change jar? Mix ¼ cup of vinegar and 1 tsp of salt in a shallow bowl. Soak the pennies for 15 minutes, making sure they aren’t touching. Use a toothbrush to remove any stubborn residue, then rinse the pennies in water and lay them on a cloth to dry.
Only do this hack if you’re not concerned about coin collecting. The abrasive effect of salt can lower a coin’s value.
11. Brighten the colors of rugs and curtains.
Revitalize old rugs by rubbing them with a cloth that has been soaked in salt water. Smaller throw rugs, curtains and clothes can be soaked in salt water before being put in the washer to brighten their colors. Short on time? Throw some salt in with the wash cycle.
12. Clean your clothing iron.
Give your iron a quick clean by putting sea salt on a piece of paper, then running the warm iron over it a few times. The dirt will stick to the salt. Allow it to cool, then wipe the salt off the metal plate with a damp cloth.
13. Deodorize your sneakers.
Salt can take the smell out of your stinky shoes. Just sprinkle some table salt into the offending pair, let them sit overnight and it will absorb any moisture. Don’t want to put salt directly into your shoes? You can also put the salt into two coffee filters, tie them off with rubber bands and place them in your shoes instead.
Salt for Self-Care
14. Make your own skin exfoliant.
You can use sea salt, kosher salt, Epsom salt or any other salt in your cabinet to create an invigorating body scrub. Mix the salt with an oil, such as coconut or olive. You can also customize the body scrub by adding essential oils, honey or coffee grounds. Hop in the shower and use your homemade salt scrub to exfoliate your damp skin.
Only use salt scrubs on your body. The coarser grains aren’t good for delicate skin, so use sugar if you want to make a face scrub.
15. Treat dandruff.
If you have a case of dandruff, don’t run to the store for an expensive remedy. Add a tablespoon of salt to your regular dollop of shampoo to exfoliate your scalp. Massage your scalp and shampoo as normal.
Have some Epsom salt handy? Get your hair wet and massage the Epsom salt into your scalp. Follow up with your regular shampoo and conditioner.
16. Take a sea salt bath.
If you don’t have the time to make a body scrub, just throw some sea salt into your bath. It can help relieve skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and ease muscle aches.
Make sure the water temperature is only about two degrees warmer than your skin to help your body absorb the nutrients. Pour in ¼ cup of salt and relax in the tub for 20 minutes. If ¼ cup doesn’t feel like enough, you can experiment with up to 2 cups of salt.
17. Relieve bee and mosquito stings.
If you get stung by a bee, reach for the Epsom salt. It reduces swelling and can help expel any stinger pieces that have been left behind. If you’re bitten by a mosquito, a paste made from water and table salt will help soothe the affected area.
18. Relieve a sore throat.
Gargling salt water can help with your sore throat and allergy symptoms. Mix ½ tsp of salt with 8 ounces of warm water and gargle for as long as you prefer. Repeat as often as needed. Salt water rinses can also help alleviate canker sores and improve dental health.
Salt for Pets
19. Get rid of fleas.
If your home is experiencing a flea infestation, you can fight them with finely ground table salt. You can grind the salt into a powder using a blender. Sprinkle it on your carpet, furniture or pet bed and allow it to sit undisturbed for 12 to 48 hours. Brush the salt into the fabrics so it gets down into the fibers where flea eggs can hide. Once the waiting period is over, vacuum it up. The salt will dry the fleas out and kill them.
Just be sure to not allow your pets around the salted area. Salt can be harmful if ingested and can irritate their skin.
Salt for Outdoor Use
20. Kill weeds in your sidewalk cracks.
If you have weeds poking through your sidewalk or patio stones, you can use salt water to kill them. If other plants are around the weeds, use a weak mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part table salt. If the weeds are by themselves or the quality of the soil isn’t an issue, you can make a stronger solution. Use a spray bottle to apply the saltwater to the weed’s leaves.
Need a stronger solution? Add dish soap and white vinegar to make it more effective. Repeat every few days.
21. Kill Poison Ivy
If you found some poison ivy while tackling your weeds, salt can take care of that too. Mix 3 cups of salt, ¼ cup of dish soap and 2 cups of hot water. Spray it on the plant every few days until it dies.
22. Remove rust.
Are your garden tools looking a little rusty? Rub salt over the rusted area, then squeeze lemon juice onto the salt. Let sit for two hours and then scrub the mixture off.
Salt for Other Household Solutions
23. Keep fruit from browning.
You can sneak some apple or pear slices into lunch boxes and they won’t brown if you soak them in salt water after cutting them. Use ½ teaspoon per one cup of water and soak the fruit for five minutes, drain and store.
24. Test eggs for freshness.
We’ve all been there — sometimes eggs don’t get used by the “best by” date. You can test the freshness of your eggs by placing them in cold saltwater. If the egg is still usable, it will sink to the bottom. Eggs that have gone bad will float.
25. Make cut flowers last longer.
Make that bouquet last longer by putting 1 tbsp of Epsom salt in its water. Epsom salt contains magnesium, which helps plants absorb nutrients.
26. Put out a grease fire.
If you happen to accidentally start a grease fire, liberally douse it with salt. Aim directly above the fire so the flames don’t leap out. You can also use it on your outdoor bonfire to help snuff out the embers.
Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder from her home base in Utah.