Everyone knows about the myriad uses of cornstarch in cooking and baking- we’ve all used it at some point or another to alter the texture of our baked goods or to thicken up our sauces. But did you know that cornstarch has a wide range of uses outside of the kitchen? Here are some ideas for how to use cornstarch that you may not have heard of before.
1. HOMEMADE NATURAL MAKEUP OR TRANSLUCENT FINISHING POWDER
Ever since their debut, there’s been a lot of talk about mineral makeup powders, especially the “miracle” translucent mineral finishing powders. But did you know that the number one ingredient making up the vast majority of the volume of these expensive products is just cornstarch? If you have a light complexion, you can use cornstarch as-is to finish your look. If your skin is darker, you can use a blend of natural pigments (like cocoa powder for brown tones, turmeric for yellow tones, and beet powder for pink/red tones- mix one or more depending on the notes that make up your particular skin tone) to either tint your cornstarch finishing powder slightly or make a more opaque natural powder foundation. If you don’t want to bother with the natural pigments, you could also just mix some powder foundation that you already have on hand with the cornstarch to make a tinted finishing powder perfect for your skin tone.
2. EASY AND NATURAL DRY SHAMPOO
Thinking about picking up one of those new dry shampoos? Save yourself the money and use what’s in your pantry! Simply apply cornstarch to your roots and comb through hair to absorb any oil. If you’d like to add scent, blend the cornstarch with your favorite essential oil before applying. If you have darker hair and are worried about the white cornstarch being too visible, mix it with an equal part cocoa powder first. You can also add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice for scent, if you like.
3. CLEAN CARPETS, WINDOWS, FURNITURE, AND MORE!
Cornstarch makes a great all natural cleaner because of its ability to absorb oil so well. If you have an oil stain on your wall, an article of clothing, or even your driveway or concrete patio, try putting cornstarch on the stain, letting it sit, and removing it once it’s had time to absorb the oil. If the stain is on a non-horizontal surface that can’t be moved (like a wall), mix the cornstarch with water until it makes a paste so it will stay adhered to the stained surface long enough.
You can also use cornstarch to clean your windows. Mix together a tablespoon of cornstarch to each cup of water in a bucket or bowl, and use a paper towel or cloth to rub the mixture all over your windows. Let sit for a minute or two and wipe dry.
If vacuuming alone isn’t cutting it when it comes to cleaning your rugs and carpets, try sprinkling with cornstarch and then vacuuming again after waiting a good 10-15 minutes for all the dirt and oil to be absorbed.
Clean your silver with a paste made from equal parts cornstarch and water. Apply with a cloth or brush and let sit until dry before rubbing clean.
Cornstarch is also a useful tool in easily cleaning your children’s plush toys without having to worry about damaging them in the washer and/or dryer. Just apply the cornstarch to the dirty stuffed toy, wait 10 minutes or so, and brush it off.
4. RELIEF FROM COMMON SKIN IRRITATIONS
Most common skin irritations can be soothed with a paste of equal parts cornstarch and water. Apply the mixture to poison ivy, bug bites, sunburn, and other skin irritations or rashes as needed. Cornstarch can help soothe your baby’s skin as well- use it in place of a baby powder to help calm or prevent diaper rash.
5. CREATE HOMEMADE GIFTS AND MORE WITH “COLD PORCELAIN” CLAY
Cold Porcelain clay is an air-dry clay with the appearance of porcelain. There are quite a few recipes readily available on the internet, and while ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, there is one constant between them all- cornstarch! Most recipes also involve water and some kind of glue (white, tacky/pva, wood glue, etc.), but there are many other ingredients included in cold porcelain recipes which serve different purposes. For instance, baby oil prevents cracking when the clay dries, and eucalyptus essential oil acts as a preservative. There are plenty of different recipes and preparation methods that you can find with a simple online search, but you can also experiment with different ingredients on your own to find what works for you. If you like, you can include pigments to tint the clay as well. Porcelain clay, when finished, is very smooth and easy to work with. Once you’ve molded it just like you would any other kind of clay, you leave it out exposed to the air for a couple days to dry; as it sets, you will see it get smaller and firmer. This clay is fun to work with, inexpensive, and great for creating anything from jewelry to housewares. Cold porcelain creations also make great gifts!
6. ENJOY A ROMANTIC AND PLAYFUL NIGHT IN WITH EDIBLE BODY POWDER
Edible body powders are often sold by cosmetic companies and purveyors of romantic toys, and while they are fun, they also tend to have a high price tag (for what you get). But you don’t have to pay anything to enjoy a creative and fun night at home with your significant other, because you can use cornstarch and other ingredients that are probably already in your cupboard to make this kissable body dust yourself! Just mix four parts cornstarch to one part confectioner’s sugar and one part flavoring powder (like honey or vanilla powder). Blend thoroughly and then use a feather or a makeup brush to dust the powder onto the places you’d like your sweetie to kiss!
7. REMOVE YOUR LATEX GLOVES MORE EASILY
You might know that latex gloves sometimes have powder on the inside to make them easier to remove, but what you might not have realized is that powder is just cornstarch. If you happen to have a box of non-powdered latex gloves that are hard to get off, simply sprinkle cornstarch inside before putting them on your hands.
8. FIGHT SWEATY AND STINKY FEET
If you find that your feet become uncomfortably sweaty or develop an unpleasant smell (or both!) while they’re cooped up in your shoes all day, then mix equal parts cornstarch and baking soda with the essential oil of your choice and sprinkle in the bottom of your shoes before putting them on. Peppermint and tea tree are a couple of the scents that cover foot odor best.
9. MAKE YOUR OWN SPRAY STARCH FOR CLOTHES
If you make your own laundry spray starch, you not only save money but you also get to control the stiffness of the clothes you’re starching. Add anywhere between one and two tablespoons of cornstarch (depending on your preference) for each pint of water in a spray bottle and mix well. Make sure to shake before spraying in case of any separation.
10. MAKE YOUR OWN NON TOXIC PLAY DOUGH
You can also use cornstarch to make a non toxic and fun colored dough for children (or whimsical adults!) to play with. To make the play dough: combine 2 parts cornstarch, 3 parts water, and 4 parts baking soda in a pot or saucepan and cook over medium heat. The mixture will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and will eventually form a ball when it’s done. Once cool, you can knead in non toxic tempera paints/powder or other pigments to add color. The dough should be stored in an airtight container when it’s not in use.