Unusual Uses for 9 Pantry Items

180 handy uses for 9 items you already have in your pantry.

Looking to simplify your life, save money or cut the number of chemicals you use around the house? Chances are, you’ve already got nine natural, versatile products in your pantry that can do far more than you think. There are literally hundreds of surprising and unusual alternative uses for olive oil, wine, salt, garlic, coffee, lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar and honey. Here’s a roundup of EcoSalon’s 20 Unusual Uses series.


Even after those rich, earthy grounds have given you your must-have pot of coffee in the morning, they can do so much more. Unusual uses for coffee include nourishing your plants, massaging away your cellulite, dyeing fabric, growing mushrooms and keeping cats out of your garden.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Coffee

Lemon juice

Using lemon wedges solely as a pretty garnish on the edge of a glass is actually kind of insulting considering all that this little citrus fruit has to offer. Its acidity enables it to preserve foods, whiten fingernails, clean glass, highlight your hair and brighten your white laundry without bleach.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Lemon Juice

Olive oil

Mmm, olive oil. Besides being the most perfect bread dip ever, it’s ultra-moisturizing, making it an ideal solution for all kinds of things you never realized. Olive oil has all kinds of beauty and household uses like conditioning your hair, removing stickers, getting a smooth shave, buffing stainless steel to a shine and removing heavy eye makeup.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Olive Oil


This broad-spectrum antibiotic is a must-have for colds, cuts, cold sores and ear infections. And, though it may sound weird at first, garlic has plenty more uses outside the kitchen. It makes a highly aromatic yet effective cleanser for your skin, mosquito repellent and hair growth tonic. If you’re lucky, it might even turn you on.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Garlic


We simply can’t live without salt. Our bodies require it, and our food tastes bland without it. But chances are, you’ve been underestimating just how much it can do for you. Salt will sanitize your sponges, heal canker sores, keep milk fresh, preserve sliced fruit and keep your clothes from freezing on the line.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Salt


So you’re not crazy about that bottle of cheap Merlot that you got as a gift. What are alternative uses for unwanted or sour wine? Well, you could add it to your bath, use it to clean your countertops, trap fruit flies, heal bruises and maybe even slow down the aging process. Filling up that wine rack has never been more of an imperative.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Wine

Baking soda

Stop buying toxic oven cleaner, expensive fruit and vegetable sprays and special face scrubs. Baking soda can do all of these things and more. This cheap household essential is usually kept in the fridge to cut odor and added to recipes to make baked goods rise, but once you learn all of these surprising uses for it, you’ll start buying it in bulk.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Baking Soda


Discovered thousands of years ago when wine, beer and cider was accidentally allowed to spoil, vinegar brings out the flavor in so many foods. But this acidic condiment also has some benefits that might surprise you, like dissolving rust, cleaning crusty paint brushes, soothing sore muscles and removing those ugly pit stains from your clothing.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Vinegar


Tasting sweet is just the beginning. Honey is antibacterial, anti-fungal, nourishing and moisturizing, and its many uses are pretty amazing. Make your own luscious homemade lotion, heal your sore throat, boost your athletic performance and eliminate that hangover. It even helps heal cuts and scrapes.

Read 20 Unusual Uses for Honey

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Stephanie Rogers

Stephanie Rogers currently resides in North Carolina where she covers a variety of green topics, from sustainability to food.