By Lowell & Kaye Christie, F47246
We had no idea how many good uses there are for cornstarch until we began to do research for this column. One thing is certain: it won’t take us five years to use a box of it anymore.
1. Soothe that sunburn “” ouch!
If you’re sunburned in several places “” arms, legs, back, etc. “” use this soaking solution to help relieve the entire body. Pour 1 cup of cornstarch into a bathtub of warm water and climb in. Now relax for 20 to 30 minutes. If the sunburn is localized (face, bald spot, back of the neck, etc.), the following method may be more convenient. Stir 1 tablespoon each of cornstarch and baking soda into a quart of warm water, and then soak a paper towel, washcloth, or whatever you have handy in the liquid. When the cloth is sopping wet, place it on the sunburn and keep it there for 20 to 30 minutes. “Ah” is so much nicer than “Ouch!”
2. Prevent chafing when wearing boots or shoes
This is easy: simply sprinkle cornstarch on your feet and in your shoes each time you put them on. Your feet will stay drier and there will be less friction between your feet and the shoes. We’ve heard that cornstarch also helps cure athlete’s foot.
3. Ease the itch
Here’s an inexpensive, effective way to treat rashes, hives, insect bites, poison ivy, etc., that cause itching. Stir 1/4-cup cornstarch into 3 tablespoons water to make a thick paste and apply it to the irritated skin. Unlike many medicinal products, this remedy is safe to use as often as you wish.
4. Forget to pack the shampoo?
Try a dry shampoo. Work cornstarch into your hair and scalp, and give yourself the same relaxing rubbing you would do with wet hair. Now use your hairbrush to remove the powder. You also might try this on your dog the next time it needs a bath. And you don’t have to worry about the dog licking its fur later, since cornstarch is used in many food products.
5. Playing cards
If you enjoy table sports such as bridge or gin rummy, don’t toss that deck of cards in the trash when they get sticky. Instead, place them in a paper bag along with a quarter-cup of cornstarch. Fold down the top of the bag and give it a thorough shaking. Then remove the cards and wipe them clean. It’s a great way to revitalize your playing cards. Unfortunately, it doesn’t ensure you’ll have more winning hands.
6. Help gloves slip on easily
Sprinkle a little cornstarch inside your rubber gloves and shake it around. You’ll find it makes a big difference in how easily you can slip them on. Cornstarch works equally well in driving gloves or your favorite pair of leather gloves.
7. Detangle stubborn knots
This was one of the times when Kaye found the remedy only after it was too late. She tried everything she could think of to get the knot out of a shoelace, and sure enough, after she’d given up and purchased new laces she discovered the solution. Just sprinkle the knot with a little cornstarch and gradually work it in. Of course, she dug the shoelace out of the trash to test this solution and, sure enough, she got the knot out.
8. Forget your antiperspirant?
No need to head out to the store; just wash your underarms thoroughly and give them a cornstarch rub. It feels good and does the job.
9. Washing windows
All you need for this job is cornstarch, water, and a cloth. If you plan to wash all of the windows, combine 1 quart of water with 1/4-cup of cornstarch, and mix well. Soak the cloth in the solution and get to work on the windows. You’ll find that the cornstarch provides enough abrasion to cut through a hazy film in addition to giving the glass a good cleaning. (The cornstarch tends to settle in the water, so stir it each time you dip the cloth.) If you’re just cleaning a bathroom mirror, pour a small amount of cornstarch on a wet rag and get to work. After using the cornstarch, finish up by drying the glass with paper towels or a cloth.
10. Clean a muddy carpet
Let’s face it; we don’t buy a motorhome intending to spend all of our time indoors, even on rainy days. Treat mud on the carpet by sprinkling cornstarch on the damp spot. After it dries, vacuum up the debris. To clean the entire carpet, sprinkle cornstarch throughout; give it a good 1/2-hour to settle in; and vacuum clean.
11. Clean stuffed animals
Like so many RVers, we enjoy having a furry little friend on board. For us, it’s a small toy owl. When it needs to be cleaned, we rub cornstarch into its fur, let it stand for five minutes, and then brush the cornstarch off. Owley looks and feels better.
12. Sandy skin
If you or the kids come away from the beach covered with sand, try this. Sprinkle cornstarch on the skin. It absorbs the moisture so most of the sand falls off. You can brush off the rest.
13. Thicken gravy
We first discovered this use for cornstarch when we were on a Chinese cooking kick. It’s still our thickener of choice, especially for gravy, since you don’t need the fat drippings. When cooking, use half as much cornstarch as you would flour. To thicken hot liquids, mix the cornstarch with a small amount of cold liquid until it’s smooth before gradually adding it to hot liquid.