Toothpaste is a master multi-tasker: it whitens, brightens, deodorizes, removes stains, and restores and protects enamel. But toothpaste’s cleaning capabilities work wonders on many things besides our teeth.
It can also polish your gemstones, buffing bowls, smoothing scratches and so much more. Check out these 15 surprising toothpaste household uses.
1. Relieve irritation from bug bites, sores, and blisters.
These skin irritations all tend to weep and, in the case of bug bites, often itch. Apply a drop of toothpaste to a bug bite or insect sting to stop the itching and decrease any swelling. When applied to sores or blisters, it dries them up, thus allowing the wound to heal faster. It’s best when used overnight.
2. Erase scuffs from shoes
Don’t you hate when your new kicks have fresh marks? “Toothpaste is great for getting scuff marks off sneakers. Use a brush to rub toothpaste into the scuffed soles of athletic shoes. Wipe with a damp cloth when you’re done and admire.
3. Heal burns
Next time you burn yourself on the stove or a hot pan, plunge the affected area under cold water to rapidly bring down the skin temperature. (Not butter! This is a myth.) After the acute phase is over, smear non-gel toothpaste thickly over the burn until the skin cools permanently and the sting is gone. Finally, apply a healing agent, such as aloe vera.
4. Remove crayons from walls
Got baby Banksy on your hands? Toothpaste will make crayon marks disappear faster than Chardonnay at art gallery opening. “Spread over the artwork, scrub, then rinse with water,” says Reich. “The abrasives in the toothpaste will easily get your wall back to normal.”
5. Scrub away stinky smells
Garlic, fish, onion, and other pungent foods can permeate the skin cells on our hands. Scrubbing hands and fingertips briefly with toothpaste removes all traces of smelly odors
6. Fill wall holes
In a pinch, plain white toothpaste can also be used in lieu of Spackle to patch holes left by pins, nails, screws, etc. It’s not really a permanent solution, and will probably make real repairs trickier down the line, so use this method only if you don’t plan to stick around (and your landlord deserves it). See a demonstration here.
7. Treat pimples and blemishes
If you’ve been a teenager, you’ve gone to bed with toothpaste on your face. But have you tried blending it with crushed aspirin? Aspirin is derived from willow bark, the same source for salicylic acid, a popular acne fighter. So the former dries the pimple up, the latter fosters cellular turnover and decreased inflammation.
8. Brighten your nails
Whitening toothpaste with peroxide can help restore luster to nails discolored and yellowed by dark polishes. Use a nailbrush or unused toothbrush to scrub the stains away — really get in there, especially under the nails. Follow up with a nice lemon juice soak.
9. Remove tough stains
Toothpaste can make tough stains on both clothing and carpets disappear. For clothes, apply toothpaste directly to the stain and rub briskly until the spot is gone, then wash as usual. (Note that using a whitening toothpaste on colors can sometimes bleach the fabric.) For carpet stains, apply toothpaste to the stain and scrub it with an abrasive brush, then rinse immediately.
10. Shine diamonds
Make your diamonds shine bright again! Use a little bit of toothpaste on an old soft toothbrush and you will see the sparkle in just a few minutes. Clean off the residue with a damp cloth.
11. Clean headlights
The dings and scratches sustained by headlight glass defuses the light and makes it harder to see. Eliminate this haze by thoroughly cleaning the headlight, then rubbing in a glob of toothpaste. Follow up with a good buffing to even out the glass, either by hand or with the buffer on an electric drill.
12. Polish the silver
From tarnished picture frames to dingy jewelry, a thorough tumble with old-school white toothpaste (gel formulas don’t really work) will cause tarnish to literally rub off your hands, blacken your brush and turn your polishing cloth gray. Follow with a good rinse and buff dry.
13. Clean your toilet
In less than 30 seconds, you can shine up the inside rim and bowl or your porcelain throne, sans toxic chemicals. This is also a fantastic way to use up your kids’ barely-used toothpastes.
14. Lighten grout
“Toothpaste is magic,” says Adriane Richardson, co-author of the blog “One Lucky Pickle.” She used it to return her blackened grout to its original light gray color using sudsy, whitening paste and a toothbrush. If you care about speed (and your arms, back, knees), consider using an electric. Use a rag to wipe up the toothpaste muck as you go, since it’s way harder to clean once it dries all crusty.
15. Deodorize baby bottle and other containers
Toothpaste was made to help eliminate stinky food odors, and it can do the same for baby bottles, thermoses and other containers that have gone ripe. Simply scrub, using it in place of dish soap. For the same reason, toothpaste can quickly eradicate garlic, onion, curry and other potent food smells from your hands.