DIY Repurposing

Why You Should Sprinkle Salt Onto Your Cutting Board—and Into Your Coffee

It's absorbent, abrasive, eco-friendly, and inexpensive: Here's why we should all be keeping stocks of salt in our cars, sheds, toolboxes (and yes, our kitchens).
Woman holding salt shaker in left hand and pointing to it with her right index finger.


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Salt, scientifically known as sodium chloride (NaCl), is an integral part of every meal, from its use during cooking to directly seasoning food on the plate. But salt can do much more than add flavor to your food. From cleaning to winter maintenance, kitchen salt is a household (and outdoor) workhorse: It cleans, deodorizes, and even removes some stains, making it an indispensable staple in the household. See all salt’s handy uses below and you might start buying it in bulk.

1. Refreshing Wicker Furniture

Gloved hand using microfiber towel on wicker chair.

Wicker furniture gets yellow with age. Brighten it again by dipping a brush in a solution of salt water and scrubbing the furniture. Let it dry in the sun and your wicker pieces will look as good as new. Likewise, if you have a new straw broom, soak it in hot, salty water for about 20 minutes before its first use to extend its lifespan.

2. Clean Up Spills

Pot bubbling.

When a pot bubbles over on the stove or in the oven, sprinkle some salt on the spill before it has a chance to cool. It will keep the spot from hardening, and will make it a lot easier to wipe away.

3. Make Coffee Taste Better

Adding salt to coffee cup.

If you’ve left your coffee on the burner longer than you should have and it’s gotten bitter, try adding a pinch of salt to your mug before pouring in the brew. The salt should make your cuppa a lot more palatable.

RELATED: 18 Clever Uses for Coffee Grounds Around the Home

4. Kill Weeds Naturally

Spraying dandelion weed in lawn.

If you have weeds growing up between cracks in the pavement or along the lines in your patio, skip the expensive weed treatments with harsh chemicals. Salt’s desiccating properties can draw water up and cause weeds to wilt.

“Mix a solution of one part salt to two parts water and carefully apply it to weeds, avoiding nearby plants. Watch as the salt dehydrates and eliminates unwanted weeds, providing a natural and effective alternative to chemical weed killers,” says Zahid Adnan, gardener and founder of The Plant Bible.

5. Remove Stains From Dishes

Person using sponge on dish.

Salt is a great cleaning aid: Rubbing salt inside a flower vase will help remove the icky ring left by the flowers’ water. For mugs and cups with tea or coffee stains, sprinkle a little salt on a sponge and rub in a circular motion. Polish your brass and copper with a paste made of equal parts salt, flour, and vinegar.

6. Brighten Up Faux Flowers

Person arranging faux flowers in vase.

You never want to put fresh-cut flowers in salt water because you’ll hasten their demise, but salt can help artificial flowers look livelier by acting as a gentle abrasive. Simply put the faux blooms in a paper bag with about ¼ cup of salt, shake, and—voila!—they’ll be less dusty, and look as good as new.

RELATED: How to Arrange Flowers Like a Floral Designer

7. Smooth Out Your Iron

burnt bottom of clothing iron.

If something has melted onto the soleplate—the smooth metal bottom of your clothes iron—it can really put a “wrinkle” in your ironing. To remove the offending bump, sprinkle some coarse salt on newspaper, turn the iron on high, and rub the iron back and forth over the salt on the paper.

8. De-Stink Shoes

Bowl of salt next to shoes.

You may have seen advertisements for natural salt underarm deodorants. The same principle that helps salt keep smells at bay on your body will work in your shoes too, because salt helps fight bacteria. Just sprinkle a little salt into your smelly sneakers or canvas shoes when they need to a freshening up.

RELATED: How to Wash Shoes in a Washing Machine

9. Defrost Windshields and Windows

Person rubbing car window with sponge.

Salt lowers the temperature at which water freezes and turns into ice, so use it to your advantage: Rub the windows of your home with a sponge dipped in salt water to keep them frost free. Here’s a good way to make use of a sock without a mate: Keep salt in a sock in your car. When the forecast calls for temperatures to dip, rub the sock over the windshield and you should be frost-free in the morning.

10. Clean Up Spilled Egg

Wiping cracked egg on floor.

If you’ve ever accidentally cracked an egg onto the floor or countertop, you know how hard it can be to clean up due to a raw egg’s slimy texture. If you pour a mound of salt onto the egg, however, it will become easier to clean up with a rag or paper towel.

11. Patch Holes in Walls

Patching small holes in wall with spatula.

The best product for patching up small nail holes and cracks in plaster and drywall is spackle but, in a pinch, salt can also get the job done. Morton Salt recommends creating a paste using 2 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and 4 to 5 tablespoons of water. After applying the mixture to the wall blemish, allow it to dry, and then sand and paint.

12. Clean Cast-Iron Pans

Cleaning dirty cast iron pan with sponge.

Anyone who has ever owned a cast iron pan knows that they’re tricky to care for, but one of the best ways to clean them is probably already in your cupboard. Coarse kosher salt can help scrape away stuck-on food particles from cast iron. “Sprinkle salt on greasy pans or baking sheets and scrub with a sponge or brush,” says Shlomo Cherniak, handyman and owner of Baltimore-based Cherniak Handyman Services. “The salt acts as an abrasive and helps remove grease and grime.”

RELATED: How to Clean Cast Iron

13. Remove Red Wine Stains

Red wine spilled on brown carpet.

Spilling red wine on a carpet, sofa, or your clothing can cause a panic, but don’t worry: Salt can come to the rescue. As soon as the spill occurs, sprinkle table salt generously on the affected area and allow it to sit for a few minutes so it can absorb the wine. When all of the liquid has been absorbed, vacuum up the salt that’s left behind.

14. Shine Silver

Polishing silver cup.

Genuine silverware requires regular maintenance, and while there are plenty of commercial products available that are formulated to restore silver’s original shine, salt can stand in as a DIY cleaning solution that’s affordable and eco-friendly. Just mix salt, baking soda, white vinegar, and boiling water to create an abrasive solution that will “remove tarnish and restore shine,” says Cherniak.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Silver Polish

15. Cool Beverages in a Hurry

Bottled drinks in bucket of ice.

Is there anything worse than reaching for a cold drink only to realize you forgot to stock the cooler or fridge? While soda can quickly be cooled with ice cubes, most drinkers don’t want to dilute their beer and wine with ice. Making an ice water bath works well, but adding salt to the water will help cool the beverages faster because salt helps melt the ice and lower the temperature of the water. In about 10 minutes, your beverage should be good to go.

16. Revive Dish Sponges

Sponge in soapy water.

If your dish sponge is beginning to look and smell funky, mix a cup of hot water, ½ cup of white vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of salt in a bowl and let your sponge soak overnight. The salt will help eliminate nasty odors and bacteria.

17. Clean Wooden Cutting Boards

Small bowls of salt and slice of lemon on cutting board.

After cutting up your dinner ingredients, sprinkle a generous amount of salt onto the wood and rub it in. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes and then use the cut half of a lemon to scrub the salt onto the cutting board. Rinse the board with hot water and dry it thoroughly with a clean towel. Ta-da, this is how to clean a wooden cutting board without warping or cracking the wood! “The salt helps remove stains and odors from the cutting board,” Cherniak says.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Wood Cutting Boards

18. Melt Ice on Walkways

Person walking on salted icy sidewalk.

Winter’s frigid temperatures often lead to icy sidewalks and driveways, but sprinkling salt on these surfaces can keep you from slipping and sliding. Let it sit for half an hour and then scrape off the slushy concoction with a bristle brush, or the edge of a shovel. Be careful not to get salt on any of your plants, because it can kill them.

19. Prevent Fruit From Browning

Person cutting fruit.

If you’re tired of your fruit turning an unappetizing shade of brown after you cut it, turn to salt. After slicing your favorite fruit, immerse the pieces in a bowl of lukewarm water with a pinch of kosher salt. Soak them for at least 5 minutes, and then use a colander to rinse the fruit.

20. Clean the Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposal with water draining.

Here’s a simple cleaning hack for one of the often overlooked areas in the kitchen: the garbage disposal. Drop a few ice cubes and a handful of coarse salt (kosher will do) into the disposal. Turn on the water and let the disposal run until the ice is completely crushed. The salt’s abrasive properties will help clean the disposal blades.