DIY Repurposing

11 Ways That Sugar Can Help Your Home—and Your Health

White sugar is an invaluable kitchen staple for baking, but it also serves a variety of other purposes at home and in the garden.
Sugar on table with wooden spoon.


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Sugar is more than just a sweetener; it’s a versatile household product in your kitchen. Beyond sugar’s typical role of adding sweetness to foods and satisfying cravings, this ingredient boasts a heap of unexpected applications around the home. From extending the life of wilting flowers to acting as a remedy for an insect sting, read on for the myriad of ways white sugar can be useful beyond just for desserts.

1. Keep Flowers Fresh

Flowers in clear vase.

To extend the life of fresh-cut flowers, combine 2 tablespoons of sugar (which nourishes blooms) with 2 tablespoons of vinegar (which establishes proper pH levels). Dissolve the mixture in a quart of warm water, and pour it into your vase for longer-lasting arrangements and cleaner water.

2. Clean Your Coffee Grinder

Coffee beans in coffee grinder and on table.

After heavy usage, coffee grinders tend to get dirty and smelly. By grinding ¼ cup of sugar in the appliance, you’ll blast away stuck coffee beans, eliminate excess oils, and reduce odor. Then, with your grinder refreshed, it’s time to prepare a fresh cup of joe.

3. Trap Wasps

Wasp traps made with plastic bottles.

When you’re dining alfresco, nothing puts you and your guests more on edge than a swarm of wasps, especially if you’re allergic to the pests. Catch the buzzing insects in a homemade trap that’s made of sugar, water, and a plastic bottle. See our tricks for this and other solutions for a pest-free home.

4. Treat Insect Stings

Person putting ointment on insect sting.

Suffering from a bee or ant sting? Apply a paste of equal parts sugar and water to the injury, then let the solution sit for 20 minutes to eliminate the irritation. Similarly, you can use a sugar cube and a drop of water to reduce irritation.

5. Get Rid of Roaches

Roach on wall.

Does the sight of creepy-crawly cockroaches send shivers down your spine? Fill plastic bottle caps with equal parts sugar and baking soda, then place them around the house for easy, though not particularly thorough, roach elimination.

6. Banish Grass Stains

Grass stains on children's pants.

Whether you got them by diving for a baseball or roughhousing with the dog, grass stains can be pretty tough to remove. The enzymes in sugar can break down the stains and get your clothes looking new again. Combine ½ cup of sugar with enough warm water to create a paste, then apply it to the stained area. Let it sit for about an hour before washing the garment.

7. Make Food Last Longer

Sugar cubes with cookies.

Have you ever had to toss a block of cheese or batch of cookies that expired too soon? Sugar has natural preservative qualities in foods. Some swear by its properties for lengthening shelf life with this food-saving hack: Add a few sugar cubes to an airtight storage container to absorb mold-causing moisture.

8. Wash Grimy Hands

Dirty hands washing in sink.

If you’ve undertaken a particularly messy gardening project, mixing sugar with your soap can help bring your hands back to a more hygienic state. You can even add a cup of sugar to your favorite oil (coconut, almond, and jojoba are good options) to concoct a sugar scrub for your hands. Sugar acts as an exfoliant to help the soap scrub the dirt away. Sugar also helps remove paint from hands, too!

9. De-Ice Concrete

De-ice concrete sidewalk.

Forget the harsh chemicals and rock salt. If freezing temperatures have created a blanket of ice atop your concrete surfaces, a sprinkle of sugar can help melt it. Generously spread sugar over the icy areas, allowing its natural properties to break down the ice and create a bit of traction in small areas, like the front steps.

10. Exfoliate Chapped Lips

Close up view of a woman's cracked and chapped lips.

Are your lips cracking and chapping in the cold weather? This DIY lip scrub can buff away dry skin and leave your lips soft. Mix a teaspoon of honey with 2 teaspoons of sugar and rub it on your lips. Leave it on for roughly 10 to 15 minutes and then wash it away. Pucker up!

11. Make Hummingbird Food

how to clean hummingbird feeders

Do you want to draw hummingbirds to your yard or balcony? Short of planting flowers that attract hummingbirds, hanging a hummingbird feeder is your best bet. Whip up a batch of hummingbird nectar by dissolving white sugar in hot water, at a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.