Coconut oil has received a lot of attention for its culinary and personal care benefits, and now this versatile natural product is being discovered anew for all kinds of home-keeping uses. It won’t go rancid, boasts antimicrobial properties, and is rich in saturated fats (not so good for the human heart but an excellent conditioner for wood!). Avoid processed versions in favor of virgin, unrefined coconut oil, which retains the essential fatty acids that contribute to its overall effectiveness around the house. Here are 10 tested-and-true ways to put coconut oil to work and speed through a host of household chores.
From hard-to-remove labels and gum in carpeting to skid marks on linoleum and crayon on walls, coconut oil is great for lifting sticky residue from almost any surface. Simply apply a dab onto the offending sticky or waxy mess, let it sit for one to five minutes, and wipe clean with a cloth or paper towel.
Condition and Restore Wood
Coconut oil makes a high-quality conditioner for wood—keeping it supple, preventing warping, and minimizing the effects of daily use. First, clean the wooden surface with a damp towel or dust cloth, then rub a small amount of oil into the surface using circular motions and a clean cloth. Let the oil soak in for 15 minutes before wiping clean. If wood doesn’t shine up as much as you’d like, try this cleaner: Combine the juice of half a lemon to a quarter cup of coconut oil. Mix well, rub into wood, and wipe clean after two minutes. Note: To condition cutting boards, use only pure coconut oil for its antimicrobial properties.
Polish Appliances and Prevent Water Stains
Tired of fingerprints and streak marks on your stainless steel fridge and dishwasher? Simply rub a teaspoon of coconut oil into the surface, using a soft, dry cloth in a circular motion, starting at the top and moving downward. Once you’ve covered the whole surface, run a fresh cloth over it in the same direction as the grain for a bright, mark-free surface. The same application technique will deter unsightly water marks on stainless steel sinks and faucets.
Stop Squeaks and Rust
A teaspoon of coconut oil will quiet a squeaky door hinge in seconds. Rub the oil into the hardware using a clean cloth, then open and shut the door several times to work it in for silent, smooth functioning. Get the same results outside on gate hinges, as well as smaller hinges on kitchen cupboards and cabinets. Coconut oil also helps prevent rust and dust build-up, so you may want to dab some onto your hinges before they start squeaking.
Rely on coconut oil year round to keep blades in shape. In summer, rub a thin layer over clean metal lawnmower blades before use to prevent grass from sticking, caking, and causing deterioration over time. Do the same to garden tools like spades and trimmers to keep them in tiptop shape. Come winter, prevent snow from sticking to your shovel by coating the metal or plastic blade with coconut oil.
Season a Skillet
A new cast-iron skillet needs to be protected—a.k.a. seasoned—to prevent rust and retain its cooking abilities. Coconut oil is the ideal agent: Simply apply a thick coat all over the pan, inside and out, and place in a cool oven. Set the oven to 300 degrees, and when it reaches that temperature, let the skillet bake for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the skillet cool completely before removing.
De-gunk Your Dashboard
Cars can get pretty messy inside, but when the dashboard gets filmy, it can obscure your vision. To clean it quickly and help keep it dust-free, apply a small amount of coconut oil to a clean microfiber cloth and buff gently. While it’s unlikely that a natural oil will cause any harm to dashboard glass, you may wish to test a small, unseen area first before wiping down the rest of the surface.
Deter Dust on a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans are formidable dust collectors, so the next time you climb a ladder to clean yours, take a jar of coconut oil with you. Dust the blades first to remove dirty buildup, then dab a little oil onto a clean microfiber cloth and apply directly to each fan blade to help prevent the static electricity that attracts dust,.
Unstick a Zipper
You’re in a rush, you throw on your coat—and your zipper gets stuck. Instead of tugging frantically—and possibly making matters worse—dab a bit of coconut oil the zipper’s jammed spot, working it into the teeth (avoiding any fabric if possible). Move the zipper back and forth gently until it unsticks.
Tend Minor Wounds
A recent medical study found that coconut oil reduced inflammation and increased collagen production, an essential component of skin healing. While you should always seek emergency care or medical attention for accidents around the home, minor scrapes and bruises can be tended with a touch of coconut oil. After cleaning the area with soap and water, apply an antibiotic cream to the wound, then coat with a thin layer of coconut oil to help prevent scarring. Both the ointment and the oil are sticky, so be sure to cover the treated wound with a a bandage to keep it clean.
Household Uses for Coconut Oil
Coconut oil will become a new household staple for you.
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