Derived from the castor plant or Ricinus communis, castor oil has long been used for a wide variety of home remedies. Because of its powerful moisturizing properties it has, in recent years, also become a popular ingredient for DIY beauty products like hair and face masks. Beyond its health and beauty benefits, however, there are a number of other ways castor oil can be used around the house.
DIY Furniture Polish
Wood furniture will look brand new after a coat of castor oil-based DIY furniture polish. The recipe for this all-natural cleaning product requires just a few ingredients including beeswax, olive oil, castor oil, and essential oils, if desired, for scent. Making the polish come together is as easy as microwaving the combined ingredients, storing the mixture in a tin, and allowing it to harden.
Most humans can’t stand the taste of castor oil, and it turns out moles aren’t big fans either. If moles have been wreaking havoc in your garden, consider mixing up a DIY mole repellent with castor oil. In order to make the solution, mix 2 parts castor oil with 1 part dish soap. Then, mix or shake the container until it becomes foamy. Dilute 2 teaspoons of the solution into a gallon of water and spray it on mole hills. The castor oil is completely harmless to the animals, making this a humane and eco-friendly way to keep moles out of the garden.
Skunks may be cute and fuzzy but because of their malodorous defense mechanism, they’re not the kind of critters you want hanging around the yard. Since vegetable gardens are usually home to the types of grubs that skunks love to eat, skunks can do a lot of damage when digging for them. Skunks hate the taste of castor oil as much as humans do, so the same solution used to repel moles can be used to keep skunks out of gardens and flowerbeds.
Natural Bug Repellent
Many natural bug sprays contain castor oil, and the ingredient has a long history of use as a deterrent to insects. Castor oil can be combined with essential oils like lavender, lemongrass, and citronella, all of which naturally repel insects like fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. While it may not be as effective as the strong chemicals you’ll find in aerosol bottles of bug spray, it’s natural and won’t have a negative effect on your health or the environment.
Indoor and outdoor plants that need a pick-me-up may benefit from some castor oil fertilizer. Ferns are thought to be especially receptive to the ingredient. Dilute 2 teaspoons of castor oil with 2 cups of water and water the ferns as you normally would. This treatment should result in perkier fronds with brighter green color.
Castor oil is great for moisturizing hair, skin, and nails, and it’s a beauty ingredient that can also be shared with our furry friends. In fact, it’s considered to be a natural treatment for mange. When rubbed into a dog’s fur during a bath, castor oil will make their coats shinier and stronger. It can also be used as an ingredient in DIY dog shampoo bars.
Household items with moving metal parts, like door hinges, need to be lubricated if they start sticking or creaking. Petroleum-based projects are often used for this purpose as a DIY solution, but castor oil provides a more natural alternative. Castor oil is a particularly good choice for lubricating metals that will come into contact with food, such as kitchen shears, because it’s safe to consume if traces are inadvertently ingested.
Pet Wound Salve
Due to their rough-and-tumble play, dogs can incur minor injuries just as often as kids can. Dogs’ paws are especially susceptible to cuts and scratches. Of course, any significant injuries should be treated by a veterinarian, but castor oil is a great remedy for minor cuts—the kind that humans would typically cover with an adhesive bandage. Castor oil’s antibacterial properties prevent infection and the thick texture allows it to act as a barrier, preventing dirt from getting in. Since it’s a natural product, it won’t do any harm if the dog licks it off.
Related: How to Create a Pet-Friendly Home
Clever project ideas and step-by-step tutorials delivered right to your inbox each and every Saturday morning—sign up today for the Weekend DIY Club newsletter!