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5 surprising ways you can use potatoes to clean your house

 Someone holding potatoes.
Someone holding potatoes.

Social media and the ‘Cleantok’ community are full of strange, household hacks, all promising to make light work of tough chores. And if your trusted commercial products are not cutting it, you’ll be glad to know there are other alternatives in our kitchen pantry or bathrooms.

Alongside the things you didn’t know you could clean with a lemon, or even 11 things you didn't know you could clean with toothpaste, we now have another wacky, yet wonderful item in our homes that has "magical" properties.

Surprisingly, there are ways you can use a potato in the home to help with your cleaning tasks. It seems this popular, root vegetable can do much more than just make tasty snacks. Be it a raw potato, its peel or even the leftover water used for boiling — these can be all used or repurposed for tackling household chores.

So why is this? Raw potatoes contain oxalic acid, which essentially helps to break down dirt, stains and rust. This is also an ingredient found in many store-bought cleaners, making potatoes a versatile bit of cleaning kit. What's more, it’s sustainable and cost-effective, saving you money on grocery bills!

And while we wouldn’t recommend ditching your regular products for a sack of potatoes, you might want to consider these common things you can clean with a potato if you ever do get stuck!

1. Clean rusty pots or cutlery

A rusty knife sitting on a wooden cutting board
A rusty knife sitting on a wooden cutting board

Whether it be pots, pants or rusty cutlery, it’s always a task to remove such unsightly stains. And if you’re tired of the elbow grease, a potato might be a quick solution to removing rust and restoring it.

This is because potatoes contain oxalic acid, which helps to break down rust, and make it look brand new.

Simply take a potato, cut it in half and dip the cut end in dish soap or baking soda. Then rub it over the rusty areas until the rust is completely removed. Once removed,  rinse thoroughly with warm water, and dry the item.

The baking soda creates an abrasive effect to help to lift out stains, and also works wonders on the toughest of cleaning jobs. In fact, here are 10 things you didn't know you could clean with baking soda.

2. Polish your silverware

Tarnished silver spoons
Tarnished silver spoons

Similarly, if you have tarnished silverware, this can also look unsightly, especially when hosting those dinner parties. And if you don’t want to spend hours polishing each piece, another method to clean silver is reusing potato water.

After boiling potatoes for dinner, don’t throw out the leftover water. Instead, place your tarnished silverware in the starchy water and leave to soak for at least an hour or overnight for best results. This should help to lift any stains from the silverware, making it far easier to clean.

Once you remove it from the water, rinse thoroughly with water before drying with a clean cloth. If you’re dealing with stubborn rust, you can also directly rub a sliced potato over the area before soaking.

This should restore its shine, and make it gleam.  Just remember not to add salt to the water, as this could ruin the silver.

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3. Clean glass to make it spotless

Cleaning glass window
Cleaning glass window

If you’re cleaning windows, or removing fingerprints or marks on glass doors or mirrors, potatoes make an excellent glass cleaner.

Just cut a potato in half and rub it on the surface of the glass, using circular motions. Allow it to sit for some time for it to work its magic. Then, spray lukewarm water onto the glass before wiping down with a clean, microfiber cloth. This should leave your glass clean and streak-free.

For more top tips, check out how to clean a mirror without leaving streaks.

4. Stain remover

A white shirt with a yellow stain
A white shirt with a yellow stain

Whether you find a small stain on your favourite shirt, or on soft furnishings, removing stains can be a nightmare And while a potato can’t tackle removing red wine stains, it can help with minor stains.

Simply cut a slice of a raw potato, and dab the cut side over the stain to remove it. Alternatively, you could dab some leftover water from boiled potatoes. Once you’ve treated the stain, throw the shirt into the washing machine as normal. This should be enough to get your clothes spotless and stain-free.

If you're tackling oil stains, check out our guide on how to remove oil stains from clothes without ruining them.

5. Houseplant booster

Watering houseplant
Watering houseplant

This may not be a cleaning hack, but potatoes can also help our houseplants thrive. When it comes to plantcare, fertilizer provides an essential source of nutrients it needs to grow. And if you don’t have any at hand, leftover potato water can do a good job.

This water contains potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. These are all the things that serve as a natural fertilizer for plants, and also found in store-bought fertilizers. So after boiling your potatoes, save that nutrient-rich water to give your houseplants a healthy boost.

Plus, it helps you avoid these 7 mistakes that can kill houseplants.

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