It's the reason we have pasta and cake, so it's no wonder that flour is a beloved part of the average person's diet. It's also a staple of nearly every kitchen. Made from ground wheat, flour contains proteins that give structure to cooked foods. But if you're only pulling out the flour when it's time to make cookies, you're missing out on some of this humble staple's other uses.
Clean Home Oil Spills
A small splash of oil on the countertop is easy to wipe up, but what about bigger spills? Flour is great at sucking up oil. The next time a bottle tips and you're facing a big oil slick on the kitchen floor, sprinkle enough flour to completely coat the oil and wait ten minutes. Once the flour absorbs the oil, sweep it up. This strategy is especially useful for people with limited mobility who can't easily get down on their hands and knees to clean up messes.
Unless those ants want to chip in with the household expenses, they're not welcome in your home. Flour repels the little critters. In homes with kids and pets, it's also a safer deterrent than chemical traps. Sprinkle a line of flour along window sills, baseboards and anywhere else you see ants entering your home.
Make DIY Dry Shampoo
You have to be out the door in five minutes, and your hair has crossed over from "a little shiny" into "officially greasy" territory. No dry shampoo in the house? No problem. In a pinch, sprinkle a little bit of flour into your roots and comb through to get rid of some of that excess oil. Because white flour will leave noticeable residue in dark hair, you may want to add a little cocoa powder to the flour. Smelling like chocolate all day is just a perk.
Make Paper Mache Paste
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's — whatever you want it to be! Creating paper mache projects is a surefire way to occupy kids indoors. Traditionally made using paper and thinned glue, one of the risks associated with this project is that little ones will end up with glue all over themselves and maybe in their mouths. A mixture of flour and water makes an effective and non-toxic substitute.
Give Your Pots a Shine
Those copper mugs bring out the flavors in your Moscow Mules, but they sure look dingy after washing. You could buy cleaning products made just for copper, or you could save that money and use a few kitchen staples to make a substitute. Make a paste of flour, salt and vinegar and gently rub it all over your copper pieces. Rinse it off and admire your own reflection in your now-gleaming copper surfaces.
Brighten Sinks, Too
Stainless steel sink looking a little more like stained steel? Flour won't clean or disinfect your sink, but it can help you remove debris and return the shine to the steel. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of flour in a clean, empty sink and use a damp cloth to rub the flour across the steel. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the flour away rather than letting it wash down the drain in clumps.
Get Glowing Skin
All-purpose flour isn't a very useful ingredient in face masks and other at-home beauty treatments. That said, East Asian women swear by using chickpea flour (called gram flour or besan) as a base for facial masks. One easy option? Mix equal parts flour with with aloe vera to make a paste that will help soothe and clear the skin, especially after a sunburn. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse with cool water.
Homemade Play Dough
When it comes to keeping kids occupied, is there anything more dependable than basic play dough? But considering how expensive the store-bought brands are, and how quickly they dry out, it's worth the effort to make your own version at home. Mix up your own batch of play dough by cooking flour, water, oil, salt and cream of tartar on the stovetop. Add food coloring and voila: Your kids won't even notice they're using homemade dough.
Plan Out a Garden
You've got a bare patch of dirt, a bunch of potted plants and no idea how to start. Because flour is nontoxic, it's perfect for laying out a garden design without harming the environment. Sprinkle lines of flour on the ground to lay out where various plants will go, then step back to make sure the overall plan works before you start breaking ground. If you're not satisfied, it's easy to brush the flour away and start over.
Clean Playing Cards
No one wants to sit down for a friendly game of poker and pick up a handful of grimy, greasy cards. Letting your playing cards get dirty also makes it harder to deal, shuffle and generally impress your friends with all your card-handling moves. The easiest solution? Put a few scoops of flour in a sealable plastic bag, drop in the cards, seal the bag and shake vigorously. The flour should sweep away some of the residue clinging to the cards.