6 Surprising Things You Can Clean with a Potato

updated Sep 30, 2020
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rubbing baking soda into a cast iron skillet with potato half, cut side down
Credit: Joe Lingeman

While we wouldn’t exactly recommend putting a sack of potatoes in your household cleaning kit (but we do recommend keeping them in the pantry and using them for meal planning!), you might be surprised to learn that basic spuds are good for making quick work of some household chores. Here are some smart ways to use potatoes for otherwise annoying or difficult cleaning jobs.

1. Clean a rusty cast iron skillet.

A quick science lesson: Potatoes contain oxalic acid, which helps to break down rust. So you can use a potato to restore a rusty cast iron skillet. Just cut the potato in half (lengthwise or crosswise), dip the cut end in dish soap or baking soda, and rub it over the rusty areas. If the end of the potato gets slick, slice it off and dip the newly cut end. Repeat until rust is removed and then rinse and dry the item.

2. Or rusty knives.

While you’re de-rusting, you can clean rust off of other things you have hanging around, too. This trick works on knives, scissors, baking pans, and other household tools.

Credit: Kitchn Video

3. Remove tarnish from silver.

Planning to boil some potatoes for dinner tonight? Save that starchy water when you’re done. You can drop in tarnished silver pieces and let them sit (for at least an hour). When you pull the pieces out, you’ll be able to wipe them dry and remove the tarnish.

4. Clean and de-fog your glasses.

If you wear glasses, you’re likely struggling with them fogging up while you’re out and about and wearing your face mask. Turns out, you can rub the lenses with the cut side of a raw potato and the starch will help reduce fog buildup without obscuring your vision.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Clean up broken glass.

Break a glass or a dish? You can (carefully) pick up the big pieces and sweep up the smaller ones. But those little shards that are almost impossible to see? Those can easily get left behind. Grab a raw spud — or really any other larger root vegetable — cut it in half, then press the cut halves around the area. The glass will stick into the potato. Note: We do recommend wearing cloves while you clean up broken glass.

6. Lift minor stains.

A potato isn’t going to lift an entire glass of red wine out of a white carpet, but dabbing the cut side of a raw potato or even some of that potato water on a small stain will help.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Bonus Idea: Use the mesh produce bag to make a DIY pot scrubber.

You know those mesh produce bags you get when you buy a big bag of potatoes? Instead of throwing them out, turn them into pot scrubbers! Place a sponge inside the bag, secure it with a zip tie, and clip the ends.

Do you have any other smart and surprising tricks? Share them in the comments below!