« Nick's Notes

Nick’s Tip: Starch It Up

by Nick Vitrano

If you’ve ever made a soup or stew or a homemade sauce, you’re familiar with the thickening powers of cornstarch.  Cornstarch is great when cooking, but most folks don’t use it or know that they have it or know that what they do have has long expired until a recipe calls for it.  The truth is, cornstarch is great for a couple of things not recipe driven. 

  • Absorb stains.  Grease stain on the carpet or your favorite piece of clothing (or leather)?  The key to a grease stain is first to absorb the oil.  Cover the area with cornstarch, let sit for about 30 minutes or as long as you’d like, then vacuum up.  You can repeat as necessary or until light enough that a machine wash or stain remover will tackle the rest. 
  • Clean the cooktop.  Cooktop cleaners are not cheap.  Cornstarch is.  Make a paste with cornstarch and water and use “scrub” the cooktop.  It’s a great recipe for any greasy surface like a backsplash or inside the oven or the microwave or even to tackle really tough stains like blood and ink.  For the latter, work the paste into the stain, let sit until dry, brush it off, repeat as necessary.
  • If you’ve got a greasy scalp or a greasy coat on your pet…use cornstarch.  “Wash” your hair with a little cornstarch, let sit a couple minutes, then brush it out.
  • Deodorize sneakers or boots.  Sprinkle it in.  Done.
  • Refresh your carpeting.  Dust the carpet with cornstarch.  Let sit.  Vacuum it up.  Done.
  • Water in the basement?  Did that box of books and papers get wet?  Sprinkle cornstarch inside the pages and let sit for a few hours or overnight or (again) as long as you’d like, then dust it out.
  • Face paint/finger paint.  When we were kids, my mom used to do this all time.  2 parts corn starch to one part shortening (Crisco) makes a “paint” base.  Add food coloring for your desired shade and you’re all set.
  • UPDATE: Multiple posters and callers have said it is the BEST remedy for diaper rash.  Dust the baby's bottom at diaper change and it'll soak up the moisture that keeps the rash thriving.

Tease Image: By Baminnick (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons