Ever since it was first domesticated in the South American Andes roughly 8,000 years ago, the modern potato has changed the world. And while there’s plenty to say about the potato as a food that has made its way into cuisines across the globe, the tasty tuber can also perform a number of functions outside the kitchen. Here are a few examples of the many ways to use a raw potato for various household tasks.
Removing stains from fabric
Whether it’s an item of clothing, upholstered furniture, or carpet, there are two ways to use raw potato to help get rid of stubborn stains. The first is to simply cut a raw potato in half and rub the fleshy inside part on the stain, so the natural moisture and starches can go to work.
The second is to add a few grated raw potatoes to a bowl of warm water and let it sit for a while, until the water is a cloudy white colour. Remove the grated potato, squeeze the remaining water out of them back into the bowl, and then dab the potato water onto the stain. (Bonus: The grated potato is now ready to be used to make latkes.)
Extracting a broken light bulb from a socket
If the top part of a light bulb breaks off as you’re removing it from a socket, a raw potato comes in handy. First, unplug the lamp or cut off power to the light fixture with the broken bulb. Then, cut a thick chunk off one of the ends of a raw potato, press the cut side of the remaining potato into the broken bulb, and gently twist. This should allow you to unscrew what’s left of the bulb and remove it from the socket. Once it’s out, throw the whole potato/broken bulb into the trash.
Potatoes contain a compound called oxalic acid, which helps to break down rust on certain metals, including iron. To try it, cut a raw potato in half, then dip the cut side into baking soda (dish soap is supposed to work as well), and rub it on, say, the rusty parts of a cast iron skillet.
It may take some time and elbow grease, but if you’re making visible progress, keep going until the rust is removed, and then rinse and thoroughly dry the metal object. If the potato works at first and then becomes slick and/or useless, cut another slice off the end, dip it in baking soda, and you’ll be good to go.
And it’s not only cast iron: This method can be used to remove rust from metal kitchen utensils, tools, scissors, and other household items.
Other household uses for raw potatoes
In addition to the ones described above, raw potatoes can also be used for the following:
- Soak tarnished silver in starchy water previously used to boil potatoes.
- Rub a piece of raw potato on your hands if they are stained after working with foods like beets or berries.
- Place a slice of raw potato over your entire eye area (like people do on TV with slices of cucumber) and lie back for a few minutes to reduce under-eye puffiness.
- Rub the lenses of your glasses with a slice of raw potato to clean them and prevent them from fogging up outside and/or when wearing a mask.
- When cleaning up broken glass, first sweep up and discard the larger pieces. Then, to pick up the remaining tiny shards, cut a raw potato in half, put on a pair of gloves, and press the cut side of the spud around the area with broken glass.
And if reading this has made you crave potatoes (just me?), you should know that they’re also incredibly versatile in the kitchen. In fact, here are 10 creative ways to cook with potatoes, courtesy of Lifehacker U.S. food editor Claire Lower.