The Unexpected Ingredient To Reach For Next Time You Need To Soak Up A Liquid Spill

It has happened to all of us. While at dinner, someone spills food or drink on the tablecloth, and you have to act quickly to prevent it from leaving a lasting stain while preventing the mess from growing any bigger. These are the times when you can reach for a surprisingly effective mealtime mainstay — bread.

Using bread on spills is a wonderful cleaning hack, especially when a spill occurs in the middle of a meal when you find yourself with no napkin in sight. Thankfully, this is not only a quick method to soak up liquid, but also simple. Bread has a porous structure full of tiny air pockets and provides plenty of surface area for absorption. When you press a slice of bread into the spill, the liquid gets sucked into these pores like a vacuum. Since bread is a starchy food, and starch acts as a sponge that absorbs liquids, it is akin to a tiny magnet for liquid molecules, much like a delicious and thrifty disposable paper towel.

Gluten helps absorb the spill

Besides its starchy content and porous structure, bread's effectiveness at soaking up spills can also be attributed to the presence of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and is responsible for the elasticity and chewiness of bread. When bread is moistened, gluten forms a sticky network that traps liquids and prevents them from spreading. This makes it particularly useful for cleaning up spills that contain grease and removing oily stains from your spilled stir fry.

No worries, a slice of bread is unlikely to react with a spilled substance in such a way that can harm your furniture. Unlike chemical stain removers, it's safe to use on just about anything. However, this method is best used in a pinch, for instance when there are no paper towels to address a sudden spill and you are worried about a cherished tablecloth. After all, using bread every time you spill a cup of coffee would be a waste of food and not very cost-effective.