Unusual Potato Hacks You Should Be Using In Your Home

We already know potatoes are the stars of the kitchen, but this versatile spud has many other uses around the whole house for tackling unique problems. Every part of a potato — from the flesh to the peel — and even the water used for boiling, can be used for various household tasks. This is a great way to repurpose something you already own and might have otherwise thrown away, perfect for those who want to minimize waste and live a more eco-conscious lifestyle. Or, you might simply be in need of a quick fix and don't have time to run out to the store, but you do have some extra potatoes in your kitchen.

For most of these hacks you can use any type of potato, but be sure to choose your spud based on the size needs of your project, as well as checking that it isn't spoiled. Beyond whipping up fries and soup, whether you're looking for stain removal or help preventing a foggy mirror, a humble potato is the solution for it all. Here are 11 unusual, but brilliant, ways to use potatoes around your home.

Remove a broken lightbulb

How many people does it take to change a broken lightbulb? Just one — and a potato. When facing a broken lightbulb, a regular household chore becomes risky, with the potential for deep cuts from the broken glass being a concern. To avoid putting your fingers in harm's way, you can use any potato that is large enough to cover the broken bulb as a way to remove the bulb without needing protective gloves or other tools.

First, make sure the electrical current is off, either by unplugging the lamp or turning off the circuit. Then, take your potato and cut off the end so that it is a flat surface. Line up the potato with the broken bulb and push it on as much as you can. The potato should be soft enough that the shards of glass enter with ease, but firm enough that the glass doesn't slide straight through. Twist the potato to unscrew the lightbulb base and then throw the potato away.

As handyman Sean Buino demonstrated in tutorial by WeekendWorkbench on YouTube, while the potato will remove the bulb, you can just as easily remove it with a set of pliers. However, people may not have these lying around the house as they would a potato, making this a super convenient hack for an annoying, unexpected problem.

Clean a rusty cast iron pan

Cooking with a cast iron pan has many benefits, from their ability to handle high heat to their lack of harmful chemicals like those found in the non-stick variety. However, they are notoriously difficult to clean, and if your pan develops a layer of rust, it can feel impossible to take care of. However, using a potato to clean it will remove the rust without the need for any special cleaners. This is because potatoes naturally contain oxalic acid, an ingredient found in many store-bought cleaners, like popular rust remover Bar Keeper's Friend.

Grab your rusted pan and cut a potato in half. Then add a bit of gentle dish soap or baking soda to aid in the cleaning. Using the potato like a sponge, start rubbing it around the pan to work at the rust. If your potato gets too slick from the starch or water, simply cut an inch off to reveal a fresh surface. Keep scrubbing until the rust is removed.

Prevent your glass mirrors from fogging

If every time you step out of the shower you find your bathroom mirror entirely fogged up and unusable, a spare potato can provide a fix. Potatoes contain a lot of starch, which produces thin, clear film. You might have seen this film on the inside of a pot after you've boiled some potatoes. By rubbing a potato on a mirror, it leaves a thin film of starch that, when dried, is completely clear, but still creates a protective barrier in between the mirror's surface and any moisture that would collect.

To prevent fogging, simply cut a potato in half or slices. Rub it on the glass surface and make sure that there are no streaks since those will be visible once it dries. If there are streaks, grab a microfiber cloth and gently buff the surface until everything looks smooth and even. Now the potato starch will prevent the water condensation from accumulating on your glass. This hack works with any type of glass, including your own eye glasses.

Keep your silver sparkling

If your silverware is looking tarnished and you don't want to spend hours polishing each individual piece, you can use leftover water you boiled potatoes in. The starchy water can act as a gentle abrasive to help clean tarnish off silverware, providing a free and natural solution.

Start by boiling a few potatoes in water until they are soft and mushy. Remove the potatoes from the water and use them in whatever recipe you have planned, but save the starchy water in the pot. Place your silverware in the pot with the potato water and allow it to soak for a few hours or overnight. After soaking, remove the silverware from the pot and rinse it thoroughly with clean water. Dry the silverware with a soft cloth, and it should be shiny and clean. If you have a particularly tarnished piece, then you can directly rub a sliced potato on the silver prior to soaking it for extra cleaning power. It's important to remember to make sure your starchy water isn't salted, since this will harm your silver.

Create the perfect floral arrangement

Do you spend time carefully crafting the perfect bouquet only for the flowers to fall and shift around? With a single potato, you can up your flower game by using it as a base for the flowers to hold them in place. This is a more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative to the commonly used piece of foam. And this is an even better alternative to foam because of a potato's ability to hold moisture and keep the stems of the flowers hydrated.

Cut a potato in half, placing the flat side down. Use a spoon, screwdriver, or knife to poke many small holes. Then start arranging your flowers, trimming the stems to the desired length and arranging them in the cavities of the potato. You can either put the potato arrangement in a vase to hide the spud, or forgo a vessel entirely like Judith Blacklock, whose YouTube tutorial shows how you can use a potato to make an arrangement that can stand on its or be hung as a wreath.

Give your houseplants some nutrients

After boiling potatoes, don't discard that nutrient-rich water. This water, containing potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium, serves as a natural fertilizer for plants. In fact, many store-bought fertilizers will contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as their primary ingredients, so by repurposing potato-boiling water, you can provide your plants with a beneficial nutrient boost.

After you have removed your potatoes, take the pot of water off the heat so that it can cool down. Once the water is cool, transfer to a watering can or other vessel that is easy to pour into plants. Then, proceed to water your plants as usual. This hack can be used on indoor houseplants or outside in your garden, as both types of plants will benefit from the nutrients. However, it's important to make sure you don't salt your potatoes while boiling, as salt water can negatively affect plants.

Remove stains on your hands

After you've chopped up some berries, beets, or other pigmented foods it's likely that your hands look like an impressionist painting. If you've washed with regular soap and water, but the stains are still there, rubbing a potato on these stains will help remove them while still being ultra-gentle on your skin. Potatoes contain natural enzymes and acids, such as oxalic acid, that can help break down and lift stains, which makes them easier to remove.

Take your potato and cut it into halves or slices to create a flat surface. Hold the potato in your hand and gently rub the cut side against the stained area in a circular or back-and-forth motion, exerting a moderate amount of pressure. If the stain persists, use a fresh surface of the potato, and continue rubbing until the stain vanishes. Afterward, rinse the area with water to clear away any leftover potato juice or pieces. While the potato will be gentle on your skin, use this hack with caution if you have any open cuts or scrapes, since the acidity of the potato might irritate these wounds.

Prevent ice on a car windshield

Winter is hard enough without having to battle ice on your car windshield, a problem that can range from inconvenient if you're running late to dangerous if you need to suddenly drive. Luckily, with the help of a single potato, you can prevent the ice from ever forming in the first place. According to The Weather Network's Mia Gordon in an interview with The Cat, "The reason the trick works is sugar from the potato creates a layer between the glass and the frozen surface."

To do this hack, grab a potato and cut it into halves or slices so that the starchy inner part is revealed. Wipe the potato over your entire car windshield, making sure to create a thin and even layer with no streaks that could impair vision. The starchy sugar film will dry clear, and you can repeat this process on your side mirrors and windows as well. This hack will also help prevent fogging from the cold!

Lift stains from furniture and carpets

If you accidentally spill a drop of something while hanging out on your couch, you can grab a potato from your kitchen to help lift the stain. Potatoes contain enzymes which naturally break down grime and oil into smaller, more manageable components. This makes the stains easier to remove with water or soap.

Apply a cut side of the potato directly onto the stain, gently rubbing it back and forth in a circular motion. After you've rubbed the stain for a few minutes, use a clean cloth or sponge to blot away any moisture or residue left behind. Repeat the process, if necessary, until the stain is lifted. Finally, use a damp cloth to wipe the area clean and allow it to air dry. This method is particularly useful for removing organic stains like juice, wine, or food. However, always spot test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure the potato doesn't cause any damage or discoloration to your furniture or carpet.

Clean your dirty fireplace

Eating a potato dinner next to a warm fire sounds like a cozy night, but if your fireplace is in need of a cleaning, you can use some discarded potato peels. This is a great way to upkeep it in between regular, more thorough cleanings.

Take your potato peels and place them on a flat surface like a cookie sheet away from direct light. Let the potato peels air dry for 24 to 48 hours until they are no longer damp. You need them to be completely dry in order to burn properly. Once they are dried, carefully toss them into a burning fireplace. When potato peels burn, the energy stored in them is released, causing a chemical reaction that dries out the creosote in the chimney. This reduces the chances of a fire caused by creosote buildup, but doesn't prevent any new creosote from forming, so it is important to get your fireplace professionally cleaned from time to time.

Polish and shine leather shoes

If you need a quick shoe shine, but don't want to buy an entire bottle of polish, a potato will help give your shoes new life. The process involves rubbing the inside of a potato peel on the leather, which is believed to help restore moisture and remove minor scuffs and scratches. The potato peel acts as a gentle abrasive and can help remove dirt and grime from the surface of the leather. Additionally, the moisture from the potato peel can help soften the leather and improve its appearance.

For this hack, you can use a potato peel or a potato slice, but a peel is more flexible, so it will be easier to maneuver around the curves of the shoe. Rub the potato around the shoe in small, even circles. The appearance of the shoe might be dull at first due to the starch, but if you set the shoes aside for a few minutes, allowing the potato juice to absorb into the leather, it will have a revitalized, shinier appearance.