Onions can spice up any dish, but they’re also pretty useful out of the kitchen. From polishing metal to de-icing a windshield, we rounded up 16 surprising uses for this cooking staple.
- Repel insects. Rubbing an onion on your skin or clothes is a nontoxic alternative to bug spray.
- Soothe a sore throat. Whip up a batch of onion tea to soothe a sore throat. To make, boil a cup of water with the peels of half an onion.
- Remove splinters. Place a piece of tape or adhesive bandage over a small piece of raw onion and lay on top of a splinter. Keep the onion there for about an hour. Once you remove it, the splinter should be loosened and easier to pull out.
- Polish metal. Crush up a raw onion and combine it with equal parts water. Using a damp cloth, rub the mixture on metal surfaces like faucets or fixtures until they’re shiny and clean.
- Soothe insect bites and bee stings. Have a super itchy bug bite or painful bee sting that won’t quit? Try rubbing raw onion onto it — it’ll calm the area down.
- Clean the grill. Roughly chop an onion in half and spear it with a long fork. Scrub the grill with a wire brush to remove gunk, then turn on the heat. Use the fork to run the onion over the grill until all of the debris is gone.
- Ward off ants. If ants are constantly invading your kitchen, leave a bowl of raw onion slices out. The scent will keep them at bay.
- Create a DIY dye. Despite their translucent color, onion skins make a beautiful, vibrant red/orange dye. Gather the skins and place them in a pair of nylon pantyhose or a nut milk bag and tie knot at the end. Boil in a pot for about 20 minutes; the remaining liquid is a bright dye that’s perfect for paper, yarn or fabric.
- Soak up the smell of burnt rice. Want to get rid of that smoky smell from burnt rice? Place half an onion next to the stove — it’ll absorb the smell.
- Avoid windshield frost. Slice a raw onion in half and rub it against the windshield of your car at night. It helps prevent frost from forming overnight.
- Color Easter eggs. Wrap eggs in onion skins, then secure them in a towel. Place the tied-up towel in a pot of boiling water and boil the egg as usual. They’ll come out with a beautiful, orange tint.
- Keep avocados from turning brown. Place slices of red onion and avocado in an airtight container. Or, top guacamole with slices of red onion.
- Absorb that “new paint” smell. Cut up slices of raw onion and place them in a bowl of water. Leave the bowl in the newly painted room overnight to absorb the strong scent of paint fumes.
- Clean rusty knives. Jab a dirty knife into a large raw onion and —presto!—no more rust!
- Keep unwanted animals out of your yard. Raccoons, chipmunks, even the neighbor’s cats will no longer step foot onto your property if you sprinkle onion slices around the yard or garden.
- Soothe a burn. Rub an onion on top of a burn to remporarily relieve the pain. Bonus: Onions also have antibacterial properties to keep the wound from becoming infected.