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12 surprising home uses for sugar

March 23, 2014 at 3:27 PM ET

12 Surprising Home Uses for Sugar
Martin Barraud/OJO Images/Getty Images /
12 Surprising Home Uses for Sugar

In case you need more of a reason to keep the sugar jar full, it turns out the sweet stuff comes in pretty handy around the house. Here are some of the most surprising and unusual ways to put it to good use.

1. Keep cut flowers looking fresher longer. Stir 3 teaspoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of vinegar into a vase of warm water, then add flowers. The sugar feeds the stems, while the vinegar stops bacteria from forming.

2. Remove grass stains. Combine sugar and warm water to create a thick paste; apply directly to the grass stain. Let the mixture sit on the stain for about an hour or two, then wash the garment as usual.

3. Cool a burning tongue. Drank your coffee too fast? Suck on a pinch of sugar or a hard sugar cube to help relieve the sting.

4. Trap flies and wasps. Cook up a batch of simple syrup by mixing two parts sugar with one part water and bringing it to a boil. Once it cools, pour the syrup into a large mason jar and set it outside or on a windowsill. The sticky mixture will trap the bugs.

5. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Mary Poppins said it herself, and studies have proven it: Babies and infants who were given sugar-water before immunization didn’t react as badly to the pain of the shots as children who didn’t get a taste of the sweet stuff beforehand.

6. Clean your coffee or spice grinder. Pour 1/4 cup of sugar into to your coffee or spice grinder and let it run for a few minutes. It'll break down and clean out all the excess oils that have built up in the machine over time. Just remember to dump out the grinder afterward and wipe it clean.

7. Keep breads and cakes fresh. Add a few sugar cubes to the airtight container holding the baked goods.

8. De-gunk your hands. Combine a little bit of olive oil and sugar, then rub the mixture all over your hands to remove dirt and grease. 

9. Banish bugs and roaches. Although sugar can be a pest’s best friend, the addition of baking powder can make it their worst enemy. Combine about 2 tablespoons each of sugar and baking powder in a bowl, and sprinkle the mixture over any places you suspect bugs are hanging out. Reapply as needed and clean up often.

10. Treat wounds. Studies show that sprinkling some sugar on a bedsore or ulcer before cleaning and dressing it can help kill bacteria.

11. Rid nematodes from your garden. If your plants or plant roots look a little bumpier than normal, you may have nematodes, a pest garden worm. If that's the case, sprinkle plants and the soil around them with handfuls of sugar. This will encourage the “good” worms and microorganisms to reproduce in the soil and create a hostile environment for nematodes.

12. Stop cheese from molding. To keep your favorite blue from turning fuzzy, place a sugar cube with the cheese in an airtight container.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

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