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12 surprising household uses for toothpaste

If you don't feel inspired when brushing your teeth, this might change that.

Toothpaste is a master multitasker, capable of polishing gemstones, buffing bowls, smoothing scratches and so much more. Here’s what it can do for you!

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Erase scuffs from shoes

Don’t you hate when your new kicks have fresh marks? “Toothpaste is great for getting scuff marks off sneakers,” says Barbara Reich, owner of the organizing company Resourceful Consultants. “Just a little dot will go a long way, so start small and add more if needed.”

Remove crayons from walls

Got baby Banksy on your hands? Toothpaste will make crayon marks disappear faster than Chardonnay at art gallery opening. “Spread over the artwork, scrub, then rinse with water,” says Reich. “The abrasives in the toothpaste will easily get your wall back to normal.”

Help you hang art

Now that your walls are crayon-free, use a dab of basic toothpaste (no whiteners or fresh strips) on the back corners to press lightweight posters, collages and other mementos into position. (Decent hold and no holes!) And for frames backed by teeth hangers or picture hooks, toothpaste can be used to determine where to position and pound the nail.

Fill wall holes

In a pinch, plain white toothpaste can also be used in lieu of Spackle to patch holes left by pins, nails, screws, etc. It’s not really a permanent solution, and will probably make real repairs trickier down the line, so use this method only if you don’t plan to stick around (and your landlord deserves it). See a demonstration here.

Treat pimples

If you’ve been a teenager, you’ve gone to bed with toothpaste on your face. But have you tried blending it with crushed aspirin? Aspirin is derived from willow bark, the same source for salicylic acid, a popular acne fighter. So the former dries the pimple up, the latter fosters cellular turnover and decreased inflammation.

Brighten your nails

Whitening peroxide toothpastes can help restore luster to nails discolored and yellowed by dark polishes. Use a nailbrush or unused toothbrush to scrub the stains away — really get in there, especially under the nails. Follow up with a nice lemon juice soak.

Shine diamonds

Beautiful digits demand more beautiful bling, right? Make your best friends shimmer by using toothpaste and a very soft toothbrush to clean your diamonds. “After just a few minutes, the sparkle will be amazing,” says Reich.

Polish the silver

From tarnished picture frames to dingy jewelry, a thorough tumble with old-school white toothpaste (gel formulas don’t really work) will cause tarnish to literally rub off your hands, blacken your brush and turn your polishing cloth gray. Follow with a good rinse and buff dry.

Clean your toilet

In less than 30 seconds, you can shine up the inside rim and bowl or your porcelain throne, sans toxic chemicals. This is also a fantastic way to use up your kids’ barely-used toothpastes. Check out the blog "Binkies & Briefcases" for the instructions.

Lighten grout

“Toothpaste is magic,” says Adriane Richardson, co-author of the blog "One Lucky Pickle." She used it to return her blackened grout to its original light gray color using sudsy, whitening paste and a toothbrush. If you care about speed (and your arms, back, knees), consider using an electric. Use a rag to wipe up the toothpaste muck as you go, since it’s way harder to clean once it dries all crusty.

Remove water rings

No coasters? No problem. Home expert Bob Vila recommends removing water rings on wood furniture by a gentle rub of white, non-gel toothpaste. Focus on the ring only, since toothpaste can potentially damage a wood finish.

Deodorize containers

Toothpaste was made to help eliminate stinky food odors, and it can do the same for baby bottles, thermoses and other containers that have gone ripe. Simply scrub, using it in place of dish soap. For the same reason, toothpaste can quickly eradicate garlic, onion, curry and other potent food smells from your hands.

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