Vanilla ice cream, vanilla candles, vanilla lotion, Vanilla Ice…no, I’m not reenacting the shrimp scene from Forrest Gump. So, stop, collaborate and listen because I’m about to blow your mind. Besides baking and creating delicious aromas, did you know there are so many other uses for vanilla extract?! Well, neither did I, but I went down the internet rabbit hole and found some interesting and handy uses for it. Prepare to be amazed. Here is a countdown of my top 8 most realistic and efficient uses for vanilla extract.
8. Hair Growth Treatment – I personally do not need any help in this department because my hair grows like a weed. However, I do have friends who would love to have more rapid hair growth. The formula is simple: 3 tablespoons of shea butter, 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. In no time, you should be on your way to long, full locks.
7. Toothache Relief – Vanilla extract contains alcohol, which works as a numbing agent. A small dab on your finger or a cotton ball applied to the affected area a few times a day can provide some much-needed relief.
6. Bug Repellent – You may think that vanilla extract contains sugar, but most “pure” extracts do not! This method is most effective for mosquitoes and gnats, but the best news is that it is non-toxic. Simply mix equal parts water and pure vanilla extract. Apply to your skin with a spray bottle or cotton ball. Just a heads up, this might be more suited for short stints outside as it does lose effectiveness after about 30 minutes.
5. Microwave Cleaning – I’m not sure about you, but cleaning the microwave ranks on the top of my list of most dreaded chores. I just really don’t like gross things related to food or dishes. This trick is supposed to make cleaning your nuke-box a breeze. First, find your favorite microwave-safe container, add one teaspoon of vanilla extract per 2 cups of water and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. The task of wiping down those food-crusted surfaces just became a little less daunting. Bonus: your microwave will smell delicious!
4. Removes Sticker Residue –Anyone with children knows the pain of removing stickers from any kind of surface. Well, never fear, vanilla can help. This task would probably be best suited for pure extract due to the alcohol content. The extract can be applied, undiluted, directly to the sticky area, and it should wipe right off. I wonder if this works on clothing when you wash a child’s shirt with a forgotten sticker on it from the doctor’s office? I might have to report back after I try.
3. Eliminates Paint Odor – I, myself, loathe painting. I just don’t have a steady hand or the patience. In addition, the fumes can get pretty overwhelming. Adding a tablespoon of vanilla extract to a fresh can of paint can help neutralize the odor of paint. So no need to push those painting projects off until warmer weather when you can open the windows; just add vanilla. Oh, and don’t forget to stir!
2. Small Burns – I am the chef in our house 80% of the time, which means I also have opportunities to burn myself 80% of the time. Most often, I am splashed by bacon grease, or I touch something I didn’t think was “that hot.” Well, next time that happens, I will just reach right up to the spice cabinet and grab the vanilla extract. A small dab of undiluted extract can help reduce the sting of that small burn. Come to think of it, I might want just to keep some cotton balls in that cabinet, too.
1. Vanilla Ice Embarrassment –This is probably the most unconventional but most gratifying use of vanilla for me. When the beat drops and we are listening to “Ice, Ice, Baby” by Vanilla Ice or “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie, the fun begins. I can start spitting the lyrics of “Ice, Ice, Baby” right along with Mr. Ice like no one’s business. No matter where my performance takes place, it is utterly mortifying for my pre-tween. Mom win.
Whether used for baking, cleaning, beauty trends, or a good old-fashioned embarrassment of your child by reliving your glory days, we can all agree that vanilla is anything BUT vanilla. What unconventional uses do you have for vanilla? I would love to hear!