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8 Extraordinary Uses for Coconut Oil Around the House (Besides Cooking)

The unexpected benefits of coconut oil: It cleans, repairs, and refreshes your home.

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Coconut oil is having a moment

By now you probably know this super-oil can be swapped out for vegetable oil when cooking, and that there are many beauty uses for coconut oil. But the coconut cure-all has a surprising number of uses around your house, too. Mary Findley of Mary Moppins Cleaning System swears by it. It’s a dependable antimicrobial if you’re looking for alternatives to chemicals, she says. Before you go coconut oil crazy, though, make sure your jar’s label says organic and cold-pressed: “Any coconut oil that’s heated is actually no better than Crisco,” Findley says.

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Use coconut oil to remove stains

For small greasy, fat-based, or waxy stains on clothing and fabric furniture (not carpeting!), use a combination of coconut oil and baking soda on the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, allowing the oil to break down the stain, and then wipe away. A little bit of coconut oil can go a long way; lightly dabbing the stain with a Q-tip is all you need. Findley also recommends testing an out-of-the-way stain first, as fabrics react differently. However, don't use this mixture to remove scuff marks on your walls and leather or vinyl furniture. The oil will break down sealants in hard furniture and paint and corrode them over time.

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Usee coconut oil to remove sticky labels

The reason you shouldn’t use coconut oil directly on hard surfaces is the same reason you should use it to remove residue left from labels and stickers, Findley says. Use coconut oil to break down the sticky surface and get it gone for good. (Note: This works on removing gum from hair, too!)

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Use coconut oil to eliminate odors

Remember Findley’s recommendation that your coconut oil should be cold-pressed? Here’s why: Heat treating coconut oil removes the aroma, she says. “When you open that jar you need to be overwhelmed with that coconut smell,” Findley says. To make your own DIY coconut-scented “candle” minus the wax, mix 1⁄4 cup baking soda with 1⁄4 cup cornstarch. Then mix in 6 tablespoons of coconut oil, leave it open in a small glass and your home will smell like a tropical paradise 365 days a year.

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Use coconut oil to grease squeaky hinges

Take a cue from the Tin Man: A drop of oil a day keeps the rust away. Here are other tricks to quiet squeaks and creaks in your home.

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Use coconut oil to make leather shine

Work a little coconut oil into the surface of your favorite leather shoes to make them look as good as new. Test a small spot on the back part of the heel first, Findley says, to make sure the leather will react well to the oil. Here are other tips to make your shoes last longer.

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Use coconut oil to scrub your shower door

Findley says using a tablespoon of coconut oil on your shower doors can help water run down more smoothly and reduce water spots. But whatever you do, don’t get coconut oil on floors, she says, especially those in your bathroom or bathtub—the oil will make your floors slick, slippery, and dangerous. These are the 13 extraordinary uses for coconut oil.

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Use coconut oil to fire up the grill

At your next barbecue, impress your guests by starting a fire the eco-friendly way. Findley uses coconut oil-soaked dryer lint as a fire starter in place of cotton balls. Let’s be honest—you were going to throw out the dryer lint anyway, so why not put it to good use?

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Use coconut oil to get rid of insects

Keep bugs away this summer without smelling like bug spray: Mix coconut oil with essential oils and lightly apply it to your skin. Findley loves the essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, located in her own Eugene, Oregon. “A peppermint or mint oil would be heavenly,” she says. Want more? Read 35 extraordinary uses for household staples you already own.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest