Epsom salt is an ancient ingredient that’s often used to relieve soreness and aches. Although this mineral-rich salt helps to create a soothing bath, you may not be aware of its other uses. It turns out that this flaky salt can beautify your lawn, remove soap scum from shower tiles, relieve your pup’s seasonal allergies, and so much more. Since it’s typically sold in larger quantities, applying it to multiple jobs means you won’t find it at the back of the cabinet five years from now. Here are 10 clever Epsom salt hacks and household uses.
#1. Relieve achy hands fast.
Time spent gardening leave your hands feeling achy? Try this: Add ½ cup of Epsom salts to 3 cups of hot water, stir, then soak a hand towel in the liquid for 30 seconds; wring it out. Wrap the towel around your hands and relax as it cools. Compounds in the salt solution penetrate to quell inflammation and melt away stiffness, helping ease any pain.
#2. Keep mud from staining.
The family had a blast at the park post-rainfall, but now your car is full of muddy footprints. To clean it: Pour a ¼-inch-thick layer of Epsom salts on the mud; let sit 15 minutes. The salts absorb the moisture that binds dirt to fabric so you can just run a vacuum over it to suck the dirt right up.
#3. Deter raccoons from your trash.
Once the weather warms up, the masked bandits like to help themselves to whatever is in your trash can. The trick to keeping them away: Sprinkle 4 or 5 Tbs. of Epsom salts around and over the top of the garbage. Raccoons dislike the taste of the mineral, so once they get a bite, they’ll head elsewhere to feast. Note: Just reapply after it rains.
#4. Green up the lawn for less.
No need to splurge on pricey fertilizers to achieve a healthy, lush-looking lawn. Instead, enlist the help of some Epsom salts! Just sprinkle one teaspoon of the salts per square foot onto the lawn, then generously water them into the soil. The salts help boost chlorophyll production, plus deter hungry and harmful slugs, ensuring your grass can thrive all season.
#5. Soothe a dog’s allergies.
If Fido has been gnawing at his paws (a common sign of allergies), dissolve 2 cups of Epsom salts in a tub filled with enough cool water to cover his paws. Submerge them for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse and dry with a towel. Minerals in the salt will reduce skin infammation and irritation.
#6. Restore skin’s luster.
A low-cost way to get your skin glowing from top to toe? Epsom salts! While showering, massage a handful of the salts into wet skin and let sit five minutes; rinse. The salts’ granules gently exfoliate dry, dead skin cells so skin glows and feels baby-soft.
#7. Get an ultra-fast energy boost.
After a day of running errands, you’re feeling tuckered out — but you still have your sister’s barbecue to attend! The energy-boosting save: Sprinkle Epsom salts into a bath and enjoy a soak. The salts’ magnesium is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it then revs the production of ATP (the most basic form of cellular energy) for an instant energy surge.
#8. Make bathroom tiles sparkle.
Even with regular cleaning, you can’t seem to eliminate the soap scum left behind on your shower tiles. Epsom salts can help. Simply mix the salts with an equal amount of liquid dish detergent, dab on the grimy areas, and scour. The coarse salt granules add scrubbing power to the detergent so it can break down the stubborn grime. Your tiles will look squeaky-clean in no time.
#9. Lift stuck-on food bits.
Your lasagna was a big hit with the family. But as you were washing the dishes, you realized the crispy pieces were still stuck on the pan. A simple way to remove them: Sprinkle Epsom salts in the pan and let sit for 10 minutes. The salts will dry out residual moisture from the food so most pieces flake off — a quick scrub will remove the rest.
#10. Add oomph to limp locks.
The easy secret to voluminous hair: Pour a palm-size amount of hair conditioner into a glass bowl and microwave for 15 seconds. Once it’s warm to the touch, add one teaspoon of Epsom salts and stir. Apply the mixture to wet hair after shampooing and leave in place for one to two minutes. The slightly abrasive salt granules will gently scrub away the excess oils that can weigh tresses down. You’ll have beautiful, bouncy locks as a result!
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.