7 Smart and Sweet Uses for Sugar

Nix garden pests, preserve a cake, soothe a tongue burn and more!

Keep cut flowers fresh
Make your own preservative to keep cut flowers fresh longer. Dissolve 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per quart (liter) of warm water. When you fill the vase, make sure the cut stems are covered by 3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters) of the prepared water. The sugar nourishes the plants, while the vinegar inhibits bacterial growth. You’ll be surprised how long the arrangement stays fresh!

Nix nematode worms in garden
If your outdoor plants look unhealthy, with ugly knots at the roots, chances are they’ve been victims of an attack of the nematodes! The nematode worm, nemesis of many an otherwise healthy garden, is a microscopic parasite that pierces the roots of plants and causes knots. You can prevent nematode attacks by using sugar to create an inhospitable environment for the tiny worms. Apply 5 pounds (2 kilograms) sugar for every 250 square feet (25 square meters) of garden. Microorganisms feeding on the sugar will increase the organic matter in the soil, thereby eliminating those nasty little nematodes.

Clean greasy, grimy hands
Your work is done for the day, but your hands are still covered with grease, grime, or paint. To clean filthy hands easily and thoroughly, pour equal amounts of olive oil and sugar into the cupped palm of one hand, and then gently rub your hands together for several minutes. Rinse thoroughly and dry. The grit of the sugar acts as an abrasive to help the oil remove grease, paint, and grime. Your hands will look and feel clean, soft, and moisturized.

Make a nontoxic fly trap
Keep your kitchen free of flies with a homemade fly trap that uses no toxic chemicals. In a small saucepan, simmer 2 cups milk, 1/4 pound (113 grams) raw sugar, and 2 ounces (56 grams) ground pepper for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into shallow dishes or bowls and set them around the kitchen, patio, or anywhere the flies are a problem. The pesky bugs will flock to the bowls and drown!

Exterminate roaches
If you hate smelly, noxious pesticides as much as you loathe cockroaches, don’t call an exterminator. Instead, when you have a roach infestation, scatter a mixture of equal parts sugar and baking powder over the infested area. The sugar will attract the roaches, and the baking powder will kill them. Replace it frequently with a fresh mixture to prevent future infestations.

Soothe a burned tongue
That slice of piping-hot pizza sure looked great, but ouch! You burned your tongue when you bit into it. To relieve a tongue burned by hot pizza, coffee, tea, or soup, reach for the sugar bowl and sprinkle a pinch or two of sugar over the affected area. The pain will begin to subside immediately.

Keep desserts fresh
You used sugar to sweeten the cake batter; now use it to keep the finished cake fresh and moist. Store the cake in an airtight container with a couple of sugar cubes, and it will stay fresh for days longer. Store a few lumps of sugar with cheese the same way to prevent the cheese from molding.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest