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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

8 Inventive Ways You Can Use Sugar (Besides Eat It)

Cutting back on sugar in the kitchen? Don't toss the whole box. From keeping flowers fresh to removing nasty odors, sugar has a variety of uses beyond sweetening your treats.

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Keep flowers alive

The simple carbohydrates in sugar not only provide nutrients to humans and animals, but to plants as well. Add about 3 teaspoons of sugar and two tablespoons of white vinegar to a vase filled with water. The sugar will help the flowers stay strong and perky, while the vinegar will kill bacteria and keep bugs away from your vase.

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Clean and remove odor from coffee grinders and more

Sugar absorbs nasty odors and soaks up moisture that can cause mold. To clean coffee grinders, pour about a quarter cup of sugar into the grinder and let it grind for a few minutes, then wash it out. Your next cup of coffee will taste noticeably fresher. This trick is also great for old thermoses or tupperware. Put about a teaspoon of sugar in the thermos or container and then close tightly (you don’t want any critters coming after the sugar). Rinse out before use. Any stale or unpleasant odors will be gone by your next use.

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Keep cookies fresh

To prevent cookies from becoming stale, store in an air-tight container with a handful of sugar cubes. This trick also works for breads, cakes, and even cheese. It will prevent mold growth and keep them tasting fresh.

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Remove grass stains from clothes

Nothing can ruin a fun afternoon like grass stains on brand new clothing. To get rid of stains, mix warm water with sugar until it forms a paste. Rub the paste over the grass stain and let sit for about an hour, then wash with regular detergent.

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Dissolve grease from your hands

If working on your car left you with gunky hands, quickly get the grease off by washing with a mixture of sugar and liquid hand soap. The exfoliating power of the sugar will have your hands clean in no time.

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Exfoliate your body

You can whip up your own sugar scrub for a fraction of the cost of the expensive ones sold in beauty and body shops. For brighter skin, mix a little bit of sugar with lemon juice. For an energizing body scrub, blend equal amounts of freshly minced ginger (which can stimulate circulation) with brown sugar, then add vanilla extract or sweet almond oil. A sugar scrub can also help make your lips extra kissable by sloughing away dead skin. Simply rub granulated sugar on your lips and then wipe off with a damp cloth.

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Prevent bees from ruining your picnic

Bees can quickly kill the mood when you’re trying to entertain or eat outdoors. Make a simple trap by filling an old plastic butter or yogurt container with water, add a little sugar, and punch a few holes in the lid. Place at a distance from your dinner table or picnic. The bees will fly into the container looking for the sugar, and then be unable to fly out.

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Remove smelly food odors from your hands

Nothing is worse than catching a whiff of that fish and onions you were chopping … three hours later. Pour 1 tablespoon of sugar in your palm, wet with 1 teaspoon liquid soap, and rub your hands together. Rinse with water to reveal clean, odor-free hands.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest