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15 Unusual Uses for Potatoes – From Shoe Shining to Plant Food

15 Unusual Uses for Potatoes – From Shoe Shining to Plant Food

Last Updated on 29th November 2021 by

Potatoes are a staple in numerous cuisines across a lot of cultures. You can have them fried, baked, roasted, sautéed, or as part of your soup or salad or you can make the perfect chip shop chips.

In fact, they come forth after rice, corn, and wheat as the most consumed food crop. But potatoes also have numerous other uses outside the kitchen. Some uses are amazingly handy; others are fun to try; however, all of them will surprise you.

Unusual Uses For Potatoes 

Potatoes Can Remove Stains

Berries, turmeric, and beets are marvellous additions to any dish. But they are sticky and thus leave traces in your hands. Removing the stains using regular soap is hard; it takes a lot of scrubbing. 

This shouldn’t worry you though, just take a half a potato as you prepare your meal, rub it over the stained areas of your hands, and voila! The blemishes will be gone. You can use it under your nails too. This method also works well with ink and grass stains.

Potatoes Keep your Skin Glowing

Potatoes are excellent for revitalising and rejuvenating your skin. So applying a potato mask once a week can have your glowing. You only need to mash your potato and mix it with lemon juice or water. Then, apply the paste to your face and leave it for 30 minutes. 

Slices of potatoes can also take care of puffy eyes and black cycles; they are an effective alternative to cucumber, which more widely used. Also, for centuries, potatoes have been used to clear acne and minor rashes.

Shine Your Silverware With Potatoes 

If your trinkets are tarnished and cutlery cloudy, there are chemicals you can use to shine them, but those chemicals are expensive and often environmentally damaging.

So why not use the humble potato to restore your silverware’s spackle? All you need to do is boil a few potatoes and as soon as they are cooked, take them out and keep the water. Soak your silverware in the water for about half an hour. 

Then get them out of the water, wipe them, and enjoy your sparkling new silverware. The method is very effective, and it’s been used for thousands of years, from back when the use of silver coins was the norm.  

Use Potatoes For Arts and Crafts

If you want to experiment a bit with arts and crafts, potatoes are great material. Just chop the potato in half and then craft your designs on the fleshy part. It can be your initials, a flower, a rainbow, a heart – whatever you like. 

Once you’ve created your design, dip the potato in paint and stamp your creations. Once you’re done with one design, you can clean the slate by simply slicing it off and starting again.  

Potatoes Can De-Salt Your Food

While cooking, we often inadvertently get heavy-handed with salt. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry. Just throw in a couple of pieces of peeled potato into your soup or pasta and let them sit in for about 15 minutes.

Then remove the pieces of potatoes (you can preserve them for your other dishes like potato salads), and your meal should ready to be served.

Use Potatoes to Remove Warts

Warts are unsightly and annoying. When you get them, you try to take care of them as soon as possible. But you don’t have to get them lasered off though; you can get rid of them using a raw potato. 

Just rub the fleshy end of a potato on your wart, and don’t wash off the juice. Repeat the process of a few days, and warts will be gone for good.

Use Potato Juice to Manage Various Ailments

For centuries, potato juice has been used to fight various ailments. While it isn’t the yummiest mixture out there, it’s considered effective against bruising, heartburn, sciatica, gout, sprains, and ulcers. 

The juice is Vitamin-rich and easy to make. Just put a few pieces of potatoes in your blender and zap them for a minute. To improve the taste of your juice, add cinnamon or carrot. 

Use a Potato As a Hot or Cold Compress

This is a century-old trick. Potatoes retain temperature for a pretty long time. So on those freezing nights, you can keep warm by having slices of hot potatoes in your pockets and gloves. If you want to stay cold, chilled potatoes will work great.

And in case you want to ease pains and aches, you can make hot or cold compresses by placing potato slices in a sock.

You Can Clean Your Windows with Potatoes 

Potatoes make for an excellent, eco-friendly, and non-toxic glass cleaner. Take a raw potato and glide it over your windows, eyeglasses, or even car windscreen and then use a clean cloth to wipe off the juice.  

The result will be a gleaming glass and undamaged hands. This cleaning method is also effective on clear plastic like in ski or swimming goggles.

Unscrew a Broken Bulb Using a Potato 

This is an old tried and tested use of potatoes. At some point, you’ll likely deal with a broken bulb that’s left a small bit of it in the socket. The good old potato can help you sort out this problem. 

First, switch the bulb off and clean up the glass. Then cut a potato and let the fleshy end dry off a bit. You should then gently push the cut side into the remainder of the broken bulb and screw it out. 

Feed Your Geraniums Potatoes 

Do you want to feed your pot plants and bolster their growth? The nutrients in potatoes will give your flowers a fantastic natural boost. 

You can feed the flowers by curving a tiny hole into a potato and planting the flower’s stem in it, before putting it in the soil. Or, you can mix potato shavings with the soil in which you’ll plant your flowers. 

Relive Burns with Raw Potato 

If you’ve burnt your hand on a blistering pan or brushed your arm against a hot stove, just get a slice of a raw potato, gently press it to the burnt area and then attach in place using what you find comfortable. You will be pain and bruise-free in a few.

Remove Rust with Potatoes 

Potatoes contain an acid that dissolves rust and clears off metal surfaces. If your household appliances are becoming a bit rusty, a potato can come in handy. 

To clean off the rust, take a half of a potato and brush the cut part on the rusty surface. Leave the potato juice to stay on for about 30 minutes and then wipe off the rust using a wire scrub.

You will be left with sparkling items or utensils, but if not, rinse and repeat. It’s cost almost nothing, so why not.

Shine Your Shoes with Raw Potato 

Do you want to take your shoe shinning to the next level? Wipe your shoes with a piece of raw potato before you apply the shoe polish. You’ll get a stunning shine once you buff your shoes dry. 

Potatoes Are a Plastic Substitute

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest problems of our time; plastics are an environmental hazard and non-biodegradable. Potatoes make for an excellent substitute for plastics.

The starch in potatoes can be used to create cheaper and biodegradable dishes, spoon, and folks. Making these items using potato starch instead of plastics is, therefore, a brilliant way of cutting costs while helping the environment.

Other uses for potatoes include:

Thicken Your Gravy with Potatoes 

Mashed potatoes make for excellent thickeners for gravies and stews

Remove Splinters with Potato Slices

Do you have a splinter stuck in your hand? Place a potato slice over the splinter. Depending on how deep the splinter is, you can leave it on for up to a whole night. If you leave it overnight, use bandages to tie it in place. When you finally remove it, the splinter will slide out.

Potatoes Can Soothe Dry Skin 

Grate two small potatoes and then soak them in olive oil for thirty minutes. Apply the potato/oil concoction on your dry skin and leave it for 15 minutes. When you’ll wash off the potatoes, and you’ll remain with a soft and smooth skin. 

De-Ice Your Car with a Potato

In the nights before freezing temperatures, fleshy out a potato and wipe it over your windshield. The sugar in the potato juice creates a thin barrier over your window shield, which stops ice from forming, and so in the morning, you won’t have to go through the hassles of scraping.

Potatoes Are Used In the Textile Industry 

Potatoes are still an essential material for some of the largest industries like textiles, oil, paper, and wood. They rely on potatoes for their adhesive extraction and starch content.  

Starch is used to make cloth and paper stiff. In the wood industry, adhesive content is used to bind together and strengthen multiple layers of wood. Potato extracts, unlike glue, are more powerful and cheaper, which makes the best and the most economical option. 

Use Potatoes to Develop Photographs 

Before digital cameras and smartphones, producing pictures took a sophisticated development process. One of the earlier development approaches was autochrome; a small percentage of photographers still dabble in this method.

Autochrome entails using microscopic grains of potato starch. The starch is stimulated with a chemical that creates both black-and-white and colour photographs. 

Potatoes are a Source of Energy

This is one of the most fun uses for potatoes; it’s entertaining and fascinating, especially for the younger kids. Do you know that potatoes are packed with energy?

The chemical reactions that ensue when potatoes come in contact with dissimilar metals generate enough electrical energy to power tiny electrical devices.  

If you want to try this, you need, a small low-voltage light bulb, three small copper wires, two zinc-plated nails, two small coins, and a large piece of potato:

  1. Cut your potato in half, carve a slit in both halves, Wrap your coins with the copper wire a couple of times using two different cables for each coin. Then place your coins in the slits.
  2. Wrap the remaining copper wire around one of your zinc plated nails. Then pin the nail into one of the halves of your potato.
  3.  Using the wire that’s connected to the coin which’s in the half that’s pinned with the first nail, wrap the second nail and pin in it the other half.  
  4. Connect the unattached ends of your copper wire into your small low-voltage bulb; it will light up!

Surprising Facts about Potatoes

You Can Wear Them

Potatoes originate from Solanum Tuberosum, a nightshade plant that blooms with blue, pink, purple, red, or white flowers. In the tail end of the 1700s, King Louis XVI wore these potato flowers in his buttonholes, and his infamous wife Marie Antoinette wore them in her hair.

This was to inspire their starving subjects to cultivate the then newly introduced vegetable; the Spanish had just introduced potatoes to Europe from their itineraries in the New World.

The King and the upper classes’ ploy, however, failed as the lower classes refused to buy into the potato hype. But the potato flowers did become a French nobility status symbol for a while.

Potatoes Have Been Used to Measure Time

In the height of Peru’s Incas civilisation, they used potatoes for multiple surprising purposes. Known for their forward-thinking agricultural practices and creativity, the Incas were keen on studying time. They started measuring time using the time it takes for a potato to be fully cooked

Potatoes Don’t Require Additives or Fertilizers 

Unlike most vegetables, potatoes don’t rely on chemical additives and fertilisers to thrive. 

Potatoes are Used to Brew Alcohol 

Potatoes are used to brew vodka, akvavit, potcheed, and other alcoholic beverages.

Potatoes Have Been Grown in Space

In 1995, the potato got the honour of being the first vegetable grown in the space shuttle. The University of Wisconsin’s Raymond Bula led a project that entailed propagating five of the Norland type potatoes in space.

Bula’s research team kept track of the project from their Wisconsin base by maintaining contact with a NASA team that had contact with the space shuttle crew.

When the space shuttle landed back home, everyone was elated to find that potato plants thrived throughout the ordeal and even grew potatoes.

Eat Them!

Don’t avoid potatoes just because the fried variety is a bit less healthy. Baked, boiled, sautéed, and steamed potatoes are an excellent low-calorie source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, manganese, pantothenic acid, and phosphorus. They are also filling and high in fibre.

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Pauline Loughlin
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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!


Wednesday 3rd of April 2024

I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles