As a frugal person, there are few better feelings than discovering a way to use a common, inexpensive product in the place of a commercial one. Part of it is just the joy of saving money. Another part is the joy of knowing you don’t have to clutter your home up with more special-purpose items. And another part is the joy of discovering secret uses! Whether you’re a frugal person, a minimalist, or just a person that enjoys finding cool uses for common products, you’ll like these 20 Frugal Ways to Use Toothpaste!
Remember, the following surprising ways to use toothpaste assume that you’re using a conventional toothpaste brand, like Colgate or Crest. Naturally derived toothpastes may not work the same, as they have very different ingredients. If you only have natural toothpastes in your house, I suggest just getting an inexpensive tube of a conventional toothpaste from the dollar store. You won’t use up your more expensive toothpaste doing any of the tasks below, and you’ll know the tips will work as expected. But if you really don’t want to use a conventional toothpaste, it doesn’t hurt to try your natural toothpaste on a small part of whatever you want to affect and see what happens.
Also note that most of the different ways to use toothpaste below are best done using white toothpastes. Toothpastes that have colors (blue, red, etc.) may contain dyes that could stain some surfaces. You’ll also want to avoid using gel toothpastes. They have a different makeup than the paste toothpastes these tips assume you’re using. Lastly, for most of these tips, skip using whitening toothpastes, too. In some of the cases below, they could potentially damage surfaces. That’s because many whitening toothpastes contain even more abrasives than regular toothpaste (which is part of how they get your teeth so white). When scrubbed into something, these extra abrasives may cause the toothpaste to scratch the surface.
So to keep it safe, go with a conventional, white, regular paste-based toothpaste. If you’re in doubt about the toothpaste being safe for your surface, always test in a small, inconspicuous area first.
Here’s one other frugal tip- if your dentist gives you a goodie bag with a small, travel sized tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush in it, these tips are a great way to put those to use!
Do you love to use common products in surprising ways? Check out my 20 Frugal Ways to Use Dawn Dish Soap!
20 Frugal Ways to Use Toothpaste
1. Clean Diamond Jewelry
Why pay for costly jewelry cleaners if you have toothpaste! All you have to do is put a small amount of toothpaste on a toothbrush, and lightly brush at your diamonds. Rinse the jewelry off under warm water, then gently dry it with a soft lint-free cloth. Be careful around your jewelry’s setting though, as you don’t want to loosen the stones. Also be careful if your jewelry has a gold setting or other gold components, as the toothpaste could possibly dull the gold’s shine.
2. Brighten White Sneakers
Tired of your dingy or grass-stained white sneakers? Toothpaste can help (and in this case, a whitening toothpaste may actually be best)! First, wipe your shoes clean, then dampen them. The toothpaste needs some moisture on the shoes to help it foam up. Then put a little toothpaste on a toothbrush and scrub it into the stains. Let that set for 10 minutes. Then use a damp cloth to wipe the toothpaste off. You may have to repeat this a couple times for deep set stains. When you’re finished, dry your shoes off with a dry cloth, then let them sit and dry before wearing them.
3. Clean Piano Keys
A piano is a beautiful instrument, but not if its keys are are all dirty! Luckily, toothpaste and water is all you need to clean ivory piano keys (synthetic keys should be cleaned with diluted dish soap). Just mix the toothpaste with water to form a thin mixture (if you have hard water, use bottled water instead so you don’t damage the ivory). Then use a toothbrush to gently scrub the white keys. Keep your brush just lightly damp to avoid getting excess water in between the keys. Wipe the cleaned keys down with a clean, damp cloth dipped in water. Then dry the keys with another cloth. The black keys should just be scrubbed with a diluted mixture of dish soap and water, and wiped down and dried in the same way as the white keys.
4. Clean Up Water Stains on Wood
This is one of the most clever ways to use toothpaste! If your refreshing drink left a water stain on your wood table or wooden coaster, you can fix it with toothpaste! Just put a little toothpaste on a clean, soft cloth. Then lightly rub at the stain, followed by wiping the area clean with damp cloth. Let the area dry, then if you like, apply a little furniture polish. Just be careful to only rub lightly at the stain, as rubbing too hard or for too long can damage the wood’s finish and create a worse kind of mark!
5. Clear Up Acne
There are so many uses for toothpaste! Did you know that toothpaste can also help with acne? Just put a dab of it on your pimple, then let it sit for 30 minutes (for sensitive skin) to overnight (8 hours). Then wash your face as normal. While this helps clear up acne, don’t do it all the time, and definitely don’t smear it all over your face like a mask. What allows toothpaste to clear up acne are a number of ingredients that dry out pimples, but also irritate skin. Done now and again on a small part of skin, it shouldn’t cause any problems and is a frugal alternative to acid-based acne creams. But if you use it regularly, or simply leave it on for too long, you could get redness or irritation in the spot.
6. Remove Permanent Marker from Wood
The next time your kids (or you!) get permanent marker on a wooden surface, don’t freak out! Instead, take advantage of one of the best ways to use toothpaste. Put a little toothpaste on a damp cloth and rub it into the wood. Like with the water stains in tip #4, don’t rub too hard or too long to avoid damaging the wood’s finish. A few minutes should be safe. Then use a clean damp rag to wipe the toothpaste off the wood. Repeat a few times if necessary. Add furniture polish afterwards if you like.
7. Heal Bruises Faster
There are so many helpful ways to use toothpaste! In particular, it can help speed up the healing of bruises. Just smear a light layer of toothpaste over the bruised area and cover it with a bandage. Leave that on for 8 hours or overnight. Then remove the bandage and gently wash off the toothpaste. Repeat this for 2-3 days. You don’t want to repeat it for longer, because as mentioned in tip #5, prolonged application of toothpaste to skin can irritate the skin. If you have sensitive skin, mixing the toothpaste with lotion first may help reduce the chance of irritation.
8. Deodorize Plastic Food Containers
Tired of your plastic containers smelling like the leftovers they once held? Then try one of these many unexpected ways to use toothpaste and deodorize them! Put some toothpaste on a toothbrush, then scrub at the containers until you get a decent lather going. Then rinse clean. You can also use this tip to deodorize plastic baby bottles.
9. Clean Fingernails
If your fingernails are stained from cleaning, cooking, gardening, or just from your last nail polish, toothpaste can help you out! With some toothpaste on a toothbrush, scrub at your nails for a minute or so. Then rinse your nails, and watch them shine! Repeat if necessary. Just don’t do this all the time, or it can dry your nails out and make them more likely to chip/break.
10. Get Gum Out of Hair
Did you know that toothpaste can help you get gum out of hair? It’s very easy! Just put some toothpaste directly on the gummy area. Let it dry. When it’s dried you should be able to easily remove the gum using your fingers.
11. Remove Hair Dye from Skin
Another one of the several unusual ways to use toothpaste is as a hair dye remover! If you get any dye on your scalp or hands while dyeing your hair, put some toothpaste on your finger and smear it over the dyed skin. Then use a soft washcloth or your fingers and rub in small circles for a minute or two. Rinse the area with warm water and pat dry. Repeat if necessary.
12. Clean Crayon Off of Walls
There are so many ways to use toothpaste around the house! Did the kids get crayon on the wall again? Don’t freak out, just grab your toothpaste! Put some toothpaste on a damp cloth and rub it gently over the marks. Use another clean, damp cloth to wipe the area clean, pat dry with a dry cloth, then let air dry. Repeat if necessary. This is a solution for both painted walls and wallpaper, but be careful not to rub too hard so you don’t damage the paint or paper. If your walls are painted with flat paint, you may want to avoid this, as flat paint is easily rubbed off. To be safe, you may want to test this tip in an inconspicuous corner first, just to make sure it’s safe for your walls.
13. Fix Scratched Glasses Lenses
Just because your glasses have scratches on the lenses doesn’t mean they’re ruined! If you have glasses with plastic lenses, toothpaste may be able to help. You’ll need a non-abrasive toothpaste for this tip, so you’ll want to look for a toothpaste with a low Radioactive Dentin Abrasiveness (an RDA of 0-70- you can find a list of toothpastes’ RDAs here). This includes many sensitive teeth toothpastes (Sensodyne ProNamel, Arm & Hammer Dental Care, etc.) and common lines of toothpaste (like Colgate Regular), among others. Put a little toothpaste on a cotton ball and use that to rub at the scratch. Repeat a couple of times as necessary for deep scratches. Only do this on plastic lenses with no special coating. If you use this on glass lenses or on lenses with a coating (like an anti-reflective coating), you could damage the coatings or the glass. In those cases, it’d just be better to take your glasses to an optometrist to get the scratches buffed out. Most glasses lenses these days are made from plastic, but if you don’t know for certain if your glasses have plastic or glass lenses, contact the manufacturer or the store that you got them from.
14. Clean Carpet Stains
A handy use for toothpaste is as a carpet stain remover! Put some toothpaste directly on the stain and scrub it in with a toothbrush. Then scrub the area with a damp cloth to remove the paste. Repeat if necessary. If your carpet is very delicate, or a dark shade, you may want to test this in an inconspicuous corner first. This may not work on every stain, and as with most stain removers, works best on fresher stains.
15. Deodorize Your Hands
That fish dinner you prepared may be smelling great, but the same probably can’t be said of how your hands smell! To deodorize your hands without washing them a dozen times, try one of the best ways to use toothpaste- just wash your hands in toothpaste! Just as it deodorizes plastic (tip #8), it will also deodorize your hands!
16. Fix a Scratched Smartphone Screen
Did tip #13 get you inspired to fix scratches on everything with toothpaste? Well, you’re in luck, because toothpaste is a valid scratch fixer for another item- your smartphone! If you have a scratch on your screen, you can save a lot of money by simply trying to fix it yourself with a little toothpaste. Put some toothpaste on a cotton ball or soft washcloth, then rub it into the screen in small circles. You can stop when the scratch is no longer visible. Then wipe the toothpaste away with a slightly damp cloth (make sure not to get your phone too wet), then pat dry with a dry cloth. Of course, you can avoid all this with a screen protector, or better yet, a phone case that comes with a built-in screen protector.
17. Clean White Patio Furniture
Here’s another one of the few tips where I’d suggest using a whitening toothpaste. Put some toothpaste on a toothbrush and scrub it into scuffs and stains (like grass stains) on your white patio furniture. Repeat until the stains are gone, then rinse and dry. You could technically do more than just spot cleaning and scrub down your furniture as a whole if you have a big enough scrub brush (and enough toothpaste)!
18. Polish Silver
One of my favorite ways to use toothpaste is as a silver polish. All you have to do is put toothpaste on your tarnished silver item, then use a damp toothbrush to rub at the tarnished areas. Then wipe the toothpaste off with a damp cloth, rinse your silver item, and dry it with a soft cloth. Do note that this only works because of the abrasive elements in the toothpaste, and as a result has the possibility to remove some silver from the object’s surface (dulling it), or to leave scratch marks (from the toothbrush bristles). So I’d suggest using a soft toothbrush (or even an extra soft one) and scrubbing gently with it.
19. Glass Defogger
It doesn’t matter if you need to defog your bathroom mirror, goggles, visors, diving mask, or other glass/plastic surfaces- toothpaste can help! Just gently rub a bit onto the surface you want to keep from fogging up, then wipe it off. Some people do use this tip on their glasses, but as mentioned in tip #13, you’ll want to be careful. It’s one thing to rub too hard and scratch the lenses of some inexpensive swimming goggles, and a totally different thing to scratch your prescription glasses! Also. like with glasses, you won’t want to use this on anything that already has a special coating (besides, the thing you’re trying to defog may already have an antifog coating applied). Most mirror glass seems to be immune to these concerns though, as it’s constructed differently.
20. Fill in Nail Holes
If you’re changing your decor and are tired of the nail holes left over from hanging items that you moved, you don’t have to dig through your garage for spackling paste. Instead, just put a little toothpaste in the hole, use a flat surface (like an old credit card or a playing card) to scrape off the excess so it’s flush with the wall, then let dry. You can then spot paint the area. Only do this on small holes (around 1/4″ or less).
Isn’t it amazing how many commercial products toothpaste can replace? Using toothpaste in these handy ways will definitely save you a lot of money!
Have you ever used toothpaste on anything other than your teeth?
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