1. Repel Ants
Ants can be significant indoor pests, especially small black sugar ants. If you want to keep ants from getting into your pantry, just sprinkle a line of flour along with the back of the pantry or where you see ants going in your house. The ants will be repulsed by the flour and won’t be able to cross the line. The trick here is that you’ll need to use white flour as ants are notorious for liking whole wheat flour. For good measure, mix the flour with some boric acid, but be careful if you have pets or children in the house – they may eat the acid/flour mix and you don’t want that. Don’t spend money on commercial ant traps – use flour instead. Total savings: $5 – $17.
2. Repel Garden Pests
Green thumbs have known about this trick for a while. To get rid of buggy predators simply sprinkle flour on squash or potato plants in order to repel pests. The starches in the flour will gum up the leaves, trapping insects until they die. Don’t buy expensive pesticides. Total savings: $18 – $20.
3. Clean Up Playing Cards
After a while, your playing cards can accumulate a layer of oil, snack residue, and household dirt. The way to clean them is to put some all-purpose flour in a paper bag. Drop the deck of cards into the bag with enough flour to cover, shake vigorously and then remove the cards. The flour will absorb the oils and the flour dust can be easily knocked off when you shuffle the deck. You may need to shuffle the deck several times before the cards come clean. Don’t buy a new deck. Total savings: $5 – $10.
4. Make Paste For Children’s Crafts
Flour is great for making a number of children’s crafts. Look no further than your pantry for an inexpensive safe paste that is ideal for children’s paper craft projects, such as paper mache and plays scrapbooking. To make the paste, mix 3 parts water and 1 part flour in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring consistently. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring until thick and smooth. Cool it off and pour it into a plastic bottle. The paste makes a handy glue and will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. No need to buy commercially available art paste. Total savings: $4 – $5.
5. Make Kids Modeling Clay
Parents know that entertaining children is a non-trivial challenge. So, use some flour to make kids modeling clay to keep your kids busy on a rainy day. Knead together three cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup salt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 or 2 drops of food coloring. Add or remove flour or water until the mixture is just right. When the ‘clay’ is the right consistency, store it until needed in a plastic bag. You can also form the clay into sculptures for handy holiday ornaments. No need to buy Play-doh. Total savings: $8.
6. Polish Copper and Brass
You can make your own brass and copper cleaner much more cheaply than buying it. Just combine equal parts flour, salt, and vinegar and mix it into a paste. Apply the paste to the metal. Let it dry. Once the mixture is dry, buff it off with a clean and dry cloth. No need to purchase copper cleaner. Total savings $13.
7. Restore Shine to Steel
If your stainless steel sink is looking a little flat use some flour to get it back to a warm glow. Here is what you do:
- Wash the sink thoroughly. Use some sort of cleaner on the sink, like dish soap and hot tap water.
- Dry the sink thoroughly. Buff the sink with a clean towel. This sounds lame, but water left in the sink will turn the flour into a nasty goo and you need the flour dry to get the buffing effect.
- Add flour and buff. Sprinkle the sink with flour, covering about half of it with a thick dusting. Then use a paper towel or soft cloth to buff the flour into the sink as if you were waxing a car. Don’t forget about the rim around the top of the sink, handles, knobs and all of the other little groves where dirt accumulates. The accumulated food gunk should start to disappear and the metal should start to look shiny again.
The flour works by getting into the grooves in the sink that sponges can’t reach. You can use this same process on steel pots and pans as well. No need to get steel cleaner. Total savings: $13.
8. Absorb Oil
If you are struggling to remove oil from a carpet, linoleum floor, or anywhere it has spilled, flour can easily solve this problem. Depending on how much oil has spilled, use an appropriate amount of flour to sop up the mess. Let the flour absorb the oil for a bit, then clean up the mess by wiping up the flour and scrubbing out the stain with soap and warm water. No need to buy a bunch of special pads. Total savings: $7.
9. Use It As A Door Wedge.
Another money-saving use for flour is to use your flour as a door wedge. The average bag of flour weighs about 5 bucks. If you have a door that won’t stay put, wrap your bag of flour in some plastic or put it in another bag and use it to prop your door. This will work better indoors and you’ll want to be sure the bag of flour is well wrapped so it won’t split open and cause a mess. No need for fancy door wedges. Total savings: $14 – $60.
10. Use Flour As A Security Feature.
Like most people you may have some things in your home that you would like to be kept private or secret. In this case, let’s say that you have a drawer with some private items inside of it (cash, firearms, other valuables, etc.). Simply sprinkle some flour on the edge of the drawer. The drawer is opened then flour will fall off the drawer, and you know if your goods have been accessed. Clearly, the best thing to do would be to secure your valuables in your home where nobody can find them, however with the flour option, you will know if someone has been in your stuff. Don’t buy kitschy hidden home safes. Total savings: $15 – $200.
Finally, if you are going to buy flour, don’t forget to save money by buying in bulk. For example, a regular 5 lb bag of Pillsbury unbleached white flour retails for about $5.40 on Amazon.com. A two-pack sells for $8.49 – a savings of $2.31 when you factor in unit costs.
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Photo credit: Melissa Wiese