Did you know that many expired food items you’d normally toss — from stale bread to old mayo — can actually be used around the house? Here, our resourceful pros offer five surprising uses for past-their-prime groceries. You’ll never look at that gallon of sour milk the same way again!
Shine up silver with sour milk.
No reason to cry over expired milk! It’s the ideal “polish” for silverware, says DIY expert Jess Kielman, author of Mom4Real. “Pour 1 Tbs. of white vinegar and 1 cup of expired milk into a dish that will fit your silverware to create sour milk. Let soak for 30 minutes.” Bacteria created during the fermenting process break down tarnish. Just wash the silverware with dish soap and warm water, and give it a quick buff for a sparkling finish.
Clean your disposal with an eggshell scrub.
When eggs are past their prime for scrambling or making into omelets, they’ll still come in handy for de-funking your garbage disposal, promises Kielman. “Just crack open the eggs and empty them into the trash. Then throw the shells down the drain and turn on the garbage disposal while running warm water.” The coarse eggshell “shards” will scrub off any stuck-on food residue, so it washes right down the drain easily.
Quiet squeaky hinges with expired mayonnaise.
Think you need a toolkit to fix squeaky door hinges? Not so! Just use old mayo. “Rub a small amount over the hinge with your finger, then open and close the door a few times to allow it to work its way in,” advises frugality expert Melissa Burnell, creator of Budget101. Simply wipe away excess mayo with a cloth. Even past its use-by date, the oil in mayo works as a hardware lubricant to silence creaky hinges instantly.
Feed your garden with flat soda.
Instead of pouring expired cola down the drain, just open it to let it go flat, then sprinkle it over your garden’s compost pile. The sugar in dark cola feeds good microbes, hastening the composting process and delivering the organic fertilizer your plants need to thrive. Also smart: Cola’s combination of phosphoric acid and carbonic acid dissolves rust, even after years of buildup. Just place rusty shears and trowels in a container filled with cola and leave overnight. By morning, the rust will be gone!
Keep vegetables fresh with stale bread.
Toast stale bread to dry it out further, then place two slices at the bottom of your fridge’s crisper drawer, says HealthyWealthyVida’s Emra Rattue. “The bread will absorb moisture like a sponge, keeping veggies fresh.” When the bread slices get soggy, toss them out and put in “new” old slices.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.