03/14/2013 10:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Clever Household Uses for Flour

Cupcakes. Chicken pot pie. Pancakes. What do these delectable dishes have in common? Flour! Even if baking isn't your cup of tea, chances are there's a sack of flour sitting in your kitchen cabinet. Did you know that this baking staple can also shine stainless steel and loosen stubborn lids?

It's true! Here are six clever ways to use flour around the house:

Photo Credit: JennifersCookies

1. Deter Insects. To repel ants, cockroaches and silverfish, mix one cup of white flour with one cup of Boric acid. Sprinkle the powder heavily anywhere you find these insects entering or exiting (under the sink, or around baseboards and other appliances is a good place to start). Safety Note: Boric acid is toxic if ingested or inhaled. If you have pets or kids, we suggest skipping this use for flour. Instead, you can use cinnamon to solve your ant problem!

2. Make Sculpting Clay. Lions, tigers...or maybe a spaceship? The sky's the limit with sculpting clay. Even better, you don't have to run to the store if you're feeling crafty. You can make it yourself. All you need are 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of water and a little vegetable oil (food coloring optional). Mix it together over the stove, and you have playdough!

3. Shine Stainless Steel. To keep a stainless steel sink from losing its luster, sprinkle white flour throughout your dry sink. Rub it lightly with a dry, soft cloth and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse the flour away and watch your sink shine. For more sink-cleaning tips, read: Clean Your Kitchen Sink.

4. Polish Copper. To give your copper a good shine, mix equal parts flour, salt and white vinegar. Apply the paste to your copper object and let it fully dry. Then, buff it off with a soft cloth and enjoy your gleaming copper! For more tricks, read: Keep Copper Clean & Clever Copper Creations.

5. Loosen a Lid. Sometimes lids get stuck. And that's okay. If you have a few stubborn jars in the fridge, don't resign yourself to a mini-battle every time you want a snack. Instead, outsmart the problem with a little bit of flour. The next time you struggle with a lid, wipe the container's edge with flour before replacing the lid. It will be a cinch to open the next time around!

6. Ripen Avocados. If you buy a rock-hard avocado and can't wait a week to make your favorite guacamole recipe, speed up the ripening process by placing it in a deep bowl. Cover the avocado completely with white flour, and then let it sit for a day. The avocado will be ripe and ready to eat.