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2X4: Don’t Toss Them! Four Ways to Use Old Spices

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Jessica
09.10.13

Get this: most ground spices begin to lose their potency and flavor after two years (some say it starts after just six months!). So, how old is your cayenne? Instead of tossing those over-the-hill spices, try one of these non-culinary uses:

Note: If you aren’t sure how long your spices have been living in your cabinet, check the packaging. Most will have a “Best By” date on their label.

Enhance Finger Paint. Finger paint isn’t all fun and games – it can also help improve a child’s sensory skills! To make sensory paint, mix your old (but not ancient) spices with water. Mild, colorful spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika and turmeric work well for this project. To enhance the sensory game, have your kids smell the spices when they’re dry first. Ask them to describe what they smell. Then, mix half of the spices into paint and have your child try to pair the original dry spices with the new, wet paint. For a full tutorial, visit Learn with Play at Home.

Freshen Smelly Jars. So, your bathroom could use some organization – maybe a large jar to hold hair ties, cotton balls and more? Problem is, your old pickle jar (which is the perfect size) smells a lot like…well…pickles. Deodorize the stinky jar with water and one teaspoon of dry mustard. Fill the jar with the mixture and let it sit uncovered overnight. By morning, your jar will be good to go. Tip: This trick can deodorize more than pickle jars – tomato sauce, garlic and other strong scents are no match for dry mustard.

Brighten Colorful Clothes. If you feel like your brights are bleeding color with every wash, that old jar of pepper that’s been sitting in the back of your kitchen cabinet may be just what you need. Simply add a teaspoon of pepper to your wash! It isn’t magic – pepper actually prevents clothes from bleeding, which decreases the likelihood of items fading during the wash-and-dry dance. Don’t worry – your clothes won’t be dotted with flakes of pepper! It washes out during the rinse cycle. 

Soothe Sore Throats. The seasons are changing, and that means sore throats and stuffy noses are on their way. (Along with Pumpkin Spice Lattes and beautiful leaves, but that’s a different story.) To remedy cold symptoms, make tea by pouring boiling water over a dash of cayenne pepper, a few slices of ginger, lemon juice and honey. The pepper will clear your sinuses and the ginger, lemon juice and honey will soothe your throat. Drink up!

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