13 Surprising Uses for Ketchup Beyond Dipping Your Fries in it

A person squeezes ketchup onto fries.
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You squirt it on your burgers. You dip your fries in it. And if you grab fast food often, you probably have quite a collection of packets filled with this popular condiment.

Ketchup is a common, inexpensive food staple, but it turns out there are many uses for it beyond your dinner plate.

13 Creative Ketchup Uses

1. Loosen Burnt-on Food From Cookware

We’ve all been there. You’re washing the dishes after dinner and find you have stubborn food that just won’t seem to come off your pots and pans. Try adding some ketchup over the burnt-on spots. Let it sit covered overnight and the acid in the ketchup should help break down the problem areas so you can easily wash the dish in the morning.

2. Shine Copper

If your copper cookware is starting to look tarnished, you don’t have to go out and purchase special metal polish for it. Just cover the copper in ketchup and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse clean and it should be restored to its original shine.

3. Eliminate Rust From Your Cast-Iron Skillet

Cast iron skillets aren’t the easiest to clean. They’re susceptible to rust if you accidentally put them in the dishwasher or let them soak in soapy water and then leave them to air dry. Luckily, you can easily reverse the rusty build-up by covering the cookware in ketchup, letting it sit for about 15 minutes and then scrubbing with a Brillo pad or wire brush. You may have to re-season your cast iron skillet, but the rust should be gone.

4. Remove Bugs Stuck on Car Headlights

Bugs often meet their doom colliding with cars driving down the highway. If you notice bugs stuck to your vehicle’s headlights or front grill, grab the ketchup. Apply some of the condiment to your headlights for about 15 minutes and then give it a good scrub with a scrub brush and rinse clean.

5. Shine Car Rims

Spruce up dingy looking car rims without having to pay to get your car detailed. Spread some ketchup over your rims and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. Wipe with a cloth rag and then rinse to reveal bright and shiny rims.

6. Restore Tarnished Jewelry

Got old jewelry that’s lost its shine? Rub a bit of ketchup over it, let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse and wipe it clean. That should help the jewelry return to its former glory.

7. Buff Brass or Silver

If you have brass or silver fixtures or accessories at home that could use a good shine, but you don’t have any polish — try ketchup! Apply a layer, let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes and then wipe clean.

8. Restore Rusty Outdoor Furniture

If you notice rust spots on your outdoor furniture after being outside in the rain, a bit of ketchup can help. Squirt some ketchup on the affected areas and leave on for about a half hour before wiping clean.

9. Use as a Mini Ice Pack

You know all those ketchup packets you get from takeout orders? Pop them in the freezer to make miniature ice packs. If you’ve got little kids at home, these will especially come in handy for little ouchies that don’t require a full-sized ice pack. Also, since the ketchup packets won’t freeze as hard as an ice cube, they are great for areas that could use a more pliable ice pack.

10. Remove Green Tint From Blond Hair

Putting ketchup in your hair is probably something your parents warned you not to do as a kid — but it can have one big benefit. If you have blond hair and have noticed it has turned greenish after swimming in a chlorine pool, ketchup can actually help to neutralize the color change. Squirt some in your hair and let it sit for a half hour (preferably wrapped in a shower cap) and rinse and shampoo as usual.

11. Create Fake Blood

You can elevate a killer Halloween costume with fake blood made from pantry staples rather than buying fake blood from a costume store. Just mix equal parts ketchup and corn syrup (or another light colored syrup) with a little cocoa powder for a deep red, congealed blood look. Add water if you want your fake blood to be more runny. Now you’ve got a gory costume addition that you can put on your face without worrying about accidentally getting some in your mouth.

12. Soothe Insect Bites

If you’ve got an itchy bug bite, apply a dollop of ketchup to the affected area. Ketchup is said to help soothe some of the irritation from mosquito bites or bee stings.

13. Use It In a Facial Scrub

You can create an easy DIY facial scrub with those extra ketchup and sugar packets from restaurants. The acidity in the ketchup helps with exfoliation and the antioxidants from the tomato help soothe inflammation. Using artificial sweetener rather than plain white sugar is recommended, because the finer granules are less abrasive. Test your DIY scrub on a small portion of your skin before applying to your whole face in case you have a reaction.

Bonus: Reuse the Bottle

This hack doesn’t actually involve ketchup. However, an empty squeezable ketchup bottle can come in handy in different ways. Once the bottle is thoroughly cleaned, fill it with pancake mix to create perfect, mess-free flapjacks. Or fill it up with paint for kids craft projects.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.