10 Surprising Uses for Oats Beyond Breakfast

Oats float in the air behind a blue backdrop.
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Oats are a cheap pantry staple often associated with warm cereal, cookies with raisins and crunchy granola.

But oats are more versatile than you think. This grain is great beyond breakfast and baked goods.

10 Creative Uses of Oats

Did you know you could use oats as a Play-Doh substitute, to remove odors or to soothe irritated skin? Here are 10 not-so-typical uses for oats.

1. Soothe Itchy Skin

An oatmeal bath is great when you’re dealing with itchiness. Oats have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe skin irritation. They can also help keep your skin moisturized. Wrap a bunch of oats in cheesecloth or some old pantyhose so they won’t go down your drain and allow them to soak in the water while you bathe. You can even rub the bundle of oats on the itchy areas of your skin.

2. Soothe a Sunburn

The anti-inflammatory properties of oats are also known to help ease the pain of sunburn. Grind up oats and mix with some milk to form a paste. Apply the paste to your skin for about 15 minutes before gently wiping off. Alternatively, you could soak in an oatmeal bath for a little relief.

3. Make Your Own Dry Shampoo

When you need to freshen up your hair between washes, a little DIY dry shampoo can do the trick. Mix equal parts ground oats and baking soda, work the mixture into your tresses and then brush out. The oats, along with the baking soda, will help absorb the oil in your hair.

4. Get Rid of Smelly Odors

If your fridge is smelling a little funky, you can use oats to help neutralize the unpleasant odor. Just leave an open container or bowl filled with oats in your fridge, and it’ll help to banish the bad smells.

5. Make Your Own Modeling Clay

Instead of going out to the store to buy Play-Doh or modeling clay for the kiddos, mix equal parts oats and flour and add a little water until it forms a clay-like consistency. To make colored clay, just add a few drops of food coloring.

6. Make Oat Milk

You might have purchased oat milk from the grocery store, but you can make it fairly easily at home. Blend a cup of oats with three to four cups of water for about 30 seconds and then strain the mixture into a pitcher. For some flavor, you might want to add a little vanilla extract, maple syrup and a dash of salt before blending. Store covered in the refrigerator.

7. Use As a Binder for Ground Beef

If you’re making meatballs or meatloaf and you find you’re out of breadcrumbs, simply swap oats in their place. Oats serve as a great binder in these meat dishes. You can also use oats to stretch the amount of ground beef you have when making burgers.

8. Use As a Thickener in Recipes

Thicken your soups and stews to the perfect consistency using oats. You’ll want to grind your oats first and add about one-fourth or one-half cup to your simmering pot. Oat flour is also a nice way to thicken sauces or gravies. If you’re looking for a way to add some heartiness to a fruit smoothie, you can add oats there as well.

9. Make a Facial Mask

Give yourself a DIY spa treatment with a mask made from ingredients you have at home. Mix ground oats and water to form a paste. If preferred, add mix-ins such as smashed avocado, mashed banana or plain yogurt. Apply the mixture to your face and leave on for about 15 minutes before wiping clean.

10. Make a Moisturizing Foot Soak

Treat your aching feet to a nice oatmeal soak at the end of a long day. Add ground oats to a tub of warm water and allow your feet to soak for about 20 minutes. You can even add a few drops of essential oil to enhance the spa treatment.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.