Unexpected Things You Can Do With Oats & Oatmeal

Oats and oatmeal are great for baking and breakfast foods, but they’re much more useful than you may think. Instead of throwing out a container of oats when it expires, you can use it for a variety of things, from skincare to household chores.

Oatmeal can entertain your children, protect your garden from irritating creatures, and eliminate odors in a variety of different spaces. Check out some unexpected things you can do with oat products that you probably didn’t realize…

Freshen Up Your Fridge

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Harald Tittel/picture alliance via Getty Images
Harald Tittel/picture alliance via Getty Images

We’ve all experienced refrigerator odor at some point in our lives. Maybe it’s from leftovers, or maybe it’s from some kind of food that got lost in the mix that we forgot to throw out. Whatever the source, a bad odor from your fridge can be a real turn off, particularly if you’re about to make a meal.

The good news is that oatmeal does a really good job of absorbing bad smells. Simply open a container of oats and leave it on one of the shelves in your fridge.

Soothe Chicken Pox & Poison Ivy Pain

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Schöning/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Schöning/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Before there was a vaccine, lots of kids and even adults had to deal with chicken pox, an irritating viral infection that causes itchy blisters on the skin. Still, not everyone has received the vaccine, so it’s not eradicated. Poison ivy can also cause intense itching that’s difficult to relieve.

If you want to be more comfortable while combating these health issues, take an oatmeal bath. Just grind some oats or oat flour to make a fine powder, and put the powder in a cheesecloth or pantyhose. Hang the cloth from the faucet, pour water in the tub, and occasionally squeeze the package to release water into the tub. Instant relief!

Clear Up Your Skin

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*Nathan W. Armes / Barcroft Media via Getty Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
*Nathan W. Armes / Barcroft Media via Getty Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Many people, particularly teenagers, have experienced problems with their skin. Sometimes the zits and pimples go away over time, and sometimes skin problems persist. If you’re looking for a natural solution to combat acne, look no further than oatmeal.

To get clearer skin, cook some oatmeal, and then let it cool. Spread it over the area of your skin that’s inflamed. Leave it on the skin for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off. Oatmeal helps absorb oils, eliminate bacteria, and exfoliate dead skin cells.

Neutralize Ashtray Odor

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Instagram/goodfoodbee
Instagram/goodfoodbee

Even if you’re a smoker, a stinky ashtray can be a smelly mess. Luckily, you can neutralize the odor of cigarettes by lining an ashtray with oats. The grain has the ability to absorb cigarette smells, so the surrounding area doesn’t smell so bad.

This is particularly helpful if you live in a house with a nonsmoker, who doesn’t like the smell of cigarettes. You can also do this in your car’s ashtray (if it still has one).

Take Care Of Your Pet’s Itchy Skin

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Oleksandr Rupeta/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Oleksandr Rupeta/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Humans aren’t the only ones who have skin issues. Dogs and other pets also get itchy sometimes, but you can take care of their skin by using a natural remedy such as oatmeal. According to holistic experts, you can make your dog feel better by mixing equal parts oats and warm water.

Simply rub the mixture over your pet’s dry and itchy parts. If you can, and your pet can sit still, wrap the area in aluminum foil for 10 minutes. Then rinse your dog and repeat as necessary.

Entertain Small Kids

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Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images
Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images

If you’ve run out of things for your kids to do on a rainy day and they keep complaining about being bored, then look in your cabinets for some oatmeal. Mix two parts oatmeal with one part flour and one part water. If you can, add some food coloring, and you will have a clay-like substance.

This Play-Doh alternative is cheap and easy to make, and kids can make all kinds of shapes with the mixture. They can also paint it after it dries.

Lose Weight

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Uta Poss/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Uta Poss/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Losing weight can be hard. There are so many diets to consider, and it’s hard to find food that’s satisfying and fills you up. Enter oatmeal. If you’re looking for a meal that can make you feel satiated, then oatmeal is the solution.

The reason why is because oat flour has more fiber than wheat and other types of flour. As a result, when you cook with oat flour it makes you feel more full. Plus, it has fewer calories.

Prevent Certain Diseases

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Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

No, oatmeal isn’t a miracle cure when it comes to combating cancer, but it can be very useful when it comes to preventative care. Experts recommend a diet rich in oatmeal and other whole grains because it can be very good for your health.

Even more promising, a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology indicated that premenopausal women may be able to reduce their risk of breast cancer up to 41 percent if they add oatmeal and whole grains to their diets.

Boost Your Endurance

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Kai-Otto Melau/Getty Images
Kai-Otto Melau/Getty Images

Have you ever tried to work out, but you and your muscles feel fatigued? Oatmeal can help. Studies have proven that the right foods, a.k.a., oatmeal, can make a big difference when it comes to how your muscles work. Specifically, oats create power to fuel your muscles while they’re being activated.

Experts recommend eating oatmeal about three hours before you go running. This time-release method can make your workout that much easier in the long run. It’s particularly helpful if you eat oatmeal at breakfast and run during your lunch hour.

Clean Your Hair

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Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images
Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

In addition to cleaning your skin, oatmeal can also do wonders for your hair. It is particularly helpful if you don’t have time to pop in the shower and need a dry shampoo. While you can buy a commercial brand, it’s much cheaper to make your own formula, and it doesn’t take much effort.

All you have to do is grind oatmeal into a powder. Then mix it together with an equal part of baking soda. Rub the concoction into your hair, and it will soak up the oils. Then simply brush the mixture out.

Remove Sticky Sap From Your Fingers

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Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Have you ever gotten sap or another substance on your hands that’s really difficult to remove? Well, you can get rid of sticky sap by using oatmeal. Simply rub dry oatmeal on your skin and then wash your hands as usual. The reason oatmeal works this way is because it’s slightly abrasive.

This can also be very beneficial if your young children love pancakes and waffles but have a habit of getting really messy while eating their breakfast.

Thicken Soups & Other Things

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Melanie Kaplan for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Melanie Kaplan for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sometimes when you’re making a meal, things just don’t go right. One issue you may experience is a runny dip or too-thin soup or stew. However, there’s a really easy way to thicken these items. Just add some ground oats or oat flour.

This is particularly helpful if you don’t want to change the flavor very much but want a stew/soup/dip consistency that is more pleasing to the palate. That’s why we recommend keeping some oat flour in your pantry at all times.

Improve Your Sleep

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Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

Oats have amino acids and other nutrients that aid in producing melatonin, which induces sleep. You can mix oats with milk or honey and create a nice snack before bedtime. Also, the carbs in oats release serotonin, which helps you feel calm and reduces stress (which can cause problems with sleep).

Oats also have a lot of vitamin B6, which can help reduce stress. You can also mix oats with milk and bananas before you turn in for the night so you sleep better.

Soothe A Burn

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David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images
David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Burns can be really painful. If you’re in a pinch and need something around the home to soothe the pain, simply apply cold oatmeal to your burned skin. This works particularly well if the burn is not very severe, and you don’t have any topical ointments on hand.

However, if the burn is really bad and starts to blister, it’s best to seek professional help. Untreated burns can be very dangerous and cause permanent scars.

Save Crumbling Meatloaf

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Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Oatmeal and its related ingredients can be very useful when it comes to saving what could be a disposable meal. If you have a problem with crumbing meatloaf or burgers, there’s an easy solution. While most people opt for bread crumbs to keep hamburgers, meatloaf, and meatballs together, they can increase the calories.

For a healthier alternative, consider adding oats to bind the meat together instead of bread crumbs. The oats will still keep the meat together and not compromise the taste.

Exfoliate Your Skin

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Dadi Luca /AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Dadi Luca /AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you want to make your skin smooth and supple, consider exfoliating it with coarsely ground oat flour while you’re in the shower. Oats are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, so they can be very helpful in removing dead skin and simply soothing the tired parts of your body.

All you must do is crush or grind the oatmeal into small pieces. Make sure you don’t over-exfoliate your skin or it can cause the opposite effect. You can also make custom face scrubs by adding other ingredients.

Soak Up Spills In The Kitchen

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Romulo Yanes/Condé Nast via Getty Images
Romulo Yanes/Condé Nast via Getty Images

This is particularly useful if you spill oil on the floor of your kitchen or another area of the house, although it can be used for other types of spills as well. Cover the puddle of oil with uncooked oatmeal, and let it sit for at least five minutes. Then simply sweep the mixture off the floor.

Oils and some food spills can be very difficult to remove, and oatmeal can be a real lifesaver if you have the patience and ability to let it sit and soak up the substance for a few minutes.

Eliminate Certain Garden Pests

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Joel Page/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Joel Page/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

While oatmeal is nontoxic to humans, it can wreak havoc on slugs and snails. If you have a problem with these types of pests in your garden, a little bit goes a long way. Oatmeal can make their stomachs swell up.

All you need to do is sprinkle a little bit of dry oatmeal around your plants. Don’t use too much because it can get really gooey if it clings to the stems and the soil is moist. Also, too much oatmeal may have the opposite effect and attract rodents and insects.

Combat Dandruff

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BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images
BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

If you have dandruff, you know how embarrassing it can be if someone comments on the flakes in your hair or on your shoulders. For a homemade solution, mix ground oatmeal with two cups of boiling water. Add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of lemon juice (unless your hair is color treated – then skip the lemon juice).

Once the mixture is complete, pour it into an empty bottle. Dampen your hair with lukewarm water and rub the solution into your scalp. Let it sit for two minutes before you rinse it out.

Clean Cast Iron Skillets

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Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post via Getty Images

You’re not supposed to use regular soap on cast iron cookware, but you can use oatmeal instead to get rid of grease and scraped-on food. Simply put about two tablespoons of oatmeal into the pot or pan. Add some water, and rub the cookware with a stiff brush, cloth, or your hands.

Next, rinse and dry the pot or skillet. Oatmeal will aid in absorbing any leftover grease, and it will also help scrub off bits of food that are stuck to the cookery.