25 Unusual Ways With MILK

Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Common Products - Uncommon Uses, Frugal For Everyone | 57 comments


Did you know that milk is a much more versatile product than normally realized? We know all about the drinking and making yogurt part, but did you know you can relieve a sunburn with it? Polish shoes? Or how about a cure for the ‘morning-after’? Read on to discover these and other unusual ways to use milk.

Milk and the Outdoors:

  1. Sunburn: Add only enough water to powdered milk to make a thick paste. Stir in a pinch of salt and apply this mixture to the sunburn to cool and sooth the skin.
  2. Bug Bites: Make a mixture like above for relief from bug bites. The natural enzymes in milk stop the swelling and milk’s moisturizing qualities relief the itch.
  3. Poison Ivy Rash: Use ice-cold milk – The same mixture and method as for bug bites. If you’re camping and don’t have access to milk powder, wash the rash with ice-cold milk right away.
  4. Plant Fertilizer: Helps foliage grow larger and provides calcium and other nutrients to tomatoes and squash to prevent blossom end rot. It also prevents and/or treats powdery mildew on zucchini. Spread a tablespoon or so of milk powder around plants – just before a rain – is good. Don’t overdo. Natural fungicide.
  5. Hand Cleaner: There is a saying that “Real gardeners don’t wear gloves.” That is so true. I always lose mine within the first five minutes. Then, after grubbing around in the garden all day, the hands are an absolute mess. No problem. Scrubbing hands with a paste of milk and oatmeal takes care of that. This mixture not only cleans well but leaves hands feeling soft and smooth.
    Milk powder as plant fertilizer

    Milk powder as plant fertilizer

Milk and Personal Care:

  1. Milk Bath: Think Cleopatra and indulge yourself with a soothing milk bath. Add a cup or two of powdered milk to your tepid bath – your favourite essential oil can be added. Leaves your skin feeling supple and smooth.
  2. Calluses: Make up enough powdered milk (or you can use that sour milk you were going to throw away) to fill a foot bath. Soak your feet for 30 minutes, then rinse well in clean water, dry, then lightly rub your feet with petroleum jelly.
  3. Facial Mask: You can use milk as the liquid in any facial mask or make your own mask by adding some water to milk powder to make a thick paste which you apply to your face. Leave on for 30 minutes, then rinse off really well. Leaves skin glowing. Good for acne-prone skin.
  4. Remove Make-Up: The same formula and method as for the facial mask can be used to deep clean away all traces of make-up.
  5. Shaving Cream: Again, make a paste of water and powdered milk and use as shaving cream. This can be used to shave face or legs. Rinse off really well with lukewarm water.
  6. Moisturizer: Before heading into the shower: for dry or regular skin, wash face with a face-cloth dipped in cold milk. Let air-dry. Then shower.
  7. Hair Conditioner: After shampooing use milk instead of your regular conditioner. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse off.
    milk powder foot bath

    Simple ingredients for callus softening foot bath: basin, milk powder, water (not shown) and petroleum jelly.

 Milk and Cleaning/Repairs:

  1. Polish Silverware: Use sour milk for this – if you haven’t any, give milk a shot of vinegar or lemon juice to sour it. All you do is soak the silverware in the sour milk for a while – at least an hour – then wash and rinse.
  2. Clean Furniture: Sour some milk with lemon juice, add some favourite essential oil (lemon would be nice) and use to deep-clean furniture. This dislodges deep down dirt and will also moisturize the wood.
  3. Shine Leather: Save time and  money by heading to the fridge, instead of to the store, the next time your patent leather purse needs a quick polish. Leather of all kinds – furniture, shoes, boots, purses, etc. – benefit from milk cleaning. Quickly shines all leather products. Let the item dry, then buff well. Especially good for patent leather.
  4. Remove Ink Stains: Ink stains on clothes can be lifted by soaking the item in milk overnight then washing the next day. Will need an extra rinse to remove all milk residues.
  5. Clean Plant Leaves: Using a sponge just slightly dampened with milk, shine the leaves. Only do this about once a month since plants breathe through their leaves and you don’t want to clog the pores.
  6. Repair Fine China: Place your finely cracked china in a pot, cover with milk, bring to boil, turn down and let simmer for an hour or so.

    milk used to polish shoes

 Milk and Food/Drink:

  1. Hot Food Relief: You enjoyed the meal but not the indigestion afterwards. To stop the heat after eating hot, spicy food, drink a glass of milk.
  2. Hangover Cure: Milk is a great cure for the morning-after. Just drink a glass of milk to rehydrate and settle your stomach.
  3. Marinate Frozen Fish: To return frozen fish to its ‘fresh-caught’ taste, cover it with milk and let it thaw in the refrigerator.
  4. Marinate Liver: To remove the bitter taste from liver, cover it with milk and let it marinate for at least an hour.
  5. Marinate Wild Meat: We allow responsible hunters on our property. If they are successful we end up with a wild-meat roast of some kind. Marinating this in milk tenderizes the roast and takes away all strange taste.
  6. Corn On The Cob: The best corn on the cob is that which is picked, cooked and eaten, all within the same couple of hours. Since that is mostly not possible, do the next best thing. Add half a cup of milk powder to the cooking water before adding the corn.
  7. Make Cream: If you forgot to buy cream for that evening’s dessert, whisk one cup of milk powder into one cup of milk until the mixture becomes thick like cream.

    Everything needed to make Cream substitute – 1 cup milk, 1 cup milk powder, whisk and bowl

And there you have it. 25 unusual ways to use milk that aren’t included in any cookbook, at least none that I know of.

Talk to you again next week,


My Etsy Shop – LavenderbyLenie


  1. Wow. I didn’t know there were so many uses for milk. I am definitely going to try a couple of these – the corn on the cob cooking, the defrosting of fish and the foot soak.

    • Donna, the three you picked are three that I can actually vouch for. They all work really well, especially the fish one. Good luck.

  2. These “million ways” posts of yours are among my favorites! I love milk and have since I was a child. People would scoff at me when I would order pizza and a glass of milk! It was like my body knew I needed that milk to cool my belly:) Some of the others were completely astounding! Repairing fine china! And I plan on trying that silverware polish with sour milk! And maybe I’ll throw away that shaving cream for good! Powdered milk must be more economical! Brilliant…as always Lenie.

    • Jacquie, I’m glad you enjoy these posts. I have so much fun doing them that I will continue to do a different one the end of every month. Before you throw out your shaving cream though, you may want to try the milk one first. It’s great for a ‘in a pinch’ substitute but you’ll probably find it’s not as smooth as what you’re used to.

  3. Love your imagination, Lenie, and your list of things we can do with milk is impressive. Had for instance no idea you could use it to remove ink stains.

    • Amazing about the ink stain, isn’t Catarina. Would have been useful to know in the days we used pens with straight nibs at school. Used to come home more than once with ink on a white blouse. My mom was pretty smart when it came to cleaning but she didn’t know that one.

  4. I had no idea that milk could be used in so many ways completely outside the food category! I’m going to try several of them. On wood, china, clothing – it’s a treasure trove!

    • Beth, since I started doing these posts I’ve come to the conclusion that I never need to buy cleaning products again. All I have to do is go to the fridge or pantry and find something suitable there. Think of the money I’ll save.

  5. Lenie what a great post. I’m tempted to try with our almond or hemp milk. We don’t usually have milk in the house. I’m tempted to bring in a quart just for some of these tips Lenie. In particular I like #2 for bug bites and #5, hand cleaner after gardening! Who knew? Good one Lenie.

    • Hi Pat, I don’t see any reason why mos of these wouldn’t work with almond or hemp milk. The ones you picked are dandy and since you need such a small amount for either one of those tips, the cost wouldn’t be a factor. For the picture of the shoe, I put one tbsp of milk in a small bowl and managed to polish both shoes with it and still have some to dump out in the garden. Fun stuff.

  6. Who would have known milk had so many uses?

    I am amazed that milk can be used to clean silverware, furniture and polish shoes.

    I do like the idea of a milk bath – may make me feel ultra exotic!

    • Hi Phoenicia – when I added the tip about the milk bath, I pictured myself as Cleopatra, just laying back in the bath while being fed grapes. Lovely to have a fantasy. Exotic, it is.

  7. The tip of using milk to make corn is really interesting. I don’t usually keep milk on hand, but maybe I’ll invest in a box of powdered milk. That way I have it on hand for when I need it. It seems like you can do quite a lot with milk!

    • Hi Erica, they didn’t teach you this in your nutrition classes, did they? You’ll have to try the corn trick – it really does work and makes the corn much tastier. I’m doing research on housekeeping during the depression where I think a lot of these ideas originated.

  8. I didn’t realize that powdered milk had so many different uses. Very interesting. I need to try it for cleaning gardening hands. I am the same way. I only pull out my gloves for the prickly bushes and trees I have. :). Thanks for sharing these great tips.

    • Hi Sabrina, I’m not surprised that you garden like me – get right into it and enjoy, right? I always start out right, with the hat and the gloves, even a mat for sitting on, but ten minutes into the game and I no longer have any of that, my hands are a mess and likewise my face after wiping away the sweat with dirty hands. But I love it.

  9. I didn’t know there were so many uses for milk. My mother would always put milk in with the corn, she said the corn is sweeter and not tough. I have done that for years. I liked the idea of plant fertilizer and polishing silverware. Both at two different ends of the spectrum. Great post and you can tell you really did your research.

    • Hi Arleen – the sweet corn use is a dandy. Not everyone has corn growing in their backyard and you really have no idea how much time has expired from the time the corn was picked to the time purchased. Nice to know that milk can help bring some of the fresh taste back. I know that wild meat roasts are uneatable without the milk marinade, at least to me. Both the tips for the plant fertilizer and polishing silverware are good ones.

  10. Of the 25 things you mentioned the only one I knew about is the hangover cure. Shining shoes, curing sunburn and mak0ing shaving cream? That’s all news to me.

    • Hi Ken, that’s why these posts are so fun to do. Who would have thought of some of those uses, right? It’s funny though how many people have heard of and tried at least one of the offbeat uses.

  11. What a fantastic post – I had no idea milk had such a wide variety of benefits. As someone who is lactose intolerant I tend to write it off, but no more. Thanks so much for your advise. So helpful!

    • Hi AK – thanks for the nice comments. It is quite amazing what ordinary household products can do, isn’t it? I have known and used quite a few of these but not all and I just love it when I discover a new way to use a common product. So much fun.

  12. Great tips, I love to try all of these. How about a tip to get rid of those red aunts lol, but at least I have a cure for bug bites now, Thanks!

    • Hi Tammy, here is a good article on how to get rid of red ants – http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/fire-ant-control. If you decide to try it make sure you have the bottom of your pants tied off so the ants can’t get at you. Glad you like the tips, you’ll have to let me know which ones you end up using.

  13. I have some old silverware that needs a clean so am going to adopt this method Lenie. Now, I am assuming sour milk is not spoiled milk, yes?

    • Hi Tim, good luck with the silverware clean. Sour milk is the stuff that’s past the drinkable stage, is getting a bit thick and actually smells sour. If you don’t have actual sour milk just add a shot of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes. That will do the trick.

  14. What an interesting list, Lenie! Most of these were new to me. I’ve heard of milk baths but never knew how to make one. I think I’ll try the foot bath version next time I give myself a pedicure, which should be soon, now that I look at the state of my toes!

    • Hi Meredith – the milk foot bath is a great one. I really don’t know how it works but I do know that is does and leaves your feet feeling much softer. My husband is diabetic and he needs to rub his feet every night with vaseline – tried to get him to do it because I think it would work wonders but you know men, this just isn’t a manly thing to do LOL.

  15. Milk is seriously a versatile product. Though I take milk regularly, I had no idea about the benefits of milk.
    I have sunburns in my arms. Can I apply milk directly in fluid form instead of powdered form?

    • Hi Tuhin, You need to apply it in fluid form – cold milk works the best. Good luck with it, sunburns can be really painful.

  16. I love your tips Lenie and I ALWAYS learn something new! I like yogurt – especially Greek yogurt – but I’ve never been much of a milk drinker which is why I am delighted to see uses for powdered milk. There are several I am definitely going to try – including that one about the calluses. Living in the tropics we spend a lot of time barefoot so I’ve spent a small fortune on products to keep my feet looking nice. This tip is #1 on my list to try!

    • Oh Marquita, you are a gal after my own heart. I love walking barefoot. Used to drive my mother crazy (“Look at the dirt on the bottom of your feet and you’re tracking that all through the house”). When I got married my husband took over the barefoot nagging but the barefeet continued. You’ll only do so much for love, right? Giving up barefeet isn’t one of them. LOL.
      I love it that you say you always learn something new – that’s perfect. Thanks.

  17. That’s truly amazing there are so many uses for milk. I hadn’t heard of any of them for the most part, but I will definitely remember the trick of adding some powered milk to the water for corn on the cob. Did you ever read Susan’s post on how to make powdered milk taste better?

    • Hi Jeri – the corn on the cob trick is a great one. I think what it does is hydrates the corn back almost to where it was when it was picked. I think I’ve read Susan’s post – I read most of her food and story ones – but I’ll have to go back and check. When our boys were still home we used powdered milk a lot and as long as we mixed it half and half with 2% and made it the day before, we never had a problem with them drinking it. There is still a price difference today but not near as much as there was back then so it did make a big difference to our budget.

  18. I get a kick out of the posts you create about the versatility of common household items. I sit here reading saying to myself,”wow !”. “Really?”. But then at some point I start laughing to myself because my thoughts drift to, “I can put it on my face AND remove ink stains”???? 🙂

    • Hi Pamela – these posts actually started in January when I first wrote about Avon Bubble Bath, which is still being read (love that). Anyway the popularity of that post and the other ones that followed made me decide I would do one as the last post for the month. ‘m glad that you had to laugh – it does seem to cover both ends of the spectrum, doesn’t it?

  19. Hi Lenie

    I knew I missed something this week and that is reading your post.

    It is good to learn different ways to use milk.

    Thank you for sharing this information

    • Hi Ikechi – how nice to know that you missed me and great that you remembered and visited. Have a wonderfulday.

  20. Hey Lenie,

    I’m not real fond of milk by itself but I had no idea it could do all of this. I found this post so fascinating and boy do you find the most interesting things to share.

    I’m going to remember it next time for bug bites. I also had no clue it could remove stains. Yep, learned something new today so thank you.


    • Hi Adrienne, glad you enjoyed the post and that you discovered something new. I have a quote taped to the top of my laptop and part of it says “tell your audience something they don’t already know. Good to hear I was successful. Have a wonderful day yourself.

  21. Lenie — you always amaze me with your great tips. I usually have 2% milk in the refrigerator but forgot to stop by the market on the way home today to buy a container (I’m assuming you don’t need whole milk for these tips). I wanted to try some of the things you suggest — like shining my shoes and shaving my legs.Thanks — I’m definitely saving this post!

    • Hi Jeannette, the shaving thing isn’t something I’ve tried – my legs are to bony so I always cut myself shaving – have to use lotion instead. Most of the others I’ve tried – the footbath, the handwash, the marinade etc. are all good ones.

  22. Already shared this post on Facebook. Adding powdered milk to my grocery list–so much better to try it than harsh silver cleaner. I wear gardening gloves, but I still think that hand cleaning idea is a great one!

    • Hi Rose – for the silver cleaner you just want regular milk gone sour, not powdered milk. You do need the powdered milk for the hand cleaner though. Thanks for the Facebook share.

  23. I didn’t know you could do that much with milk. This is very good to know.

  24. Oh wow!I am in shock. didn’t know there were so many uses for milk. I am definitely going to try a couple of these. Thank you Lenie x

  25. I was afflicted by severe acne in my younger years (I’ve got the ruddy complexion to prove it) and it’s too bad I didn’t know about milk facial masks back then – much cheaper than a trip to the dermatologist and an Accutane prescription, eh?

    • Hi Andy, wondered if you were going to stop by. I also wish you had known about the milk mask when you were younger because acne really played havoc with a young person’s confidence. You must be quite a bit younger than me because I went to school with a young girl who had absolutely gorgeous hair but this one feature was overshadowed by her severe acne. That was in the days before Accutane.

  26. Woow your imagination is just amazing really. Still wondering how you figured these out.

    • Hi Mark, I don’t think I’ve seen you here before – Welcome. Some of the ideas are old time practices and others I learned from friends, by word of mouth and through magazines. I’m a list maker so if I see something interesting, I mark it down – never know when it comes in handy.

  27. hi lenie; you always come up with some of the most unusual uses for ordinary or familiar household items. i’ll have to get someone to describe how you used the milk to clean leather. I knew of about six or seven of your uses so i’m feeling pretty good about myself. and oh yes does your hand cleaner work on grease and oil? we used to go through a lot of gojo back when we still had rides. thanks for sharing, max

  28. Lenie. I had no idea that milk had so many uses! If I ever run out of shoe polish, I’ll make sure I use milk as a substitute. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Wow, Lenie, I didn’t realize you could do that much with milk. Does the milk have to be whole fat or can it be fat-free milk or doesn’t it matter? Thanks for sharing this enlightening post.

  30. Oh, dear, I finally come back to visit your blog, and you are writing about milk! I can’t even be in the same room when my kids have cereal with milk. I’ve had difficulty with milk since childhood, and I am happy to hear that others find it useful. I stay away.

  31. Wow you can do more with milk than just drink it. Hmm fertilizer. I’ll have to try that one. I’m trying to grow some tomatoes but they are babies right now.

  32. Lenie- I knew this was a repost because your post stick out in my mind. The post is still good the second time around. I remember my mother using milk to shine the leaves of a plant. I could not understand why, but when she was done they were shiny.

    • Arleen, this isn’t an repost but rather an older post. I’ve taken the month of June off – needed a breather – so this was the last post in May. My mom did the same thing – she had this big plant with large leaves and once a month she would take the time to wipe them with milk. Kind of fun to remember isn’t it?