Need to unstick, untangle, soften, shine, depilate or de-squeak something? Two words: baby oil.
This familiar nursery emollient is often found in homes without babies. The scented mineral oil is good for dozens of applications that have nothing to do with kids.
Following are more than two dozen good uses for baby oil:
1. Bath oil
I’ve poured it into the tub to soften my winter-weary skin. Note: You must use some cleanser on the tub afterward, or the oily residue could cause the next bather to slip and fall.
Don’t feel like scrubbing an oily tub after every time you bathe to get the baby oil benefits? Towel-dry yourself a little after your bath, and then smooth a little baby oil on your still-damp skin to lock in moisture.
3. Shave-gel substitute
Use a thin layer of baby oil on your legs instead of gel (or soap) before shaving.
4. Waxing aid
If you’re waxing brows, legs or, uh, other parts of your body, use a little baby oil afterward to remove any lingering wax and also to soothe your startled skin.
5. Eye makeup remover
A cotton ball dampened with baby oil takes care of eye shadow and eyeliner without irritating delicate skin.
6. Temporary tattoo remover
Did Junior come home from a birthday party festooned with garish superhero tats? Rub them off with a little baby oil.
7. Nail polish frame
When you paint your nails, does the polish sometimes seep into the cuticles? Before the polish, use a cotton swab to saturate the cuticle perimeter with baby oil. After you’re done painting, use a cotton ball or tissue to carefully remove the oil (and any excess polish).
8. Cuticle oil
Sushmita Munda of the blog Makeup and Beauty uses baby oil on her hands when she gives herself a manicure. Sure, there’s a product called “cuticle oil,” but she never buys it.
9. Lip scrub
Munda also makes a lip scrub by mixing 1 teaspoon of baby oil, ½ teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of lemon juice. Every night before bed she rubs it lightly on her lips to remove dead skin.
10. Massage unguent
Baby oil is an inexpensive alternative to massage oil or cream.
11. Earwax buildup fighter
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can remove excess earwax buildup with the help of baby oil — as long as you don’t have tubes in your ears or a hole in your eardrum. Apply a few drops of oil; after a day or two, use a rubber-bulb syringe to (gently!) squirt warm water into the ear canal.
Tip your head to the side to let the water drain out, then dry your outer ear with a soft towel or a hair dryer. Note: If the situation doesn’t improve after a few such treatments, see a doctor.
12. Scaly-feet softener
Do your feet look positively lizardlike in the winter? Rub some baby oil on at bedtime, and then don plain white socks. While you sleep, the skin on your feet will soften right up.
13. Ring loosener
Did your hands swell because of pregnancy or air travel? Trickle a little baby oil on the puffy digit and gradually ease off the ring.
14. Necklace detangler
If the pendant you inherited from Grandma is on a knotted chain, rub just a drop of oil onto the tangle, and then pick it apart with a straight pin.
15. Paint remover
Got latex paint on your hands or arms after painting a room? It might rub right off, or it might embed itself in your knuckles and other skin folds. A post on Instructables.com recommends rubbing paint spatters with baby oil “in concentric circles from the outside in without applying too much pressure.” Wash the oil off with soap and water.
16. Hand degreaser
Working on your car or doing some other greasy job? Baby oil is kinder to your hands than harsh soaps.
17. Steel or chrome shiner
Wipe stainless steel or chrome with a little oil on a soft cloth, and it will shine like a good deed.
18. Wood duster and shiner
Put a small amount of oil on your cloth before dusting, and dust will stick to it. Give the wood a gentle rub with a second (dry) cloth until it gleams.
19. Squeaky-hinge lubricant
A drop or two should do it — and baby oil smells a lot better than WD-40.
20. Soap scum fighter
Coat shower curtains and doors with a small amount of baby oil, being careful to wipe up any drips.
21. Adhesive bandage remover
Time to change the Band-Aid on your kid’s knee? Saturate it with oil and wait awhile; the adhesive should lift right off with no pain.
22. Price sticker remover
If a sticker resists removal from a glass, china or plastic item, rub in some oil and wait a bit. The sticker should peel off much more easily. (Note: Don’t do this on cloth or paper items, as the oil will stain.)
23. Golf club polish
Depending on which golf aficionado you talk to, you can protect and shine your clubs with gun oil, WD-40, special golf-club polishes, petroleum jelly, a silicone gun cloth or, yes, baby oil.
24. Dashboard improver
A post on eHow.com notes that scratches can develop on the plastic lenses covering the odometer and other things on the dashboard of your car. Rub them with a bit of baby oil to improve the look.
25. Zipper fixer
Zipper stuck? Apply baby oil with a cotton ball or swab until the zip returns to a zipper. Avoid staining by being careful not to get the oil on the main fabric of the garment.
26. Leather oil
Rub a little baby oil onto leather shoes or bags to keep them from looking dry.
27. Paper shredder oil
If you have a document shredder – and you should – keep things running smoothly with an occasional oiling. Put a couple of pieces of paper in a baking sheet and squirt on some baby oil. Once the paper has absorbed the oil, run it through the shredder.
28. Cradle cap reliever
A kind of dermatitis that causes scaly patches on the infant scalp, cradle cap is common but can be distressing to parents. Rub a small amount of baby oil onto the child’s head and let it soak in for a few minutes before shampooing.
29. DIY baby wipe
The Live Well Network offers a simple recipe that uses water, baby wash solution and baby oil plus paper towels. Or use flannel or cotton fabric cut into squares; these can be laundered along with diapers and reused.
30. Bubble gum remover
Kids end up with gum on their skin or in their hair? Rub a small amount of oil into the mess to soften it, and then gradually work it out with a comb.
For more household hacks for everyday items, check out:
- “77 Uses for Baking Soda — and How It Could Save Your Life“
- “The Case for Vinegar: 83 Amazing and Environmentally Friendly Uses“
- “20 Unusual but Handy Uses for WD-40“
OK, readers: How do you use baby oil? Share your comments below or over on our Facebook page.