Re-Purposing Mayonnaise — 15 Alternative (and Surprising!) Uses

In the midst of a recent big, huge, wonderful purge, we discovered some hidden jars of mayonnaise that had gone slightly past their use-by date. I, personally, would have just checked to see if the mayo okay, and then used it up quickly, but Mr. Practical Pioneer gets a little grossed out at such ideas. Brits. Sheesh.

Still, the frugal diva inside of me just couldn’t toss those few jars. I Just. Couldn’t. Do. It.

Since we had a LOT of it, I went on the hunt for alternative non-food uses for mayo and was absolutely shocked at how many things this tasty little condiment can be used for! I already knew a few of the suggestions, but most were complete news to me and I’m super eager to try out some of these ideas.

Besides the amazing dips, salad dressings, condiments and other delectables mayonnaise can be used in, there are three main categories of non-food uses for mayo: Health & Beauty, Cleaning, and Misc.

Ready to be surprised? Here we go!!

Health & Beauty

Deep Conditioning for Hair:

This is probably the most well-known non-food use of mayo. It’s a great natural emollient, so it softens and tames even very dry and brittle locks.

How to use:  Shampoo as normal and towel dry your hair. Massage one tablespoon of mayonnaise (or more for longer hair) into your scalp, working downward toward the ends, making sure to saturate every strand.

For an extra conditioning boost, wrap your mayonnaise-y head in plastic wrap, a disposable shower cap, or even a plastic bag. (Being careful not to cover your face, of course!!)

Leave on for at least an hour, but preferably two (or even overnight!) and then shampoo again with a mild shampoo. Style as usual. Your hair will feel soooo soft and you’ll look like you’ve just stepped out of a fancy salon!

Sunburn Pain:

Vinegar is a natural anesthetic (did you know that??) and because mayo contains it (did you know that, too??), a liberal application should help with pain. If the mayo is ice cold from the fridge and applied to the sunburn immediately, it’ll relieve the pain and take some of the heat away. Bonus!

Exfoliating Skin:

As we mentioned above, mayo is a great emollient. . .and not just for hair! It works beautifully on dry, scaly, rough patches of skin, too.

Apply liberally to elbows, knees, or anywhere else that seems a little rough and dry. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes to work its exfoliating magic, then buff off with a damp washcloth or loofah. Moisturize as usual.

(I’ve tried this on elbows with great success, so I’m going to graduate to feet. All the freakishly springlike weather has left me barefoot again. The rough results of that need to be addressed, so I’m going to apply liberally, cover with old socks, and see what happens!)

Face Mask:

For an easy moisturizing/exfoliating mask, place about a teaspoon or two of mayonnaise into a small plastic bag and then submerge the bag in a small cup of warm water for a couple of minutes.

Snip off the corner and apply warmed mayo to your face, rubbing in gently as you go. Leave your mayo mask to do its work for 15 to 20 minutes.

Then, use a warm, wet washcloth to remove the mayo, rubbing in gentle circular motions as you go. Dead skin should come away easily, and you’ll probably need to rinse your washcloth frequently during the process.

Strengthen Weak/Brittle Fingernails:

Submerge your nails, cuticles and fingertips in a small cup or container of mayonnaise. Wait 5 minutes, then rinse and dry. Your nails will be stronger and more resistant to breakage.

Cuticle Remover/Hangnails:

Work a little mayonnaise into the cuticle of your fingernail and leave for 3-5 minutes. Use a cuticle stick to carefully push the cuticle back.

If you soak in may to strengthen your fingernails as above, kill two birds with one stone by addressing your cuticle, too. No, kill THREE birds, as hangnails are minimized or less likely to occur in the first place when softened by mayo. Win, win, win!!

Remove Gum From Hair:

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to put this one in Health, Cleaning, or Misc.! A pretty decent case could be made for any of those categories!  Whichever category it’s in though. . .YUCK!!

Work enough mayonnaise into the gum to cover it completely. Be liberal. Gently rub the mayo into the gum with your fingertips until it is fully worked in. Repeat the process until the gum. . .wait for it. . .DISAPPEARS. Gross but effective, huh?


Crayon Marks:

Check an inconspicuous place for paint safety before you use mayo on a large section of wall. If all looks okay, rub a little mayo into the crayon mark and leave it on for ten minutes. Wipe with a damp cloth and the mark should disappear!!

Glue Residue:

Apply a little mayonnaise to the sticky bits left by labels on jars and cans or from things like bumper stickers on your car. Let sit for a few minutes, the rub the area gently with a clean, dry cloth. Rub in small circles and change the area of cloth you are using often for best results.

Road Tar and Sap Residue:

If your car, bike, scooter, or any other vehicle has managed to pick up some of those nasty little bits of road tar, or has been sprinkled with drops of tree sap, this is YOUR tip!

Check for paint safety in an inconspicuous place first, then liberally cover each little spot with mayo and let it sit. 10 minutes should be fine for small spots, larger ones could need 15-20.

Wipe off with an soft cloth suitable for use on a car finish. You may have to repeat a couple of times on the thicker spots.

Polishing Ivory Piano Keys:

If your ivories aren’t exactly sparkling, this may help. Apply a thin layer of mayo to each dull key and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Wipe the mayo off with a VERY lightly damp cloth and then buff with a completely dry and very soft cloth.

Polishing House Plant Leaves:

Okay, I confess that I did grow up in a family with some leave cleaners lurking about. My grandma used a soft, lightly damp cloth to dust and clean each precious leaf of her houseplants. They certainly did thrive under such care. She reasoned that dust and dirt clogged the leaves ability to receive and process sunlight. Plus, it just looked nicer.

So I don’t know what she’d think about this trick. I’ve heard of many people doing it, raving about the results, so I guess it has some merit. It’s not supposed to hurt the plants or attract more dirt. I would check a leaf or two first to make sure that’s true.

Polish each leave carefully using a little mayo on a dry rag. Rub gently rub the plant leaves as if you were polishing them. This removes dirt and leaves your plants healthy and shiny looking.


Water Rings on Wood Furniture:

This is another place you need to check before you go gung ho. Find a hidden place to check for any potential damage. If all looks well after your test run, dab mayo on to the water rings.

Let sit for 10 minutes, then buff to remove the stain.

Stuck Rings:

Not only good for water rings, mayo can help get real rings off your chubby little hands, too!

Just apply a little mayo under and around the ring and gently twist off. If this doesn’t work, place your hand in very cold water for as long as you can stand it (should shrink your hand a little) and try again. If you have numbness or a huge amount of pain, you should get professional help.  Mayo won’t be able to help with that!


Liberally saturate the hair with mayonnaise, being careful not to leave any air pockets the little guys can hid in. Cover with plastic wrap, a plastic bag, or shower cap and leave to do its thing for at least 2 hours, or even over night.

Wash thoroughly and use a fine comb to ensure you get all the bodies!

This should kill live lice. It won’t address any eggs that have been laid, however, so the process may have to be repeated.

The good news? Your hair will be sooooooooo soft and shiny!!

Awesome, huh?

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