Toothpaste. It keeps your teeth from rotting and falling out of your face. It makes you eligible for kisses you otherwise wouldn’t qualify for. And it ensures that you drink your morning orange juice BEFORE brushing.
But it’s got other uses. It can save you money, make you seem like a better roommate than you are, or rescue your TLC and Alanis Morissette CDs. Read on for some unusual uses of toothpaste. And if you’ve got a use for toothpaste that I didn’t mention here, post it in the comments.
Step 1: Spackle Those Drywall Holes
It was 10:45, and my landlord was supposed to come around at 11:00 to do a final walkthrough of the apartment to determine if I would get back my sizeable security deposit. My place was so clean that the radiator and vertical slat blinds seemed oddly prominent, but there was still something off. I hadn’t partied with Motley Crüe, I wasn’t hoarding cats, and the burglars left surprisingly little damage once the broken window was cleaned up.
10:46. I’m wishing I had studied “Highlights for Children” more diligently while I waited to see my dentist. What’s wrong with this picture?
Ohhhhhhh… there are a series of holes in the walls ranging in size from very tiny to small. Stupid picture frames, calendar nail, and curtain rods. Why didn’t I realize that I would have to move out eventually and fill all of these holes? It’s already 10:48?!
What to do what to do what to do… spackle. I need something spackly. Something white and pastey and… That’s it! Toothpaste to the rescue. A quick dab here, a gentle smoosh there, and voilá! Handled.
11:15. Full deposit returned in exchange for my minty-fresh apartment. Cashier’s check, you and I are going to the bank before the toothpaste dries.
Step 2: Phineas DeFogger
I am a terrible swimmer. I am scared of the water, and predatory sea creatures freak me out. So naturally I went scuba diving, uncertified, when I was 17. Besides abject terror, the biggest problem I had was with my mask fogging up like a strip mall Bikram yoga studio. At least I couldn’t see the vicious clown fish and sea anemones trying to eat me whole.
Toothpaste can be used on a new glass mask* to remove any residue left over from the lens mounting or manufacturing process that would allow a buildup of blinding fog to ruin an otherwise delightful and terrifying dive. The fine abrasive in regular old white, non-gel toothpaste can be used to scrub off the residue. Just wet the inside of the mask, then scrub (with an old toothbrush, perhaps?) it out thoroughly. Rinse completely with warm water.
To test your recently-defogged mask, run the lens under cold water until it’s nice and chilly. Take the mask into your hands like a third date, then breathe heavily and moistly into it. There shouldn’t be any foggy spots. If you found some, repeat with the toothpaste until the mask is clean.
To keep the mask from fogging up in the future, use defogging solution, spit, or baby shampoo inside the mask. Now you’ll see the menacing sponges before they manage to sneak up on you while you fumble with your regulator.
*Or pair of goggles. This tip works on regular old swimming goggles as well. But the ocean is far sexier than the black line at the bottom of a pool, so I focused on scuba masks. Sorry Michael Phelps.
Step 3: Unscuff Your Air Force Ones, Murphy Lee
A fresh pair of clean kicks just make your day, don’t they? They’ll put some dip in your hips, some cut in your strut, and some glide in your stride. But the honeymoon fades fast when your fine pair of sneakers get scuff marks all around the foxing*. Your once proud gait is reduced to a miserable shuffle, all because you scuffed your shoe on a raised bit of curb.
Fear not, friends, because a little bit of toothpaste will right all wrongs. Just brush the side of your shoe with a little bit of toothpaste to take out those pernicious blemishes. With some elbow grease and some toothpaste, you’ll be back to strolling and sauntering with sass.
*This trick works for white leather as well, not just the rubber foxing on your plimsolls.
Step 4: Clean Your Iron
I hate ironing. I am vigilant in the laundry room, trying to pull out my button-downs while they’re still warm in order to immediately get them onto a hanger. I’d rather hang things like crazy than have to pull out the board and the iron and the spray bottle. But sometimes I mess up the timing and my shirts and pants are Willy Loman rumpled. Even the iron-free ones.
Because my ironing skills are poor to mediocre, my iron sometimes gets gunky. Normally, I would let it collect grime and forget about it, but I had some extra toothpaste and a whimsical thought: maybe some toothpaste will clean this off. Sure enough, a little scrub with toothpaste and the iron is as good as new. (Which is great for those times when I’m thirty seconds late to collect my clothes from the dryer on a Sunday night, and one of my neighbors has placed my permanent press items unceremoniously into a pile on the folding counter.)
Step 5: Polish Jewelry
The iron isn’t the only thing that toothpaste will polish. Diamond rings so filthy they look like zirconia? Scrub em with some toothpaste and rinse. You’ll be burning retinas in no time. Is your watch trying to tell you the time, but the bezel and band are so nasty that it looks like you’re wearing a chunky bracelet, possibly made of felt or aged leather? Rub it down with a dry cloth and some toothpaste to knock off the dirt. Your Fossil won’t be mistaken for a Rolex, but at least you’ll know how late you’re running.
Step 6: Shine Up Your Hog
Continuing our shining kick, toothpaste will shine chrome, too. When riding your hog (pictured) through the mean streets of the San Francisco financial district, you’ll sometimes get a little somethin’-somethin’ on your pipes. Use a paper towel or soft cloth to rub on some toothpaste, then wipe it off. Your pipes will gleam, and you might even be more visible to the oblivious cars wanting to change lines through you and your bike.
Step 7: Clean the Sink
This is a use that everyone has probably come across at some point in their tooth-brushing lives.
When you drop a glob of toothpaste into the sink, you can rub it around to clean the area around the drain, the faucet, and the basin. The mess becomes the cleaning agent. This is awesome. I have been routinely complimented for how clean I keep my bathrooms, and this is the only reason. Toothpaste is literally at hand. No digging through cleaning products, no searching for a sponge, just my fingers and the toothpaste that I accidentally let fall off of my brush/dribble out of my mouth onto the faucet.
(For any gentlemen who brush their teeth and pee simultaneously, the toothpaste cleaning method works well if you happen to be startled mid-stream and splash a bit onto the rim of the bowl. Some toilet paper, a well-aimed bit of toothpaste-y spittle, and you can go much further between full-on cleanings of your bathroom.)
Step 8: Save CDs
Some of you kids may not realize it, but once upon a time there were these things called “CDs” and “DVDs”. They would occasionally get scratched and cause the music or movies on them to skip. With a tube of toothpaste and some luck, it is possible to rescue a scratched disc.
Put a small dab of toothpaste onto the scratched side of the disc. With a soft, clean towel, rub the toothpaste over the entire disc in concentric circles, as though you were the needle on a record player*. Wipe any remaining toothpaste off with a slightly-damp towel. You could be listening to “Tubthumping” on repeat in no time.
*Ask your grandparents what a “record” is.
Step 9: Spot Treatment
Oh no! The big dance/meeting/presentation/date is tomorrow, and you have a zit blossoming like a third eye in the center of your forehead. Instead of ignoring it or popping it and hoping for the best, try this little trick with some toothpaste.
Put a dab of it onto the blemish before bedtime. The pimple should shrink in size and diminish in redness by morning so you can go about your day without resorting to bangs like that girl from The Ring or Justin Bieber.
(This is assuming that you aren’t a chronic sufferer of acne who already has an arsenal of chemical weapons to destroy any whiteheads, blackheads, zits, pimples, spots, or blemishes that might dare to erupt on your face. Or that you don’t have any aspirin.)