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20 Clever Uses for Bananas (Besides Eating Them)

Those rapidly ripening bananas are good for more than just banana bread!

bunch of fresh bananas
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What to do with those extra bananas

Bananas always end up going bad before you can eat them all. Even knowing all the best kitchen hacks specifically meant to keep bananas fresh, it always seems like there’s at least one that goes brown! Since they are one of the most popular items sold in grocery stores, bananas going bad is a common problem. If you don’t want to make banana bread yet again, try out these other clever banana uses instead. Much like the different uses for used coffee grounds, you’ll be surprised how many things you can do with bananas!

Bananas and banana slices in a plate on a black chopping Board with a knife.
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Make a face mask

Take a moment to pamper yourself!  That’s right: You can use a banana as an all-natural face mask that moisturizes your skin and leaves it looking and feeling softer. Mash up a medium-size ripe banana into a smooth paste, then gently apply it to your face and neck. Let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with cold water. Another popular mask recipe calls for 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 medium banana.

It’s a great solution for when you have a banana bunch that’s going brown but you just don’t want to eat a banana every day.

Banana covered in chocolate on a blue wooden table
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Eat a frozen “banana-sicle”

As a treat for friends and family, peel and cut four ripe bananas in half (across the middle). Stick a wooden ice-cream stick into the flat end of each piece. Place them all on a piece of wax paper, and then put it in the freezer. A few hours later, serve them up as simply yummy frozen banana-sicles.

If you want to go all out, quickly dip your frozen bananas in 6 ounces melted butterscotch or chocolate morsels (chopped nuts or shredded coconut are optional), then refreeze. Just don’t throw out the banana peels!

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Polish silverware and leather shoes

It may sound a bit like a lark, but using a banana peel is actually a great way to put the shine back into your silverware and leather shoes. First, remove any of the leftover stringy material from the inside of the peel, then just start rubbing the inside of the peel on your shoes or silver. When you’re done, buff up the object with a paper towel or soft cloth. You might even want to use this technique to restore your leather furniture. Test it on a small section first before you take on the whole chair.

slicing eye of round roasted beef with knife
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Tenderize a roast

Banana leaves are commonly used in many Asian countries to wrap meat as it’s cooking, to make it more tender. Some folks say the banana itself also has this ability. So the next time you fear the roast you’re cooking will turn tough on you, try softening it up by adding a ripe, peeled banana to the pan. Experiment on some of these easy 30-minute meals!

gBanana peel against lush healthy plants in gardening background.
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Brighten up houseplants

Are the leaves on your indoor plants looking dingy or dusty? Don’t bother misting them with water; that just spreads the dirt around. Rather, wipe down each leaf with the inside of a banana peel. It’ll remove all the gunk on the surface and replace it with a lustrous shine.

Child (6-7) cleaning the leaves of a potted orchid houseplant with a banana skin
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Deter aphids

Are aphids attacking your rosebushes or other plants? Bury dried or cut-up banana peels an inch or two deep around the base of the aphid-prone plants, and soon the little suckers will pack up and leave. Don’t use whole peels or the bananas themselves, though; they tend to be viewed as tasty treats by raccoons, squirrels, gophers, rabbits and other animals, who will just dig them up. You can also use banana water for plants to help them get all the nutrients they need.

Fresh and dried banana peel good for plant and flower fertilization
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Use as fertilizer or mulch

Banana peels, like the fruit itself, are rich in potassium, an important nutrient for both you and your garden. Dry out banana peels on screens during the winter months. In early spring, grind them up in a food processor or blender and use them as mulch to give new plants and seedlings a healthy start.

Many cultivars of roses and other plants, like staghorn ferns, also benefit from the nutrients found in banana peels; simply cut up some peels and use them as plant food around your established plants. You can also learn how to make compost and use your banana peels to make fertilizer.

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Assist with first aid

Banana peels have anti-inflammatory properties, which means they are great when it comes to bug bites, minor scrapes, poison ivy and sunburn. All you have to do is put the banana peel on the affected area and press it like you would a cool compress. You can repeat this process until you feel some relief. Just make sure to avoid these common first aid mistakes while you’re at it!

Avocado and banana over brown wooden background.
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Ripen an avocado

Are you an avocado enthusiast? Though you could eat all the avocado toast and guacamole in the world, sometimes avocados just don’t ripen fast enough. In order to satisfy your avocado craving for all your cooking needs, use a banana to help speed up the ripening process.

Bananas release ethylene, which triggers ripening in avocados. Simply place a banana in a brown paper bag and roll it up with an avocado. Check it daily until it is ripe enough. (Don’t have a banana around? Try this other trick to ripen an avocado fast.)

Homemade facial mask from banana, plain yogurt and honey
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Slough off dry skin

In order to keep your skin feeling smooth and radiant (without learning all the professional spa etiquette), create a body scrub with a banana. There are many different variations, depending on the kind of scrub you need. For a gentle scrub, you can mix a mashed banana with brown sugar. For a medium scrub try mixing in oatmeal or sea salt. If you really need a heavy-duty scrub, grind apricot pits at home and add it to your banana to really dig deep into your pores.

Wart on the hand
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Remove warts

Warts are stubborn and gross, so needless to say, nobody wants one. A natural way you can go about removing one is by using a banana peel. Cut a piece of ripe banana peel to cover the affected area, placing the inside next to your skin, and keep it there overnight by using some medical tape. In the morning you should notice some improvement, and you can repeat the process nightly until it’s gone!

Butterfly Eating Banana
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Attract butterflies and birds

Bring more butterflies and various bird species to your backyard by putting out overripe bananas (as well as other fruits such as mangos, oranges and papayas) on a raised platform. Punch a few holes in the bananas to make the fruit more accessible to the butterflies. Some enthusiasts swear by adding a drop of Gatorade to further mush things up.

The fruit is also likely to attract more bees and wasps as well, so make sure that the platform is well above head level and not centrally located. Moreover, you’ll probably want to clear it off before sunset, to discourage visits from raccoons and other nocturnal creatures.

Fruit and vegetable scraps
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Add to compost pile

Here’s a great gardening tip: With their high content of potassium and phosphorus, whole bananas and peels are welcome additions to any compost pile, particularly in so-called compost tea recipes. The fruit breaks down especially fast in hot temperatures. But don’t forget to remove any glued-on tags from the peels, and be sure to bury bananas deep within your pile (otherwise they may simply turn out to be a meal for a four-legged visitor).

Happy young woman eating a banana while sitting in a hammock.
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Whiten teeth on the cheap

Everyone wants pearly whites, but do you really want to spend all that money on treatments? Banana peels contain citric acid, which will help lighten surface stains on your teeth. For natural teeth whitening at home, after giving your teeth a good brush, simply rub the banana peel on the surface for about two minutes every day. Your smile will not only be whiter, but brighter!

A splinter in the finger close-up.
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Get rid of splinters

Splinters can be a real pain, literally and figuratively. The natural enzymes in banana peels can help loosen splinters that just don’t seem to want to get out of your skin. Press the inside of the peel on your skin for up to 30 minutes, and it will help move the splinter to the surface for an easy plucking. Eating bananas for the health benefits? Try kicking it up a notch with one of the foods even higher in potassium than bananas.

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Make banana “ice cream”

If you don’t have the time or calories to spare, try making ice cream out of bananas. All you have to do is freeze your peeled bananas and blend them in a food processor or blender. The result is an ice-cream-like consistency and a satisfied craving. Try adding some peanut butter or shredded coconut as toppings.

Having breakfast with pets at home.
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Create a dog treat

Dogs love human food, but most of the time our cherished pooches cannot digest what we eat. Bananas, however, are foods that our pets can enjoy. They are high in fiber, magnesium and potassium. Mash up a banana and add it to your dog’s favorite food so they can chow down. But when you do share your people food, just but sure to avoid these highly toxic foods for dogs.

Cropped shot view of woman holding her damaged split ended and messy hair.
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Restore dry hair

Bananas are great ways to combat that stringy and brittle feeling. To make a banana hair mask, puree one to three really ripe bananas (depending on your hair length) and then massage it throughout your scalp to your ends. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse it in the shower followed by a shampoo. Try these other extraordinary uses for household staples too.

hands peeling a banana
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Ease heartburn

Bananas are an alkaline fruit, which means they may help neutralize acid in the stomach. You can eat bananas regularly as a home remedy for heartburn and GERD. Add a banana to your breakfast to help coat the stomach for the rest of the day.

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Prevent a scratched CD from skipping

Is your favorite DVD or CD playlist for the car scratched? Gently rub the scratched part of the disc with the inside of the peel in a circular motion. Wipe off any residue with a soft cloth and then shine it with some glass cleaner. The wax in the banana peel may help fill in the scratches so you can enjoy your treasured disc once more.

With all these cool banana hacks, be sure you eat at least some of the bananas you’re buying!

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest