By now the fact that coconut oil is great for cooking at high temperatures, popular to add to coffee and smoothies (healthy fat/energy booster/natural sweetener), and that it’s a great replacement for less healthy oils when cooking and baking is all OLD NEWS… but clever uses for coconut oil exist far beyond the kitchen.
Don’t worry, I’m not just going to tell you that it works great as lotion (haven’t we all tried that by now? #oilyjeans…).
(side note: I do use a little coconut oil in my much preferred DIY body butter recipe – better absorption into my skin, less into my denim!).
No, today I am sharing my tried and true tested use cases for coconut oil that extend beyond the obvious. I’ll also be sharing some use cases that I have yet to try that intrigue me, and a few that I have tried and don’t recommend…
If you don’t need any convincing and just want to know which coconut oil brands I’d recommend, here you go:
- Viva Naturals – my personal favorite!
- Nutiva – great bulk buy option!
- Betterbody – I have been using and enjoying this brand most recently
- Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value – great if you prefer glass packaging
- Trader Joe’s – slightly more affordable glass packaging option
FAVORITE HOUSEHOLD USES FOR COCONUT OIL
…that I actually use regularly
1) ENHANCING BATH TIME
Try adding between 1/4 – 1/2 cup of coconut oil + 1 cup of epsom salts + a few drops of essential oils to the bath before getting in… you won’t regret it.
2) SHAVING CREAM
I recommend using a plastic container for this in case it gets slippery. Broken glass in a slippery shower/bathtub is a dangerous mess you do not want to have to deal with.
3) BODY SCRUB
Mix 1 part sugar + 1 part coconut oil (+ a few drops of essential oil optional). Again, I recommend storing this in a plastic or rust-resistant metal container if it’s going to live in your shower!
4) LIP MOISTURIZER
There are coconut oil lip balm recipes that recommend melting coconut oil with things like beeswax and/or shea butter but I have had good experiences keeping plain coconut oil in a tiny jar (an old eyeliner pot that I repurposed) in my purse and dab it on when my lips are a little dry.
I haven’t tried it but I have read about turning coconut oil into “tinted” lip moisturizer by mixing the oil with things like beetroot powder/cocoa powder/turmeric/cinnamon.
Supposedly it’s also good for healing cold sores but I haven’t been able to personally test this – does anyone reading this who has issues with cold sores tried coconut oil as a remedy?
5) UNDER EYE MOISTURIZER
I have also had good results using avocado oil for under eye moisturizer.
6) FOOT “CREAM”
“Yeah yeah it’s great for skin we get it” – I know, but the trick to this one is to put coconut oil on your feet then immediately put on a pair of socks! I don’t know the exact reasons (do we care?) but somehow the combination of the socks trapping the oil on your foot skin (scientific term) plus the light exfoliation you get from walking around in said socks results in baby soft feet (byebye cracked heels, hello summer sandals!).
7) HAIR TREATMENT
Helps to smooth split ends and frizz – whenever I blow-dry my hair, I use a tiny amount of coconut oil warmed up between my hands and apply it to the ends of my hair. Beware: too much can lead to a greasy hair day so less is more!
8) CUTICLE OINTMENT
In a pinch (in other words, whenever I’m without my Burt’s Bees cuticle cream), coconut oil totally works. I almost never paint my finger nails these days so nice cuticles are a must!
9) LEATHER POLISH
Use a cloth to rub oil on your shoes, purses, and leather accessories. Also works to clean/moisturize leather furniture!
10) MINIMIZING DUST ON FURNITURE
Rub a thin layer of coconut oil onto wood furniture and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away. This should help guard against dust collecting as quickly on your wooden shelves and side tables!
11) WOOD POLISH
Use coconut oil to polish your cutting board, wooden spoons, wooden bowls, and wooden furniture.
12) SEASON CAST IRON
personal chef husband is obsessed with our cast iron skillet and insists that after every use/wash that we lather it up with coconut oil then bake it in the oven at 250 degrees or so for at least 20 minutes. Hey, it works and our cast iron skillet still looks as good as new!
13) UNSTICK A ZIPPER/CHAIN/SQUEAKY HINGES
Rub coconut oil on the zipper or chain near the problem area and voila – unstuck.
14) REMOVE LABELS OR STICKY RESIDUE FROM GLASS AND PLASTIC
Mix equal parts coconut oil and baking soda, rub it on the sticker or sticky area, let it sit for a few minutes (key step, be patient), then rub that sticker away with ease!
UNTESTED USE CASES THAT I FIND INTRIGUING
15) NATURAL DEODORANT
16) MOUTHWASH / TOOTHPASTE
Two words: oil pulling. As far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on whether or not regular oil pulling has a noticeable effect on my health – I am going to do my best to truly commit to the recommended 10+ minutes a day that the “experts” suggest for a month and I’ll report back on whether or not I change my mind.
And coconut oil toothpaste (usually a combo of oil + baking soda + peppermint essential oil and/or stevia) just does not taste good to me at all (#armandhammerforever).
17) MAKEUP REMOVER
Rub coconut oil on your face, use a soft cloth to wipe it off, then rinse with water. Simple enough! I don’t have a good reason for not trying this yet other than laziness. I’ll finish working my way through the remainder of my face wash then maybe I’ll give it a go and report back.
As an added note, it might be wise to be careful around the eyes, I have heard horror stories about folks with sensitive skin developing weird fat deposits around their eyes after using coconut oil as their eye makeup remover. It might not affect you in that way, but it’s something to be aware of.
18) REMOVING GUM FROM HAIR
I didn’t want to risk testing this one, but I have seen some convincing youtube videos that prove that this method is as effective as the peanut butter trick.
19) INSECT REPELLANT
Supposedly a mixture of coconut oil and peppermint essential oil does the trick to repel mosquitos! I would be interested in trying to use coconut oil as a carrier oil for some of the “bug repellant” essential oils listed in DIY bug repellant article. My husband ALWAYS gets eaten up by mosquitos in the summer so I’ll have him test this out in the coming months and report back!
20) EXTEND THE SHELF LIFE OF EGGS
Rubbing coconut oil on the shell of your eggs is supposed to extend their shelf life by providing a barrier preventing oxygen from penetrating the shells.
21) YEAST INFECTION TREATMENT
Speaking of eggs… (sorry I couldn’t help myself – bad female reproductive organ joke). This one might be a little TMI but fun fact: I have never suffered from a yeast infection (at least not to my knowledge? Don’t hate me!) but I have read that adding coconut oil to the “infected area” (via tampon!) can provide a ton of relief.
22) LICE TREATMENT
Supposedly, a combination of coconut oil and apple cider vinegar can help treat lice breakouts!
23) PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
There are tons of articles and even entire books dedicated to studies that show links to coconut oil ingestion helping to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s runs in my family so this one was especially intriguing. Easy enough for me to stir a tablespoon into my morning coffee/smoothie/oatmeal!
TESTED USE CASES THAT I DON’T RECOMMEND
GENERAL BODY MOISTURIZER
I mentioned it earlier but I don’t recommend using straight coconut oil as a body or face cream.
It works as a great ingredient in body and face moisturizer recipes but by itself you will end up with oil stains on the insides of your clothes (or on your chair or car seat fabric) or on your pillow.
I only recommend coconut oil as moisturizer in super dry spots (cuticles, elbows, cracked heels) or under the eyes before bed.
MAKEUP BRUSH CLEANER
Unmelted coconut oil is too thick for cleaning brushes and it feels like an unnecessary extra step to melt it down first. I use a combination of olive oil and dish soap to clean my makeup brushes and it works like a charm.
WHAT TYPE OF COCONUT OIL IS BEST?
Coconut oil is typically sold in one of two forms:
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VIRGIN AND REFINED COCONUT OIL?
Virgin coconut oil is typically in a solid form at most temperatures but will melt at a certain heat point. It also smells and tastes like coconut because it is pressed from fresh coconut fruit.
Refined coconut oil is deodorized / deflavorized and always in a stable liquid form. It’s derived from dried coconut meat (called “copra”). Some sources warn that low quality refined coconut oil is hydrogenated, meaning it is no longer a “natural” oil and basically a synthetic trans-fat.
More on the difference between virgin and refined coconut oil.