I first discovered coconut oil about eight years ago when a new, health-focused grocery store opened in my neighborhood.
While I originally bought it for cooking, I quickly found many ways I could use it around the house. Now, I use so much that I invest in giant vats from Costco to save money; an 84-ounce tub costs $20.99 at my local Costco and typically lasts four to six months.
If you’re new to coconut oil, you’ll be surprised at just how adaptable this once-unknown ingredient can be.
In the Kitchen
The first use you probably think of for coconut oil is cooking. I most often find Indian recipes that call for this oil, but I’ve used it in a variety of dishes ranging from curries and stir-fries to granola and muffins.
There’s some controversy surrounding the consumption of coconut oil because of its high saturated fat content. According to Harvard Medical School, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter or lard — about 90%. Saturated fat is known to raise LDL (AKA “bad”) cholesterol levels, so consuming too much coconut oil is inadvisable. However, Harvard Medical School also points out that coconut oil is especially good at increasing the levels of HDL (or “good”) cholesterol — more than any other oil that’s high in saturated fat.
Although some sources advise against coconut-oil consumption, it remains a staple in cooking. Healthline reports that the oil’s saturated-fat content makes it more resistant to oxidation, increasing its heat resistance. This makes it well suited for sautéing, baking and similar cooking methods.
Wellness Mama points out a few more of coconut oil’s health benefits. It has antimicrobial properties that can be beneficial for gut health and is a rich source of lauric acid (second only to breast milk). Additionally, coconut oil contains processed fats called medium-chain triglycerides, which can help boost your immune system and could even improve your brain function.
In the Bathroom
I have a small jar of coconut oil in my bathroom for a variety of uses: makeup remover, hair conditioner, body lotion.
I find it’s strong enough to take off my makeup, yet gentle enough to use on the delicate skin around my eyes. I also lather myself with coconut oil after a shower. I feel better about putting something natural on my body rather than a lotion filled with suspicious-sounding ingredients.
Allure lists numerous beauty uses for coconut oil, including as a deep-conditioning hair mask. I’ve found that it’s better to coat my dry hair from mid-length to the ends and cover it with a shower cap for 30 minutes to an hour before shampooing it out in the shower. This ensures that I get the moisturizing benefits of the oil without the lasting greasiness that can occur if it’s used after shampooing.
Another coconut oil use that Allure lists is one that I haven’t tried, but I’ve read about it in multiple sources. Because of its antifungal and antibacterial properties, coconut oil is perfect for what’s known as “oil pulling.” This is taking a spoonful of oil and swishing it around like mouthwash for about 20 minutes to rid your teeth and mouth of lingering bacteria. Though it sounds gross when you first hear about it, many people swear by oil pulling as a method of keeping their smiles healthy and bright.
Cleaning products can be expensive, especially if you buy a different product for every task. However, there are many ingredients you can find around the house that can be used for cleaning — including coconut oil.
Today lists a number of uses, including removing gum from hair (something you’ve probably experienced if you have kids), polishing your furniture, moisturizing leather and removing dead bugs from your car. This is just the beginning. You can also mix coconut oil with other ingredients to produce homemade, healthy cleaning supplies.
Mother Earth Living suggests making a stain remover from one part coconut oil and one part baking soda. You can use this to get rid of stains on carpet and upholstery by applying it and leaving it for about five minutes before wiping it away. For stubborn stains, you may need to repeat this process several times.
Coconut oil doesn’t have to stay inside your home when it comes to cleaning. Instead of paying for pricy (and chemical-laden) car wax, follow My Darling Clementine’s recipe, which uses coconut oil along with other ingredients to produce a nontoxic wax that will leave your car looking and smelling great.
Beside its myriad uses in your cooking, beauty and cleaning routines, coconut oil has numerous other uses you may not have thought of.
Dr. Axe recommends replacing throat lozenges with coconut oil when sickness strikes. Just ½ to 1 teaspoon can help relieve pain and coughing. I can personally attest to this as I recently got over my fourth cold in four months and found coconut oil to be effective on my sore throat.
Coconut oil is beneficial to humans, but your four-legged buddies can also benefit from it. Swanson Vitamins says you can decrease your cat’s hairballs and encourage a healthier coat by applying ½ a teaspoon of coconut oil to your kitty’s paw.
Similarly, keep your dog’s smile bright and healthy by brushing its teeth with coconut oil. Dogs tend to love the taste, and the oil’s antimicrobial properties encourage better dental health.
Coconut oil is all the rage right now, and for good reason.
Whether you stick to using it for cooking or go wild and use it for anything and everything, coconut oil can be a great replacement to expensive products in your kitchen, bathroom and cleaning supplies cabinet. Look into buying it in bulk, like I do, to extend your savings even further.
Catherine Hiles strives to live a healthy life but believes strongly in the 80/20 rule. To her, that means eating well 80% of the time and chowing down on pizza and chocolate the rest of the time.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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