Sure, olive oil is obviously great for eating, but did you know that non-culinary uses for olive oil date back thousands of years? In addition to food, Ancient Egyptians used it for lighting, medicine, and various rituals. Ancient Greeks and Romans used olive oil to clean themselves by smearing it on their bodies then scraping it off with a metal instrument called a strigil. They also used it as fuel in their lamps, as perfume ingredient, and as a multipurpose lubricant for tools.
All of which is to say, your favorite kitchen staple is a master multitasker! Now, we’re not saying you should use your finest extra virgin olive oil to fix a squeaky door knob (in fact, don’t even think about it—the good stuff should be reserved for eating!). But, if you have a fairly inexpensive bottle of regular olive oil that you need to use up, there are plenty of practical ways to do just that.
Here, we highlight all the fun, practical, and unexpected ways to use olive oil in place of a range of products, which can save you time and money.
1. Exfoliate your hands, face, and body.
To battle dry, rough skin, simply combine a little olive oil, sugar, and a drop or two of your favorite essential oil for a DIY scrub. Slather the mixture over your hands, body, or gently onto your face and then rinse. Skin will feel ultra soft and hydrated.
2. Make a DIY hair mask
Dry, damaged hair is common if you use heat treatments, hair dye, or even just brush too harshly. For a deeply hydrating hair mask, coat your damp or dry hair with olive oil and let it sit under a shower cap for at least 15 minutes and up to overnight.
3. Control frizz and split ends.
Rubbing a few drops of EVOO between your fingers then running them through your damaged ends can immediately up your hair’s shine factor, mask split ends, and protect the most vulnerable strands from further damage.
4. Remove gum from your hair.
We hope this doesn’t happen too often—but if you’re around kids, chances are good that it might! Apply olive oil generously to the stuck gum and the surrounding hair, wait a few minutes, and then gently and patiently work it out.
5. Shave your legs.
If you’re out of shaving cream (or simply don’t want to spend money on a single-purpose product like that), slather some olive oil on your slightly damp legs. Olive oil is a much better natural lubricant than soap, plus it’s moisturizing and it will help prevent pesky razor burn.
6. Hydrate chapped lips.
In a pinch, you can dab some olive oil right on your lips. But for added moisture, make a DIY lip balm by combining melted beeswax and olive oil in a one-to-one ratio. Melt the beeswax and olive oil together in a makeshift double boiler (a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water) then pour into a small container. Pro tip: You can buy beeswax pellets right on Amazon.
7. Soothe cracked heels.
Dry, rough heels aren’t just annoying, they can become painful if your skin starts to crack. Give them a little love with olive oil—first, exfoliate your feet and heels with a combo of olive oil and sugar. After you’ve rinsed and dried, work more olive oil into your heels, then put on a pair of socks and let that goodness soak in overnight while you sleep.
8. Soothe dry cuticles.
Skip the pricey cuticle oil and use olive oil instead! Dry weather can do a number on your cuticles and even cause fingernails to break, so periodically rubbing some olive oil onto your cuticles and nails can keep things from cracking and prevent painful hangnails.
9. Make a massage oil.
For a soothing aromatherapy massage oil, simply combine olive oil with your favorite essential oils. Just make sure you’re diluting them correctly (follow these dilution guidelines). We love the calming and cooling combo of lavender and peppermint, but for a more warming effect, you can choose essential oils like cinnamon, ginger, and clove.
10. Remove your makeup.
Pesky eye makeup won’t come off easily with cleansers alone—but you don’t need to shell out money for makeup remover either. Simply add some olive oil to a cotton ball and gently swipe it over your eyelids. When you’re done, wash and rinse your face to remove the oil and any residual makeup.
11. Make liquid castile soap.
This process is a bit more involved than the other tips on this list, but it’s well worth it! Using regular olive oil or EVOO (for additional benefits), you can follow this simple recipe for homemade castile soap. Make a big batch and keep it on hand for various home and body care needs, from floor cleaner to body wash to dish soap to laundry detergent.
12. Season cutting boards.
Got nice wood cutting boards that are starting to get a bit dried out? They need to be seasoned! Keeping your cutting boards well oiled will help prevent them from taking on water and other sources of moisture, which is good for the longevity of your board. Simply dip the end of a clean cloth in olive oil then rub it into all the dry cracks and crevices of your cutting board.
13. Make wood furniture polish.
Keep wood furniture—from table legs to dressers—looking fresh, shiny, and clean with a DIY wood polish. Simply mix 3 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice, then apply to furniture with a clean cloth. Do a test spot first to make sure you like the results.
14. Refresh your cast iron skillet.
Cast iron skillets are finicky and prone to rusting if you’re not careful. So, after you wash your cast iron skillet, wipe it dry, then rub a drop or two of olive oil into the surface. This will help prevent rust from forming and keep it well seasoned, so it’s naturally non-stick.
15. Fix squeaky hinges.
Got a squeaky front door? Squeaky kitchen cabinets? Apply a few drops of olive oil to the hinges and they’ll be squeak-free. Pro tip: Use a pipette or an oil-soaked cotton ball to apply the olive oil to the outside of the hinges, then work it in a bit with your fingers.
16. Remove produce stickers.
Got a pesky produce sticker stuck to your apple or any other fruits and veggies? Peel the sticker off as best you can, then rub a bit of olive oil over the remaining bits to work it off. When it’s removed, give your produce a final rinse.
17. Unstick a ring.
Don’t panic! Everyone gets a ring stuck from time to time. Add a few drops of olive oil to the area to make things slippery and slowly twist and pull to remove the ring.
18. Remove ear wax buildup.
Typically, ear wax makes its way to the ear opening and falls out, since your ears are self-cleaning. But sometimes, earwax can build up, which can be painful. Some experts think olive oil can help gently remove it. To give it a try, follow the instructions in this article.
19. Boost your pet’s health.
Olive oil can be used in a number of different ways to boost your pet’s health, from improving the health of their skin and coat by adding it to their food to removing matted bits of fur. Read our comprehensive article on olive oil for pets.