5 Ways to Use Vanilla Outside of Food

By Kristie | May 28, 2020

We all know that vanilla tastes delicious. In cookies, cakes, ice cream… the list goes on. (Especially if we “accidentally” add in a little extra.) But food isn’t the only place that’s perfect for vanilla.

Do you want your house to smell delicious, even when you haven’t been baking? Maybe some of your home appliances could use some freshening up, or you’re looking for a new perfume. To make the most out of the vanilla in your cabinet, try out these five ideas for using vanilla outside of food.

Credit 2020 Creative Commons user: acfou

The vanilla-infused cotton ball technique is an easy substitute for having fresh-cut flowers in every room.

Air Freshener

This is where your liquid vanilla extract can really show off. Spritz a couple of drops of it onto a cotton ball and leave one in each room of your house. Alternatively, you can rub a bit of extract onto your light bulbs, and when you turn on the lights, the warmth will diffuse the vanilla aroma throughout the room. With repeated applications as needed, any lingering cooking (or other) odors in the house will be neutralized by the sweet scent of vanilla.

Refrigerator and Microwave Deodorizer

If that pesky odor in your refrigerator just won’t go away, vanilla can help with that, too. Wipe the inside of your fridge with a vanilla extract-dampened towel and, for good measure, you could place a vanilla-infused cotton ball in there as an aroma diffuser.

Or maybe you microwaved fish and now that smell just won’t leave. To get rid of it, add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract to a bowl and microwave it on high heat for one minute.


It’s the simplest yet most elegant perfume you can get from your food pantry. A dab of vanilla extract on the wrists and behind the ears goes a long way to keep you smelling amazing all day. You can take it up a notch by diluting some vanilla extract into a perfume atomizer and spritzing as you would regular perfume.

Credit 2020 Creative Commons user: vetiver_aromatics

Add vanilla extract to distilled water for a subtle vanilla-scented perfume.

Body Scrub

The fine black seeds inside real vanilla pods work as a great exfoliant. But if you want to save the seeds for food, you can still use the empty pods to create a beautifully fragrant body scrub.

After drying them out, blend the pods in with some sugar. Blend it just enough so that it doesn’t become too fine, because you’ll be adding it to your choice of body oil. The resulting sugar scrub should feel like wet sand, infused with the soothing, anti-inflammatory properties of vanilla.

Insect Repellent

That same vanilla extract can also work to repel insects. It’s sweet-smelling to us, but for mosquitoes and gnats, it’s a major deterrent. Mix equal parts vanilla extract and water, and use a cotton ball or wet paper towel to apply it across your skin. It will need to be reapplied every half hour or so, but it’s a great-smelling, non-toxic alternative to traditional bug sprays.

And finally, a gentle warning: always make sure you test your DIY projects on a small area of your skin first in case you have an allergy.

We’d love to know if you’ve experimented with vanilla in these or other ways. Let us know in the comments!

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