8 Household Uses for Cloves

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Clove essential oil can be part of a powerful and lovely-smelling natural cleaner.
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Sprinkle powdered cloves and sage leaves into socks to reduce sweating and athlete's foot.
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Black tea with cloves and ginger makes a wonderful winter drink.

From holiday hams to orange pomander balls, cloves are a staple of winter. But this fragrant, flavorful spice has uses that go beyond the kitchen. Clove oil consists mainly of eugenol, a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. These properties make cloves a popular ingredient in oral hygiene products, including mouthwash and toothpaste.  Try these ideas for getting the most out of cloves’ flavor, aroma and medicinal properties.

1. DIY Mouthwash

Try adding this DIY mouthwash from author Laurel Vukovic to your oral care routine. Combine 1 cup vodka, 1 tablespoon whole cloves, 1 tablespoon cinnamon bark chips, 1 tablespoon fennel seed, 1 tablespoon anise seed and 1 tablespoon licorice root in a small glass jar, and seal the lid tightly. Let the mixture steep for two weeks, shaking daily to keep spices from settling. Once ready, strain the mouthwash and pour it into a glass bottle. To use, dilute 1 tablespoon mouthwash in 1 cup of water, and use as you would Listerine.

2. Naturally Healthy Gums

Blended in small or large batches, tooth powders have been used for centuries to promote oral health. They’re easy to make, have a long shelf life, and can be made with any number of dental-friendly herbs, including cloves. Try this blend from the blog Nourishing Joy.

3. Spiced Scrub

Treat yourself or a friend to a luxurious experience with this simple scrub inspired by traditional Turkish spas, by author Janice Cox. Combine 1 cup raw sugar with 1⁄4 cup walnut oil, then add spices: 1⁄2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ginger; 1⁄4 teaspoon ground clove buds; 1 teaspoon dried orange peel; and 2 to 3 drops orange essential oil. 

4. Natural Cleaner

For a simple surface cleaner that leaves counters disinfected and smelling great, add 7 drops each of lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, cinnamon, thyme, pine, grapefruit and clove essential oils to 2 cups of water. Spray on surfaces and wipe.

5. Clove Candy

For a tasty homemade gift or festive party treat, try making a spicy, sweet molasses and clove taffy. Get the recipe

6. A Treat for your Feet

Put the naturally antibacterial properties of cloves to good use in an herbal foot powder to reduce sweating and combat athlete’s foot. Place 1 cup dried sage leaves and 1 teaspoon whole cloves into a coffee grinder, and process until finely ground. To use, sprinkle powder onto feet or into socks daily; for maximum effectiveness, grind a fresh batch each week.

7. The Scent of Winter

Give your home a holiday aroma by making a warm-smelling potpourri that combines rose, lavender, cinnamon, cloves and essential oils. Get the recipe

8. Warming Tea

Start your day with this clove and ginger black tea. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups boiling water; 1 to 2 black tea bags; 1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground or whole cloves; slices of peel from a blood orange, orange or tangerine (to taste); and honey. Bring to a boil. Remove tea from heat and steep 5 minutes. Strain into a cup through a fine-mesh strainer, and enjoy.