20 Weird and Wonderful Uses for Tomato Ketchup

By Lifehacker UK on at

Everybody loves tomato sauce. Well, everyone except perhaps Jamie Oliver and people from Chicago (they hate it on Hot Dogs, apparently). The rest of us slather ketchup over our comfort foods like its going out of style.

Tomato ketchup is without all reasonable doubt the best condiment, although mayonnaise holds the number one sales spot, apparently. Lord knows why, ketchup is obviously the better choice.

Ketchup started out as a fish sauce, before transforming into a staple we slap on junk food. Along the way we’ve forgotten just how versatile a foodstuff tomato ketchup is; tomato ketchup is a great sauce to have in the kitchen with a range of weird and wonderful uses.

Here are some of the things you never knew tomato ketchup could do -- head over to LifeHacker UK for the remaining 10:

1.) Shine copper and silverware with ketchup

Tomato ketchup is a surprisingly effective cleaning agent. Ketchup has acetic acid content of around four per cent (from the vinegar used in the recipe). And thanks to its high viscosity (the gloopiness) it’s great for shining brass, copper and silverware. Ketchup is cheap, effective and above all it’s eco-friendly. If you only do one thing on this list (and even for a laugh) try using ketchup to clean your metal. There’s a detailed guide to cleaning with ketchup over on wikiHow.

Some people claim ketchup is even more effective if you mix it with Worcestershire Sauce. House Cleaning Central has this recipe for ketchup-based cleaning mix.

2.) Use ketchup to correct green highlights in bleached hair


People with blonde hair who have dived in chlorinated swimming pools may get a slight green hue in their hair. The red sheen and acid nature of tomato ketchup help neutralise this effect. The hairdresser Charles Worthington says, “For blonde hair that has gone green from chlorine or salt water, shampoo your hair as normal, then rinse Tomato ketchup through your hair and leave it on for about five minutes”. Ketchup is a great conditioner too, putting natural oils back into the hair.

3.) Create homemade kids' paint with ketchup bottles


Repurposed ketchup bottles (the squeezy kind) make perfect paint dispensers for kids. And many people don’t realise how incredibly easy it is to make kid’s paint at home. You only need to mix water, salt and flour with food colouring. Tinkerlab offers this recipe:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Food colouring

The size of the cup doesn’t matter incidentally, what matters is that you use the same cup, so the measurements are equal. (Officially a cup is 236.5 ml). Blend all three together and mix until smooth, and then add food colouring to the mixture and transfer it to the tomato ketchup bottle.

4.) What’s the best way to get ketchup out of the bottle?

There sure is a lot of confusion about the best way to get ketchup out of the bottle. Even scientists aren’t fully sure, as the properties of tomato ketchup are quite strange.

George Zaidan in a recent TED-Ed video explains how ketchup is a pretty unusual substance. It behaves both like a solid and liquid, depending on how you shake that bottle.

Zaidan says that you can get Ketchup out a bottle in several ways:

  • Slow languid shakes.Turn the bottle upside down and give it a series of long and slow shakes. Making sure you don’t stop applying up and down force
  • Hit the bottle once very hard. With enough pressure the ketchup should come out. It’s not the most elegant solution though.
  • Short shakes with the lid on. Zaidan says “What the real process do is keep the lid on, give the bottle a few short, sharp shakes to wake up the tomato particles, and do a nice controlled pour.
  • Tap the bottleneck. According to Heinz you can get ketchup to exit the bottle more quickly by tapping its 57 logo on the neck of the bottle, but the trick works with any glass bottle. The theory is that to get the ketchup to exit the bottle you need to get air inside the neck.

5.) Put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

Another neat trick with a squeezy tomato ketchup bottle is to clean the bottle out, and fill it with pancake mixture. The ketchup bottle enables you to squeeze small, perfectly formed pancakes directly onto the frying pan or griddle.

6.) Use a ketchup bottle as cake and cupcake topper

You can also reuse an old squeezy ketchup bottle to hold icing. The squeezy ketchup bottle makes it incredibly easy to add icing toppings to cakes and cupcakes. It’s a lot easier to use this type of bottle than a icing nozzle.

7.) Attach a ketchup top to vacuum and clean your keyboard

The website Lil Luna suggests using a ketchup bottle to make a cleaner for your keyboard. You can remove the narrow top from a ketchup bottle and attach it to your hoover. A ketchup bottle top makes an ideal micro vacuum to clean up your keyboard.

8.) Freeze ketchup packets to sooth kid’s grazes

Jeanné McCartin from Seacoast online recommends freezing the small packets of tomato ketchup and using them on kid’s bumps and grazes. It’s cheaper and smaller than a gel ice pack and has the same effect of numbing ache and pains.

9.) Use ketchup to shine your car and alloys

You can use ketchup to clean the tarnish from car parts. In a similar vein to cleaning silver and copper, ketchup is great for shining up your alloys, and adding sheen to car metal in general. Good Housekeeping notes that ketchup isn’t great for removing dirt, so you’d be best to clean the car first and use ketchup to add shine.

10.) Get rid of the smell of foxes with ketchup

Lots of people claim that ketchup is great for getting rid of the smell of skunks in clothes and pets. We don’t get that many skunks in the UK, but ketchup can be used to get rid of the smell of foxes too. Lots of people claim this is effective but you need to really soak the garment in the tomato ketchup. Timothy Sexton on Yahoo recommends coating a garment with ketchup and leaving it to stand for at least half an hour then washing it out. If your pet has been rolling in fox poo you can wash them and soak ketchup into the fur for half an hour to get rid of the smell.

Click here to see the rest of the 20 weird and wonderful uses for tomato ketchup.

This article originally appeared on Lifehacker UK -- the expert guide to getting things done more efficiently, whether at home or at work.