By Kathryn Sukalich on May 20, 2013

10 Ways to Use Up Old Spices


Spices that you’ve had around longer than a year or two won’t do much for your food, according to The Spice House, a business that’s been selling spices for more than half a century. Whole spices can last longer, but especially with ground spices it’s recommended that you not buy more than you can use in a year. Eat By Date also has a handy chart explaining how long common spices last and how to tell if they’re past their prime.

Dumping all those old spices into the trash would be a sad way for them to go – just think of all the money you spent on them at one point! It turns out there are plenty of uses for these spices besides using them to decorate your food, and we’ve rounded up a list to ensure your old spices don’t end up in the landfill.

spices, clean

Photo: Shutterstock

Clean Your Carpet

Did you know you can use old spices to freshen your carpet? Believe it or not, they’ll freshen your vacuum, too. Families.com suggests using spices like rosemary or ginger, and The Dollar Stretcher recommends mixing an assortment of spices which could include things like cinnamon, thyme, cloves and nutmeg.

Simply sprinkle the spices on your carpet and then vacuum. Just be sure to check to make sure the spices’ colors won’t stain your carpet before applying them to the entire rug.

Homepage Image: Shutterstock


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      • Starfy

        NEVER PUT HOT SPICES IN YOUR GARDEN!!! It’s awful to use chili flakes or cayenne powder to deter rabbits and squirrels because it will burn their little feet and faces! It’s extremely painful to have pepper in your eyes!

        This is an incredibly cruel thing to inflict on animals just to protect your stupid plants and I strongly urge you to remove this item from your post.

        • greenlady

          I completely agree.

        • Veliam

          But it won’t kill the animal right?

          even though if the rabbit dies, it will make a nice barbecue then you can add the old spice on it… yummy.

        • Jason Alford

          i dont think it inflicts fatal damage to your little friends starfy. if you knew how many baby animals i eat you might cry.

          • Starfy

            I said it was cruel, not fatal. And I’m aware that balding-jon-stewarts everywhere eat whatever they please, it’s not my concern. Have a nice day :)

          • SureOK

            The lack of capitalization and punctuation in your post is enough to make anyone weep.

      • Loraine T Washington

        good idea.

      • paxdonnaverde

        The whole beauty of spices were that they were able to survive long ocean journeys yet still retain their pungency and preservative qualities for several years if kept in a tight container. I’ve kept many of my spices for 5-10 years and mace, which Inuse only once a year for a Christmas cookie, for over 30 years with no loss of favor and scent. Spice companies want to sell you more spice so of course they will recommend a short life – waste not if the spice has reaiained it’s desirable scent and flavor.

      • Raz

        Relax, people. As someone that has done this for years, it has not harmed any animals. Old cayenne flakes near my bulbs (and no where else) and my bulbs are safe and there are still plenty of squirrels, chipmunks, opossums, garter snakes and critters around my yard. It doesn’t burn them, they just avoid it. Their sense of smell is enough to steer clear of it.

        To the authors, I appreciate this list. Very useful.

        • Jeanne Ahlers

          Exactly! Animals are very smart, and they stay away from things they don’t eat. I plant lots of marigolds in my garden because rabbits don’t like them. The marigold smell keeps them out of the garden, and they don’t eat my vegetables.

      • Sue Cole

        This is a GREAT article! Thanks so much!!

      • Jack Golan

        Along the lines of grilling … add them to brines.

      • jeana@ymail.com

        Printer friendly version??

      • Blaine

        umm I am pretty sure that is a picture of a rabbit chillin next to a pepper plant so going to put out a wild guess and say chill out rabbits are smart enough to avoid pepper next thing ya know someone will cry about using salt on snails

      • Jeanne Ahlers

        I really like the idea of using the spices with the vacuum. I wonder which ones smell the best together? Cloves and cinnamon maybe? Or will that make my dog lick the carpet ever more that he already does?

      • nancymeckel

        I did leave a message but it erased as I signed in. I said that I noticed that bugs avoid my herbs and spices, so for over 20 years I have used old cinnamon and nutmeg under my wool oriental carpets, and have had no bug problems since I started using it. And the house smells wonderful!