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7 Genius Uses for Peanut Butter (Besides Eating It)

We love a good PB&J, but peanut butter has all kinds of amazing household applications.

a dab of peanut butter
Peanut butter can be used as everything from a room deodorizer to a shampoo.
Carlow Gaw/Getty Images

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Peanuts aren't actually nuts -- they're legumes, like peas and green beans.

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Another common misconception has it that agricultural scientist George Washington Carver invented peanut butter. But the Inca people were grinding roasted peanuts into a paste long before Europeans arrived in the New World.  

Carver did, however, come up with more than 300 uses for peanuts.

Many of his ideas were tied to food and cooking, including chili sauce, pancake batter and salad dressing. But he also came up with ingenious household uses for the peanut, such as glue, wood stain, paper and plastics.

We've collected handy peanut butter hacks here, including a few Carver dreamed up.

For all of them, you'll want to use smooth peanut butter -- without honey, chocolate or other flavorings.

And, of course, don't try these household hacks if you or someone in your family has a nut allergy.

For more home tips, discover how to make bacon in the oven and learn the worst places to put your Alexa speaker.

1. Shampoo

We all know peanut butter can get gum out of hair. But because it's high in magnesium, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, it can make hair follicles stronger and thicker.

Carver patented a peanut-based hair tonic, as well as a face cream, pomade and hand lotion. His concoctions may no longer be available but you can still buy peanut butter shampoos, conditioners, hair masks and oils, or apply the spread directly to your tresses.  

2. Leather cleaner

As anyone who has opened a jar knows, peanut butter is naturally oily. That makes it a good emollient for buffing purses, sofas and other leather goods.

Just apply a dollop to a soft cloth and wipe the leather in a circular motion until it shines.

Pro tip: Peanut butter is also claimed to be great for getting scratches out of woodwork.

3. Pest control

Forget cheese -- to catch mice or rats, use peanut butter.  You can bait a mousetrap with it or just leave some goober goo on a plate: Peanut butter is a natural anticoagulant, so when the rodent eats some, that disrupts its normal blood-clotting function, killing it. (Make sure to keep any pets away from it.)

If you have an ant problem, you can mix two teaspoons of peanut butter with a teaspoon of borax and half a teaspoon of baking soda. The ants will take the deadly mixture back to the colony, killing other ants. 

4. Room deodorizer

If the smell of dinner is permeating every nook and cranny of your house, try heating up a tablespoon of peanut butter in a pan.

Let it sizzle for a minute and the aroma should be replaced with a mild, but nutty scent.

5. Shaving cream

Peanut butter as shaving cream? Yep, the natural oils in peanut butter work as an effective barrier between your skin and a razor blade. (And they double as a good moisturizer.)

Apply some smooth peanut butter to your face, leg or other body parts, shave normally and then wash it off.  Just remember not to eat it.

6. Lubricant

Peanut butter can also help with a squeaky hinge, stuck window sill or other household jam. (No pun intended.)

Just dab a little on the stuck part and wipe it clean.

It can also be used to lubricate engine valves and will get glue, gum or other sticky substances out of carpet or fabric.

7. Windshield cleaner

Run out of windshield wiper fluid? According to The Family Handyman, just rub peanut butter on the glass and let it sit for about 10 minutes before you hose it down.