15 Refreshing Ways to Use Mint

By Mikey Rox on 25 January 2013 (Updated 13 September 2013) 11 comments
Photo: yoppy

As far as herbs go, peppermint is wholly underused in my humble opinion.

But recently I’ve started picking up the herb when I stock up on the usual suspects for my fridge, like basil, rosemary, and cilantro, and I have to admit that I’m totally stoked by all the applications mint has.

Primarily I use it to make a water-based metabolism-boosting drink that also features lemon and fresh ginger. But even after two or three pitchers per week, I have lots of mint leftover in the bunch. This abundance has forced me to discover other ways to use it up. Here are 15 of my favorites. (See also: 15 Uses for Garlic That Deserve a Round of Applause)

1. Keep Mice Away

I live in New York City, and when I was thinking of planting a garden in the backyard, I was advised to plant a bed of mint because it deters rats. Same goes for household mice. The vermin despise it, and they’ll steer clear of any area it’s in.

2. Relieve Cramps

Mint has natural digestive properties that help relax tract muscle and relieve cramping. So when your tummy hurts, mix mint into a soothing liquid drink like hot tea or warm water spiked with lemon.

3. Soothe Your Feet

The refreshing, tingly sensation you experience when you eat mint comes from the menthol it contains. To give your feet a pick-me-up, chop up a cup of mint leaves and combine with a cup of sea salt and one-third cup of olive oil. Scrub away.

4. Reduce Headache Pain

Use mint to reduce headache pain the same way you would to relieve cramps. Infuse your hot tea with mint or add mint to a glass of water and drink it.

5. Prevent Infections

Mint is known to slow down — and sometimes completely stop — bacteria and fungus from growing in the body because of its antibacterial properties. A diet that includes mint may give your body the boost it needs to ward off certain infections, like athlete’s foot, for instance.

6. Open Up Your Airways

Have a stuffy nose? Put mint in a pot of boiling water or hot tea and breathe in the spicy menthol to open up your passages. It works much like Vicks VapoRub, only peppermint is cheaper and all natural.

7. Relieve Stress

Mint has been linked to feelings of calmness and reduced levels of stress.

8. Potential Cancer Preventative

Studies are ongoing, but peppermint may help prevent certain types of cancer, including those that affect the skin, lungs, and colon. The research is currently inconclusive, but hopefully there will be sufficient evidence in the future that will give us another weapon to fight the deadly disease.

9. Spice Up a Salad

Want to add a little zing to your summer salad? Tear up a few leaves and toss them in with your other greens, fruits, and veggies for a surprise that’ll make your taste buds sing.

10. Make Grooming Products

With mint oils you can give a fresh scent to homemade soaps and shampoos that will save you lots of money over store-bought products. You can usually find these essential oils in a craft or natural food store.

11. Add to Ice Cubes

If your mint is in danger of rotting, put one leaf in each cube of an ice tray and freeze for later. Add a minty cube to water, lemonade, and iced tea for an instant refresher.

12. Refresh Your Face

Add mint leaves to a large bowl of cold water and let them steep for an hour or so in the fridge. Take it out, submerge your face, and experience the refreshing rush of this natural cleanser.

13. Freshen Your Carpet

Sprinkle a mixture of dried mint and baking soda on your carpet, let it sit for an hour, and then vacuum it up for a room that smells fresh and fantastic.

14. Make an Air Freshener

Mix mint with other fresh flowers and herbs for a homemade potpourri that will leave your house smelling bright and clean. For an easy mint potpourri recipe, try this pick from eHow.

15. Refresh Your Breath

Add mint oil to a baking soda/peroxide mixture to create a tasty homemade toothpaste that will freshen your breath and whiten your teeth.

Have more usual uses for mint that we should know about? Please share them with us in the comments below.

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Guest's picture
Julia

Thank you! My husband always buys too much, and in the summer I have a plant in my herb garden (which, gauging from its invasive tendencies, I'm convinced has visions of world domination) that produces more than I could ever hope to use. Until now. Great post.

Meg Favreau's picture

I started adding mint to salads last summer, and I love it. It's great in smoothies too.

Guest's picture
karyn s

Didn't know you can use that for your face. May start using that now!

Guest's picture

My favorite tip here is #1 - the preventive use of it against rodents. Excellent.

Guest's picture
michele

I bought my first mint plant 20 years ago. I nurtured that little plant because I mistakenly thought it was frail The next year I was hacking away at it so that the hydro meter could be read.

When my baby (now 17) got chicken pox she was too little to use any anti histamine medications and I found calamine lotion to be useless. I had bushels of mint hanging in my mudroom. I took a bunch, put them in an old nylon stocking and let them soak in the sink. Remove stocking with mint, insert baby. The mint really helped with her itchy "chicken pockets".

Lars Peterson's picture

I've been using peppermint essential oil to open up my sinuses. Just dab a little on your upper lip and inhale. Presto! Now that's breathing easy.

Whatever you do, don't dab more than a drop or two. That stuff is strong. Swab it on and you'll wind up with a burning lip and watery eyes.

Guest's picture

I just bought a mint plant at the farmers market two weeks ago and after reading this I am so excited that I have it now! Very useful, awesome post.

Guest's picture
Shelagh

Hi, I love mint tea it helps me to relax so I can sleep. My Mom used to put a sprig of fresh mint in with new potatoes when she boiled them. I have three different kinds of mint in my yard but I planted them in old bathtubs to keep them confined.

Guest's picture
Shama D

Could you please share your metabolism boosting drink you referred to?

Guest's picture
BARBARA J. ARMSTRONG

love this and will use most if not all of the ideas......thanks

Guest's picture
Guest

Mint is great for all the reasons given. But this summer it's gone to the top of my list because it has caused raccoons who have been making a home under our front porch nigh these many years to pack up and disappear. So add raccoons to the mice and rats who don't appreciate it! We'll have to see what winter brings - but mint has made the summer even better since I transplanted it to that border garden!