Introduction: The Mayo Clinic - 9 Unusual Uses for Mayonnaise

Picture of The Mayo Clinic - 9 Unusual Uses for Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise, besides being a delicious French sauce from the ‘naise family, has a number of uses beyond the kitchen. If you’re caught without emollients or Goo-Gone but have access to mayonnaise in individual packets (or a whole jar, if you’re lucky), mayonnaise can save the day.

Containing the magnificently useful triumvirate of egg, lemon juice, and oil, mayonnaise is easily adaptable for a variety of uses for everything from hair conditioning to removing bumper stickers.

Here are 9 uses for mayo that will make your sandwiches insanely jealous.

Step 1: Polishing Ivory Piano Keys

Picture of Polishing Ivory Piano Keys

Your ivory piano keys are probably filthy. Which is a shame, given that some poor elephant gave up his life for an afterlife of people playing chopsticks on his teeth. If you’re going to tickle the ivory, perhaps you should brighten it up a bit with some mayonnaise.

Just dab a little onto the dull key and leave it for five minutes or so. Then wipe off the mayo, and buff with a different cloth until the ivory shines.

Step 2: Conditioning Dry, Brittle Hair

Picture of Conditioning Dry, Brittle Hair

Mayonnaise has some delightfully emollient qualities. It’ll soften and smooth hair for a sleek and chic look that can go straight from the runway to the kitchen.

Shampoo normally and towel dry.

Comb in at least a tablespoon of real mayonnaise (no need to go for the light stuff here, very little will be absorbed through your scalp and deposited directly into your arteries) starting at the top of your head and working your way to the tips. Be sure to coat each strand of your luscious mane.

Leave it in for at least one hour. Try to stay inside while you wait because, you know, you’ll have mayonnaise on your head and not everybody will understand its amazing conditioning properties. You might even get French fries rubbed on your head. To avoid staining all of your furniture, wrapping with plastic wrap couldn’t hurt. Just don’t wrap over your nose and mouth.

After your hour is up, wash your hair again using either a mild shampoo (like baby shampoo) or use a tiny amount of regular shampoo. It’ll eliminate the fresh-out-of-a-French-bistro scent, but that’s probably a good thing.

Style normally. Look extraordinary.

Step 3: Exfoliating Your Skin

Picture of Exfoliating Your Skin

Remember one step ago when we discussed mayo’s emollient qualities? Well, it’ll soften more than just hair. Got rough, dry patches of skin or elephant elbows? Mayonnaise to the rescue!

Apply a little mayo to problem areas like the elbows, knees, or your face. Leave it on for ten to fifteen minutes, then buff off with a damp towel or washcloth. Then use your normal moisturizer or lotion to lock in the freshness.

Step 4: Cleaning Up Crayon Marks

Picture of Cleaning Up Crayon Marks

If you’re not great at coloring inside of the lines, or you know someone under 3 feet tall who is into unintentional graffiti art, you may find yourself in need of some crayon cleanup.

Rub a little bit of mayo onto the crayon mark and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Then watch it magically disappear when you wipe it away with a damp cloth.

Step 5: Strengthening Fingernails

Picture of Strengthening Fingernails

There is jazzercise for cardiovascular health, spinning for aerobic exercise, and weight training for your biceps, but what about your nails? How can you improve your chalkboard attention grabber without pulling nails out like a new hire in the gulags?

Try dipping your nails into a mayo bath. Soak your nails, cuticles, and the rest of your fingertip in some mayonnaise. Then rinse. Voila! Stronger nails. You'll be opening bottles and clamshell packaging bare-handed from now on.

Step 6: Removing Tar, Sap, and Sticker Residue

Now we venture further afield with our mayonnaise hacks. The car! Or bicycle. Or big wheel. Motorcycle. Hybrid Learjet. Whatever you’ve got parked on the street, under a tree, or in the garage, mayonnaise can take off whatever sticky, dirty mess you managed to get onto your mode of transportation.

Cover the mess with some mayonnaise and let it sit for several minutes. Then wipe it off with a soft, vehicle-approved cloth. It may take a few tries for the tougher grime, but the lemon juice and oil combine to create a Goo-Gone equivalent that can be found for free in some delicatessens. 

Step 7: Restoring Wood Furniture

Picture of Restoring Wood Furniture

If your wooden furniture is covered in water rings, try to buff them out with some mayonnaise. Just like the crayon hack, leave a little mayo on the stain for five to ten minutes, then buff out the stain. Try this on a surreptitious spot before you do it someplace conspicuous or you may end up putting leg-warmers on your table or committing to a year’s worth of seasonal placemats.

Step 8: Removing Rings

Mayonnaise will not only take the water rings off of your wooden furniture, it will also take rings off of your fingers.

The oil in the mayonnaise makes an excellent ring lubricant for those times when you must remove your ring but don’t have any WD-40 on hand. Just work some mayo into the area around and underneath your ring (inside? whichever preposition feels most appropriate to you), then slide the ring off. You may find that twisting helps, but stop if you feel any excruciating pain, numbness, or your finger falls off.

Step 9: Polishing Houseplant Leaves

Picture of Polishing Houseplant Leaves

Growing up, my parents strove for parity in the household chores assigned to my sister and I. While I vacuumed the house, she would polish the leaves of our plants. Back then, I refused to believe that people actually polish their plants' leaves, but my mother assures me that it is a thing. And it is a thing that can be done with mayo.

Rub a little bit of mayo onto your matte and dull leaf. Buff it to a shine, then you'll have the shiniest ficus leaf in the world. Because leaf-shining isn't really a thing.

(Right? It's not a thing? I actually called my mom for more mayonnaise ideas, and this one was the second one she thought of. SECOND. She's either really committed to the lie, or this is real. Confirm for me in the comments, please.)

Step 10: Mayonnaise Resources

If you're living in a place without mayonnaise but really want to get your hands on some, don't panic. Mayonnaise can be made in the comfort and privacy of your own home, provided you have access to some basic culinary supplies.

Check out jen7714's awesome healthy mayo instructable at

Or take a gander at mje's awesome garlic mayo at!/

For further mayonnaise usages, please see randofo's extraordinary use of mayo at


Mocha31 (author)2016-01-12

Leaf cleaning is a thing. LOL, unless your mom secretly consorted with my mom.

DavidW156 (author)Mocha312016-01-22

My mom has used mayo to clean the leaves on her houseplants as far as I can remember. Gets all the dust off the leaves and keeps them healthy and shiny.

HeavyG (author)DavidW1562017-09-08

Ya and with a thin film of oil that sucks in the dust unless you "clean," your house plants every other day.

dragon fllyer (author)Mocha312016-01-17

Hmmm... I thought you were only supposed to clean leaves with water; anything else will clog the pores so the plant can't breathe...

Normie55 (author)Mocha312016-01-12

My Mom used a tad of cream from the milk mixed with a tad bit of water..We always had beautiful shiny ivy and it grew big and long with a aspirin tablet pushed down in the dirt around the roots when she watered.. LOL

imerrymary (author)Mocha312016-01-12

It's true about plant leaves! Decades ago I worked at a bank that used a plant rental service. They'd regularly show up to snip dead foliage, etc., and they'd apply a bit of mayo to large leaf plants to make them look fresh from the nursery.

EmmitS (author)Mocha312016-01-12

Leaf cleaning is very important. Dust builds up on leaves and blocks out the light your plant needs to perform photosynthesis. Cleaning the undersides of the leaves kills the bugs that can suck the life out of your plants. Your mom and my mom learned it from professional gardeners. Besides, clean plants look nicer.

bettbee (author)2015-06-04

If you don't want all the fat and bad stuff that's in mayo going into your body, try this homemade recipe from my favorite chef and recipe genius:

If you're at all adventurous, do try it, even if you're not a vegan. It's totally unbelievable. I have been trying to lose weight and this has been a big help - I'm tending to make more healthy stuff and then put lots of this mayo on them. It feels like I'm being bad, but at 12 or so calories per tablespoon it's actually good for me!

I'll see if the creator of the recipe minds if I make an instructable. This takes about 15 minutes to make including set up and clean up. (The first time may take a few more just to get used to the setup.) It's got like 12 calories per tablespoon, but it tastes and feels like regular mayo. I used just a tsp more mustard, half a tsp less salt, and a tbsp more vinegar than this recipe. Make it just like the recipe the first time to get a baseline. This reaches peak flavor the second day after you make it. Also, after it sets up I give it a good vigorous stirring to give it a realistic mayo texture.

You can get the cashews at Trader Joes. I use their unsweetened refrigerated soymilk but you can use any non-dairy milk you like.

You need agar powder not flakes. Here's one and here's another

I use the Telephone brand but get it much less expensively at a local Korean market called H&Y Marketplace.

rjscott2005 (author)bettbee2016-01-12

"Fat and bad stuff" There's nothing unhealthy in mayonnaise. Just want to point that out.

HeavyG (author)rjscott20052017-09-08

Again, can be in unhealthy amounts, but in the right portions not only is mayonnaise not bad for you but the ingredients, well except for the preservatives, and even those can be a non-issue, are all good for you. In the right portions.

rjscott2005 (author)bettbee2016-01-12

"Fat and bad stuff" There's nothing unhealthy in mayonnaise. Just want to point that out.

Skallywag707 (author)rjscott20052016-01-25

What are you talking about! There is SOOOO much bad stuff in mayo! I mean, fat? That's, like, totally not one of the necessary nutrients for survival! And lemons? The sun is yellow. The sun is not healthy. BAM, just destroyed your argument! Finally, eggs. Eggs are just like little bundles of goo specifically evolved to be the perfect mixture of nutrients to feed growing chicks. Who wants to eat what your chicken gets fed?! Gross!! (Actually, once that chick gets a bit older, there is no way I want to eat what the chicken is eating.

HeavyG (author)Skallywag7072017-09-08

Actually everything in mayonnaise is good for you INCLUDING fat, not s ton of it but a certain amount you actually need. Portion size is the key. Just sayin, your not correct! Read before you react!

DaynaJ4 (author)rjscott20052016-01-12

Maybe if you buy organic. In the average mayo there's preservatives and chemicals that, IMHO, shouldn't be in food.

hammer9876 (author)DaynaJ42016-01-15

Forgive the upper case, I just copied from Hellman's web page: SOYBEAN OIL, WATER, WHOLE EGGS AND EGG YOLKS, VINEGAR, SALT, SUGAR,

Sharing because I am not afraid of chemicals. (Remember folks: Water is inorganic!)

valkgurl (author)DaynaJ42016-01-13

It takes about 5 minutes to make mayo from scratch---use fresh eggs and good oil and either lemon or a good vinegar. There is nothing bad in there to kill you! Any good cookbook will have instructions or I am sure that somewhere out there is a YouTube or--wow!---Instructable or Pinterest to walk you thru this. The only hard part is making sure you don't just chuck everything together but add the oil s l o w l e y. It's an emulsion---where every drop of oil and egg are coated together; not a smoothie!

dbanosg (author)bettbee2016-01-12

I agree with you. It seems a little piggy, much better recipe, or just use olive oil virhgen Spanish, healthy and spectacular (liquid gold).

Ethan1023 (author)2016-05-17

First, you'll have to ask your mom if you mayo borrow some Mayonnaise.

cdellam (author)2016-01-13

Years ago, my daughter got head lice. We spent hours picking through her hair and bought every lice remedy in the drug store. We finally got rid of them using Mayo. The oil loosens the adhesive the lice use to lay their eggs on the hair shaft, and the oil smothers the adult lice so they can be combed out. The Mayo worked best of all the products I tried!

Evike (author)cdellam2016-04-05

Next time try coconut butter. Works even better. Smells better too!

Robert_Britt (author)2016-01-12

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned this one yet. Mayo is also a theft deterrent. It's totally true. if you are at one of those fancy Japanese restaurants that make you take your shoes off, simply fill your shoes with mayo. No one will steal them. It will also keep your feet nice and soft after you leave. Edit: do not try this with flip flops. It makes they really unsafe and slippery.


kengamine (author)Robert_Britt2016-01-14

why would you take mayo to a sushi restaurant? just a wild thought of mine?

Robert_Britt (author)kengamine2016-01-14

Just for security purposes. ;)

kengamine (author)Robert_Britt2016-01-14

fair enough.. just thought it would be good to ask

CasualT (author)Robert_Britt2016-01-12

I'm trying that one for sure!

bobking2 (author)2011-03-28

Also Mayo can be used to tarnish/stain high carbon steel. I've used it on my hunting and fishing knives to give it a patina or by swirling it on the blade, it can create as unique design as you want. Clean the blade real good, and dry it real good. Just put some on, swirl it or what ever, then let it dry overnight in the fridge, 18-24 hours not covered, then take it out and wash it off. If it didn't come out the way you want, then buff it out with a buffing wheel and jewelers rouge. Then clean it up with soap and water and dry it good. Then start again. I think you'll like the way it comes out. Also, this can done with mustard, or lemon juice. Let me know how it turns out.

LeeS60 (author)bobking22016-01-17

lemon juice or tomato paste also. Tomato paste will actually eat aluminum. A slice of onion will also tarnish things. Kitchen knives had to be kept clean to prevent transferring the black to food before stainless steel became the norm.

riejar (author)2016-01-12

Mayonnaise is not French. Its original name is "Mahonesa sauce". He is originally from Mahon in the Balearic Islands, Spain.

Garlic variety is original of Catalonia, Spain and is called "alioli", garlic and oil

LeeS60 (author)riejar2016-01-17

Actually mayo was known in Roman times. It's also a good preservative. The amount of egg is tiny, while the amount of oil is enormous. Oil is not a good medium for germs. An experiment done years ago by Cornell U. used varying amounts of mayo in picnic items and left them in a car trunk on a hot day. Items with the most mayo had the least amount of germs.

marymac (author)2011-12-07

Mayo is great to make grilled sandwiches instead of the struggle with hard butter. Mayo is always soft and happy to be used for grilled sandwiches. It is also a great addition to scrambled eggs. Sounds dumb but it is a bit tasty anyway.

EmmitS (author)marymac2016-01-12

Since Mayo is mostly egg, it can be used in many recipes just like egg, especially where the recipe also calls for cooking oil. A long time ago, I had a recipe for a devils food cake that used Mayo instead of eggs.

LeeS60 (author)EmmitS2016-01-17

Cakes that use a lot of oil are called mayonnaise cakes. Good fix for cake that always comes out dry is a spoon or two of mayo. Mayo is really just oil. The amount of egg and flavoring is tiny, especially in commercial mayo which has stabilizers added to it.

kengamine (author)marymac2016-01-14

yes. mind you me and my sister eat mayonnaise with most thing, including Full English breakfasts

80sBaby81 (author)marymac2016-01-12

I actually like using Mayo on grilled cheese rather than butter

grannyjones (author)80sBaby812016-01-13

I put mayo on the inside of one piece of bread, mustard on the other; load it up with cheese, maybe a little ham or bacon; then I toast it on the outsides in a little puddle of butter. At that point, I jump out of the way of the stampede.

EmmitS (author)80sBaby812016-01-12

Sounds good, It would be like combining a grilled cheese sandwich with French toast.

wilgubeast (author)marymac2011-12-07

Agreed. Mayo is just olive oil and eggs and lemon. It makes an excellent waterproof layer to prevent damp sandwich fixins from making your bread all soggy.

Augustin.Rochez (author)2016-01-15

mayo works just fine as thermal paste on a cpu!

amy (author)2016-01-12

Slather mayo on both sides of your steak before setting it on the grill. I know, I didn't believe it either, til I tried it. Nice crispy exterior and juicy inside. Not sure about skillet grilling, but definitely on an outdoor gas or charcoal fire.

kengamine (author)amy2016-01-14

might try that tonight. I'm really into cooking

lclaiborne (author)2016-01-12

You can use mayo instead of butter for grilled cheese sandwiches. Put it on the outside of the bread, that's right. No more struggling with cold hard butter. Or if you're out of butter...

Great tips! I'm off to mayo my elbows!

valkgurl (author)lclaiborne2016-01-13

Most pro grill cooks use mayo for grilled cheese but--at home--- or if you happen to--horrors!!!!--- be OUT of mayo--haven't any of you used the concept of MELTED BUTTER? Heres how: Two slices of bread. Cheese. Butter. Place pan (the heavier the better) on the stove on medium to low heat; melt butter in the pan. Place cheese and whatever else you want inbetween the bread. Place in pan in melted butter. If you have a small heavy pot lid you can place this directly ON the sammie and this helps brown it and cook it faster and holds the heat. When you want to flip it either have fast hands to place a bit more butter in the pan and let melt for a sec and then slide the sammie back in there OR place it on your plate for a sec while you add a dab of butter. Finish the B Side the same as the A Side. This makes a wonderful crust on your bread and lets the cheese melt without burning.

American cheese works great in this or for something really special use a dense bread and MOZZARELLA; add a sprinkle of GARLIC POWDER to the butter and cook same as above; dip in MARINARA SAUCE when done--stretchy chewy melty goodness!

I use a heavy 6" Le Crueset enameled pan with a lid that just fits inside the pan and acts as a press for the sammie. But you can use this with any pan and you can use almost anything for a press--the bottom of a cake pan or even another cooking pan will work too!

headlemk (author)2016-01-12

Pianos don't use ivory anymore since using ivory has been outlawed many years ago. Now they use a plastic substance for the "ivories." But if you have an old piano the mayo treatment would work nicely.

and7barton (author)headlemk2016-01-12

Pre-plastic, most piano keys were made from Mammoth tusk ivory, not elephant ivory.

Robert_Britt (author)and7barton2016-01-12

Pre mammoth tusks they used dinosaur teeth. True story. I saw it on The Flintstones.

jcvillar (author)Robert_Britt2016-01-12

Didn't take much either. Just a Dabba'll Do!

donna5309 (author)Robert_Britt2016-01-12


donna5309 (author)Robert_Britt2016-01-12


EmmitS (author)headlemk2016-01-12

Actually, it's not the effect on the ivory that works. The oil in the mayo dissolves the grease in the dirt. The dirt is the same whether your keys are plastic, ivory, or ebony. A cloth dipped in cooking oil would do exactly the same thing.

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Bio: I'm an English teacher and former Instructables staff member.
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