How can I reuse or recycle talc/talcum powder?

We’ve had an email from Anna:

Hi! I’ve just been reading how bad talc is (oh my god it’s bad!) and no longer want to use it on my body. Is there anything I can do with it instead?

I’m not an expert on talc – I’ve not used it for years anyway so not read up on it much – but from a brief Googling around now, it seems the main problems with it are an increased cancer risk (most notably ovarian cancer, often but not always related to the application of talc around the genitals) and pulmonary issues related to inhalation. The inhalation thing may limit the potential reuses – but does anyone know of any?

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5 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle talc/talcum powder?”


  1. caroline says:

    It is good for soaking up grease. I have used it a few times to get rid of greasy stains on clothes. Sprinkle it on (covering the stain well) and then leave it for at least 24 hours. Repeat if necessary. It is especially useful for things you don’t normally wash – like silk ties.

    We now keep our remaining talc in the laundry room for this purpose. In the bathroom we use cornflour instead of talc. You can also use arrowroot – but cornflour is cheaper where I live.

  2. anna says:

    Freecycle it. Someone else might want to still use it for its original purpose. If it’s not too parfumed talc, perhaps a weight lifter might enjoy it too?

  3. john says:

    I’ve used it for killing ants, a good dollop of it onto the entrance to the nest and the ants track it in where it apparently kills the queen (and all the rest of them as it goes).

  4. Oraxia says:

    It’s a great ant deterrent–my place was getting a steady stream of the little black ones once my apartment complex started painting the exterior of the building (I think they got scared up a few floors into a crack between the wall and floor of my bathroom, heading straight for my sink and toilet for water).

    As far as I have been told, the talc does not kill the ants so much as really irritate them. The size of the tiny particles of talc get between the joints and such of their exoskeleton and essentially gives them the equivalent of pebbles in your shoe. As such, they avoid the stuff, which makes it a fairly humane way to deter them from coming into your home.

  5. Corrie says:

    Bit surprised more people dont know this but its great to use as dry shampoo. And not just for blondes, I have red hair and it works great!



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