How can I reuse or recycle out of date flour?

A spoonful of white flourWhen I left my last but one job, I was given a juicer as a leaving present. Since I abhor fruit in its many evil forms, we swapped the fancy be-tapped blender for a breadmaking machine since we love bread and thought it would be a darnsight more useful.

Oh, we had such good intentions. We made bread at least twice a week and made pizza dough too. We made quick white bread and long slow wholemeal. We used the timer so we’d wake up to nice fresh bread in the morning. Ah, happy days.

Then after about a six weeks, like I guess about 95% of people that own a breadmaker, the novelty wore off and suddenly we just had an unused appliance taking up half the worktop and a couple of big bags of buy-one-get-one-never-use flour in the cupboard.

Time passed.

Then, recently, I found I had a bit more time on my hands and I decided to make a pizza base-esque garlic bread. I turned to our good old flour mountain with glee. Our now out of date flour mountain. Our now out of date with ick, some tiny crawling things in it. The glee wore off and I learnt a good lesson about buy-one-get-one-free products and novelty devices.

I’m not obsessive about best-before dates but I draw the line at cooking with tiny crawling things. So what non-culinary uses are there for old flour?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce: A bay leaf in the flour bag (or even better, clean, dry, airtight jar) apparently helps deter the little creepy things.
  • Reuse: Freeze the flour to kill the creepy things then use the flour to make salt dough or paper glue.
  • Recycle: Flour can be composted – just don’t dump it all in the bin in one heavy layer as that will cut down the necessary airflow. Fork it through the other material instead.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

(Photo by melaniemar, c/o

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27 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle out of date flour?”

  1. jeff says:

    5 parts water to 1 parts flour makes a fine paper glue

    • Emma says:

      I was going to suggest something similar – I use it probably a little runnier than that for the kids to use when they’re paper maicheing.

  2. john says:

    flour *can* be composted, but it might attract rodents if you don’t mix it in well. Or you don’t have cats.

  3. ali winter says:

    there are loads of cool kids crafts things you could do with it,playdough for example.

    there are loads of receipes about on the internet, one is here

    you can make “clay” using a similar recipe,

  4. Sally says:

    Kill off the crawly things by sticking the flour in the freezer for two weeks. Then sieve them out (or not) and make salt dough. Make a big pile of pretend loaves of bread, give em an egg and slat wash and bake them, then you can pile these up in a breadbasket and tell everyone how wonderful you are at making bread (lol)

  5. Sally says:

    that was an egg and salt wash by the way, I can’t spell, clearly :(

  6. Maybe you can use it to put out fires much in the same way you would use dirt to put out campfires.

    • Ryan says:

      Unfortunately that’s a terrible idea. Whereas dirt is usually moist and smothers a fire, flour is dry and combustible and will probably just explode into flame as your pour it on. Modern flour mills have hardcore ventilation, strict spark-control policies and are never sealed, as airborne flour particulate is prone to explode violently. Indeed, explosion was a big problem with olde-world flour mills.

      • Peohguy says:

        Good advice. Sometimes it’s a good idea to think through the consequences of doing the first thing that pops in your head.

      • Anonymous says:

        could it be used to start your conventional wood burning stove/ fireplace fire? or would that be way too risky

    • Anonymous says:


  7. Elouise says:

    If you put a couple of dry bay leaves in your flour (and other dry goods), it seems to keep weevils at bay. Somebody told me this and since I tried it, I haven’t had any more weevils. I put bay leaves in flour, bran, oat bran, polenta, etc – anything dry and grainy that might attract such beasties.

  8. Jacki Walters says:

    I have access to empty 50# paper flour and grain bags any suggestion as how to use them, I hate to see them go in the trash, they are good thick bags. Thanks

  9. Bobbie says:

    This is off the question, but to get to the source, I prevent flour from getting weevils by keeping it in the freezer. I started keeping it there about 20 years ago and I have had no problem with wevils and I mean no, none, zilch, zero.

  10. robin says:

    Someone told me recently it’s good to put on a burn. Ordinarily, I know you want to keep it sterile. Anyone else heard this?

    • Pat says:

      Re: flour for burns

      My brother told me about this and it works really well for relatively minor burns IF you keep it in a bag in the freezer. Better than ice because you can keep your hand in it way longer than you can tolerate ice. I’ve used this several times and I love it. Like I said, though, this is for minor kitchen mishaps or if you accidentally grab the lit end of a cigarette, touch a hot light bulb, etc.

  11. willow says:


    You may be thinking of baking soda, which really works on burns. Just mix it with water to make a thick paste and slather it on. Most minor burns will stop hurting and heal very fast without blistering.

  12. Leslie says:

    Well, back in the day, (1974) when I was trying to be self-sufficient, I put the flour in the oven and “baked” it and used it like cornstarch on my baby’s sore bottom! I don’t remember if it worked or not . . . but thought we could use a laugh.

  13. Anonymous says:

    On the day before Easter we used powdered lime, but one could also use flour, to pour over stencils of footprints to make “tracks” of the Easter bunny for kids to wake up to. I wonder if the same could be done for Reindeer tracks for Christmas.
    Otherwise, I would offer it to the chickens.

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  16. dafik says:

    Great ideas, I have access how to use grain bags, I hate to see them go in the trash. Thanks

  17. Olechka says:

    Make a goo or a glue.

  18. Olechka says:

    Facial mask.

  19. Olechka says:

    If you have hats or scarves made of swan dawn, people used to clean them by dipping in flour and then shaking it off.

  20. winifred says:

    I have stale flour and want to use it for regular baking, etc.’is there
    any way to refresh the flour for regular use?

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