By Ann Sullivan
Repurposing items around your home is a fantastic way to save time and money. It’s also good for the environment if you are re-using or multi-purposing common items instead of buying and throwing out more products and containers. With a little knowledge and creativity, you can use ordinary things in unusual ways, making cleaning and tasks easier and your wallet fuller by not having to buy different products for each chore or task. You’ll also be contributing to a healthier environment by using natural things in place of potentially toxic chemicals. Here are 11 useful everyday hacks you can use in your home.
1) Re-use dryer sheets
Dryer sheets, once used in the laundry, are usually tossed. Saving your old dryer sheets is useful for several tasks around your home. Instead of spending money on dust cloths and products, use your old dryer sheets to dust furniture and surfaces in your home. You can also use them to remove water stains from mirrors and faucets and eliminate stain rings inside your toilet. If you have a Swiffer mop, rather than buying the pads, you can use dryer sheets. They will pick up the dust, dirt, and hair from your floors just as well for a fraction of the price. If you have deodorant stains on your clothing, a used dryer sheet will lift it off the fabric. You can also use dryer sheets to remove old nail polish. They will do the job better than cotton and will not leave any residue behind.
Most people may not realize how versatile common white vinegar is. There is an assortment of household uses that will save both time and money. Knowing the variety of uses will make cleaning a whole lot simpler and you won’t have to buy individual products either. If you polish you own nails, use vinegar before applying nail polish. This will remove any surface oils and keep your nails looking great much longer. Vinegar is also useful for removing surface bacteria from fresh produce. Simply mix one-part vinegar to three-parts water, then spray your produce to remove 98% of harmful bacteria. Vinegar will soothe sun-burn and other skin burns, such as from cooking. Simply soak some paper towels in vinegar and gently apply to the burned areas. The acetic acid in the vinegar will aid in balancing the PH in your skin and reduce swelling and pain.
The common lemon is a great tool for many household and cleaning hacks. Lemons can be used for cleaning, eliminating odors, and freshening the air. They also make a great insect repellent. Lemon juice is very acidic, making a great sterilizer as well. To freshen the air in your home, throw a few lemon peels down the garbage disposal and run it. If you don’t have a garbage disposal in your sink you can simmer some lemon slices on the stove. This will add a fresh lemon scent to the air while eliminating any airborne odors in your home. The acid in lemon juice also makes for a great weed killer. If you have pets and children, this is a great alternative to dangerous chemicals. Simply pour undiluted lemon juice on the weeds and it will kill them down to the roots within two days in most instances.
4) Disinfect your Kitchen Sponge
Sponges are a great host for germs and bacteria. This is especially true if they are left wet. Moisture creates bacteria which can be harmful. Continually needing to replace your sponge can get costly. There are a couple of ways you can disinfect your sponge and reuse it without replacing it. One way is to simply microwave it. Place it on a small dish and microwave on high for 30-seconds. Just be careful that it’s not too hot when you remove it. Another easy way is to put your sponge in the dishwasher. This will kill and germs and bacteria and make your sponge new again. You can also soak your sponge in lemon juice over-night and simply rinse and ring it out in the morning. White vinegar will also work with this method. No matter which way you choose, make sure to clean your sponge often.
5) Baking Soda
Here’s another versatile common household product that can be used in many money-saving ways. Add a cup baking soda to your laundry for whiter clothes. Clean and deodorize your dishwasher by running it empty with a little baking soda. You can also remove coffee stains from your coffee pot and cups by washing them with baking soda. For instant relief from skin irritants such as bug bites, poison ivy or sunburn, add a little warm water to some baking soda to form a paste, then apply to the affected area. For clogged sink drains, add a cup of baking soda to a cup of hot vinegar and watch your clog dissolve without all those harsh chemicals. If you suffer from dandruff or a dry scalp, use baking soda on your scalp instead of dandruff shampoo. You can also gargle with baking soda and water instead of mouthwash.
6) Old Toothbrush
Instead of buying various brushes for household chores, save your old toothbrushes. There’s a wide variety of uses for them. Repurposing them for these uses will save money and make chores easier. Before converting to a cleaning tool, it’s recommended to clean your old toothbrush with equal parts vinegar and hot water. This will eliminate any residual bacteria and make them suitable to repurpose. They make great tools for cleaning small spaces such as tile grout, shoe soles, computer keyboards and more. You can even clean your fingernails or gently exfoliate dead skin from your lips. Clean your combs and hairbrushes by gently scrubbing with your old toothbrush. You can even remove splinters from your skin by soaking your old toothbrush and then lightly rubbing over your skin. This will gently bring the splinter to the surface.
You may be amazed how many uses there are for common toothpaste besides brushing your teeth.
This is a great way to remove makeup, ink, and grass stains from fabrics. Simply place some toothpaste on the stain, fold the fabric and rub well. Rinse with warm water and toss in the usual laundry. Scratched CD’s and DVD’s can be restored by rubbing a little toothpaste on them. Then gently wipe with a soft cloth. Tarnished jewelry can also be restored with a bit of toothpaste. Spread over the tarnish, gently rub with a soft toothbrush, rinse and pat dry. You can also restore fine silver by placing a dab of toothpaste on a soft cloth and polishing it by rubbing gently to remove the stains. Toothpaste will also remove crayons from walls, wine and coffee stains in carpet, and scuff marks and scratches on just about any surface.
Here’s a great way to remove lint from clothing and dust from things like lampshades in your home. Simply wind a piece of Scotch tape around your hand with the sticky side facing out. The gently rub over your lint filled garment. If you think about it, that’s all a lint roller is. It’s just a round sticky object that allows the glue to remove lint from clothing. A piece of tape is much more cost effective and something you probably always have on hand. You can also remove dust from lampshades and other delicate items that become full of dust. You can fix a frayed shoelace by replacing the plastic tip with a couple of layers of wound tape. To clean your computer keyboard, simply slide a piece of tape through the keys in a horizontal direction from left to right.
9) Coffee Filters
If you brown-bag it, put a coffee filter in your lunch bag to keep the bread from getting soggy. You can use a coffee filter to cover your food safely in the microwave – avoiding the use of plastic. Tie your favorite spices in a coffee filter and drop them into soups or stews to enhance the flavors. Tie your favorite dried flowers in a coffee filter and place it in your closet, drawers, or bathroom. Use a coffee filter to clean streaks off computer and television screens without scratching them. Use them to put in between your fine dishware to keep them from getting scratched. You can even use them as substitute muffin pan liners. If you’re out of dryer sheets, put a few drops of essential oil on a coffee filter and toss it in. Coffee filters are also a great tool for absorbing excess moisture anywhere.
10) Old Newspapers
Here’s a fun hack which will upcycle your old newspapers in some creative ways. If you have a flair for being a bit crafty, old newspaper can be repurposed in many ways. Save money and be original by creating gift bags and wrapping paper using newspaper. You can even cut strips to make your own bows and ribbons. You can make fun party hats for your child’s birthday party using the cartoon section of the paper. If you’re very creative, you can weave old newspaper strips into baskets, coasters, decorative bowls and more. The only limit is your imagination. Newspapers are also a great way to clean glass and mirrors in your home and car for a streak-free shine. Use a piece of newspaper at the bottom of your trash can or anywhere in your home to absorb moisture or liquids.
11) Wine Corks
Another versatile upcycle item is the common wine cork. These common items can be used in both decorative and functional ways. Christmas is a popular time to get creative with corks. You can make trees, wreaths, or even string them together and make garland. You can even make ornaments by adding decorative items and twine or fishing line. If you’re having a dinner party, cut a slit in each cork and slide in a guest name card for each place setting. Screw in a closed loop for a ready-made keychain. Glue your favorite corks to a piece of wood for an easy and real cork board. Or you can make a smaller version to keep on your kitchen counter to place hot pots and pans on. You can even glue them around the edges of a picture frame and put your favorite photos in to give as gifts.