50 Brilliant New Ways to Use Everyday Items
These ideas for reusing items you already have at home in new ways will save you time and money.
If you're like most people, chances are you have too much stuff in your home. In fact, professional organizer Regina Lark, PhD, told the Los Angeles Times that the average American home packs a staggering 300,000 items. And while going full Marie Kondo isn't for everyone, there's a simple way to cut down on the clutter: Find creative new uses for household items you already own instead of acquiring more and more.
Reusing, repurposing, and upcycling what you already have on hand can have you enjoying less of a mess in your house and keeping more cash in your bank account. From the surprising office item that'll fix scuffs on your suede shoes to the laundry staple that'll help your hair, revitalize your everyday items with these brilliant hacks.
Get pills off your sweater with your old razor.
You can keep your knits looking as new as the day you bought them with a razor—yes, seriously! Lightly running a dull used razor over your pilled sweaters can remove those fuzzy bits without ripping the fabric.
Clean your keyboard with a cotton swab.
No computer duster? No problem! Once or twice a week, simply wipe away dust and dirt between the keys of your keyboard with a cotton swab that's been lightly moistened with rubbing alcohol.
Make your shoes less slippery with sandpaper.
Slippery new shoes can be treacherous, but all it takes is a little sandpaper rubbed on the soles for traction and you'll have fall-free footwear in no time.
Clean scuffed-up suede with an eraser.
Looking for an easy way to keep your suede clean? Look no further than your pencil case. An eraser can help you remove any marks from your suede. Check out One Good Thing to see how it works.
Remove gum from your shoe with WD-40.
Gum on the sole of your shoe got you feeling stuck? Don't worry—your favorite pair of kicks are totally salvageable with a mere spritz of WD-40!
Use nail polish to keep your glasses frames tight.
If you have a glasses screw that always needs tightening, try brushing on some clear nail polish. The nail polish will secure the screw in place until you can actually take your frames in for professional repairs.
And to fix a run in your stockings.
Whether they're catching on your fingernails or snagging under a wooden table, stockings rarely stay in perfect condition for long. But that run in your stockings doesn't necessarily mean that they're waste-basket-bound. Just dab a tiny bit of clear nail polish on either side of the run and it will stop it from extending further. This handy visual guide from iFixit shows you exactly how to do it.
Remove your nail polish with an old sponge.
Put an old kitchen sponge to good use by turning it into a manicure tool. Soak your sponge in nail polish remover, roll it up so that there's a hole in the center, and stick it in a jar. When you're ready to remove your old polish, stick your finger into the middle of the sponge and it will come off easily.
Or make stamps out of old kitchen sponges.
Want a creative new project to do with your kids or grandkids but don't want to add additional clutter to your home? Make those old kitchen sponges collecting dust under your sink into some fun stamps to play with. Simply draw any shape of your choosing onto the sponge with a permanent marker, cut them out with scissors, and use tempera paint to make designs. Not only are these easier to maneuver than rubber stamps, they're also more readily reusable, since they're easily washed.
Turn an old plastic bottle into a sprinkler.
Don't toss that two-liter bottle in the recycling bin—turn it into a sprinkler. Secure your garden hose to the mouth of a bottle with duct tape and make small puncture holes in the bottle with a utility knife. Turn on the hose, and there you have it, a homemade sprinkler that will keep your garden looking lush.
Use an ice cube tray to portion butter for cooking.
If you've upgraded your kitchen with a fridge with an ice maker and are about to toss your old ice cube trays, stop right there. They can come in handy for saving some compound butter or other cooking stock for future cooking use. When it comes time to prepare your next meal, all you'll have to do is pop out a cube into your pan and you're on your way to a delicious home-cooked meal.
Juice lemons with tongs.
Juicing lemons by hand can be tedious. And even worse, doing so may expose any nicks in your skin to an unpleasant citrus sting. Instead, try squeezing lemons between tongs, which will get you more juice out of each one and save your skin in the process.
Clean your silverware trays with a lint roller.
While a thorough rinse in the dishwasher is sure to get your utensils clean, that doesn't mean the space you store them in is always so spick-and-span. But when you want to clean out your utensil tray, don't remove the entire thing from the drawer; just put a sticky lint roller into each compartment and you'll grab all those crumbs in seconds.
Organize your cooking ingredients with silicone cupcake liners.
Mise en place, a culinary term for having all of your ingredients portioned and laid out in front of you before you start cooking, doesn't require all those cute bowls and expensive cookware that TV chefs have on hand. You can use inexpensive reusable silicone cupcake liners to portion out your ingredients and rinse them when you're done.
Or keep popsicles neat with a cupcake liner.
Keeping popsicles from becoming major messes is no easy feat, but again, it's cupcake liners to the rescue! Simply cut a hole in the liner's center and slide it up the ice pop stick, with the open side facing upward to catch any messes.
Put on your bracelet with a paper clip.
Bracelets are undeniably one of the most difficult pieces of jewelry to put on by yourself. Luckily, a paper clip is all you need to make closing that clasp a far easier task. First, unfold your paper clip. Then, loop it onto the open side of the bracelet's clasp and hold the paper clip in place with the hand you're putting it on. With your other hand, close the clasp, and your bracelet's secured!
Replace a lost earring back with a pencil eraser.
Earring backs are probably the number one, most frequently misplaced jewelry accoutrements. The good news? You don't have to stop wearing your favorite pair once a back goes missing. Using a pencil eraser will keep that earring in place in a pinch.
Remove a splinter with duct tape.
Can't bear the thought of ripping out a splinter with tweezers? Use some duct tape instead. Apply duct tape over the splinter and remove by pulling away from the puncture point.
Turn a Mason jar into a soap dispenser.
If you have an extra Mason jar lying around, put it to good use by turning it into a crafty homemade soap dispenser. All you need is a metal canning lid, a drill, some glue, and the dispenser pump off a bottle of soap. My Frugal Adventures has an easy tutorial for anyone who wants to try it for themselves.
Keep your clothes smelling clean with bar soap.
Keeping your clothes smelling freshly laundered 24/7 is easy with bar soap. If you place bars of soap between items in your drawers, they'll retain the sweet scent of your choosing.
Turn your unmatched socks into sachets.
That glorified sock-eating monster you call a dryer may have left you with dozens of strays, but that doesn't mean your only option is to wear mismatched socks. Just turn those stray socks into sweet-smelling no-sew sachets—as outlined by the blog An Exercise in Frugality—that will keep all your drawers smelling bright and fresh. You can fill them with dried citrus peels, cloves, or dried flowers. Whatever smells best to you!
Or use chalk to keep your closet smelling fresh.
You're not alone if it's been years since your kids have played hopscotch, but you still have buckets of sidewalk chalk in your garage. Before you toss it in your next sweep, consider using that chalk to freshen up your closet and remove any musty smells. Placing a few pieces of chalk in your closet or hamper can help eliminate and absorb odor. And if you're feeling fancy, adding a few drops of essential oil to your chalk can make things smell even fresher.
Unstick a zipper with wax paper.
Getting your zipper stuck when you're running late is one of those little annoyances that can almost drive you crazy. And you never really know what to do other than yank at it vigorously while cursing the name of the brand responsible for such an uncooperative item of clothing. But now, you have another option. The next time it happens, try rubbing some wax paper around the area where the zipper's stuck, which will provide the necessary amount of lubricant to free it (but not enough to stain the surrounding fabric)!
Use a spoon to open a jar.
A superhuman grip isn't the only thing that will help you open a stuck jar. Press the handle of a metal spoon inside the lip of the jar's lid, facing you. Apply some pressure, and it will break the seal, allowing you to open it with ease. For an easy visual guide as to how it works, check out this video.
And open hard plastic packages with a can opener.
Frustrating packaging is no match for the mighty can opener. Instead of wrestling with scissors, run a manual can opener along the edge of that hard-to-remove plastic packaging, and it will open right up.
Hang photos with unused clothespins.
Sometimes it's fun to go a little analog in a digital world. And clothespins can help you bring a tangible element to the memories you've captured on camera. Just tack on a line of string to your wall and clip your favorite photos to it with the pins. If you really want to go retro, make sure sure they are polaroids! Either way, you'll have a fun and inexpensive piece of décor that can liven up any room.
Or use a clothespin to hold a nail in place.
When steading a nail, many of us use our bare hands knowing one slip of the hammer could mean a world of pain. Spare your fingers by holding a nail in place with a clothespin instead. Put the closed clothespin at the base of the nail and hammer away without fear.
Fill nail holes with craft glue.
If you don't have spackle handy, in a pinch, you can fill nail holes with white craft glue you have lying around and smooth the surface with your finger or a putty knife.
Make a pencil holder out of a toilet paper tube.
Don't add yet another cardboard tube to your overflowing recycling bin; turn them into adorable desk organizers! Wrap the tube, including one of the open ends so it's fully covered, in washi tape or wrapping paper, leave the other end open, and there you have it—a perfect pen and pencil holder!
Make a countertop compost bin with a paper grocery bag.
You don't need fancy equipment to compost at home. Just put your composting scraps in a wax-free paper bag you got at the grocery store, and you can transfer the whole thing into an outdoor compost bin when you're ready. (And yes, composting really can make a difference in the long run—in fact, it's the single best way to save the planet, according to environmental experts.)
Or turn paper grocery bags into packing material.
Don't know what to do with the rest of those paper bags from the grocery store? Turn them into packing material! Simply shred your used grocery bags, and you'll have the perfect packing materials for your fragile items.
And line a paint pan with a plastic grocery bag.
Instead of buying new paint pans every time your home needs a touch-up, line yours with a plastic bag. When you're done, you can remove the bag and toss it while keeping the pan squeaky clean for next time.
Add icing to cupcakes with a freezer bag.
If you don't have a pastry bag lying around, that doesn't mean you can't make perfectly iced cupcakes. Fill a freezer bag with frosting and snip off the tip for a DIY pastry bag that's just as good as the real deal.
Make alternative flours in your blender.
Your blender is so much more than a smoothie station. If you're trying to eat healthier, it's the perfect tool for creating alternative flours out of things like almonds and oats. Put your dry ingredients in and pulse in the blender until they have a dry and crumbly texture.
Infuse your food with flavor using a coffee filter.
Just because you've moved onto a single-cup machine doesn't mean you should toss those coffee filters. Make your food more flavorful without risking chomping down on a bay leaf by putting your herbs and spices in the center of a coffee filter and tying it with string. Then drop the bag in your recipe and remove when you're done cooking. It's the perfect infuser, free of charge!
Or separate plates with a coffee filter.
And when you're packing plates to move, coffee filters can also provide just the buffer you need to prevent your china from chipping.
Clean cutting boards with baking soda.
Cleaning those well-loved cutting boards is a snap with one tool you probably already have hiding in the back of your refrigerator. Just sprinkle some baking soda on your cutting board, let it sit overnight, and then rinse it off in the morning to remove any lingering smells. And if you're dealing with set-in stains, The Pioneer Woman has some tips for using the versatile baking ingredient to scrub them away.
Use a zip tie to snake a drain.
You can easily snake your clogged drain with an item you likely have lying around the house: a zip tie. Cut little notches into the zip tie with scissors, stick it down your drain, and you'll be astounded—and maybe a little disgusted—by the things it pulls out.
Or to keep bouquets looking lush.
Don't let a droopy bouquet ruin your otherwise perfectly set table. Instead of placing flowers in a vase and crossing your fingers, hold them together with a not-overly-snug zip tie. Make sure the tie is about three inches from the bottom of the bouquet to prevent the flowers from fanning out.
Or to organize cables.
Want to keep your electronics organized? Zip ties can help you bundle cables, too, making them easier to identify and reattach if you move things around.
Press a hem with a hair straightener.
Don't have time to iron a wrinkled hem? A hair straightener will do the trick in no time. Place a bit of fabric adhesive tape between the two sides of the hem and press lightly with your straightener on its lowest setting.
Or use a hair dryer to remove stickers.
Did you know you can get the stickers off of products with the help of a hairdryer? Simply run hot air over the sticker to loosen the adhesive and it will peel off easily.
Ditch frizz with a dryer sheet.
The best frizz fighter out there might be in your laundry room. If the humidity has gotten the best of your hair, run a dryer sheet over it for a quick fix. You should instantly see your frizz diminish.
Prevent scuffed floors with tennis balls.
Letting the legs of a chair drag when moving it around can leave the floors in your home scuffed and scratched. To avoid that, try this easy hack commonly used in school classrooms: Cut holes in the tops of four tennis balls big enough to fit the legs of a chair. Then you can scoot around with peace of mind, knowing you won't be scuffing your floors in the process.
Or use old jar lids as makeshift furniture sliders.
If you don't have tennis balls lying around, sticking jar lids under the legs of your furniture can also help you slide your larger pieces from place to place without leaving unsightly scratches on your hardwoods.
Protect table edges with a pool noodle.
You can keep your young ones safe from sharp furniture edges with a pool noodle. All you have to do is cut a single slit in the noodle and open it to accommodate the edge of your table.
Hang bath toys with curtain clips.
Bath toys—particularly waterlogged ones—can get moldy fast. Luckily, you can keep this from happening by emptying them after bath time and hanging them on your shower rod using curtain clips so that they dry out completely.
Keep critters out of your garden with a fitted sheet.
The only thing more frustrating than folding a fitted sheet is planting a beautiful garden only to have it serve as a smorgasbord for rabbits, deer, and other pests. If you have an old fitted sheet around that you're not using, you can kill two birds with one stone and use it to cover your raised beds at night to keep those critters from snacking on the fruits of your labor.
Deter pets with tin foil.
If you have a pet that won't stop scratching your furniture, aluminum foil provides an effective deterrent. Cats and dogs generally don't enjoy the feeling of crunchy foil beneath their paws, so cover any furniture you don't want them on with foil to keep it safe.
Keep doors from locking with a rubber band.
Want to keep your kids or grandkids from locking themselves in a room? Attach a rubber band to one side of your door knob, make a twist in the center, and loop the other end around the knob on the other side. Adjust so that the twist in the rubber band is holding the latch bolt in place, and your door won't lock without your approval again.