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Little Known Uses for Five Common Household Items

By David Bakke

There is nothing that I like better than to find an additional use for a common household item. This can cut down on having to buy additional cleaners and/or chemicals for my household, which is always good. And of course, invariably these additional uses will save you money. Once I got into living frugally, I really began to research these “extra” uses. Some of them are quite ingenious! I’ve come up with a short list of multiple uses for five common items you likely have around your house. The list is by no means inclusive, so feel free to add your ideas in the comments section. I know that some of you house moms and dads have some great ideas out there!

Dryer Sheets

The best part I like about these additional uses is that for a lot of them the dryer sheet doesn’t even have to be new. So with these ideas, you are really getting something for free while also recycling your products. Dryer sheets can be used to get pet hair off of furniture and clothing, and, if you put a little fabric softener on one, you can then remove dust from a TV screen or computer monitor and keep it from coming back.

Some additional uses…

  • Remove burnt food from casserole dishes (soak in warm water with the sheet)
  • Get rid of and prevent odors just about anywhere you can think of (even in your shoes!)
  • Remove soap build up from your shower
  • Place in your clothes drawer or suitcase while vacationing for that “just washed” smell all the time
  • Clean paint brushes (soak in warm water with the sheet)

Aluminum Foil

Would you like to cook the perfect pie crust? Wrap the edges in aluminum foil. Line your grill with it and pokes holes in it to prevent chicken/meats from cooking too fast. Scissors need sharpening? Cut through a few pieces of foil, and presto—sharp scissors.

A few more…

  • To reuse a paint brush for the same job without having to clean it, wrap it in foil, place in fridge
  • Wrap doorknobs with it while painting
  • Line paint tray with it rather than buying the premade plastic inserts
  • Polishing silverware. What a time saver! Line a pan with foil, fill with cold water. Add a little salt, put silver in for three minutes. Rinse and dry.

WD40

This list could be a mile long. Far too many uses to get into all of them. But keep in mind that the manufacturer does not recommend a lot of the uses for how people use it. I’ve included only some of those that have the blessing of the makers of WD40. In addition to it lubricating almost everything, it will also:

  • Loosen zippers
  • Clean roof racks on vehicles
  • Remove bug “guts” on your car’s grill
  • Removes remnants of duct tape
  • Keeps rust away from most tools
  • Keeps pigeons away (they dislike the smell)
  • Removes black scuffmarks from kitchen floors

White Vinegar

One of my new found favorites. You can substitute a little white vinegar for just about any household cleaning job. White vinegar can be used to clean the hoses in your washing machine, the insides of your coffee maker,  the inside of your steam iron, and a variety of other things. Freeze some with some water and grind through your garbage disposal to get rid of odors there too!  Some others you may not have known about are…

  • Remove chewing gum
  • Help pain from sunburn
  • Soothe a sore throat
  • Itching
  • Ear infections
  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Remedy for acne
  • Body odor
  • Cure for hiccups

This list could go on forever…

Toothpaste

Toothpaste can clean, it can deodorize, and it can make you more beautiful!  A short list of some unintended uses for toothpaste:

  • Remove pimples
  • Polish nails (nails are similar in their makeup to teeth)
  • Car freshener (wrap some in paper towels and put under your seat)
  • Clean walls, jewelry, shoes, and even piano keys
  • Hang posters on the wall (no lie)
  • Sub for spackle (will fill nail holes on walls)

So there you go. A whole host of new uses for items I am pretty sure you have lying around the house. A few of these I already knew about, a lot of them I didn’t. I can’t even imagine the savings if you employ half of these ideas.

Care to elaborate on any of these lists?

(photo credit: oceanyamaha)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • http://change-is-possible.net Heather

    I wouldn’t use dryer sheets on dishes. They are loaded with toxic chemicals and aren’t even really good for your clothes or your dryer.

    Not my blog, but good info on dryer sheets here: http://youtotallystink.blogspot.com/2008/05/why-you-should-avoid-dryer-sheets-and.html

    • David/moneycrashers

      Heather

      That’s actually a very good point about the dishes.

      Thanks for pointing that out…

  • Jilb

    I wouldn’t recommend using toothpaste in place of spackle. Of course every home does not have them, but if your home ever gets infested with cockroaches they can live for years off of small amounts of toothpaste! Eww!!

    • David/moneycrashers

      Jilb

      Thanks for pointing that out also.

      The reader support that this blog enjoys is one of the things that makes it so beneficial to our other readers!

  • http://knsfinancial.com Khaleef @ KNS Financial

    This is a great list! I definitely learned a lot of new uses. And what I love is that these can really help to save time and money!

  • Guest

    Put vinegar in rinse cycle of clothes washer. Perfume/dye free fabric softener.

    • Davidbakke

      Nice tip–thanks for contributing!

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