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9 Unusual Ways To Solve Problems With Stuff You Have At Home

Ways To Use Common Household Items

One of the best ways to save yourself time and money is by finding more ways to use the stuff you already have around the house. It’s a concept that I’m really passionate about, and it’s one that I’ve talked about extensively here on my blog. Not only is being more resourceful better for your wallet, but it’s also better for the planet! And I think it just feels good to be able to solve a problem without having to rush out to the store to buy anything. :-)

Today I’m sharing another 9 ideas for repurposing common household items (stuff you likely already have at home). These brilliant ideas will help you save time and money, or even just help you solve a tricky problem in a pinch! (And if you have a creative use for a common household item that you’d like, share it with us in a comment at the bottom of this post! I believe that when we pool our knowledge together, we all benefit from it!)

9 Uncommon Ways To Use Common Household Items

1. Use Soap To Unstick A Zipper

Metal zippers are very durable, but they tend to get snagged more than other kinds of zippers. But there’s a simple way to fix a stubborn metal zipper, and all you need is a bar of soap! Just gently rub the bar of soap over the teeth of both sides of the zipper. The soap residue will help lubricate the zipper, making it easier to slide open and closed.

Ways To Use Common Household Items

2. Use Wipes To Clean A Sink

If you have baby wipes on hand somewhere in your house, you can use them for quick bathroom cleanups! Use a baby wipe to wipe up toothpaste splatters, makeup smears, and other everyday bathroom messes. Not only will these quick cleanups keep your bathroom looking nice during the week, but they’ll make your deep bathroom cleanings faster and easier too.

Ways To Use Common Household Items

3. Use Toothpaste To Banish Odors

The smell from garlic and onions can linger on your fingers long after you’ve finished handling them. But you can quickly and easily get rid of that smelly odor with a bit of toothpaste! Just squeeze some minty toothpaste over your fingers and rub them together, then rinse them clean. The toothpaste will help erase the odor and leave your fingers smelling much fresher!

Ways To Use Common Household Items

4. Use Gloves To Open Jars

Having trouble opening a jar? Grab your rubber gloves from under the sink! Just lay the glove over the lid, then try opening the lid again. The rubber gloves should provide enough extra grip that the jar lid will pop right off.

Ways To Use Common Household Items

5. Use Vinegar To Wash Produce

You can use white vinegar to make a natural and effective produce wash. Just mix together one part white vinegar and three parts water. To wash your produce, just dunk it in the diluted vinegar solution and swish it around a bit. Rinse the produce in cold, clean water, then pat dry with a paper towel. The vinegar will help remove any yucky stuff from the product that you don’t want to eat! (And I promise your produce won’t taste like vinegar!)

Ways To Use Common Household Items

6. Use Sponges To Remove Pet Hair

Everyone with a cat or dog struggles with pet hair to some degree. One simple way to help remove pet hair from carpets or upholstery is by using a sponge! Just get a sponge damp with a bit of water, then swipe it across the surface you’re trying to clean. The sponge will grab onto the hair, then you can just scrape it off into the trash.

Ways To Use Common Household Items

7. Use Baking Soda To Absorb Grease

Baking soda is useful for scrubbing away stains and absorbing odors, but it’s also great at absorbing greasy messes! Sprinkle some on a greasy stain or into a greasy pan to help make it easier to clean. And add some to your dishwasher whenever you’re washing a particularly greasy pot or pan!

Related: Surprising Uses For Baking Soda (That Have Nothing To Do With Baking!)

Ways To Use Common Household Items

8. Use Lemons To Clean Brass

You can use lemon juice (fresh or from a bottle) to remove tarnish from brass! Soak a sponge with lemon juice, then rub it onto tarnished areas on a brass item like a pot or pan. Sprinkle the area with salt, then let it sit for minute or two. Rinse the salt and lemon juice off, then stand back and admire the shine!

Ways To Use Common Household Items

9. Use Dryer Sheets To Freshen A Gym Bag

Don’t toss out your dryer sheets after they’ve been run through the dryer. You can use them again to help keep your gym bag smelling fresh! Just tuck a used dryer sheet into your running shoes or in the bottom of your gym bag, and they’ll smell much better!

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • Some other unexpected uses for things are: use the bottom of a ceramic mug or the grout between tile as an emergency nail file for that annoying little snaggy nail that is driving you nuts. Use straight hydrogen peroxide to remove blood from fabrics (always test first to make sure it doesn’t discolor or hurt the fabric) rub or brush in gently and keep applying until the blood is gone then launder as usual. Treating right away is best but this will get older stains as well. Finally my favorite household tool is poster putty, the gray kind. All those organizers and trays in drawers will stay in place and not budge with a bit of putty on each corner and charging hubs or stands (my Apple Watch stand is the worst) will stay right where you put them and never end up behind the nightstand with poster putty keeping them put. Use it for candles to keep them straight. I’ve even used a ball on the end of a skewer to fish a paper up out of the car dashboard and retrieving tiny screws that dropped in the wrong part of an appliance repair. And nothing keeps that frame near the door from going out of level like it, just a dot on the bottom center. I’ve used it as a “clamp” while gluing together tiny things, And of course, putting stuff on the wall.

  • Instead of using my baking soda from a box, I emptied the whole box into a parmesan cheese container and shake it out of it. Then it is much easier to use and I can control how much comes out at once. PS The whole box fit in the container.

  • Tip #9 is very creative. My kids’ bags and shoes smell very bad, and I don’t like paying for those little scent removal/freshener things. I’ll give the used dryer sheets a try! Thank you.

  • I have a copper bottom pan that I clean with lemon juice. Just dribble straight on the copper and watch the shine appear! Spread around and rinse. No elbow grease required.

  • I use hint 7 quite a bit. I also purchase the dollar store hand soap to clean out my plastic. A squirt or two then rub it over plastic will remove the grease and most times get rid of the stain. Another hint I learned for ring around the collar was shampoo. Doing the blue military shirts for my husband who always had to be ready for inspection and be super clean. Shampoo worked amazing well.

  • Tea light candles also work very well for unsticking zippers and the un-stick properties last longer than with soap.

    Clorox and Lysol wipes are great for getting grease off your stove.

    We keep the 3/1 vinegar mixture in a spray bottle. Not only does it work great for cleaning veggies, you can also use it as a spray cleaner for silk plants (rinse with plain water afterwards) and it makes a dandy nontoxic ant spray.

    • Also, ifyou are trying to unzip a metal zipper, you can run a stndard pencil lead ip and down the teeth, the graphite in the leadcacts as a lubricant.

  • Thanks for the tips! I use vinegar for my fruits/veggies and vinegar and baking soda for them when they can stand the scrubbing (think apples). I had no idea about the toothpaste and odors – great tip! Last night as I was cleaning my kitchen sink I tried to think of something simple and quick to clean water spots from my faucets and the sink itself. I happened to have a clean store-brand cover for swiffer sweeper on the counter, so I decided to try it. It cleaned off the spots and shined the faucet at the same time.

  • I have used dryer sheets in my suitcases for years so that clothes do not have that ‘suitcase’ smell when arriving at the destination, whether it be a couple days on the road or a cross country flight.

  • Another, less costly way to remove the odor of onion from your hands is to rub your hands all over with a stainless steel utensil. I normally then wash my hands with soap to get a fresh feel but it’s not necessary.

  • I have for years kept baby wipes under the sink for removing my makeup. I agree , you can use them to spot clean the sink. They’re also great for getting some stains out of clothing.

    • The vinegar trick is also great to keep berries fresh longer. Use about the same ratio and let the fruit soak about 15-20.Ive tried this and it helps the berries last longer. I ve heard the vinegar helps to kill the bacteria that causes mold to form. You can also use Apple Cider vinegar for this hack.

  • I love to cook and use either or both onion and garlic to season most dishes, so I chop a LOT of both! I have found that the most effective way to banish odors from fingers is to to sprinkle a little good old baking soda on the finger tips and wash with warm, soapy water (I am partial to Dawn Ultra dishwashing soap). It’s quick and easy as I keep a jar of baking soda next to the dish soap on my kitchen sink at all times. PLUS, my hands are super clean!

  • Thoughts on garlic or onion odors on hands: If you have a stainless steel kitchen faucet, just rub your hands on it. Garlic odor gone! When using toothpaste, don’t forget to rub it into your cuticles, too. It acts like a facial scrub for your nails and polishes them a bit at the same time!

  • For most fruits, I also use the vinegar in the water to wash them, it’s especially good for extending the life of Strawberries, Raspberries and BlackBerries! However, Grapes often seem to be the dirtiest fruit! So, I use a two-step process for grapes. First I put vinegar and baking soda in the water which gives you a real “scrubbing bubbles” effect. Swish that around a couple of times and let it sit for a few minutes. (That water can turn mighty dingy sometimes and you’ll be really glad you’re not ingesting that grime!). Then I put them in clean cold water and add the shot of white vinegar again! This combats the mould that can quickly develop where the stem is attached, and once you have drained them thoroughly, the vinegar does evaporate and as Jillie said, you can’t taste any vinegar! They really do last a lot longer this way! The vinegar and baking soda cancel each other out (basic chemical reaction), which is why you need to do the plain water and vinegar the second time to get that mild acid to the fruit. Fruit is so darn expensive, especially at certain times of the year that you really don’t want to be throwing it away! And generic white vinegar is pretty cheap, so it makes sense to me! I’ve been following OGT for many years now, and I ALWAYS learn something new and helpful! So I hope this little tip helps others! Keep up the good work Jillie and your girls!

    Marianne Enge
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    • Thanks for this info on washing grapes. I’ll have to try it with caution. I wound up in the hospital for 2 days back in the early 80s after eating about 15 grapes. Since then I only have one or two. If I have more I begin to feel odd. Though I’m just fine with wine. I really like grapes so I will try this – with caution.

      • Regular grapes contain an awful lot of sugar Sheila, much more so than, say, a dry wine. Is it possible that you might be prediabetic, or even a Type II diabetic and that’s why you’re reacting strongly to consuming numerous grapes? You might want to just ask your doctor next time you see him… Better safe than sorry! Best regards, Marianne

      • Thanks for caring Marianne but that has been checked and rechecked many times and every doctor and lab test say no; at the time and 40 yrs since. But it does make sense.

      • Ok Sheila, then it’s obvious…you must drink more wine and eat less grapes!!

  • Soap can also be used to loosen hard to pull out drawers (in antique furniture, drawers without runners): Just run the soap on the top of the drawer sides.

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