Sometimes you go to complete a household chore and realize you don’t have the right tools for the job, so you have to make a trip to the store. Or so you think! In reality, you might already have what you need laying around at home. There are lots of ordinary household items that have dual purposes and can be used in truly unexpected, helpful ways. In this article we’ll show you how, and the great thing is that anyone can make use of these hacks — regardless of money, creativity, or skill level. So next time you go to add new cleaning products or DIY tools to your shopping list, check out these at-home alternatives instead.
1. Composting Coca-Cola
How many of us have poured a large bottle of Coca-Cola down the kitchen sink when it’s still half-full? Sure, no one’s a fan of flat Coke, but it doesn’t need to go to waste. There’s a surprising use for your leftover flat Coca-Cola, and that is composting. Yes, really!
Pour that unwanted soda to your compost heap, and it will work wonders. Why, you ask? While the sugar in Coca-Cola is not good for our teeth, it’s great for nourishing good microorganisms in the compost and boosts its acidity, enabling organic material to decay quicker. Cool.
2. Use socks for dusting blinds
Sure, window blinds are super functional, but they can be really tricky things to clean. Getting in between all those slats is not a fun job! So once we learned this neat blind cleaning hack, we never looked back. It’s so easy, and all you need is an old, preferably soft, socks!
Place the sock over your hand, and then get to work dusting your blinds, smoothly gliding over those awkward, hard-to-clean slats. This will give you a lot more control than using a regular duster, and the sock will expertly collect up all that dust. Then, when you’re done, you can just toss it in the washing machine!
3. Keep bugs away with lemon
Ever been outside painting on your porch or somewhere, when a load of insects turn up uninvited and land on your painted wood, or the paint can? For some reason, pesky winged insects are attracted to freshly painted surfaces. It might be the color, odor, or moisture that makes it so alluring to them, but either way, it can ruin your painting project. However, there is a great hack to stop this from happening.
All you need is some lemons from the fruit bowl in your kitchen! Lemons are an effective, natural, non-toxic way to ward off bugs. Just squeeze some of the juice from lemons into your can of paint before you start painting, and this should keep the insects away. Result!
4. Kitchen foil for dull scissors
It can be really annoying when your scissors become dull and unable to cut anything properly. But instead of investing in an expensive scissor sharpener, there’s a really simple way to give your scissors a new lease of life, and it will cost you barely anything.
All you’ll need to perform this hack is some aluminum kitchen foil, which you probably have already in a draw somewhere. Simply fold a piece of foil into quarters. Then use the scissors to cut through the folded foil. This should sharpen them up nicely!
5. Milk carton flower planter
If you still have a carton of juice or milk in your refrigerator, don’t throw it out when you’re finished with it. Instead, why not give it a new life as a plant holder? Do not fear: this is so simple; even the least creative person can accomplish this! Here’s what to do.
First, rinse the carton out with water and let it dry. Then, neatly cut the top off it (an easy task if you’ve already sharpened your scissors using the hack on this list!). Next, get some fun fabric of your choice and glue it around your carton. Once the glue is fully dry, throw in your soil and plant, and hey presto! You have yourself a cute planter that cost you nothing and shows you care about the planet!
6. Bread tabs for organizing cords
If you get mega-annoyed when trying to figure out which of your cords belongs to which of your electronic devices, you’re not alone. But let us tell you that there’s an ordinary household item that will immediately alleviate your cord frustration: the humble bread tab!
Instead of throwing these out when you’ve finished your loaf, stockpile a few of them. You can use them to hook around your cords and write on them which device they correspond to. Even better if they are different colors!
7. Eliminate grime with an electric toothbrush
If you’ve got an old electric toothbrush in a drawer somewhere, don’t toss it out just yet. Or alternatively, head to a dollar store to buy a cheap one, because these little devices can be really handy for cleaning.
If you’ve ever had a problem getting rid of grime, then the electric toothbrush is your friend. The rapid vibration of the toothbrush is a super weapon for getting rid of grime and stubborn muck. You will also be able to work in places that were usually hard to reach, due to its long, thin neck.
8. Baby-proof your home with insulation piping
If you have a baby or toddler, then there’s a neat home hack you can use to protect them from getting hurt when they inevitably start crawling and exploring your house. It involves foam pipe used for house insulation, and it’s easy as pie.
Grab a few tubes from the attic or garage (it’s also really cheap to buy some) and cut them to the desired length. By that, we mean the length that is needed to cover the edges and corners of furniture. With a bit of tape or some safety fixers, any sharp edges will be baby safe, and you haven’t spent a fortune getting a professional in.
9. Makeshift bowl speaker
If you work from home and don’t have a Bluetooth speaker to play your tunes through on your smartphone, then don’t stress. There’s an ordinary household item you can utilize to make your playlist sound perfect.
Simply grab a ceramic or metal bowl that you might have otherwise stuffed with potpourri, empty it out, and place your smartphone in it. Make sure the speaker is facing down into the bowl, press play, and enjoy the sound of your makeshift speaker. The sound bounces off the bottom of the bowl and amplifies accordingly.
10. Keep grocery bags together with bungees
When you get back home from the grocery store, do you find that all your shoppings bags have annoyingly fallen over and emptied themselves in the trunk? It can take time and patience that you don’t really have to refill the bags before carrying them inside. But don’t worry, there is a clever solution to this age-old problem!
When you place your bags into the trunk of your car after shopping, run a bungee cord through the handles of the bags and attach the bungee hooks somewhere inside the trunk. This trick will mean your bags won’t spill over when you turn a tight corner, and it’ll save you time and effort when you get home.
11. Remove sweat stains with aspirin
You often take an aspirin when you have a headache, so it is perhaps ironic that the over-the-counter painkiller can also be used to avoid another type of headache entirely: sweat stains on your white T-shirts and vests. Yes, really! What you need to do to get rid of those noticeable clothing stains is get hold of a few aspirin tablets (only uncoated tablets will work) and crush them.
Then, get a small bowl or something to mix the powder in with a small amount of warm water, which if you’ve done it correctly will form a paste. Apply it to the sweat stain marks on your clothes and allow it to sit for a few hours. Finally, throw your affected clothing into the washing machine and marvel at the absence of the sweat marks after you’ve let the garment dry naturally!
12. Bobby pin nail holder
One of the problems with hammering nails into wood is the risk of hitting your own finger as you hold the nail in place. Almost everyone has done it, no matter how experienced they are, and boy does it hurt! The risk is increased massively when it’s a small pin or nail that you’re hammering, too, but this cool tip should help you avoid a swollen finger.
Get your hands on a bobby pin, and place it over the small nail you are going to hammer into the wood. Hold the bobby pin’s end and hammer down with your finger at a safe distance. Make sure to remove it once the pin is set, before hammering it completely into the wood. Voila!
13. Soda bottle tool holder
If you need something to store your long tools in, like screwdrivers, hammers, or anything really, don’t immediately run off to The Home Depot to buy one. It’ll probably be unnecessarily expensive and a needless use of plastic. Instead, reuse and recycle! You already have some brilliant tool holders in your home, you just don’t know about them yet.
These perfect containers are the empty — or soon to be emptied — plastic soda bottles that you have in the cupboard or fridge. Just cut off the top of any 2-liter or 1.5 liter bottle, and you have yourself a storage pot! If you leave a piece of plastic at the top and cut a hole in it, you can hang it easily on the wall, too. Plus, you’ll be able to see through the clear plastic exactly what’s in there when you need it.
14. Fix wobbly furniture with a coin and a hot-glue gun
Got a wobbly table or chair in your house that’s driving you crazy? Thankfully, there is an easy fix for this perennial problem — and it doesn’t involve rushing off to the store to buy a new chair or table. You’ll need some money for this one —but just a single coin!
Take a dime or a nickel, place a bit of hot glue on one side of it, and attach it to the table or chair leg that is causing the wobbliness. The coin will fix the issue by leveling out your furniture. Yay!
15. Open bottles with tennis balls
Misplaced your bottle opener and can’t find it anywhere in the house? Don’t sweat it, because there’s a neat solution somewhere in your garage or shed. For this one it helps if you play tennis! If you have a few tennis balls lying around, you can sacrifice one for your bottle-opening needs.
Just slice it in half with a kitchen or utility knife — obviously being careful not to cut your fingers! Then hold half the tennis ball over a stubborn bottle, and twist it with the excellent grip and hand protection offered by the sliced tennis ball. Also handy to know if you ever fancy a few beers after a game of tennis with your friends!
16. Coffee filter duster
Cleaning a dusty TV or computer monitor can be a chore; often the cloth you use doesn’t grab as much dust as you’d like. However, there is a regular household item that is secretly extraordinary at performing this task. Drum roll please: it’s a coffee filter!
That’s right: turns out a paper filter that you’d usually use to make the perfect drip coffee is also ideal for catching dust. Just swoop it over your TV or monitor, and it’ll do the rest, leaving your appliance dust-free and gleaming. And bonus: you’ve saved yourself another trip to the store.
17. Organize hair ties with toilet roll tubes
Why is it that elastic bands and hair ties seem to mysteriously vanish, no matter what you do? Well, if you want a simple way to keep them all in one place and easy to access, try this hack. Once again, it’s a great way to reuse a common household item that would otherwise go to waste: toilet paper tubes!
When you’re done with a roll of toilet paper, hang fire on instinctively throwing out the cardboard roll. Instead, wrap your hair bands and elastic bands around it and put it inside a drawer. Then sit back, and marvel at how neat and easily accessible your hair bands now are. If you want to, why not glue some cute fabric or paper around the tube to make it look nice in your room?
18. Nifty knife block for book-lovers
Have some old books lying around that you’ve already read or have seen better days? Well, if you’re not going to read them or drop them off at a goodwill store, then why not refashion them into a quirky knife holder? How, you ask?
Just grab some old, sturdy books with hard covers and glue them together or tie them together tightly using twine. Sit this on your kitchen counter, and that’s it! Your knives can easily slide between the pages in each book, and you now have yourself a really stylish DIY knife block. Well done.
19. Eliminate shoe odor with table salt
Going to the gym or out running is great for your health, but it can also leave your sneakers smelling pretty bad! Luckily, there’s a solution to this common issue, and it doesn’t involve throwing them in the washing machine every time you train. All you need is a bit of table salt from your kitchen.
Sprinkle some inside your shoes, and let the sodium chloride crystals in the salt get to work. Leave for a few hours or even overnight, then pour the salt out of the shoe outside or down the sink. There shouldn’t be any bad odor left, as the sodium chloride will have absorbed the smell and killed most of the bacteria. Awesome!
20. Cut cheese with floss!
Thinking of creating a beautifully presented cheeseboard for an upcoming dinner party but don’t have a fancy cheese wire? We’ve got you covered. Run to your bathroom cabinet and grab that dental floss, because that’s all you need for a no-cost at-home cheese cutter alternative!
Sure, floss may not be the most sophisticated of cheese-cutting utensils, but your friends don’t need to know that you didn’t prepare that perfectly sliced brie with an expensive cheese wire. Just one thing: remember to use the non-flavored floss variety, unless you’re looking for a minty twist...
21. Shoebox closet storage solutions
When you’re in the process of sorting out your closet, it can be a headache figuring out how and where to put things. Many people wind up going to a store and buying some plastic storage containers. But you can save money — and the planet — if you have some old shoeboxes saved somewhere around the house.
Shoeboxes are perfect for this task. Just place them neatly side by side and fill them with whatever you need. They will fit nicely on a closet shelf or within a dresser drawer, and they can be cut carefully with scissors if they are too high. You’re welcome!
22. Gift-wrapped saw guard
As we all know, saws can be dangerous things, especially when they’re not stored away properly. Fortunately, there is a household object you can you use to make your saw safe to handle and stow. So, what do you need?
A thick paper tube is the answer; one from inside a roll of gift wrap is perfect. After you’ve used up a roll of wrapping paper, cut the tube to the size of your saw’s blade. Then slit it lengthwise. You should be able to then slide it on the blade and eliminate the possibility of cutting yourself — or someone else. Excellent. And cheap.
23. Berry container to grass-seed spreader
If you are a fan of berries and an avid gardener, then boy do we have a neat hack for you! That plastic case with small holes at the bottom that blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries come in is perfect for turning into something useful for the garden.
Yes, instead of throwing the berry container into the recycling bin, keep it and repurpose it as a grass-seed broadcaster. It’s perfect for pouring the seed in, and then wandering around the garden to dry spots that need some seed. Job done.
24. Paintbrush drip stopper
One of the most irritating things when you’re painting — besides the aforementioned winged insects attracted to the paint — is dripping paint onto the side of the can or the floor. You’ll probably have some dust sheets down, but this is annoying all the same.
Luckily, there is a readily available household object that will help you avoid this issue. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the humble elastic band. Place a heavy rubber band around the center of the paint can, and then proceed to paint. When your brush is to be put down, wipe it off over the band. This will ensure any surplus paint drips back into the can where it belongs.
25. Use elastic bands to stop rattling fans
It is often the case with ceiling fans and lights that the screws can get a bit loose on the light globe. This often makes it rattle and hum, which can be quite annoying to hear. But there is a solution to this problem, and all you need is something readily available in your home.
What you need here is a simple elastic band. Make sure it is a wide one, and then wrap it around the neck of the light globe at the point where the screws grip it. Just wrapping a rubber band there should stop the screws from loosening, which will lessen any noise they were making or prevent it altogether.
26. Doorstops for stopping scuffed walls
Ever had a problem with sliding furniture? You know, when your sofa suddenly moves and scuffs the wall behind? These marks can be a pain to remove. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to prevent this from happening in the first place.
The solution to this problem is screwed doorstops. If you have a few spare in your garage, then fasten a couple to the back of your sofa’s legs, ensuring they are at the height of the skirting or baseboard on the wall behind. No more scuffed and harder-to-clean walls. Yay!
27. Put your speaker in the trash… to protect and amplify it
When you are working outside gardening or doing DIY, it can be nice to have some tunes blaring out from a speaker or radio. But what happens if the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse, and your radio or speaker could be damaged in the rain?
That would be a disaster, but one that can be easily avoided with a small trash can. Lay it down flat, with your speaker inside, and it will duly protect it from a downpour and the elements. Not only that, it will actually amplify the sound from your speakers, giving you a much needed volume boost!
28. Non-slip magnetized screwdriver
Ever gone to screw something with a screwdriver, only to find that you keep dropping the darn screw on the floor when putting it on the end of the tool? It’s so frustrating! There’s a neat hack that will stop this from happening again though, and we are about to share this information. Lucky you!
What you need to prevent this irritating occurrence from happening again is a magnet. Take that item and then get hold of a screwdriver. Next, rub the magnet over the screwdriver’s shaft in one direction, at least a dozen times. Try putting the screw on the screwdriver now. The magnetic charge should make it sit perfectly on the end of the driver, making your screwing task easier than ever. The magnetic charge won’t last forever though, so repeat the process as necessary.
29. No-latch rubber band door hack
It can be really annoying when you are going in and out of a room carrying things and the darn door keeps latching shut. Well, luckily there is a way to stop this from occurring, using a simple household item that doesn’t involve putting a weight beside the door. So, what do you do?
Firstly, get hold of a rubber band, and then go and loop it around the handle or doorknob. Next, twist the band one time and then loop it around the other knob. If you’ve done it correctly, the rubber band will hold the latch down, stopping it from latching shut. So, if the door does close, you can lean into it with your body and carry whatever you are carrying without the stress of a closing door. Voila.
30. Wine box shoe storage
Need somewhere to pack away shoes you don’t always use somewhere in the garage? Well, instead of heading to the store to buy some storage boxes, why not put that cardboard wine box to good use? Your wallet will thank you.
Indeed, with its numerous cardboard dividers, a wine box is perfect for shoe storage. Just slip your muddy sneakers inside the box in pairs and you’ll likely be very content that you didn’t rush off to Home Depot or somewhere similar, when the solution was right in front of you! If you don’t have any wine boxes, a store that sells wine might be throwing some out: it’s worth asking!
31. Spring flower wall
Want to have some flowers on a garden wall but not sure how to go about it? Well, one reader of the website Family Handyman sent in an ingenious and cool-looking method for doing so. It involves utilizing a common household object in a strange way.
Yes, this DIY-er made a flower wall by attaching the springs from an old mattress to it. What an interesting idea, and it looks pretty awesome to us. The springs from the old mattress offer neat circular compartments into which you can place your flowers. Very impressive!
32. Junction box mini-bins
Have some spare electrical junction boxes laying around somewhere in the house, or perhaps stored away in a drawer in the garage? Well, these ordinary objects that are seemingly only fit for one purpose — that of holding and protecting wiring from the elements — can actually be used for something else.
Yes, with a few simple screws or nails, electrical junction boxes can become wall-mounted mini bins for the garage. They’re perfect for slipping in tools such as chisels, knives, large markers, tape measures and more, that are impossible to hang on hooks. Result!
33. CD bin string-dispenser
Another ordinary household object that can be used in an extraordinary way is a CD bin. We’re talking those circular, clear plastic ones that come with CDs stacked upon each other and a black plastic bottom that it clicks on. You didn’t know before, but we’re telling you now that they can be used for dispensing string in the garage.
How so, you ask? Drill the black plastic case upside down under a wooden shelf in your garage. Then drill a hole through the top of the clear plastic for the string to feed through. Finally, put a roll of string inside the clear plastic case and voila, your very own DIY string-dispenser!
34. Use old gloves to protect tools
Got some old gardening or work gloves that have seen better days? Don’t be so fast with throwing them out, because we’ve discovered a neat use for them in the garage. Well, a part of them, anyway. Get yourself some sharp scissors, and then cut the fingers off of the gloves you were going to throw out.
Those sturdy glove fingers can come in handy for protecting your tools. Tie them around tools like chisels using an elastic band to prevent them from getting rusty or damaged. Never throw away a pair of gloves again!
35. Hanger magazine rack
A simple hanger can create something rather neat for your bedroom or bathroom. Yes, there’s more to this ordinary household object than meets the eye. But what is the secret and extraordinary way that it should be utilized, you ask?
We won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Grab a hanger out of your wardrobe, and hook it to a drawer or cabinet knob, or something similar. Then hang some magazines horizontally over it. Congratulations, you are now the owner of a cheap, chic and effective magazine rack.
36. Car wax-coated shovel for snow
Shoveling snow can be a bit of a chore when winter comes around. But it’s one that can be made easier with a simple hack. All you really need to make this task much easier than before is a bit of car wax.
Yes, pouring some car wax on to a metal shovel can make a significant difference to shoveling snow. Why? Because the sleek and shiny lubrication of the car wax will make any snow and ice slide off the shovel, after each shoveling action. So, before you start shoveling, apply the car wax with a damp cloth, let it dry and then rub with a dry r
37. Use a pool noodle inside a drawer
Ever opened your kitchen drawer and found that all the knives, forks and spoons move around, despite having a divider in there? This is something that has annoyed many people down the years. Luckily, there is a solution to this problem, and if you have a pool, you will likely already have it handy.
A pool noodle is the way to go when you are looking to stop your silverware drawer organizer thrashing about inside the draw when you open it. What you need to do then is cut it so that it can sit snugly behind the organizer and drawer. Now, when you open the drawer, you’ll be greeted by near silence and the sight of a perfectly orderly silverware drawer organizer.
38. PVC knife-holders
Going camping? Then you’ll have to take some kitchen utensils such as knives with you for your culinary needs. Carrying knives around can be potentially dangerous, particularly if children are around. No sweat: what you need is some PVC piping from the garage.
Yes, PVC piping is a godsend in this situation, by making safe potentially dangerous knives. What you need to do is get hold of two PVC pipes and their caps. Cover the knife with the PVC piping then glue a cap on the bottom end and mark it ‘End’ or something. Then on the other end, the unglued cap, mark it ‘Top’ or ‘Open.’ Then you’ll know which cap is glued down and which is removable.
39. Paper towel boot storage
When you pack your winter boots away for the warmer months, they can often wind up going out of shape. So, when it comes to wearing them again, they are not so clever and full of creases and whatnot. But — as you’ve surely guessed by now — there’s an ordinary household object that can prevent this.
Step forward empty paper towel roll to save the day. Place one or two of these long cardboard rolls inside your boots. When summer comes around, instead of flopping over, they’ll stand tall and proud. And when winter is back again, you won’t need to get the iron out to attack the creases. Cool!
40. Makeshift picture-frame hook
Got a few pictures to put up in your home but ran out of sawtooth hangers? There’s really no need to rush off to the shops when you most likely have exactly what you need to overcome this problem right there in your home.
What you need is a can of pop. Or more accurately, the pull-tab from it. Snap it off the can without damaging it, then screw it to the back of your picture frame. Finally, bend the end that is free out ever so slightly so that it is pointing at an angle, and hang the picture on the wall. Brilliant!