21 Clever Uses For Household Items

There are few places where Americans spend more of their discretionary funds than cleaning house and keeping their body care regimen up to date.  

Stop wasting money at the store. Most of what you need to keep your home and skin looking good as new could already be hiding in your pantry.

We’ve rounded up 21 clever uses for household items.

Use beer to ward off slugs.

If you've got a slug problem, use leftover beer to keep them at bay.

Turns out the little pests will wander right into jars of brewski if you leave them hidden properly in the ground, according to Wisebread.

Be sure the rims of the jars are at ground level and check back on them a day or so later to easily dispose of the unsuspecting critters. It's just as effective as salt without the hassle of finding the slugs yourself.

Leftover tea can take care of unwanted smells.

Sara Noel, founder of the Frugal Village, found a great use for used tea bags:

Feet deodorizer. Try soaking your smelly soles for about 30 minutes in enough black tea to keep them covered (about three bags boiled in a quart should do the trick----add cold water to cool).

Fire starter. 'Tuck dried tea bags into a cardboard tube from toilet paper or paper towels and light them to start a fire,' Noel says. 'You can add dryer lint or crumpled newspaper to help fill the tube, too.'

Odor remover. 'Put some used tea bags in a jar and place in your refrigerator to absorb odours,' she adds.

Use olive oil in lieu of shaving cream.

The price of shaving creams these days is enough to make any girl's leg hairs stand on end. But if you're well-stocked in the olive oil department, you'll be glad to know that Rachel Ray's favourite kitchen staple is also great as a makeshift shaving oil.

Bonus: According to Woman's Day, olive oil is packed with skin-nourishing nutrients, so go ahead and skip the $10 moisturizer afterward to save even more.

Use vinegar to make your dog's coat shine.

Vinegar may be pretty assaulting on the olfactory senses, but it is probably one of the most diverse products you have in your household arsenal.

Vinegartips.com recommends using it to make your pup's coat really shine. Just mix a cup of the white distilled variety with one quart of water, then rub down its coat with your hands.

Used yoga mats can keep messes at bay.

Frugal Village reader Tanya has some pretty savvy ideas for salvaging old yoga mats:

'We have found a lot of uses for our old mats, including putting one under the cat box.

The cat jumps out and the litter in her paws sticks better to the mat than any surface I've used. Just vacuum up when litter begins to cluster (or roll up and shake into bin),' she writes.

Metal spoons can help puffy eyes.

Before you trade in your tired old flatware for something shinier, give those spoons a second chance.

'Metal spoons have multiple uses,' says Noel. 'You can use several to make a wind chime or garden markers, or use one as a little shovel for houseplants or small digging jobs in your garden.'

Toss a pair in the freezer and apply to puffy eyes in the morning, too.

Baking soda works magic on clogged drains.

Before you drop cash on Drain-O for that clogged sink, just grab some baking soda from the fridge and let it do the work at a fraction of the cost.

First, pour 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, Real Simple suggests. Then slowly add equal parts white vinegar and let it sit for five minutes. Douse the drain with a gallon of boiling water afterward and run the water to check your results.

Kitty litter can save your cell phone.

If your phone gets wet, try wrapping it in cloth and putting it in a container of cat litter over night.

Be sure to remove the battery and SIM card first, though.

After 2-3 days, check to see if there are any signs of moisture. Litter is way more absorbent than than uncooked rice.

Baby wipes will keep gadgets clean.

Baby wipes are probably the most versatile product on this list, as you can use in them in everything from household cleaning to keeping sticky fingers at bay.

Before you go out and purchase pricey electronics cleaners, keep in mind baby wipes work just as well. Give your keyboard, mouse, desk and TV a good scrub.

Used butter wrappers are better than pricey sprays.

Avid bakers, take note: You can save old butter wrappers to use instead of pricey non-stick cooking sprays.

Just stash them in your freezer and use them piece-meal to grease baking sheets and pans whenever needed.

Breath mint containers double as a flashlight and wallet.

These tiny breath mint containers take on a whole new life once they're empty.

The gadget-minded out there will love this DIY flashlight made out of an old tic tac container and a few batteries.

Ladies looking for a quick way to stash their credit cards for a night out can use an Altoid tin, too (see photo, right).

Cinnamon is a natural deterrent for bugs.

Forget pricey pesticides. If you want to keep ants at bay, cinnamon may be all you need.

Use it to deter the six-legged critters from invading your home by spreading powdered cinnamon anywhere you catch sight of them, Anniesremedy.com says. Not only will you be bug-free, but your home will smell delicious, too.

Hydrogen peroxide is a stain wizard.

It's a shame the bleach blonde craze of the 90s left hydrogen peroxide with such a bad rap.

Commonly used as an anti-septic, it makes for an excellent household cleaner. Mix with water and use it to disinfect countertops or as a makeshift stain remover.

Coconut oil is a natural beauty aid.

Coconut oil has long been beloved by families on a budget, but its uses extend far beyond the kitchen.

Give yourself peace of mind about harsh chemicals found in bath and beauty aids by using coconut oil as the base for home-made deodorant and toothpaste, submitted by a Frugal Living reader:

Deodorant:

Mix equal parts organic virgin coconut oil (melted), baking soda and corn starch and store in jar. Apply with your fingers or a cotton ball. The best time to apply deodorant is right after a shower and/or before bedtime.

Toothpaste:

2 tablespoons virgin organic coconut oil (Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay)
3 tablespoons baking soda
20 drops peppermint essential oil
A few drops liquid stevia

Clean up crayon with WD-40.

The next time your kid gets his hands on a box of Crayola's finest and runs amok, don't waste a ton of cash on wall cleaner.

WD-40 can be used to remove crayon marks from most surfaces, according to Woman's Day.

Just be sure to wipe down the surface with a soapy rag if you want to get the oil off the wall afterward.

Kool-Aid can double as dish wash

Noel also learned Kool-aid works great as dishwasher detergent:

1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Kosher or coarse salt
4 packages unsweetened Kool-Aid drink mix, lemonade flavour (DO NOT use any other flavour, as lemon has the most dirt-busting citric acid)

Combine all ingredients in a jar or plastic container with a lid. Place lid on container and shake several times to mix ingredients thoroughly. Use 1 tablespoon per load. If load is heavily soiled, use 2 tablespoons. Yields up to 40 loads.

deodorise everything with lemons in a pinch.

Lemons are all the firepower you'll need in the face of life's stinkier problems.

Toss leftover lemon peels into the garbage disposal and let it whirl to get rid of any unsavory smells.

You can also rub down your cutting board with half a lemon and coarse salt to freshen it up. During cooler months, cozy up to the fireplace and toss a few peels on the flames to add a citrusy hint to the air in your home.

Cereal bags are a cheaper alternative to Ziplocs.

Ziplock bags cost a fortune and the store-brand stuff is rarely worth its weight in flimsy plastic.

Try recycling your used cereal bags instead.

'You can use them to store baked goods or a sandwich, apply breadcrumb coatings to meat, fish and poultry, roll up cookie dough logs, contain ingredients to be crushed with a rolling pin, or as a trash container in your car,' Noel says.

Shampoo dregs make shaving cream obsolete.

Fewer things are more annoying than the inch or so of shampoo that gets lodged at the bottom of the bottle and won't budge.

Before you throw money away, try Noel's frugal alternatives:

Cuticle softener: A squirt of shampoo in a bowl of warm water is great for at-home manicures, Noel says.
Shaving cream: Swap out your Barbasol for leftover conditioner or shampoo.
Fog-proof goggles: 'To prevent swim masks and goggles from fogging up, fill a squirt bottle with a mixture of one part baby shampoo and two parts water. Apply it to the goggles, and lightly rinse.'

aluminium foil doubles as dryer sheets

If you never knew it was safe to put aluminium foil in dryers, join the club.

Turns out they make excellent alternatives to dryer sheets, according to Noel.

'Wad foil into balls that are approximately 3 inches in diameter and use them to reduce static in your dryer,' she says. 'You can wrap a tennis ball in foil, too.'

Coffee doubles as cheap hair dye.

Good news, brunettes. Ditch those $200 touch-ups at the salon and brew an extra pot of Joe instead to brighten up your hair colour.

Mint.com suggests taking a strong pot of black coffee after it's cooled and pouring it on freshly shampooed strands. Let it soak for about 10 to 15 minutes (plenty of time to brew yourself another cup) and then rinse with cool water. Follow it up with conditioner and style as usual.

Bonus: Save the leftover grounds if you're looking for a cheap alternative fertiliser.

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