16 ways to get more from household basics

Lemons lemon juiceShutterstockLemons are handy for much more than adding zest to a recipe.

From lemons to sponges to last night’s leftover beer, there are a lot of household basics laying around that could be repurposed and put to use in smart, cost-effective ways.

Before you head out to buy new cleaning, beauty, or gardening products, take a look at this list of products and ingredients that may do the trick.

Here are 16 household items that could save you an errand run and some cash:

Mandi Woodruff contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Lemons: Freshen up your home.

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

Couponsherpa.com suggests tossing leftover lemon peels into the garbage disposal and letting it whirl to get rid of any unsavoury smells.

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

Check out 66 more life-changing things you can do with a lemon.

Cinnamon: Get rid of critters.

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.

Bananas: Shine up your silverware.

Banana peels can be a great, cheap trick to getting your silver to shine again.

Just use the inside of the peels to rub down whatever needs to be untarnished and watch them work their magic, Lifehacker says.

Baking soda: Call off the plumber.

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.

Check out 59 more amazing things you can do with baking soda.

Vodka: Ditch the dandruff shampoo.

If it's not your drink of choice, consider using vodka for medicinal, cleaning, deodorizing, and other miscellaneous purposes.

For example, rinsing with vodka after shampoo and conditioner can help treat dandruff. One blogger recommends mixing one cup of vodka with two teaspoons of rosemary and letting it sit for a few days, then straining. Keep the mixture in the shower.

It can also act as an insect repellent, hairspray, ice pack, or room freshener.

Hydrogen peroxide: Give your home a makeover.

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

It also has various health and beauty purposes, and is great for lightening hair, disinfecting toothbrushes, and whitening nails.

Sponge: Grow your garden.

Sponges don't have to remain in the kitchen to be effective.

This Old House recommends using sponges to keep your potted plants hydrated. Place wet sponges into the bottom of potted plants to help plants retain moisture.

Check out 43 other genius things you can do with a sponge -- such as absorbing oil leaks, removing lint, and combating blisters.

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