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20 Great Tips - Household Items Have More Than One Use, Which Saves Money, Too

Updated on April 24, 2012

Don't buy equipment that does only one thing

Sometimes we fall into the habit of buying something special for every single purpose. That's why thrift stores are overloaded with salad spinners and fondue sets.

But we don't have to clutter our houses with single-use items. We can even use things that we would normally discard.

Don't clean your paint brush right now

A wet paint brush or roller doesn't need to be washed when you stop painting for a few hours, or even overnight.
A wet paint brush or roller doesn't need to be washed when you stop painting for a few hours, or even overnight. | Source

20 tips for using what you already have around the house

1. If you're painting a wall or enameling wood trim, and want to take a break, instead of washing out the paintbrush, cover it tightly with plastic, and, if necessary, secure it with a rubber band. If you're using a roller, a piece of saran wrap or dry cleaner bag will cover it. Then the brush or roller will still be wet and ready to use later in the day, or even the next day.

2. When you're re-potting plants, instead of putting pot shards over the drain hole in the bottom of the pot, use a basket-style coffee filter (preferably unbleached). Simply set it in the bottom of the pot and start filling with dirt.

3. If you have cupcake liners around, they have 3 great uses:

- If you're serving cold drinks outside, you can easily keep the bugs out of your glasses. Cut a small hole in the middle of a cupcake liner and put the liner inverted over the straw and the top of the glass. You'll be able to drink the cold drink through the straw and keep bugs out at the same time.

- If you're serving popsicles or ice cream treats on a stick, put a small slit in the middle of the cupcake liner and put the wooden popsicle stick through the hole so the liner catches any drips from the ice cream or popsicle.

- If you're serving cake and ice cream for a party, put the cupcake liners in a muffin pan, put a scoop or two of ice cream in each one, and freeze them. Then serve them with the cake. This saves you the time and mess of scooping the ice cream while you're serving the cake.

Garden seeds can remain viable for a long time - especially if they are hybrids

If you liked the vegetables you got last year or the year before, check the garden seeds left over from previous years to see if they are still viable.
If you liked the vegetables you got last year or the year before, check the garden seeds left over from previous years to see if they are still viable. | Source

Tips for ears in the garden and out.

4. If you have garden seeds left over from previous years and really liked the vegetables that grew, you may still be able to use the remaining seeds this year.

If you aren't sure that they're still viable, place them between two folded, damp paper towels in a flat container. Put a lid on it and set it aside. Check it daily to make sure the paper towel stays damp, and sprinkle water over the towel as needed. (Be sure that you don't add so much water that the seeds are standing in any water.) Peek at the seeds after a few days to see if there is any sprouting.

To know how long it should take for the seeds to sprout, check the seed packet for the expected sprouting time, then take a few days off that time, because you don't want leaves or roots, you just want to see if the seeds are viable before planting them.

5. If you have trouble hearing your cell phone at home when it rings, place it in a small glass bowl on a hard surface. The bowl will amplify the ringing sound.

6. If you've lost an earring or other small item, wrap a piece of nylon or other very thin stocking across the end of your vacuum cleaner hose, and secure it with a rubber band. Then vacuum the area where you think that you lost the item. When you find it, it will be held against the fabric by the suction, but won't be sucked into the vacuum. This also works great if you have craft projects that have many small pieces, like beads or small diamond pieces that need to be picked up from your craft area.

Cut your favorite herbs and other seasoning vegetables up for storing in the freezer.
Cut your favorite herbs and other seasoning vegetables up for storing in the freezer. | Source

Tips for cooking, and for cleaning glassware

7. Freeze fresh herbs, cut hot peppers, green onions, etc. on a cookie sheet, then put them into a container that you can shake out as you need them for cooking. (Store the container in the freezer to keep the cut vegetables and herbs fresh.) If you need a little basil in the middle of winter, you've frozen it, and you can shake it out onto your pasta. Yummy!

8. Prevent a pan of noodles or other pasta from boiling over by laying a wooden spoon across the top of the pan. Or you could add a teaspoon of oil to the water. Both methods work.

9. Do you have a glass container that needs cleaned, but it has a neck too small for even a bottle brush? Fill it halfway with hot water. Then add dish soap, a little white vinegar, and uncooked rice. Cover the top and swirl the dry rice with the liquids around until the glass container is clean.

10. To prevent cilantro, parsley, oregano, sage and other fresh herbs from wilting right away in the refrigerator, put them in a container with water, as if they were flowers, before you store them in the refrigerator. Trim the stalks a bit when you take them out to use the greens, and put them back in the fridge with fresh water. I do this mostly with cilantro, and it stays fresh for up to two weeks. If you have cut celery stalks, it also works on them. (If you want to keep basil fresh longer, put it in a container with water, but don't put it in the refrigerator.)

Lemons have a lot of uses, right down to the last bit of rind.

Use lemons a variety of ways.
Use lemons a variety of ways. | Source

Throw things out only after they are no longer useful

11. Keep lemons handy. They are great for seasoning food, flavoring a glass of water and providing diuretic action. They can also be used to freshen a cutting board before putting it away. When you're done with the lemon, you can remove the pulp and let the rind dry. Then grind up the rind in a coffee or spice mill. Put the ground up rind in a shaker container and use it as seasoning. Or you can cut the used lemon into pieces and drop it into the garbage disposal. As the lemon is being ground up, it will freshen the garbage disposal.

12, Old toilet paper rolls have a lot of potential uses. Here are two:
- store extension cords in them.
- if the rolls of wrapping paper in your closet or craft room tend to unwind and the paper gets crimped and crinkled, tame those rolls by using an empty toilet paper roll. Slit the toilet paper roll vertically so it opens on one side. Place it around the roll of wrapping paper like a cuff. Do that for every roll of wrapping paper.

13. If you travel, save the shower caps that are provided in hotel and motel rooms. Each one makes a great bag for storing shoes. You can use them to cover shoes in your suitcase without getting other clothes dirty.

14. Use bread wrapper tags to label the cords of your electronics. Write "printer", "monitor" , "TV", etc. on the tag and clip the tag around the cord next to the plug-in. Then you'll know exactly which is which if you have to unplug one of them, without having to trace it back to the source - or, worse yet, unplugging the wrong one. This especially comes in handy if the power-strip plug-ins are under a desk or behind a piece of furniture.

Flowers can stay fresh longer than you expect

Enjoy that special bouquet longer!
Enjoy that special bouquet longer! | Source

Keep cut flowers fresher longer

15. To keep flowers fresh longer, add aspirin to the water. Also, you can cut the stem off a little each day to keep fresh stem ends in contact with the water, and replace the water every day or two. With these methods, the flowers should last up to twice as long.

16. Use a lint roller for picking up other items, like slivers of broken glass, glitter and crumbs.

17. If you hang up a dress or blouse with spaghetti straps, and they slip off the hanger, wrap a rubber band around the ends of the hanger and the straps won't slip off again.
18. When you're hammering a nail into something, slide a comb onto the nail so the nail is held in place between the teeth of the comb. Then hold the comb instead of the nail. It saves your fingers from being mashed (well, at least if you're as bad with a hammer as I am).

How many windows do you clean?

Cleaning windows can seem endless. But there are ways to make it easier.
Cleaning windows can seem endless. But there are ways to make it easier. | Source

Tips for un-sticking and washing windows

19. If you have a stuck window, use WD40. Point the little red straw attached to the nozzle of the WD40 can downward from the top of the lower part of the window. Spray down into the window channel. Do this on each side of the window. Wait a few minutes, then try to open the window. If that doesn't work, take a pizza cutter and slip it in the space between the window and the sash (the blade will be parallel with the window glass). Run it carefully around the window, so you don't damage the wood. Then try to open the window.

20. When you're cleaning windows, do it on a cloudy day or on the shady side of the house so streaks won't dry quickly. Then wash the windows up and down on the inside, and side to side on the outside. (Sounds like Karate Kid doesn't it?). That way, if a streak shows up, you'll know which side of the glass it's on. Microfiber cloth works great on windows, because it has no lint. (Newspapers also work great for the same reason - no lint. However, you have to deal with ink.)

A great non-toxic formula for cleaning windows:
In a spray bottle, combine

- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
- a few drops dish soap


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