Whether you’re engaged in a little belt-tightening, have an eye on the environment by reusing and repurposing, or are just jazzed by the idea of multiple uses for everyday products, there’s no need to keep that tube of lip balm on the “occasional” shelf. And the same goes for many other products that you may already have on hand. Here’s a look at some creative new ways to use items that most of us already have around the house.
Lip balm to moisturize and heal rough cuticles and dry winter fingertips? You bet! Most lip balms are made of beeswax, Vitamin E, petrolatum and other ingredients that soothe and soften dry, chapped lips. Applying it once or twice a day to cuticles and fingertips compromised by harsh winter weather, housework, gardening, carpentry, etc. can make a big difference in a little time. The little tube is handy to carry around, and be sure to rub in well as it can be greasy.
Dryer sheets relegated to the dryer? No way, not when they add a subtle scent to your undergarment and sock drawers, repel mosquitos, dislodge soap scum, and more. To use against mosquitos, rub dryer sheets on your arms and legs (note: some brands may end up flaking when used in this manner, so you may have to experiment). It’s also best to opt for the unscented ones, as a perfume-y smell can attract rather than repel. To dislodge soap scum, use sheets on shower door, etc., to loosen by scrubbing. To deodorize smelly shoes and sneakers, place sheet inside and wrap in plastic bag overnight. To loosen baked-on food from a pan, place dryer sheet in pan with warm water overnight. Should be easier to clean the next day.
Hand and body lotion tames fly-aways and calms frizz. Very lightly coat your palms and smooth over hair.
Want to clean up a cracked egg? Reach for the shaker and pour on some salt, which will absorb it. Wipe it right up without a gooey mess. A pinch of salt will also make cream or eggs whip faster and higher. Sprinkle on plain paper and run a hot iron over it (no steam) to remove residue from the bottom.
Think aspirin is just for headaches and heart health? Among its many uses is to help treat breakouts: make a paste with one or two tablets and some water. Apply to breakouts for a few minutes and wash off. Repeat each day and pimples will begin to dry up faster. To help eliminate dandruff, crush two tablets into a round of shampoo and wash. Shampoo again without aspirin. As an anti-fungal foot powder, crush three pills into some talcum powder. Apply to feet twice a day until problem clears up.
Use the hook side of Velcro (the word is a combination of the French words for velour and crochet) to remove pills from a sweater.
White vinegar can be used in place of lemon juice in a savory recipe. A half teaspoon of vinegar will replace one teaspoon of lemon juice. A spray bottle of straight vinegar is said to kill weeds that crop up between sidewalk cracks and pavers, though it will also kill surrounding grass so take precautions.
Candle wax can solve the stuck lock and zipper problem just as it can a problematic door jamb. For a stubborn lock, rub wax on key and insert several times. For a zipper, rub wax on both sides. A door jamb issue may require a lot of wax, so save those stubs!
Hairspray can be used as shellac to preserve a child’s artwork (spray lightly), or with a little elbow grease to remove ink from walls if the art happens to be in the wrong place. Try spraying ink or lipstick stains on fabric with hairspray before washing. Polished metals such as copper and brass will retain their shine longer if coated with hairspray. Spray a cloth to remove pet hair from furniture; be sure to use while still damp.
Another pesky burn at the stove? If it’s superficial, apply toothpaste (paste, not gel) to the burn which cools and alleviates pain and lessens scarring. Be sure to let dry. Toothpaste removes tarnish from silver jewelry, making it really shine, and also helps eliminate yellowing on piano keys. Used with a scrubber in baby bottles, it removes a sour milk smell.