Clever Uses for Common Household Items

Save money and reduce waste with these handy ideas for using (and reusing) everyday items around your home.

Charcoal: It can’t be beat for firing up the outdoor grill, but did you know that charcoal is also a great do-it-yourself odor eater? Place a few pieces in a bowl of perforated plastic bag, and put it by the cat litter box or in any musty room to absorb odors. It’s also a great moisture absorber- put it in your toolbox to prevent tools from rusting.

Vinegar: White vinegar can be used to bring sticky old nylon paintbrushes back to life. Heat up some vinegar and soak a dirty brush for a half hour to soften the bristles, then rinse in hot soapy water. A soak in vinegar can also help remove corrosion and rust from metal- just the ticket for loosening frozen nuts and bolts.

Packing peanuts: Don’t throw out those foam packing peanuts! They’re great to use in potted plants as filler beneath the soil. They improve drainage and reduce weight. You can also cut them in pieces and attach them to the back of framed pictures as padding to protect walls.

Vertical blinds: The next time you replace an old or broken vertical blind, save a few of the old slats. They come in handy when painting around corners and trim to help keep paint lines clean, in places where painter’s tape won’t fit.