As retail prices go up and with grocery bills constantly getting more expensive—especially for growing families—I’m always looking for ways to save on money, find good deals, and stretch the use of a product to get the most out of it. I’ve been known to roll toothpaste until every last drop is out of the tube, reuse Ziplock bags regularly, and opt for repurposing plastic bottles to store coins and other loose items around the house. If, like me, you find yourself always on the hunt for ways to save money, here are 15 ways to repurpose everyday household items and keep more cash in your pocket.
- Extend the Life of Your Flowers
Fresh-cut flowers at the grocery store can be expensive, especially around Hallmark holidays where they’re a popular, if not expected, item to purchase. But most flowers, especially if bought at peak bloom, don’t last longer than a few days. To extend the life of your flowers, be sure to cut their stems daily and add fresh water to the vase. Place a penny at the bottom of the vase—the cooper is a natural antibacterial agent—and add in a teaspoon of sugar, which acts much like flower food to lengthen the time of the blooms.
- Keep Your Sweater from Getting Dingy
Clothing is an especially expensive item to have to replace, so when you have a good find in your closet, you want to keep it looking as brand new as possible. Use the rough side of a kitchen sponge (a clean one!) to keep your expensive sweater from pilling. Swipe the sponge across the sweater, and the pills will come off with it. Viola! Your sweater stays looking newer longer, and you’re saved from another shopping trip.
- Get Rid of Unsightly Water Rings on Furniture
We all have that one family member who never remembers to use a coaster before putting down his sweaty soda can on the coffee table. But water rings are easy to remove. Simply dry the area, add a heaping of full-fat mayonnaise onto the spot, and let it sit for an hour. Then wipe up the mayo and dry the area, and you’ll be pleased to find your furniture looking ring-free.
- Stop Squeaking Doors
Door squeaks can be enough to make you want to pull out your hair, and maybe even taken down the entire door. But before you do anything drastic, try this simple trick: Take some cooking spray from your kitchen (yup—that regular old Pam spray will work just fine!) and judiciously spray it on each of the door’s hinges. Work the spray into the hinges with your hands, and then remove excess with a dry towel. Done! Now we’ve saved your doors and your hair.
- Secure Loose Buttons on Clothes
Many people won’t think twice of tossing a shirt that has lost its buttons, but here’s a better way to save those buttons from falling off in the first place. Coast some clear nail polish over any buttons that may appear to start fraying. Let the polish dry. It will adhere the rest of the threads to the button and prevent any additional threads from fraying, thereby extending the life of the button, and that shirt!
- Don’t Pay for That Expensive Lawn Care
Got weeds? White vinegar—a very useful household item you should always have on hand—can get rid of them naturally. Using a spray bottle, spray the vinegar on the weeds that have grown up in cracks in your driveway, walkway, or foundation, and let it sit for a few hours. When you come back, the weeds will have died, and you can easily pull them up and not worry about them spreading and ruining your very expensive driveway.
- Save Your Eggs
I’ve wasted many an egg trying to separate out the yolks from the whites. Here’s an easy trick to doing just that, but with a plastic bottle. Crack the full egg into a bowl. Hover the empty plastic bottle, opening down, over the yolk. Slide the bottle down to cover the yolk, squeeze the bottle, and pull up. The vacuum from the bottle will pull up the yolk, leaving you with just the whites.
- Avoid Expensive Hair Treatments
You can spend an awful lot of money trying to get your hair to be silky smooth, but, rather than shelling out that cash to a hairdresser, try this at-home remedy instead: Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your hair, about halfway down, and massage it in down to the ends. Let it sit in your hair for a few minutes, and then wash it out. Your hair will turn out silky smooth.
- Save Those Peels, Scent the Room
Next time you peel oranges, save the peels. Turn your oven to 350°F and roast the peels for just a few minutes. The roasted peels act as a natural deodorizer that will leave your kitchen smelling citrus-y clean.
- Spiff Up Those Leather Shoes
Next time you’re in an airport you can steer clear of those expensive shoe shiners because you’ll have learned this simple at-home trick, and reason number one thousand and seven to love toothpaste. If your leather shoes could use a shine, add a pea-size amount of toothpaste to the shoe and buff well. Wipe the paste with a damp cloth, and sit back and admire the shine.
- Make the Shower Door Sparkle
Save on those costly (and often toxic) household cleaners and instead use a clean, slightly damp dryer sheet to wipe down your scummy shower door. The end result will make the bathroom open house-ready.
- Skip the Drain-0
Speaking of toxic household cleaners, you can also take the not-so-cheap Drain-O off of your shopping list. Instead, just pour 1 cup baking soda down your clogged drain and add equal parts white vinegar. Let the concoction sit for five minutes, and then pour 1 gallon of boiling water down the drain. Done! Clogged drain no more.
- Organize and Reuse
Tired of having messy chords lying around your house and not knowing what they belong to? Organize them by adding plastic bag closures—like the ones you find on loaves of bread—to the tip of the power chord. Write the name of each chord—(“computer”)—on each closure to ensure you never have to guess again.
- Say Goodbye to Permanent Marker
If you’re a family with kids, having permanent markers in the house is just inviting things to get trashed. Sure, kids’ artwork is cute and all, but not when it’s been drawn on your very expensive countertops. But all is not lost. Dab some rubbing alcohol on the affected area and wipe clean. Permanent no more!
- Save Your Skin
Running late and find you’ve cut yourself shaving? Forget wasting paper by using the little squares of tissue to speckle your face. Simply pull out a chapstick that you’ve designated to use for this purpose and dab it onto your nicks and cuts. It’ll stop the bleeding, and you can go to work without looking like you walked through confetti.
Photo: Apartment Therapy