38 clever uses for everyday food and household items

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Because even the tiniest things can be a great help, if you know how to make the most out of them.

Maintaining a home involves quite a bit of multitasking. From cleaning to cooking, every day involves another round of chores to get through. And because getting everything done efficiently is important, you'll need creative uses for household items to make sure the things in your home multitasks as well as you do.

What are some of the most creative uses for household items we normally overlook?

Coffee filters

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These disposable pieces of paper needed can serve other functions aside from brewing coffee. Here are some ideas:

  • Serve chips and popcorn. Since filters are pleated and bowl-shaped, they can be used as fuss-free disposable dishes
  • Clean glass and windows. Coffee filters aren't just super absorbent, they can also be used to clean up lint, dust, and other residue.
  • Strain fruit juice. When juicing, coffee filters can help make sure no seeds get in your glass. They can also help rid wine of residue.
  • Steep tea. If you're out of teabags and in the mood to steep loose leaf tea, you can use coffee filters instead. Just use a teaspoon or two and secure the filter as you would a tea bag using a rubber band.
  • Microwaveable cover. To avoid spills when microwaving leftovers, you can use coffee filters to line bowls and plates.
  • Protect fancy plates. Before stacking expensive plates on top of one another, you can also use coffee filter as an added layer.
  • Manage facial oiliness. It's not just in the home and kitchen where you can maximise coffee filters!

Dryer sheets

If you're fond of using dryer sheets, you'll know how useful they are in keeping fabrics from rubbing or sticking together. But aside from making doing laundry easier, they can also be reused for the following:

  • Removing pet hair. Just swipe dryer sheets over loose hair to rid your furniture and surfaces of pet hair.
  • Cleaning sticky residue from pans. Instead of scrubbing food that's adhered to the pan, you can simply soak dryer sheets in warm water and leave it for a few hours.
  • Minimising shoe odour and manage gym bag odour. For fresher smelling shoes, simply leave dryer sheets in them overnight. You can also leave them in a gym bag to keep dirty clothes from stinking it up.
  • Cleaning crumbs and sawdust. In the same way that it picks up pet hair, dryer sheets can also help rid surfaces of crumbs and other residue like sawdust.
  • Dusting blinds and other appliances. Instead of buying a feather duster, you can use extra dryer sheets to wipe venetian blinds and other appliances like electric fans and air conditioning units clean.

Ziploc bags

When talking about creative uses for household items, ziploc bags surely come to mind. The clever zipper-sealed plastic bag has been a kitchen and home essential since the 60s and it's not hard to see why. Here are just some of the clever ways to use ziploc bags:

  • Applies frosting. Don't a have a frosting bag? Just snip a small hole in the corner of a ziploc bag to make it into a piping tool.
  • Stores sauce and soup. Ziplocs are amazingly spill-proof, so you can use them to store soups and sauces in the fridge.
  • Stores makeup. Keeping makeup in ziploc bags in your purse helps keep your bag clean in case they crack.
  • Keeps wires and jewellery organised. If you're the type to carry multiples chargers and extra accessories around, you can use Ziplocs to keep them organised in your purse or even your drawer at home.
  • Stores underwear and stockings. If you want to keep sensitive garments from snags, placing them inside a ziploc bag can help.

Baby wipes

Baby wipes don't just serve personal hygienic purposes, they can also be used in other clever ways:

  • Cleans your gadgets. If you have extra baby wipes lying around, you'll find that they're pretty useful for keeping your TV, computer keyboard, and work desk spotless.
  • Brightens houseplants. Keep plants shiny by giving them a gentle baby wipes scrub.
  • Livens up leather furniture. A quick way to clean dust off of leather would be to use baby wipes.
  • Removes stains quickly. Though there are tough stains that aren't easily removed, if you act quickly, baby wipes can pretty much keep any surface, like sofas, walls, and carpets, stain free. So make sure to have some on hand.
  • Reaches nooks and crannies that are hard to clean. Use baby wipes to clean your trash bins, window corners, and other areas that larger cleaning implements can't get to.

There are also kitchen staples that do more than flavour your food. Here are some great ideas!

Lemon

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We all know that lemons add a burst of zesty flavour to dishes. When it comes to it's cleaning quality, it's a strong acid that can help disinfect surfaces. Here are other clever uses for this food:

  • Cleans food stains from surfaces and clothing. Squeezing lemons onto chopping boards as well as soaking clothes in lemon-infused water helps remove pesky food stains.
  • Polishes cooper pans. If you want to keep copper pots and pans shiny, just scrub it with salt and a lemon wedge.
  • Whitens clothing. Just about half a cup of lemon juice mixed with your laundry can help your whites shine even brighter.
  • Cleans graters. You know how cheese gunk gets stuck in between your graters and you have to scrape it off with a spoon? You can skip that and just rub it with a cut-up lemon.
  • Deodorises trash bins. Lemons also help rid trash bins and other items of unpleasant smells.

Baking Soda

Baking soda doesn't just give baked goos their light and fluffy quality, it can also serve a variety of other household purposes, such as the following:

  • Unclogs drains. If your drains are clogged, baking soda mixed with some vinegar should help loosen it up. Don't forget to pour boiling water as well.
  • Cleans up grease and oil stains. If you spill oil and grease onto the floor of your garage, scrubbing it with baking soda and a bit of water works wonders.
  • Removes ink and pencil stains from painted furniture and walls. To remove these kinds of stains, simply take a wet sponge and sprinkle it with baking soda, then scrub the surface.
  • Scrub cast iron pans. For stubborn stains on cast iron cookware, just scrub it with a baking soda and water mixture using a soft brush.

Vinegar

This pantry essential adds a bright, often sour flavour to dishes. But it is also a powerful acid that can become a great deodoriser and cleaning agent. Here's how to use vinegar outside of cooking:

  • Helps remove tea or coffee stains from cups. Just a few tablespoons of vinegar helps make washing easier.
  • Cleans grimey boots. You know those white, salt-like residue that often sticks to your boots? Vinegar can help wipe them off.
  • Helps keep coffeemaker clean. In the same way, vinegar mixed with water can help rinse and clean your coffeemaker.
  • Deodorises trash bins. Much like lemon, vinegar acts as a great deodoriser. Just mix vinegar with mater and give it a good scrub.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a fruity, buttery, and herby cooking ingredient that's often viewed as a healthier alternative to run-of-the-mill cooking oils. But its benefits don't end there. Here are more clever uses for olive oil:

  • Keeps stainless steel tools and cutlery shiny. A good olive oil rubdown helps stainless steel items bright and looking new.
  • Lubricate a stuck zipper. Drop some olive oil onto the zipper to help it along.
  • Minimises door squeaking. Because olive oil acts as a lubricant, it can help minimise squeaky door hinges. Just rub it with a small cloth.

Read also: How you should be cleaning your coffee maker