We’re not quite sure where our compulsion to get down to cleaning when the seasons change , but we do know it’s there. Each year around this time we have the sudden urge to purge our medicine cabinets, closets and pantries of all that is extraneous. However, before you write off some of your less-used household items as dead weight, you should know that many of these seemingly one-trick ponies actually have a lot more to offer. Even those things that you’d toss out as garbage regardless of the season — banana peels, coffee grounds — are far from spent after they’ve served their traditional purpose.
Don’t gather your coins in Ziplocs and head over to TD Bank. Hold on to that half-used jar of mayonnaise, even if you’ve forsaken dairy for Lent. Switched to an epilator? So what. Let that bag of emergency disposable razors continue to occupy space in your bathroom cabinet. And, while it may look as though they’re taking over your limited drawer space, you can never have too many rubber bands.
Read on to learn handy double-duty uses for all your neglected household items.
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Just like lemons, these pieces of produce are not only delicious and full of essential vitamins — they’re versatile as heck. Blend leftover peels with water to create a paste, and then rub this “banana polish” on mildly tarnished pieces of silverware using a soft cloth.
Tuck dryer sheets between couch cushions, in the soles of your shoes and any other fabric-covered problem areas to deodorize undesirable smells in a pinch.
Nothing will drive you insane like the steady cropping up of tiny pills on your most beloved knits. Running a disposable razor lightly and slowly (emphasis on those adverbs!) over anything from rayon to cashmere will rid your sweater of those annoying little balls. The same goes for the textured side of a new sponge.
When it comes to removing water rings from wooden furniture, Jonathan Burden, owner of the eponymous furniture restoration company, swears by mayonnaise. Wrap a rag around your finger, then “put a little bit of Hellmann’s on top of that, and gently massage it into the ring. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it will reverse that white ring.” For particularly stubborn stains, let the mayo sit for two hours, reapplying intermittently.
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Give your kids’ artwork, favorite shoes, just-washed drapes and recipe cards a thorough spritz. A few coats of hairspray will safeguard these items from dirt, errant spills and so forth.
Add a pinch of sugar (to support photosynthesis) and a crushed aspirin in vase water before adding your flowers to keep cut blossoms looking perky and fresh. Just don’t forget to change the liquid every few days! Adding a penny or a few drops of vodka to your vase water also helps prolong your bouquet’s life, due to the acid's antibacterial properties.
To keep your own home from becoming fur-lined and dander-ridden, the trick is simple: Dampen a pair of rubber gloves, and rub them over all upholstered surfaces. No chemicals, no waste, and very little precious time spent. Rinse the gloves (be careful not to clog your drain!) and store them until Fido's next romp around the living room.
Loop wide rubber bands over the ends of your hangers to prevent delicate shirts and slinky dresses from sliding to the floor. Struggling to open a jar? Wrap a rubber band around the lid to gains some traction and twist that stubborn top right off. Unloading the car after a productive shopping trip? Prop the door open by looping a rubber band around the inside and outside knobs to create an “X” pattern that presses down the latch.
Your topcoat is the end-all-and-be-all of double duty items. Anchor buttons on shirts by coating their centers with a drop of nail polish to prevent the thread from fraying after repeated wear. Paint the inside of rings and earring posts, backs, or hooks with clear polish to put an end to green rings and all forms of skin irritation. Prevent your eyeglasses’ screws from loosening by giving them a thick coat of the stuff. Finally, be sure to keep a tube handy while you're on the go. Brushing clear polish on pantyhose will stop runs in their tracks!
If you somehow have the time and will to fix yourself a martini more than once a month, we salute you. If not, instead of letting your cocktail shaker gather dust in the cabinet, use it to evenly mix other, less sexy liquid items. Making scrambled eggs? Break your breakfast into the shaker, close the lid tightly, and shake to beat. Use this same method to make salad dressings, iced coffee, chocolate milk and more.
Sure, everything changes once you become a mom, but that doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Elizabeth Street, an international collective of mothers who understand what it’s like to do everything one-handed, is here to help you discover everything from the newest green-friendly beauty products to the chicest home decor ideas — whether you’re raising a little one or not.