With everyone avoiding crowded stores and practicing social distancing, it’s important to know how to use what you have laying around when you find yourself in a pinch at home.
From dusting with dryer sheets to soothing bug bites with banana peels, we’ve rounded up the most surprising ways to use things you already have in the house. These tricks will help you repurpose practically anything to do exactly what you need them to do.
Whether you’re a busy mom who just ran out of sunburn relief gel for her kids or a green thumb with no garden fertilizer, you’ll know how to hack your way to a solution without breaking a sweat.
Read through the guide to learn about all the hacks or use the links below to jump to a specific section:
Whether you have a big backyard or an apartment balcony, these repurposing hacks will help you spruce up your outdoor living spaces and tools.
Hate throwing away plastic containers after getting takeout? Repurpose them into perfect seed-growing greenhouses with a knife, some soil and any seed! While this hack works best with lidded containers, an open container works as well.
How to create a recycled plastic mini greenhouse:
Go to battle against weeds plaguing your driveway or sidewalk with a splash of white vinegar. For easier application, pour white vinegar into a clean spray bottle. Be sure to avoid getting vinegar on the plants you want to keep!
Planning an outdoor picnic or barbecue? Keep pesky flies off your cheeseburgers in one simple step. Before setting the picnic table, wipe it down with a bit of vodka on a cleaning cloth or in a spray bottle. They hate the smell of the alcohol and will steer clear of your food.
You can also use vodka as a mosquito repellent –– just dab a bit of the alcohol onto your skin to create a bug-repelling barrier.
If you’ve noticed sugar ants in your kitchen or bathroom, a dash of cinnamon will do the trick. Sprinkle it around windows, doors, and anywhere you see ants. They can’t tolerate the strong smell of the spice and will avoid the area.
Cinnamon is also an effective, natural pesticide to use in your garden or for houseplants. Just sprinkle a bit into the soil, covering the area evenly. The spice will deter aphids, mealybugs and other common pests, helping your plants stay healthy and strong.
When repotting your favorite houseplant, place a paper coffee filter on the bottom of the new pot before adding soil. This will prevent soil from escaping through the pot’s drainage hole while allowing excess water to drain easily.
Tea grounds make for a perfect organic fertilizer in your garden. Instead of throwing away tea bags once you’ve used them to brew tea, save the grounds to use in your garden! Whether you sprinkle them on top or mix them into the soil, tea grounds will nourish your plants and help them grow.
With heavy use, your car’s battery may develop a layer of acid build-up. It’s important to clean this layer off occasionally to help the battery work more efficiently. Instead of using harsh chemical cleaners, use a can of Coca-Cola!
Just pour the soda onto the battery’s contact points –– the liquid will cut through the acid buildup and leave your car battery looking as good as new.
There’s nothing like the love a family dog or cat can give you, but it’s no secret that pet ownership can be messy business from time to time. Use these tricks to simplify caring for your pet and keep them healthy and happy with things you already have at home.
Winter can take a harsh toll on your dog’s paws, especially if the ground is covered in snow or ice. A layer of petroleum jelly on the bottom of your pup’s feet will protect them from the elements and prevent dry, cracking pads.
Petroleum jelly has more than one use when it comes to your pets! If you feed your dog or cat outside, you’ve probably noticed bugs in their food bowl.
Cover the sides of your pet’s bowl in a layer of petroleum jelly to keep pests away — the scent alone is enough to deter them, but any that do brave the smell will likely get stuck in the sticky layer.
It can be a challenge to safely trim your dog’s nails when they’re squirming. If you accidentally cut the nail too far back, it may start to bleed. Not to worry — your pup will be okay!
Just create a paste with cornstarch and water, then apply it to the nail. Keep moderate pressure on the nail for a few minutes to let the bleeding stop.
It’s every dog owner’s worst nightmare: A pup who got mixed up with a skunk and walked away with the stink to prove it. If your dog gets sprayed, counteract the odor with a hydrogen peroxide bath.
Mix together hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap, then use it as a shampoo to bathe your dog. Hydrogen peroxide is a natural deodorizer that is safe for your pup. If you land up needing to deodorize your room too, a combination of baking soda, water and essential oils will do the trick.
If you need to keep your pup busy while working from home, a DIY treat dispenser will do the trick. Just cut a small opening into an old tennis ball and fill it with your dog’s favorite treats.
Anyone with a pet knows how hard it is to completely get rid of stray pet fur, especially on your clothes and furniture. Luckily, there’s an easy fix! Just run a clean dryer sheet over any fur-covered fabric, including upholstered furniture, clothing and even carpets. The static electricity created by the dryer sheet will pull hairs to it, picking up pet fur easily and quickly
Though bumps and bruises are an occasional part of life, knowing how to treat small injuries and ailments with supplies you already have on hand can make all the difference. Use these tricks to repurpose common household items into home remedies and DIY first aid supplies.
Settle an upset stomach with the power of baking soda. Whether you’re dealing with indigestion or heartburn, a small amount of baking soda mixed with water makes for an effective antacid.
Add baking soda to the water and mix until the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved. Drink the water to relieve mild stomach aches caused by indigestion.
If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you know how painful it can be. After spending time in your balcony garden or working in the yard, you may notice the telltale redness and sting of a sunburn. If you do, stop the pain in its tracks with frozen vegetables!
A bag of frozen peas, carrots or mixed berries can do wonders to treat the initial pain of a sunburn. Just be sure to wrap the bag in a cloth or towel before applying it to the skin — ice applied directly to the skin can worsen the burn.
Have a stubborn splinter that won’t come out with tweezers or a needle? Give craft glue a try! Apply a layer of glue to the area, wait for the glue to dry, then peel off the glue.
Craft glue also works to temporarily seal cuts and wounds if you don’t have a bandaid handy.
Mosquito and ant bites can leave you scratching for days, but there’s a quick fix to stop the itch. Banana peels have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe irritation. While they won’t completely heal bug bites, the natural oils found within the peel will moisturize and neutralize the affected skin.
Banana peels also make great relievers for poison ivy and can even be used to remove splinters!
If you’ve ever cooked with chile peppers, you know that touching your face is a bad idea. However, if you find yourself with burning skin caused by pepper, there are a few ways to stop the pain.
Capsaicin, the active component that makes peppers so spicy, is an alkaline oil. Because of this, soap and water won’t put a dent in burning pain caused by peppers.
Instead, rinse thoroughly with milk or cream. Whether you’ve burned your eyes, nose or skin, drenching the affected area in milk will soothe the burn and reduce the pain.
Honey’s natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties make it the perfect quick fix for small cuts and scrapes. While manuka honey works best, any pure honey will do in a pinch.
After washing the wound with soap and water, apply a thin layer of honey directly to the affected area. Cover with a Band-Aid and allow the honey to soak in for a few hours before removing the bandage.
Cleaning isn’t exactly something most people look forward to, but there are some surprising tricks you can use to recycle things you have laying around into efficient cleaning tools. In fact, some of these tricks are so unique you’ll want to go on a cleaning spree just to try them out. Use these tricks to keep your space clean.
Aside from helping you make your morning cup of coffee, paper coffee filters have many handy uses — especially when it comes to cleaning! Try replacing your regular feather duster with a paper coffee filter to keep surfaces dust-free.
Use a coffee filter to dust the following surfaces:
To be more eco-friendly, you can even get unbleached filters that biodegrade easily and can be composted after you’re finished using them.
If you haven’t cleaned your microwave in a while, you probably should. Microwaves are swarming with all kinds of bacteria left over by food and human contact. Feeling grossed out? Here’s an easy solution that repurposes the detergent you use to clean your dishes. It requires very little elbow grease but will leave your microwave spotless.
Years of use can leave wooden furniture looking faded and scuffed, but a quick rub-down with a major kitchen staple, olive oil, will leave your coffee table looking as good as new.
Dip a dry cleaning cloth into your kitchen’s supply of olive oil, then rub it over wooden surfaces in your home. This treatment nourishes the wood and will restore its original shine.
White vinegar is a powerful multipurpose tool you already have in your home. Use it to clean glasses, remove fabric stains and even polish stainless steel appliances!
Add a bit of vinegar to a cleaning cloth and use it to wipe down stainless steel surfaces, including your fridge, dishwasher, sink faucet and more. Doing this once a week will maintain the shine of your appliances and keep them looking brand new.
Wooden cutting boards are a staple in any kitchen, but they can stain easily with heavy use. Luckily, pure lemon juice works in a pinch if you notice stained wooden surfaces.
Slice up a lemon and rub a wedge into the stained wood. The acid will pull stains to the surface, making it easy to rinse off.
Soap scum, mold and hard water residue can leave your bathtub and shower looking perpetually dirty, but there’s an easy fix that doesn’t require harsh chemicals.
Cut up a grapefruit, then sprinkle white sugar onto the fleshy part of a slice and use it as a scrub for your bathtub and shower. This will easily cut through any buildup, will fill your entire bathroom with a naturally fresh scent and leaves you with a great snack to enjoy!
From cleaning to pet care and gardening, these hacks focus on repurposing common household items into tools with totally new uses. Whether you use these hacks every day or just once, they’re sure to make your home life easier!