10 Ways to Reuse Common Household Items
If you’re anything like me, you’re throwing out too much with the trash. Even though I recycle, I often think that I could surely be doing more to cut down on waste. With a little creative thinking, I’ve come up with a list of 10 household items I could be saving rather than tossing out. Here they are, along with some of the ways they can be reused. (See also: Garbage Into Gold: Great Ways to Recycle Old Containers)
Dish Soap Bottles
Use an old, thoroughly cleaned dish soap bottle (or any squeeze bottle) to dole out a perfect amount of pancake batter onto a hot griddle. You can also use a squeeze bottle as a convenient way to fill an iron with water or water out-of-the-way plants.
Used egg cartons (preferably well-cleaned Styrofoam ones) are excellent for freezing individual portions of all kinds of things — cookie dough batter, meatballs, homemade herb-butter patties. You could also use the cartons as convenient Jell-O molds for fun treats. They're also a great way to start seedlings for your garden. And if you have enough, use the cartons to store golf balls or organize change, which is especially convenient for garage and bake sales.
Make a beautiful piece of mosaic art. Gather up unused remnant tiles (or ask for some from your local home-improvement store), break carefully into pieces in a cloth bag, and arrange in a pattern on any solid surface. Adhere with floor-tile adhesive, and use a putty knife to push grout into the cracks after the adhesive dries. Wipe excess grout away with a damp cloth before it sets. You can also make a mosaic table or use large tiles to make an old tabletop new. Smaller tiles can be used for trivets.
Use the lone socks that the sock gnome left behind to keep small toys organized or to keep odds and ends like screws and paper clips in one convenient location. You could also put old socks over your shoes when doing something messy (like painting), or when your shoes are a wreck but you need to run inside for a minute. Feel free to hand them out to maintenance men and repairmen who tromp through your house, too. Try using others as dog or cat toys — put a tennis ball in one for the dog, or catnip in the cat’s, and sew closed. (See also: 10 DIY Dob Toys You Can Make for Pennies)
When your husband’s fraternity T-shirts have more holes in them than the family colander, it’s time to retire the man-jersey. Pay homage to his favorite tees by sewing them into a pillow (for the man-cave), or just throw them into the dog’s crate. Better yet, use those babies for cleaning rags or to wrap breakables when moving. Your husband will appreciate his old shirts being given new life. Maybe.
Paper Towel Rolls
Keep your plastic bags contained by stuffing them in an empty paper towel roll. And while you’re at it, keep extension cords untangled by rolling them up and putting them through a paper towel roll. You can also organize hair bands and hair clips, roll your linens around paper towel rolls to keep them crease-free, or make boot trees so your over-the-knee boots won’t get unsightly creases in them after spending the summer slouched over in the back of your closet.
Plastic Shopping Bags
You already know how to keep plastic shopping bags contained in an empty paper towel roll. Now put the bags to use by lining bathroom waste cans with them. If you collect enough, plastic bags make excellent packing material in place of those awful packing peanuts. They’re also great for keeping flour and sugar from spilling all over your pantry shelves.
Being a small-time shoe diva myself, I’ve collected more than my fair share of empty shoe boxes over the years. I put the boxes to good use by making them into storage bins for my closet — rather than spend a fortune on matching boxes, I’ve wrapped them all in similar wrapping paper and printed off labels for easy identification. I also use empty shoe boxes as dresser-drawer organizers. You might also want to use your empty shoe boxes for, well, shoe storage. Take pictures of your inventory and tape them to the outside of the boxes to quickly spot the pair you’re looking for in the closet.
I know this is a surprise, but I have somehow accumulated a number of old shower curtains over the years. I plan on using some as tablecloths for an outdoor gathering, while others I’ll use as drop cloths the next time I paint the walls. Another will be reused as a windshield cover to prevent frost build-up. Simply cut the shower curtain to the size of your windshield and hem in magnets to keep the cover in place. The magnets should stick to your car's metal windshield frame (see this windshield cover for an idea of how it should work). (See also: 3 Cheap and Easy Formulas for Homemade Windshield De-Icer)
Don’t just toss all the wine corks you’ve accumulated over the years! Make a floating keychain to keep track of your keys the next time you set sail, or use another to safely store knives in a drawer. Use some to make a stylish wreath for your front door. You could also make an actual cork board to hold messages and important pieces of paper. (See also: 25 Things to Do with Used Corks)
What about you? Are there any household items that you reuse in a creative way, or do you have another use for one of these items? Share your thoughts in the comments!