Alternative Uses for Everything in Your Bathroom

As a kid, I used to love using other people's bathrooms — there was always a new, exotic array of creams, cleaners, and conditioners to stare at, wondering “What's this for?” (And, in some cases, “Why does this [insert: soap, lotion, powder] smell so flipping awful?”)

These days, I still get a little excited about the products we keep in our bathrooms — but now, it's because I like discovering alternative uses for everyday things (OK, I still like to know what other people's lotions smell like, too). I've collected tips from around Wise Bread and the web to help you make the most of your bathroom products. So whether you want to get more life out of the stuff you own or are out of something and need to find a substitute, read on for great ways to get more out of everything in your bathroom. (See also: How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom From "Yuck" to Yes!)

Bar Soap

Yeah, you can use a bar of soap to make things smell nice and clean, but it can also help you keep things smelling nice in another way — if you hang it up outside, bar soap can help deter skunks. Prefer liquid soap to bar soap? You can follow this tutorial for turning bar soap into liquid. There are plenty more alternative uses for bar soap, too — like these nine.

Bobby Pins

From pulling zippers to holding hems, check out Myscha's piece on 25 uses for bobby pins.


I fondly remember making a comb into a musical instrument as a kid. Real Simple has seven more uses for combs — including using a (clean) comb to create some awesome cake-frosting texture.


Personally, I'm a soap-and-water shaver. But one thing I remember from my days of reading teen magazines was the suggestion of swapping in conditioner for shave cream when you're in a pinch. Since conditioner is, at heart, a moisturizer, it can also be used as a stand-in for lotion, or even to grease up stuck things like zippers or rings trapped on fingers (because, come on, do you really want to cover your wedding ring in butter?).

Cotton Balls

Stylelist has a great list of alternative uses for cotton balls; my favorite detials how you can use cotton balls to make daffodils last longer.


The Coupon High recommends a few uses for deodorant, including drying pimples.


Our own Linsey Knerl has already listed 14 great uses for floss, including hanging photos, precision cake cutting, and even baby delivery (um, don't try that at home?).


Over at Yahoo! Voices, Angela Vee lists a few different ways to use old hairbrushes. Most of them are for (big surprise) brushing other things, but I especially like her suggestion of using an old brush to work dirt out of messy kids' clothes (or adult clothes, because sometimes, you just have to jump in a mud puddle no matter what your age is).


I've always liked using my hair dryer as a way to dry clothes in a pinch, but that's a pretty obvious use. For more creative options, take a look at this Instructables guide on ways to use a hair dryer.

Liquid Soap

If your liquid soap is Castile soap (like Dr. Bronner's), you can dilute it and use it as a household cleaner, add a ¼ cup to your laundry in place of regular detergent, or even use it as a toothpaste.


When I'm having a particularly frizzy hair day (such as every day that I'm on the East Coast), I'll often use a little bit of lotion to help tame the curly beast. Like the aforementioned conditioner, it can also be used when you need to moisturize other things (like hair) or get stuck things unstuck.


Our Nora Dunn compiled a list of 19 uses for mouthwash, from treating bruises to cleaning glass. Mouthwash also factors into Paul's secret lawn tonic recipe, which uses other common ingredients that you (hopefully) don't keep in your bathroom, like beer. 

Nail Polish

I was first introduced to the magic of nail polish when my 3rd grade teacher took a bottle out of her desk to help stop a run in her stockings; all you need to do is paint a little clear polish around the hole. Mikey compiled 14 other uses for nail polish — as someone who has done a lot of sewing, using nail polish to help thread a needle is one of my favorite tips.


Even though it's probably not great for the blade, I'll sometimes use my bathroom razor to cut loose threads off of clothing. But if you're a straight-razor user, you have several more options available to you.


If you've spilled grease or oil on your clothing, try pouring a bit of shampoo on, rubbing it in, and rinsing. This works best immediately after the spill. Readers Digest also recommends a bit of shampoo for shining up leather shoes and purses (just rub a little on it with a clean cloth) and washing things other than hair, like delicates or hair brushes.

Shaving Cream

Well, I know that performers will often use shaving cream as an inexpensive alternative for whipped cream when they want to hit someone in the face with a pie. That might not be the most practical use, but Apartment Therapy has another great suggestion — mixing shaving cream with bleach to help keep the cleaner in place when removing mildew from grout.

Toilet Paper

Of course, toilet paper can be used for tissues (and vice versa). But if you really want to get fancy...check out this toilet paper wedding dress.


Just because a toothbrush isn't great for cleaning your teeth anymore doesn't mean it's kaput. Used toothbrushes are great for scrubbing hard-to-reach areas around the house, like between tiles or behind the faucet. Or if you're looking for a fun project to do with your kids, try this toothbrush robot.


From removing stains to relieving itchy bug bites, Nora Dunn has gathered 20 great alternative uses for toothpaste.

Witch Hazel

You might know the stuff primarily as an astringent, but Paul has detailed 14 other great uses for witch hazel.

What did I miss? Share your favorite alternative uses for bathroom products in the comments.

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Guest's picture

Awesome article! Who would have thought so many cool ways to save!

Guest's picture

Great tips! I never heard about these things except the nail polish, toothpaste, and toothbrush. Thanks for sharing!

Guest's picture

Using a shaving cream pie to prank someone is dangerous. My friend almost had to get an ambulance after someone surprised him and he gasped, inhaling some of the menthol cream.

Guest's picture

The toilet paper wedding dress is pretty ridiculous. From the picture you can't really even tell it isn't a traditional wedding dress.