33 Money-Saving Uses for Your Unsuspecting Household Products
There are some items on Tip Hero that have reached celebrity status. Like our favorite celebrities (or the celebrities we love to hate) most of them are mentioned at least once a week in articles and tips. They can perform in many different ways and in many different fields. If frugality had an awards show, these items would certainly earn nominations for their performance quality, versatility and lifelong achievements in the household. They are such all-stars that other household products that only work in one area can merely dream of achieving such status.
Before you start buzzing and gossiping about the items like the National Inquirer, let me point out the biggest difference between these household items and hot shot celebrities. These household items, unlike most celebrities, can save us a lot of money. You can find most of these in almost every household, whether in fridges, pantries or cleaning cabinets. The main reason that we praise these items above others is because of their versatility. They can be used in almost any room for almost any task. And best of all, a lot of these items work easily together to complete household tasks without costing you a cent.
I gathered together this list based on the number of times the items were mentioned on Tip Hero, how useful the items were, how many different helpful uses they could be put to, and how they work together with other items. This list, therefore, is mostly based on my opinion.
So now, without further ado, the nominees are…
Baking soda may be the single most popular money saving item here on Tip Hero. If not, it would at least be in the top five. Here are the household achievements that baking soda has been bragging about:
- Food: You’d be in a baking bind if not for baking soda when it comes to your baking needs. You can also use baking soda to soften harsh flavors in your food.
- Cleaner: Baking soda can clean pretty much anything in your house (and I’m not exaggerating)! There are so many ways you can use baking soda as a cleaner or as an ingredient in a household cleaner. You can use it to clean kitchen surfaces, manage microwave mess, clean bathroom floors and surfaces, and so much more. If you have a household mess, chances are baking soda can come to your rescue!
- Deodorize: Baking soda is a great solution for household odors. You can sprinkle in on carpets and vacuum to remove odors. You can sprinkle it in trash cans to eliminate odors caused by stinky trash. It also helps to combat odors in the fridge and freezer. Place stinky clothes in a bag with baking soda to remove odors. Use baking soda to get rid of musty smells from items that you buy used (between the pages of books, for example). You can even create your own homemade Febreeze with baking soda and a few other household items.
- Laundry: You’ll find baking soda in most of the recipes out there for homemade laundry detergent. Making your own laundry detergent, as we know, can definitely save you a bundle in the laundry room and can be just as effective (if not more so) than the store-bought stuff.
- Stain Removal: Not only can baking soda aid in stain removal around the house; it can also aid in removing stains from teeth and “facial stains” like acne.
- Health and Beauty: Baking soda can be used to make many of the items that you need in the bathroom. For example, you can make your own toothpaste, relief for bug bites (mix a teaspoon of baking soda with just enough water to make a thick paste, and smear on bites), shampoo, and much more.
If baking soda is Tom Hanks, then vinegar is definitely Robert De Niro. If these two all-stars went head to head for the best actor (or best household item) award, it would certainly be a tough call. Take a look at how vinegar has proved itself over and over again as a household superstar:
- Cleaning and Deodorizing: You can complete almost any household cleaning task with the aid of vinegar; whether in the bathroom, kitchen, living room, or pretty much any other room in your house.Vinegar can also be used as a deodorizer for household odors such as those from a garbage can or even those in your coffee pot.
- Pest Control: Vinegar can help you get rid of pests like those irksome fruit flies that hang around in the warm weather. Check out this easy method to rid your home of fruit flies.
- Food: This household favorite can be used to flavor foods, clean produce and even create your own delicious salad dressings and sauces. There are tons of ways you can cook with this stuff. Vinegar, after all, is found in grocery stores for a reason.
- Health and Beauty: By mixing together equal parts vinegar and water, you have a natural deodorant, facial astringent or even sunburn relief. Vinegar also helps to remedy smelly feet and clean your hair, among many other things in the personal care and beauty department. Vinegar can also be found in a lot of home remedy recipes, such as those for sore throats.
- Laundry: Vinegar is a favorite for making your own fabric softeners. You can combine vinegar with fresh herbs for laundry benefits as well.
While other fruits may be easier to bite into, lemon rises above the rest when it comes to versatility around the house. Find out why lemons make the A-list:
- Food: This tangy citrus fruit is one of the best (and cheapest) flavor enhancers that you could arm yourself with in the kitchen. Lemons are great as garnishes or flavoring for drinks. The peels are great to use for cooking. You can flavor meats, sauces, vegetables and so much more with the juice of a lemon. There’re really no end to what you can do with lemons in the kitchen.
- Health and Beauty: You can use lemon juice for chlorine damaged hair, but you can also use it to give your hair subtle highlights. Lemon is also a key ingredient in this great exfoliating scrub recipe. You can clean your hands with lemon to rid them of harsh smells like onion and garlic after peeling and cooking. It’s even possible to whiten your nails by soaking fingertips in a mixture of 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 cup of water (or just rub rind on nails to whiten). As an effective home remedy, you can use lemon to disinfect minor cuts, treat poison ivy rashes, and get rid of dandruff by applying the juice to your scalp before you shower.
- Laundry: Throw some lemon juice in the laundry to boost detergent and whiten whites.
- Cleaner: By soaking a sponge with lemon juice, placing it on a plate, and leaving it in the fridge overnight, you’ve created a great refrigerator deodorizer. You can also get rid of garbage disposal odor by putting lemon peels down the garbage disposal. Use lemon juice as a toilet bowl cleaner, a furniture polish for wood, and a cleaner for your microwave, among many other uses.
- Home Remedies: Lemon juice can be used with honey as a sore throat remedy and also to treat acid reflux and indigestion.
- Pest Control: Use lemon juice or peels to get rid of ants. Also, try washing floors with the juice of 4 lemons in a half gallon of water to get rid of roaches and fleas. You can also hang sachets of dry lemon rinds in closets to get rid of moths.
Salt is like the older, seasoned actor or actress on the list. It has been around forever and has always produced good work. Check out salt’s extensive household resume:
- Food: Give foods extra flavor, while cooking or after a meal is prepared, by using one of the two most famous spices. You can keep milk fresh for longer by adding a pinch of salt. Added to boiling water, salt reduces cooking time and saves energy. Salting salads will keep them crisp and a pinch of salt in coffee will enhance the flavor and remove bitterness of over-cooked coffee.
- Cleaning: It’s possible to restore sponges by soaking them in saltwater. Salt will also aid in removing stains like wine, wet drink rings and blood from surfaces. You can also use salt as a deodorizer; for example, in your shoes to get rid of stink. Salt can make cleaning a cinch in so many ways.
- Health and Beauty: Salt is found in a ton of home remedies. Gargle salt water for sore throats and rinse around mouth to help treat canker sores. Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt in a pint of water and bathe tired eyes (or apply soaked pads to puffy eyes), soak tired feet in warm salt water for relief. You can use salt in recipes for providing relief for bee stings, mosquito bites, and poison ivy. If you’re in need of relief from fatigue, bathe in a tub of warm salt water, and then, as an added bonus, massage skin afterward to remove dead skin particles and aid circulation.
- Garden: Use saltwater to clean flower vases. Keep cut flowers fresh longer by adding a bit of salt to the flower vase. Mix three pounds of salt with a gallon of soapy water and apply to leaves and stems with a sprayer and keep patios weed free by spreading salt between bricks or blocks (sprinkle with water, or wait for it to rain).
Now, if this were the Academy Awards, this nominee might be the upset or the shocker. However, hear me out. Tea and tea bags (used and unused) are usually cheap, found in most households, and have a surprising number of uses around the home. Take a look at the reasons why tea deserves a spot on the list:
- Cleaning: Add used tea bags to water to make a cleaning solution for mopping the floors and cleaning kitchen countertops. As a great way to deodorize closets, drawers, and even shoes, you can stick an unused and unwrapped tea bag where you need to combat or prevent odors.
- Food and Drink: The health benefits for drinking a steaming mug of tea are innumerable – and it’s delicious! You can use tea or used tea bags to flavor meat to give it a savory taste. As a way to make healthier drinks, you can also substitute half of soft drinks or alcoholic beverages with your choice of tea to make for less sinful drinks
- Health and Beauty: Apply used tea bags to sore/injured eyes for relief. You can also remove warts and give yourself mouth pain and canker sore relief with used tea bags. For sunburn relief, you can brew some tea, let it cool and apply to skin with a rag. Try this remedy 2-3 times a day until pain stops and redness fades.
- Gardening: Tea leaves act as a great fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants. On the flip side, you can use a lot of things in your garden to make tea with, such as peppermint and rosemary.
How These Superstars Work Together
Here’s a few quick ways in which these items can join forces to save you even more money:
- Lemon and Vinegar: Add lemon juice, vinegar, and water in a spray bottle for a natural, all-purpose cleaning solution.
- Baking Soda and Vinegar: When these two join forces, magic happens (and I’m not just talking about making fake volcanoes erupt). You can clean drains, clean a dirty tub, deodorize, and treat poison ivy/oak among many other things.
- Baking Soda and Lemon: Soak clothes in a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda to bleach hard to clean clothes naturally. You can also make a paste of lemon juice and baking soda. Rub it into your elbows to exfoliate and soften scaly skin.
- Tea and Lemon: Apart from being delicious, this combination creates a nice, soothing drink that, with honey, can soothe a sore throat.
- Tea and Vinegar: Strongly brewed black tea combined with vinegar can make for an effective glass and mirror cleaner.
- Vinegar and Salt: Clean brass by mixing equal parts of salt, flour and vinegar to make a paste. Rub the paste on the brass item, leave on for about an hour, then clean with a soft cloth or brush and buff with a dry cloth.
- Baking Soda and Salt: To brighten yellowed cottons or linens, boil the items in a saltwater and baking soda solution for about an hour. You can also clean your teeth by mixing one part salt and two parts baking soda (be sure to pulverize salt before mixing). This method will whiten teeth and help to remove plaque. For a homemade breath freshener, you can mix equal parts of salt and baking soda with water to create a mouthwash.
- Lemon and Salt: Remove tea stains on tablecloths by sprinkling the stain with salt and rubbing the lemon peel across the surface.
If you were creating a list of the top essential household items for the frugalista, or were adding to my list, what would you include? Whose agent would I be hearing from, telling me that I forgot to add their superstar to the list? How could your items work with others common items (on or off my list) to save you money around the house? I look forward to hearing your ideas and feedback! Thanks for being a Tip Hero!