Few people take the concept of “waste not, want not” farther than Sara Noel, founder of the FrugalVillage.com.
Day after day, Noel and her avid readers dish on the best ways to get the most use out of everyday items lying around the house.
We reached out to Noel for some of her most ingenious tips.
Used teabags take on a new life, if you know how to use them.
Feet deodorizer: Try soaking your smelly soles for about 30 minutes in enough black tea to keep them covered (about three bags boiled in a quart should do the trick––add cold water to cool).
Fire starter: “Tuck dried tea bags into a cardboard tube from toilet paper or paper towels and light them to start a fire,” Noel says. “You can add dryer lint or crumpled newspaper to help fill the tube, too.”
Odor remover. “Put some used tea bags in a jar and place in your refrigerator to absorb odors,” she adds.
Before you sprinkle a couple packets of Kool-aid into a pitcher and serve it up with boat loads of sugar, check out this Kool-Aid dishwasher detergent recipe:
Noel’s recipe for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Kosher or coarse salt
4 packages unsweetened Kool-Aid drink mix, lemonade flavor (DO NOT use any other flavor, as lemon has the most dirt-busting citric acid)
Combine all ingredients in a jar or plastic container with a lid. Place lid on container and shake several times to mix ingredients thoroughly. Use 1 tablespoon per load. If load is heavily soiled, use 2 tablespoons. Yields up to 40 loads.
You can use other flavors for homemade lip gloss, baked goods and edible arts and crafts for kids.
Used yoga mats
One frugal reader has some savvy ideas for salvaging old yoga mats:
Litter buster: “We have found a lot of uses for our old mats, including putting one under the cat box. The cat jumps out and the litter in her paws sticks better to the mat than any surface I’ve used. Just vacuum up when litter begins to cluster (or roll up and shake into bin),” she says.
Floor protector: “We’ve also used an old mat under heavy items (like weights in the home gym) on hardwood floors, to avoid denting the wood. Use one as a doormat from the garage into the house. Old mats can be cut into any size you find useful.”
Before you trade in your tired old flatware for something shinier, give those spoons a second chance.
Garden decor: “Metal spoons have multiple uses,” says Noel. “You can use several to make a wind chime or garden markers, or use one as a little shovel for houseplants or small digging jobs in your garden.”
Revive tired eyes: Toss a pair in the freezer and apply to puffy eyes in the morning.
Jewelry: Try this craftier approach: “The handles can be bent and made into spoon rings or bracelets. You can make resin spoon pendants or ornaments, too,” Noel says.
Cell phone saver: If your phone gets wet, “try saving it by drying it in a container of cat litter,” Noel says. “Remove the battery and SIM card, then dry the phone off and slide it into a sock. Tie the sock closed and put it in a container filled with cat litter.
After three days, check to see if there’s any moisture left on the screen. If so, put it back for another couple of days. The litter is more absorbent than uncooked rice, which is often recommended to help save wet cellphones.”
Other cool uses for cat litter:
– Fill a five-gallon bucket with litter to use as a portable toilet when out camping.
– Shoe deodorizer (pack in hosiery or a similarly breathable fabric, then pop into your shoes)
– Suck out the stench from smokers at your next get together with this trick: “If you don’t have ashtrays, you can fill a coffee can with cat litter and let your guest(s) use that to dispose of cigarette butts,” Noel says.
Baby wipes are probably the most versatile product on this list, as you can use in them in everything from household cleaning to keeping sticky fingers at bay.
Electronics cleaner: Before you go out and purchase pricey electronics cleaners, keep in mind baby wipes work just as well. “Use a baby wipes to clean your keyboard, the top of your mouse, your desk, television remotes or game controllers,” Noel says.
Used butter wrappers
Avid bakers, take note: You can save old butter wrappers to use instead of pricey non-stick cooking sprays.
Grease pans: Just stash them in your freezer and use them to grease baking sheets and pans whenever needed.
Breath mint containers
Storage: Tiny breath mint containers take on a whole new life once they’re empty. Use them to hold anything from bobby pins, to toothpicks, to credit cards (perfect for a small evening bag), to batteries. The possibilities are endless.
Flashlight: The gadget-minded out there will love this DIY flashlight made out of an old tic tac container and a few batteries.
Other storage ideas:
– Safety pins, or all the trimmings of a home-made sewing kit (Noel suggests stuffing a small piece of styrofoam inside to hold the needles).
– Safe storage for earbuds while traveling
It’s a shame the bleach blonde craze of the 90s left hydrogen peroxide with such a bad rap, because this solution has so many uses.
Stain remover: Commonly used as an anti-septic, you can also use it to disinfect countertops or as a makeshift stain remover.
Pet shampoo: Alternatively, turn it onto a cheap pet shampoo with Noel’s DIY recipe:
“Combine one quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup baking soda and two teaspoons Dawn dishwashing liquid. Wet your pet’s fur and lather the mixture like shampoo. Leave the mixture in for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse.”
Coconut oil has long been beloved by families on a budget, but its uses extend far beyond the kitchen.
Give yourself peace of mind about harsh chemicals found in bath and beauty aids by using coconut oil as the base for home-made deodorant and toothpaste.
Deodorant: Mix equal parts organic virgin coconut oil (melted), baking soda and corn starch and store in jar. Apply with your fingers or a cotton ball. The best time to apply deodorant is right after a shower and/or before bedtime.
Toothpaste: Follow this DIY recipe:
2 tablespoons virgin organic coconut oil (Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay)
3 tablespoons baking soda
20 drops peppermint essential oil
A few drops liquid stevia
Ziplock bags cost a fortune and the store-brand stuff is rarely worth its weight in flimsy plastic. Try recycling your used cereal bags instead.
Multiple uses: “You can use them to store baked goods or a sandwich, apply breadcrumb coatings to meat, fish and poultry, roll up cookie dough logs, contain ingredients to be crushed with a rolling pin, or as a trash container in your car,” Noel says.
Fewer things are more annoying than the inch or so of shampoo that gets lodged at the bottom of the bottle and won’t budge.
Before you throw money away, try Noel’s frugal alternatives:
Cuticle softener: A squirt of shampoo in a bowl of warm water is great for at-home manicures, Noel says.
Shaving cream: Swap out your Barbasol for leftover conditioner or shampoo.
Fog-proof goggles: “To prevent swim masks and goggles from fogging up, fill a squirt bottle with a mixture of one part baby shampoo and two parts water. Apply it to the goggles, and lightly rinse.”
Dryer sheets: If you never knew it was safe to put aluminum foil in dryers, join the club. Turns out they make excellent alternatives to dryer sheets, according to Noel. “Wad foil into balls that are approximately 3 inches in diameter and use them to reduce static in your dryer,” she says. “You can wrap a tennis ball in foil, too.”
-A makeshift pot scrubber
-Sharpening tool for household or school scissors (don’t try it on sewing shears)
“13 Creative Uses for Household Items” was provided by BusinessInsider.com.