Ordinary Household Items Doing Double Duty

How many of you use vinegar to cook and clean with? Do you drink Coca-Cola and sanitize your toilet with it? Or, do you use cookie sheets to bake with and display your children’s magnetized numbers and letters? If you do, then you realize that many ordinary household items can do double (and sometimes triple) duty to make life easier on you and your wallet.

Here are a few more ideas to add to the list:

Wooden Chopsticks

I always ask for wooden chopsticks when dining at Chinese restaurants because I know they can be used for much more than just eating. If you don’t know how to eat with chopsticks, take them from the restaurant anyway. When you bring them home you can cut them in half and use them as handles for homemade Popsicles. I also find that they are great tools to dig Play-Doh out of molds. In addition, they make wonderful cake dowels. And, my 2-year-old loves to use wooden chopsticks to torment bugs.

Uncooked Spaghetti

Uncooked pasta will last for up to a full year regardless of if you keep it in an airtight container or not. Sure you can eat it, but did you know that uncooked spaghetti also keeps your cake’s frosting job pristine? Just stick a few strands into the top of the cake prior to covering it with plastic wrap.

In addition, I have been told that long strands of uncooked spaghetti can also double as matches. If you don’t have long matches and need to light a candle in a deep holder, simply use a piece of uncooked spaghetti.

Alka-Seltzer

While I have never dropped antacid tablets in my toilet I know that by doing so you can effectively remove dirt and grime. My Alka-Seltzer does double duty as a cleaner for stained vases. If you drop a tablet in a bit of water it helps to loosen any gunk that is stuck to the bottom of the vase.

Baby Oil

Years ago I used to slather baby oil on my body instead of sunscreen. I know, I know, bad, bad, bad! Now I use it to peel off bandages from my daughter’s knees and arms. I target the sticky parts of the band-aid and it practically falls off on its own—no pulled skin and no more tears.

Ice-Cube Trays

Great for making frozen juice cubes, but my daughter prefers to use the trays to mix paint. I fill about five different compartments with five different color paints and she uses the rest of the spaces to mix up colorful concoctions.

Laundry Baskets

Laundry baskets make great storage containers. My daughter fell in love with a bright purple one that we found at the dollar store and now we use it to keep her stuffed animals in it. Also, it’s very light, which make pushing her furry friends down the hall a breeze (she even climbs in for a ride once in a while).

Another use: If you are having a party, but don’t want to invest in a galvanized bucket to store drinks in, use a laundry basket. Line the basket with a plastic tablecloth or clear trash bag, fill it with ice and add your beverages.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.

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