Multi-purpose household items

July 1, 2010 4:47:49 PM PDT
Home guru Lisa Quinn shares some unusual uses for common household items.

Products featured in the segment:

  • "Rain X:" Helps rainwater slide off windshields for better visibility. Wipe it all over your glass shower doors every month or so. You'll never have to squeegee again. Pick up a bottle at your local auto store.

  • Cheap Flip-flops: Use them as House-Shoes for you and your guests. A shoe-free home is a cleaner, healthier, and less vacuumed home.

  • White candles: Romantic mood lighting. Rub them on your bathroom grout to prevent mold and mildew.

  • Alka Seltzer: Will clean a dirty vase or a ring in the toilet bowl in a pinch. Just drop them in and watch them work.

  • The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: If you have kids, you need this. It will take almost anything off almost any surface. It's particularly good for crayon marks on walls.

  • Aluminum Foil: Removes dirty buildup on the face of your iron. Simply lay out a piece of foil, and iron it. The buildup sticks to the foil. Sharpens your scissors. Grab scraps of foil and cut through 6-8 layers and your scissors will be like new. Prevents nasty spills in your oven. Line the bottom of your oven with a sheet of foil. This will save you the laborious task of scraping all the burnt on gunk afterwards.

  • Salt: Prevents ants from entering your home. Ants won't walk over salt, so sprinkle it over doorways and windowsills. Salt helps clean spills in your oven. If the pot pie overflows, pour salt over the mess. The salt will halt the burning smell and form an easily removable crust over the top of the spill. Place artificial flowers in a large bag with salt. Shaking the bag will remove all the dust from the flowers.

  • Plastic cutting boards: I know, the wooden ones look so much prettier. They're also harder to clean and harbor bacteria. If you like the look of butcher block, buy one. There are gorgeous ones out there. I have a large, basket weave, bamboo board that I use when entertaining. It makes the perfect landing for breads, fruits and nuts. However, for chopping, I only use plastic. Just throw them in the dishwasher and you're done. No fuss, no muss, no worries, no oiling.

  • Baking Soda: Replace all of your abrasive, powdered cleaners with baking soda. It's inexpensive, safe for the family, and works great on sinks, tile and grout.

  • Crayons: Crayons are usually the cause of housekeeping problems, but if you have scratched hardwood floors, the brown ones are godsends. Grab your kids' crayon box and pick out a color similar to the color of your floor (burnt umber, perhaps?), fill in the scratch, and melt the wax with a hair dryer. Buff with a cloth.

  • A Cleaning Bucket: Most of us don't have storage space to keep cleaning items in every room, so consider buying a bucket. Keep your sponges, rags, and cleaners inside. It's a mobile cleaning station.

  • Citrus Peel: Next time you're making margaritas, throw the lemon and lime peels down the garbage disposal (in small pieces). The peels not only make your kitchen smell great, but they also help maintain the integrity of the disposal blades.

  • Paintbrushes: Not just for artistic expression, paintbrushes are great at getting the dust off the top of your baseboards.

  • Essential Oils: Most room deodorizers you buy at the major chain stores contain harmful chemicals. A better way to freshen up a room is to put a few drops of essential oil on a burning light bulb. The heat from the bulb allows the fragrance to waft throughout the room.

  • A Flat Iron -- Yes, the one for hair: You didn't hang your shirt up properly, and now the collar has a huge wrinkle in it. You're already late. What do you do? Warm up the flat iron. Although you may have given up on the Straight Look for your hair, you can still use it for small ironing jobs.

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