20 handy hints using everyday items, do you know these ones?

Jun 30, 2014 | 2 comments


I wanted to pass on a recipe today that I used to make a lot, but do you think I can find it…No! Gah, HOW annoying. Whilst I was looking in vain for the book I KNOW it’s in, I came across one called Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things, so I thought I would pass on instead a random selection of tips from there. There’s loads in there!

1. Elastic bands – use an elastic band wrapped around a thread spool to stop it unravelling, mine are always doing unravelling, even when I use the little wedge on the top of the reel, I usually use a little piece of sticky tape, which also works well
2. Elastic bands – wrap an elastic band around the part of a book you have already read. If you drop the book, you will still know where you have got to. I think this would be most useful when I carry a book in my handbag
3. Plastic bottles – fill an old bottle with water and pop it in the toilet cistern to cut down on water used each flush. We do the ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ approach, so only flush two or three times a day. Not for everyone I know!
4. Plastic bottles – going on a picnic? Fill some small water bottles with drinking water, squash or juice and pop them in the freezer the night before. Use the frozen water bottles as cool packs, and you can drink the chilled water too as it melts.
5. Plastic bags – if you have a favourite vase that has cracked, line it with a clear plastic bag, arrange your flowers and fill with water as usual. I bought a vase once from a charity shop that was pourous and seeped water, it would have worked brilliantly for that one.
6. Plastic bags – If your kids are still working out how to be dry at night, plastic rubbish bags make good mattress protectors, cheaper than a mattress guard.
7. Pillowcases – use a pillowcase to make napkins. Find one you like at a car boot or in a charity shop. Cut into 8 matching squares and make a 1.25cm hem on each edge, voila, a new set of napkins.
8. Pillowcases – if you wash your delicates in the washing machine, try popping them into a pillowcase first, and close with string or an elastic band. The case will protect your smalls and stop them getting in a tangle. No need to buy those pretty but expensive net bags.
9. Sugar – keep cut flowers fresh. Dissolve 3 tblsps sugar and 2 tbslp white vinegar per litre of warm water. Fill the vase with the mixture. The sugar will feed the cut flowers, while the vinegar discourages bacterial growth, keeping the water fresher for longer. Wonder if that is what is in those little sachets from the florist?
10. Salt – I would love to know if this one works. Wrap a block of cheese in a paper towel which has been soaked in salt water before storing in the fridge. This is supposed to stop the cheese block growing mould.
11. Milk – make up remover. Mix 3 tblsp powdered milk with 80ml water and mix well. Adjust the amount of water and milk powder so it is a thick cream. Use as a normal make up remover. Or use hair conditioner for the same purpose.
12. Milk – after sun or for insect bites. Mix one part milk powder with two parts water to make a thick paste and add a pinch or two of salt. Dab on sun burnt skin or an insect bite. The enzymes in the milk powder will help to neutralise the insect bite venom and relieve the pain of sun burn.
13. Marshmallows – pop a marshmallow on the top of each cupcake about a minute before they come out of the oven to make a delicious, instant, gooey topping.
14. Mayonnaise – or use mayo rather than milk to sooth sun burnt skin
15. Mayonnaise – head lice. Head lice can be resistant to chemical treatments. Try massaging in some mayonnaise into the hair and scalp, pop on a shower cap and leave for an hour or two, then shampoo off. Repeat in 7 to 10 days. I’ve heard that hair conditioner works too.
16. Garden hose – use the garden hose to make a very loooong telephone for the kids. Stick a funnel on each end, pushed into the end, or stuck on with gaffer tape and get them to talk to each other from opposite sides of the garden
17. Foam food trays – I keep many things that food comes on, in or with, but not these, but I might now! Use them for knee pads in the garden, secured with old socks with the foot removed.
18. Foam food trays – use as a disposable serving dish or plate when cooking outside or camping. Or for taking cakes to school for the cake stall.
19. Earrings – I love these ones! Use pierced earrings on a bulletin board. Or for clip ones, use them on the Christmas tree or to clip a scarf into place
20. And finally, bicarb. Sprinkle a little on the weeds in the cracks on the patio and while you’re waiting for that to work, use a little on a damp cloth to clean plastic garden furniture

Have you got any favourite tips to share using ordinary household stuff in an unusual way?



  1. Lesley

    Vinegar seems to be one of those things that can be used for anything! Almost a case of in doubt, bung some vinegar on it.

  2. Veronica Vatter

    softened butter on cheese works. Ive always heard vinigar on bites and stings.

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