Baby Oil as Chrome Polish
Forget keeping skin soft, baby oil also polishes chrome. Apply a dab to a cotton cloth and use it to shine everything from faucets to hubcaps. You'll end up with shiny, happy surfaces from a medicine-cabinet staple.
Aluminum Foil as Glassware Scrubber
To get baked-on food off a glass pan or an oven rack, use dishwashing liquid and a ball of foil in place of a steel-wool soap pad, says Mary Findley, president of the cleaning-products developer Mary Moppins. It's one way to recycle those used but perfectly good pieces of foil you hate to throw out.
Baking Soda as Silver Polish
To polish silver: Wash items, then place on aluminum foil in the bottom of a pot. Add a baking-soda solution (¼ cup soda, a few teaspoons salt, 1 quart boiling water) and cover for a few seconds. The result? A chemical reaction that gets the black off the gravy boat.
Broom as Long Distance Duster
To dust crown moldings, place a microfiber rag over the broom's bristles and secure with a rubber band. Then use the long handle to dust areas that your arms can't reach. No more circus acts (starring you, on a rickety, wobbly stool).
Car Wax as Sink Polish
Polish faucets, sinks, tile, even shower doors with Turtle Wax, which leaves behind a protective barrier against water and soap buildup, so your hard-earned sparkle will last past the next tooth-brushing.
Car Wax as Garden Shear Lubricant
For cleaner cuts with less elbow grease, rub a little paste on the hinge of a pair of garden shears so they don’t get jammed.
Chalk as Tarnish Prevention
Slow the tarnish on your good silver by tying up a few moisture-absorbing pieces in cheesecloth and store them with your cutlery for shinier flatware that reflects well on you in no time flat.
Coaster as Drip Catcher
Catch the sticky stuff from bottles and jars in cupboards. No more shelves that require a full wipe-down after every spoonful of honey, slather of jam, or glug of olive oil.
Cooking Spray as Candlestick Cleaner
Celebrating by candlelight? Spray the inside of a votive holder with a thin coating before dropping in a tea light. After the candle has burned down, the remaining wax will slip out.
Use Cooking Spray as an Ice Repellent
Before clearing snow off a driveway, liberally spray both sides of a plastic or metal shovel with cooking spray. The ice will slide right off the oily surface. It's the easiest trick for smoother snow removal.
Cotton Ball as Rubber Glove Protector
For leak-resistant gloves at your fingertips, push one cotton ball into the end of each finger of a dishwashing glove to keep sharp nails from splitting the rubber.
Dryer Sheet as Iron Cleaner
Remove gunk from the soleplate of an iron. With the setting on low, rub the iron over the dryer sheet until the residue disappears, and you're left with a pristine press.
Dustpan as Toy Herder
Scoop up small toys―Lego blocks, jacks, Barbie shoes, plastic soldiers—with your dustpan and brush, so you can reclaim your living room for grown-ups.
Eggshells as Bottle and Vase Cleaners
Here’s an idea for all those eggs you hard-boiled: Use their broken eggshells to clean the hard-to-reach places in bottles and vases. Drop some crushed shells in the bottle, add warm water and a drop of dishwashing liquid, and give it a good swirl. The shells will scrape off the gunk you can’t get to, so you can save your elbow grease for the dinner dishes.
Emery Board as Stain Remover
Remove small stains from suede by gently rubbing the file (either side) across the problem area a few times to get rid of the splotch and refresh the nap.
Fork as Carpet Fluffer
Use the tines to gently fluff plush carpet fibers back to their original height, removing dents left by heavy furniture. Now, that's a real fork lift.
Baking Soda as Linen Freshener
Place an open box of baking soda alongside your stacks of sheets and towels to stave off mustiness.
Baking Soda as Drain Unclogger
To get your drain running again (without resorting to chemicals worthy of a hazmat suit) pour ½ cup soda, then ½ cup vinegar, down a clogged drain. Cover it with a wet cloth, wait 5 minutes, uncover, and flush with steaming-hot water.
Baking Soda as Stain Remover
Clean discolored teacups and teapots by making a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub over the stain to remove.
Baking Soda as Carpet Freshener
To absorb stale odors from carpet (and to generally freshen up a room), scatter soda on it, wait a few hours, then vacuum up the powder.
Bath Mat as Car Seat Protector
Protect your car seats from muddy paws by covering them with a bath mat or two before packing Lilly the Lab in the backseat. The rubber bottom will help the mat stay in place. Between trips, stow the mat in the trunk.
Car Wax as Stovetop Polish
Preserve a pristine stovetop by applying a thin layer of car wax, then wiping it off. Future spills will lift off easily.
Citrus Peel as Coffee Mug Cleaner
Remove coffee or tea stains from a mug by rubbing them with a lightly salted citrus peel.
Citrus Peel as Garbage Disposal Deodorizer
Keep your disposal smelling fresh by dropping a few peels down the drain and flipping the switch.
Clothespin as Cord Keeper
The secret to keeping a retractable cord from rewinding too soon is to clip the cord near the opening.
Cornmeal as Grease Absorber
Add this to the grocery shopping list for new reasons. Cornmeal absorbs grease on light colored fabric or upholstery. Pour enough on to cover the soiled area and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Vacuum to remove the grains.
Cotton Swab as Computer Detailer
With the machine turned off, disconnect the keyboard and trace between the keys with a cotton swab lightly dipped in isopropyl alcohol. If your mouse is the kind that rolls on a ball, unscrew the bottom and go over the ball and the interior with a cotton swab, too.
Denture Tablet as Vase Cleaner
When residue clings to unreachable spots inside a vase or a decanter, fill the container with warm water and drop in one or two denture-cleaning tablets for every eight ounces of warm water. Let the fizzy solution sit for the time specified on the product's box, then rinse.
Dryer Sheet as Sawdust Clearer
An easy way to keep the work area clean. Saw dust at a work station sweeps up so fast with one pass of a used fabric softener sheet.
Dryer Sheet as Scum Buster
Remove obstinate soap buildup from glass shower doors by sprinkling a few drops of water onto a used fabric-softener sheet and scrubbing.
Emery Board as Eraser Saver
To revive a dried-out eraser or clean a smudged one, lightly rub it over an emery board. The board's fine grain will shave off the eraser's old top layer, leaving you with a good-as-new mistake-removing surface.
Hair Dryer as Sticker Remover
A little hot air quickly loosens price labels—with zero fingernail-chipping frustration.
Lemon as Laundry Brightener
Skip the bleach—add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle to brighter up those fading whites.
Lint Roller as Glitter Pick-Up
Clean up glitter (and tiny pieces of construction paper) after craft time.
Magnet as Trash Bag Holder
Minimize garbage-day malaise. Hold the top of a trash bag in place with magnets so bits don’t find their way to the bottom of the bin.
Mustard Powder as Jar Deodorizer
Deodorize smelly glass jars by washing them with a mixture of one teaspoon powdered mustard and one quart warm water.
Newspaper as Window Washer
Newspapers deposit less lint than paper towels do and don't leave any streaks. Just spray on a glass cleaner and wipe.
Onion as Basement Deodorizer
Clear the air in a dank basement. Cut an onion in half, place it on a plate, and leave it out overnight. Once the initial salad-bar aroma dissipates, you'll have a fresh (non-oniony) atmosphere.
Pant Hanger as Drying Rack
Use a pant hanger to air-dry a bath mat after showering. Simply hang it over the shower curtain rod.
Panty Hose as Candle Duster
Remove dust from candles by running it through the leg of an old pair of panty hose.
Rice as Vase Scrubber
Prepare a stained vase for a new batch of blooms. If you can't reach the residue at the bottom, add a tablespoon of rice and a lot of soapy water, shake, and rinse until clean.
Rubber Band as Stemware Securer
Secure wayward stemware in the dishwasher by tethering it to the machine's prongs with rubber bands.
Rubber Glove as Pet Hair Remover
Put on a damp rubber dishwashing glove and run your hand over hair-covered upholstery—the hair will cling to the glove, not the sofa. Rinse off the glove in the sink (with the drain catcher in place, of course).
Rubbing Alcohol as Hairspray Remover
Lift off hair-spray residue from bathroom walls. Spray a mixture of one part rubbing alcohol, two parts water, and a dash of dishwashing liquid onto vinyl wallpaper or semigloss (not flat) paint. Wipe clean.
Rubbing Alcohol as Permanent Marker Remover
Remove permanent marker from countertops and walls. Pour a bit of alcohol onto a cotton ball and rub on the stain. (Spot test on a hidden area first.)
Salt as Wreath Duster
Place a wreath of pinecones or faux evergreen in a paper bag with a 1/4 cup of salt. Fold the top of the bag over and gently shake.
Salt as Salad Wash
Clean dirt from leafy vegetables by washing them in a bath of salt water.
Seam Ripper as Vacuum Roller Cleaner
Restore a vacuum to maximum power by cutting the lint and hair from its roller brush.
Shoe Polish as Furniture Polish
Spruce up wood furniture by filling in scratches with shoe polish in a similar shade.
Shower Curtain as Picnic Blanket Liner
Do dew diligence and layer a liner underneath a picnic blanket to avoid soggy bottoms and grass or mud stains.
Sugar as Hand Degreaser
Cut grease on hands by rubbing them with a mixture of sugar and water.
Electric Toothbrush as Grout Scrubber
Scour bathroom crevices with a battery-powered toothbrush.
Toothpaste as Linoleum Cleaner
Use white toothpaste to buff scuffs out of linoleum tiles.
Tape as Keyboard Cleaner
Remove dust and crumbs from a keyboard and slide a
short strip between the letters.
Vanilla as Freezer Freshener
Trade frostbite funk for a more pleasing freezer scent and wipe the inside of the icebox with an extract-dampened cotton pad.
Vinegar as Odor Remover
After chopping onions, scrub your hands with salt and a splash of vinegar to eliminate the smell.
Vinegar as Coffeemaker Cleaner
Clean a coffeemaker or a tea kettle by making a pot using a mixture of water and vinegar. Follow with several cycles of water to rinse.
Vinegar as Sticker Remover
Dislodge a stubborn price sticker. Paint with several coats of vinegar, let it sit for five minutes, then wipe away.
Vinegar as Garbage Disposal DeodorizerDeodorize a garbage disposal. Make vinegar ice cubes and feed them down the disposal. After grinding, run cold water through the drain - also grinding lemons is great to clean and freshen the smell of garbage disposal.