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42 Truly Extraordinary Uses for Household Staples You Already Own

Reader’s Digest thoroughly vetted these genius tricks so you can finish chores, make repairs, and clean messes in a breeze.

pantry home organization makeoverCourtesy Jen Robin

The solution lies within!

While quarantining in our own homes, we seem to be pivoting to two essential paradigms: cleaning as much as possible and using as little as possible. We arrive here in this article at the intersection of these two things. Here are some of the most adept and efficient ways to get the most out of what you already have.

Levi Brown for Reader's Digest

Aluminum foil scrubs pots clean

No scrub pad? Use aluminum foil as a temporary replacement. Crumple a handful and scour to polish stainless steel pots (foil may damage nonstick pots). Here are other brilliant uses for aluminum foil.

Ralph Smith for Reader's Digest

Vinegar removes sweat stains from clothes

Mix one part vinegar with four parts water. Pour on the sweat stain and soak for one minute. Wash in a regular cycle. Don't miss these other genius household uses for vinegar.

Ali Blumenthal for Reader's Digest

Kool-Aid unclogs a dishwasher

Soap scum can block pipes in dishwashers, causing the machines to not drain properly or even break down. Before you pay a plumber, pour Kool-Aid mix into the detergent dish and run a regular cycle with the machine empty. (Any color is generally fine, but if the thought of adding red powder to a white machine makes you shudder, stick to lighter shades.) The Kool-Aid’s citric acid removes soap scum.


WD-40 removes glue

To loosen stubborn glue dried on scissors or a counter, cover it with WD-40. It can dissolve the adhesive components of even strong glue to make it easier to remove. Here are other amazing ways to use WD-40.


Alka-Seltzer cleans coffeemakers

Fill the chamber of a drip coffeemaker with water. Drop in four Alka-Seltzer tablets. Once they dissolve, run a brew cycle to wash the machine’s tubes. Rinse the chamber two to three times, then run another brew cycle with plain water. The sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and citric acid in the effervescent heartburn aid make it a powerhouse cleaner.


Cooking spray removes shower soap scum

Conventional cleaners don’t dissolve stubborn soap buildup on shower doors. Spray the glass with cooking spray and leave for 30 minutes. The oil slides between the glass and the soap scum, making it easy to wash. Wipe off with soapy water (use a wet sponge with a drop of dishwashing liquid).

Levi Brown for Reader's Digest

Sponges remove pet hair

Fido leaving your furniture furry? Lightly dampen a sponge, and rub it across upholstery. It will easily lift pet hair from the surface. Or try these other smart uses for kitchen sponges.


Vinegar neutralizes odors

Just cooked fish? Painted a room? Pour vinegar into a glass or bowl, and set it in the affected room for 30 minutes. Vinegar can be used for a lot more things around the house as well.

iStock/Murat Sen

WD-40 Prevents splintering

Wood handles on tools splinter over time. To protect your tools, spray a generous amount of WD-40 on the wood. This displaces moisture from the surface and creates a barrier against corrosive elements in the environment that can cause splintering. Don't miss these 8 other genius household staples used to get rid of squeaky shoes.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest