43 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.

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Aluminum foil scrubs pots clean

Levi Brown for Reader's Digest

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.

Vinegar removes sweat stains from clothes

Ralph Smith for Reader's Digest

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.

Kool-Aid unclogs a dishwasher

Ali Blumenthal for Reader's Digest

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).

Sponges remove pet hair

Levi Brown for Reader's Digest

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.

WD-40 Prevents splintering

iStock/Murat Sen

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.

Ammonia cleans the oven


For almost effortless oven cleaning, fill a bowl with ammonia and set it in an unheated oven overnight; remove the bowl the next day. The ammonia’s fumes will have loosened the gunk so you can wipe it off with a wet sponge or paper towel.

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