56 Incredible Uses for Things You Normally Toss
Cut down on your trash and salvage some of these items.
Lugging a heavy bag of deicer out to the sidewalk is no fun, and it’s tough to spread deicer evenly with a shovel or cup. You get a clump in one spot and none in another, so you’re wasting both time and deicer. Here’s a great solution. Make a “sidewalk salt shaker” from a big plastic coffee container with a handle. Poke 1/4-in. holes in the lid and fill it with sand, cat litter, deicer, or a mix of whatever you want and shake away! — Tony DeMarse. Find out the easy way to melt ice you never knew about.
To keep holiday lights from getting tangled and make it easy to string them around the yard next year, roll all the strings of lights onto a portable hose reel with wheels and a handle. Check out these other 18 holiday decorating mistakes you didn’t know you were making.
There are several uses for paper tubes like cord storage or making your vacuum reach more places.
To make it easier to clean hard to reach spots use a leftover wrapping paper tube as a vacuum cleaner extension. Now you have 3 extra feet to clean ceiling fans and cobwebbed corners. Maybe it’ll help you reach one of these 10 places you’re not vacuuming—but should be.
Old toothbrushes are great at cleaning tough to reach spots.
Now that discount and dollar stores carry cheap electric toothbrushes, you can add a modern twist to routine cleaning. Rapid vibration will quickly scrub out stubborn dirt, while the long handle can get to hard-to-reach places without all the elbow grease.
Clamshell containers are great for repurposing and for holding cookies.
When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to save those plastic berry containers. You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container—it’s perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn!
The next time you need to clean your window blinds, use an old sock on your hand! Your hand makes a perfect tool for reaching all of the nooks and crannies on the blinds, and the sock picks up dust wonderfully. There’s no shortage of brilliant uses for old socks: here’s 88 of them.
Save your containers
Save all your glass and plastic containers for your shop. Glass jars work well for liquids. Clean brushes in an old tin can. Brush on glue from small containers of all kinds. Sour cream/cottage cheese containers work for just about everything. Clear plastic containers are great for miscellaneous storage because you can see what’s in them. Just label everything with a permanent marker.
Purchasing cotton rags for painting, cleaning or dusting projects can get expensive. Make your own rags for free using old T-shirts and other unused garments. A few minutes with a pair of scissors or utility knife set up like this is all it takes to convert unwanted clothing into useful rags. This is what really happens to your used clothing donations.
Packing peanuts aren’t going to go into your curbside pickup container but places like UPS and other shipping retailers will accept packing peanuts for recycling.
Use an old eyeglass case for hardware storage
My wife has a drawer full of old eyeglass cases that she doesn’t use anymore, so I repurposed them to store small things like drill bits and screws. I stick a case in my shirt pocket when I’m working and toss it into a toolbox when I’m done. It’s much easier than digging around for small stuff in the bottom of my tool apron. — Norm Smith
Laundry jug watering can
Instead of throwing away empty laundry detergent containers, rinse them out thoroughly and then recycle them for watering plants. Drill 1/8-in. holes in the top of the cap, and a 1/2-in. hole just above the handle to relieve pressure so the water flows freely.
Wine cork caulk saver
Keeping around a few extra wine corks is a good idea in case you accidentally throw one away. But they also work for other purposes. Synthetic wine corks are great for sealing partially used tubes of caulk. Drill a 5/16-in. hole into the cork about 1 in. deep. The cork fits perfectly and makes an airtight seal.
Not sure which cord goes with which electronic device plugged into your power strip? Save yourself the hassle of following the cord from the plugin to the device for each item you need to move by labeling them. Plastic bread tabs are perfect for labeling cords that are plugged into a power strip because they’re sturdy, have enough room to write on and can easily clip around the plugin end of a cord. Plus, they often come in different colors. You’ll be able to easily identify and move your electrical devices. Find out other things you’re throwing away but shouldn’t.
Keep a few empty egg cartons with the rest of your painting supplies. They’re great for lifting a small project off of a work surface, making it easier to paint nooks and crannies and along the base of the project.
If you have old buckets with broken plastic handles, retrofit the buckets with new handles made from an old garden hose. Cut short lengths of hose, slit each one with a utility knife and slide them over the handles. If you can remove one side of the wire handle, you can just slide the hose grip on without slitting it. The handles work great and keep those buckets on the job!
To-go coffee cup
Use a clean to-go coffee cup with a lid to water plants. The hole in the lid is small, so water pours slowly. It’s especially useful for plants such as aloe vera and cacti, which don’t require much water and are at risk of overwatering.
An empty rectangular tissue box makes a convenient holder for small garbage bags, plastic grocery bags, and small rags. Simply thumbtack it to the inside of a cabinet door. It’s one of our favorite kitchen storage ideas.
Bubble Wrap® can help prevent blisters by placing some on the handle of a rake or a broom, along with these 11 totally unexpected ways to use it.
Bike inner tubes
Make lifting heavy loads with your wheelbarrow a little more pleasant by adding these cushioned hand grips. Reuse an old rubber bike tube by cutting pieces to fit over the wheelbarrow handles. If needed, use a hairdryer to warm up the rubber and make it easier to stretch. The bike tube provides the perfect amount of padding and traction.
Grated cheese container
Reuse your grated cheese container to shake grass seed on bare spots in your lawn. The holes in the container are the perfect size for dispensing just the right amount without overdoing it.
Paper towel cord storage
Give empty paper towel rolls new life as cord wranglers. Fold small extension cords neatly before slipping them into their own individual storage sleeve. You can even label the cords by writing on the cardboard. Add this to the list of things you didn’t know you could upcycle or recycle.
Paper towel boot shaper
Toilet paper roll hair band organizer
Grocery bag shoe covers
Greenhouses from the salad bar
Paint stick to clean lint buildup
Save that six-pack!
Do all of your small bottles in the refrigerator door like to tip over after opening or closing the door? Fortunately, the answer to tidying those wayward bottles is just a recycling bin away.
To keep all of your condiments under control use an empty six-pack holder to hold and organize the condiments in your refrigerator door.
This organization solution is also great for transporting your condiments for a backyard BBQ or picnic!
Paper towel roll bag storage
There are many uses for plastic grocery bags in the workshop. You can use them to seal up brushes and rollers during a painting project, so you don’t have to wash so much stuff between coats. The point is, it’s worth keeping a handful of plastic grocery bags on hand in the workshop, and here’s a great tip for storing them: Stuff as many plastic grocery bags as possible into an empty paper towel roll. Then toss the roll in a drawer or cabinet. The cardboard tube keeps the bags contained, and it’s easy to pull one out at a time when you need it.
Save those plastic six-pack rings to hang cords, ropes, and air compressor hoses. Fold over the plastic holder to make a three-ring strip, then slide one end through the other—around the cord or hose—and hang it on a nail or peg. Thanks to reader Don Ruggieri for this environ-mentally friendly hang-up. If you’re very conscious of your plastic footprint, consider supporting these 22 big companies that are getting rid of plastic for good.
Start seeds in toilet paper tubes
For an easy and green way to start seeds, save your toilet paper and paper towel tubes. Cut the tubes into 2 in. lengths and set them in a waterproof tray. Fill the tubes with potting soil and plant your seeds. When the seedlings are ready to move to the garden, plant them right in their cardboard tube. The cardboard will decompose. Be sure to keep the tube below the soil surface, so it doesn’t wick moisture away from the roots.
How to turn an empty milk jug into a watering can
I only own one watering can, so I need to refill it four or five times to water all of the plants on my patio. Instead of buying more overpriced watering cans, I use old milk jugs. I drill a few holes in the caps, fill up the jugs with water and I’m good to go. — Harrison Berg
Do you have a hard time starting seeds or cuttings? Try soda bottle greenhouses. Cut the bottom off 2-liter soda bottles and remove the labels. Each seed gets its own micro greenhouse! Remove the greenhouses once the seeds have germinated and cuttings are rooted. Maybe one of these libraries that rent seed packets along with books can help you get started!
DIY lint fire starter log
To properly build a fire, you need to have tinder (easy-lighting material), kindling (finger-size sticks) and fuel (logs). We all have a readily available supply of tinder: dryer lint! To make fire starters, I stuff empty toilet paper tubes with dryer lint. My dryer lint “logs” light quickly and easily burn long enough to light up the kindling. And I don’t have to resort to lighter fluid!
An excuse to snack while painting
Washing a roller cover between coats of paint is a waste of time and paint. So one of my painting necessities is a can of chips; preferably the plastic cans. Before I start painting, I eat the chips and then clean out the can. I don’t want any unintended texture on my walls! Between coats, I slip the wet roller cover in the empty chip can and pop on the lid to keep it from drying out. — Thomas Nolan
Rubber gloves rubber bands
Ingenious reader Keith Opdahl says: Extend the usefulness of old, leaky rubber gloves by recycling them as rubber bands. Cut them into various lengths and widths with a sharp pair of scissors, store ’em on a nail and surprise yourself with how handy they are around the shop. They not only bind together power cords and dowels but also work well as glue clamps for repair and assembly jobs.
The easiest way to save on potting soil
For deep planters, fill the bottom with old cans and plant pots. The cans and pots improve drainage and create air pockets for better aeration and healthier soil.
Toilet paper roll wrapping paper sleeve
Shoebox touch-up paint kit
Oil bottle hardware storage
Here’s a fun little project to keep your screws, nails, nuts and electrical whatsits handy and neatly organized. If you think that’s crafty, check out these 13 weird tricks to clean your car.
Safer blade disposal
Simple skinny funnel
If you’re in need of an easy-to -make disposable funnel, we have the perfect solution for you.
Simply cut off the handle from a gallon water (or milk) jug, and use this to serve as a disposable funnel. This funnel will help you to drain anything from your leftover wood glue to the old oil in your leaf blower. This handle funnel will help you get to hard to reach places and small bottle openings. When using this funnel to drain old oil, it directs the oil to the drain pan without spilling a drop. It’s also smart to use this disposable funnel for messy projects because you can just throw it away once you are done. It’s so simple and effective!
Soda-bottle bee trap
My husband stumbled on this cheap, effective bee and wasp trap. (Never thought I’d be glad he drinks soda all the time.) Cut the upper one-third off the top of a 2-liter plastic soda bottle with a utility knife. Pour a few ounces of soda pop into the bottom, then invert the top of the bottle and nest it inside the bottom part. Bees and wasps are attracted to the sweet smell and find their way through the bottleneck but can’t find their way out. Eventually they get exhausted, fall into the water and drown. — J. Chamberlain
Tangle-free twine storage
Can’t find your twine to bundle that pile of recyclables? Try reader Norm Hoch’s slick solution. Cut the bottom 4 in. off a 1/2-gallon plastic milk or orange juice jug and load the container with a fresh spool of twine that unwinds from the middle. Then thread the twine through the jug opening and tape the jug back together. Cut an “X” in the cap with a utility knife to keep the twine from falling back into the jug.
Protect sprouting plants
If you cut a gallon jug (like a classic plastic milk jug) about two-thirds down the bottom, you can create an effective enclosure to protect planted seeds and new shoots from birds and rodents, which is faster and more effective than trying to use sprays and traps. For busy gardens, get a marker and write the name of the plant on the jug so you know what’s growing beneath without needing to check your seed packets: Remember to eventually take the jugs off as shoots develop to avoid mold.
Dish soap glue bottle
Milk jug furniture movers
When you have to move heavy furniture on carpeting, don’t just drag it around. That’s hard on carpet and you might damage the furniture legs. Make the job easier with these homemade moving pads. Cut the bottoms off four plastic water or milk jugs with a utility knife and rest each furniture leg on its own slider. The rounded, slippery bottoms make them perfect for furniture moving. Yes, you can buy fancier versions of these things—for 15 bucks or more! But these work just as well, and best of all, they’re free!
Laundry detergent twine dispenser
Prevent balls of twine from tangling up by making a twine dispenser from an empty plastic detergent jug. Cut the bottom off the jug and drill a hole in the cap. Screw the jug to your shop wall with the spout facing down. Drop the ball of twine into the jug, thread it through the hole and screw the cap on. — Paul Chupek
Furniture stripping helper
When stripping old paint or varnish, how do you get rid of the stuff once it’s on your putty knife? Cut a semi-circular opening in the side of a 1-gal. milk jug, then clean the loaded scraper on the ﬂat edge of the hole. When you’re done, and you want to reuse some of the stripper, upend the jug and use the neck of the jug as a funnel to pour the stripper into another container.
Plastic bag dispenser
To make it easy to stow and reuse plastic bags, make a dispenser from a discarded 2-liter soda bottle. Cut off the top and bottom with a razor knife. Trim any jagged edges so you don’t tear the bags when you pull them out, then screw the dispenser to a cabinet door or closet wall (or attach with hook-and-loop tape).
Concrete form wrapping paper storage
Using a 6-ft. cardboard cement form cut in half, I created two wrapping paper storage containers. I cut the cylinder in half and cut pieces of heavy cardboard for the base of each, attaching them with duct tape. Then I spray painted them to look presentable. — Peter Turner