This article is a reference to a book I found at my local op shop Extraordinary Uses For Ordinary Things by Reader’s Digest published in 2006. I paid $3 for the book and have to say I got good value out of discovering new ways to use common household items. The book covers ingenious ways to use common household items to restore, repair, replace or revive almost everything and around your home.

So let’s dig in!

extraordinary uses

Aluminium Foil

1. Bake Perfect Pie Crust

Cover edges of pies with strips of aluminium foil to prevent them from overcooking before the rest of the pie is perfectly done

2. Create Special Shaped Cake Tins

Form any shape you desire by using a double layer of heavy duty aluminium foil then sit the shape inside a larger cake tin to bake

3. Polish Silver

Line a dish with a sheet of aluminium foil, fill it with cold water and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Drop in your tarnished silverware and let it sit for a couple minutes. Then rinse off and dry. The process creates a molecular ion exchange reaction where the aluminium acts as a catalyst.

4. Catch Ice Cream Cone Drips

Wrap the bottom of the cone with aluminium foil to catch the drips before handing it to the kids

5. Scrub Pots

Don’t have a pad handy to wash up? Crumple up a handful of aluminium foil and use it to scrub 

6. Move Furniture Easily

Place small pieces of aluminium foil under the legs of furniture dull side facing down (it’s more slippery) to slide furniture around easily

7. Impromptu Picnic Platter

Cover a piece of cardboard with aluminium foil when you need a quick disposable platter for picnics or any events

common household items baby oil

Baby Oil

8. Remove Band-aids

Rub baby oil onto the adhesive parts of band-aids and they will rub loose easier

9. Slip Off A Stuck Ring

Lubricate the ring area with plenty of baby oil and swivel the ring around to work the oil under it. You should be able to slide the ring off easily

10. Remove Acrylic Paint From Skin

Acrylic paint comes off easily with baby oil by just rubbing it on then washing the area with soap and hot water

11. Make Your Own Bath Oil

Add a few drops of your scent of choice to ¼ cup of baby oil in a small plastic bottle. Shake well and add it to your bath

baby powder common household items

Baby Powder

12. Dry Shampoo For Pets

Vigorously rub a handful or two of baby powder into your pet’s fur. Let it settle for a few minutes then give them a thorough brushing. They will smell great!



13. Keep Mould Off Cheese

Give semi hard cheese a light coat of butter to keep it fresh and free of mould

14. Make A Cat Feel At Home

Cats in particular find moving traumatic. To help them adjust, rub a bit of butter on their front paws, they will love licking it off and keep coming back for more!

clothes pegs common household items

Clothes Pegs 

15. Fasten Christmas Lights

Fix Christmas lights to difficult places like trees and bushes using clip on clothes pegs

16. Keep Snacks Fresh

Use clip on clothes pegs to seal off half eaten packets of potato chips and crackers to keep them fresh longer

17. Grip A Nail

Use clothes pegs to hold nails and keeps your fingers free when hammering in nails

Coat Hanger

 Coat hangers

18. Unclog Toilets and Vacuums 

Use a straightened coat hanger to fish out blockages in toilets and a jammed vacuum

common household items tins

Coffee Tins

19. Bake Perfectly Round Break 

Place your dough inside greased coffee tins, you may need a little trial and error to see how much dough makes how much bread in each size tin

20. Make A Piggy Bank

Cut a coin slot in the top of the tin and use it as a money bank/piggy bank!

21. Keep Laundry Tidy

Use empty coffee tins on your laundry bench as a small disposable bin for items you find in pockets before putting a load on. Things like lolly wrappers, paper scraps and coins always end up in the laundry

22. Keep Toilet Paper Dry When Camping

Use a empty coffee tin to store your toilet paper rolls when camping to keep them free from any moisture

wine corks


23. Make An Impromptu Pin Cushion

Corks make great pin cushions when sewing

24. Prevent Chairs Scraping

Cut corks into slices and glue them to the bottoms of chair legs to prevent them from scraping on your beautiful floor

dental floss common household items

Dental Floss

25. Slice Cake And Cheese Easily

Use dental floss to cut cakes and cheeses easily, this is especially great for sticky cakes that tend to stick to a knife

egg cartons

Egg Cartons

26. Storing And Organizing 

Organise small items in egg cartons like buttons, safety pins, small nuts and bolts or anything you otherwise might lose.

27. Start Seedlings

Egg cartons make great seedling starters. Plant seeds with a bit of soil in egg cartons. Once they are ready to transplant to pots you can put them in, cardboard and all!

rubber gloves


28. Grip A Stubborn Jar Lid

Put on a rubber glove to better grip that vegemite lid you just can’t unscrew

29. Remove Cat Hair

Wear a slightly wet rubber glove to wipe off cat hair from upholstery. The cat hair will stick to the glove and come off easily. Test it in an inconspicuous area first.

30. Make An Ice Pack

Fill a rubber glove with water then tie it off and freeze it for a cheap ice pack!

30 Uses For Common Household Items

Our homes are filled with a plethora of common household items that can be used for more than just the intended use. Using things like gloves and ice packs can help us save bit by bit more.

household items

Bonus Frugal Content