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10 great household products

Advertising sells.  No question about it.  Although we all know about Coke, they continue to advertise heavily because they want to catch the next generation when they are still young and impressionable.  A number of consumer goods are packaged and advertised as the next best thing, when in fact they contain nothing more than common household ingredients with some added perfume.  Of course none of the big corporations are going to admit that but as smart consumers we have to keep abreast of this information in order to decide whether the 4-5X adder inherent in the commercial product is actually worth the benefit.  Below I’ve listed alternate uses for common everyday stuff which will hopefully give you alternatives to being gouged at the store in future.

Disclaimer : I have NOT personally verified all these tips. So please use them at your own risk.

1. Different uses of Vinegar

Vinegar is a wonder liquid when it comes to household cleaning & cooking. It has been used by several generations and across different countries. Yet, it is one of the cheapest grocery products. You can get a gallon of vinegar for a couple of dollars. There are potentially hundreds of applications for vinegar. Here are a few of them

  1. Fabric softener. Mix 6 cups of water, 3 cups of vinegar, 2 cups of any hair conditioner (pick you favorite smelling cheap conditioner) in a big bottle. Cut a rag cloth or flannel into small 6×6 inch squares and place them on top of each other in a plastic box. Pour some of the above mixture and soak them. When you want to use one of the rags, take one from the bottom and replace the used one at the top and pour more of the mixture in. Voila! A 2 minute, fabric softener that  you won’t be allergic to (provided you picked a conditioner that you are not allergic to).
  2. Eliminate urine stains from carpets.
  3. Soothe a bee sting.
  4. Kill grass and weeds : The acidic component kills young weeds.
  5. Prevent cheese from getting moldy. Soak a cloth in vinegar, wrap it around hard cheese and keep it in an airtight container. The vinegar prevents mold spores.
  6. Prevent colors from running. Soak new clothes/towels in 1 part vinegar and 1 part cold water for 15 minutes before washing to prevent them from losing color.
  7. Get rid of coffee/tea stains. A mixture of salt and vinegar will remove coffee and tea stains from china. You can also use vinegar to get rid of the mineral deposits and coffee stains in a coffeemaker. Fill the reservoir with 1 part white vinegar, 2 parts water and brew (check your owner’s manual before doing this).
  8. Get rid of lint and also brighten fabric colors by adding 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  9. Remove tough stains by gently rubbing a little bit of vinegar on the stain and then washing regularly. This will also remove deodorant and anti-perspirant stains.
  10. Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards by wiping with full strength vinegar.
  11. Eliminate onion odor by rubbing vinegar on fingers before and after slicing.
  12. Keep boiled eggs from cracking, add 2 tbsp to water before boiling.
  13. Remove grease from suede.
  14. Cure upset stomach. Drink 1 cup of water with 2 tsp apple cider vinegar.
  15. Soothe sore throat by gargling with water + vinegar (1 tsp for 1 glass water)
  16. Fight dandruff. Rinse hair with vinegar and 2 cups warm water after shampooing.
  17. Relieve sunburn.
  18. Better relief from cold. Mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar + 1/4 cup honey and take one tbsp 6-8 times a day. You can also add 1/4 cup vinegar to the vaporizer.
  19. Keep car windows from frosting. Coat the windows with 3 parts vinegar + 1 part water before you retire for the night. You will have a frost free window the next morning.
  20. Clean rust from tools.
  21. Vinegar is a natural air freshener. You can either spray the air or keep a bowl of vinegar in the room to eliminate odors. To get rid of the smell of cooking before your guests arrive, simmer a pot of vinegar and water.

Here is an article with 131 uses of vinegar.

2. Different uses of Baking soda

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate and is a leavening agent. But it has plenty more applications other than making your cake nice and fluffy. For example, it can be used to

  1. Toothpaste. Combine it with peroxide paste to get toothpaste. At least that is what most non-gel toothpastes have.
  2. Relieve diaper rash. Add 2 tbsp of baking soda to your baby’s bath water.
  3. Use it as an anti-acne face wash. Or mix it with water and apply it on face. Leave it for ~5 mins and wash it off. (Apply moisturizer after doing it as it dries out the oil in the face). Baking soda can be used as an exfoliant too.
  4. Use is as a deodorant. Puff it under your arms.
  5. Clean your refrigerator. You can also eliminate odor by keeping an open box of baking soda in the fridge.
  6. Apply it on rashes, bites and irritations. Take a baking soda bath :) to relieve irritations.
  7. Draws out jelly fish venom when applied on the sting.
  8. Sprinkle it on shoes and boots to eliminate odor.
  9. Keep flowers fresh by adding some baking soda to the water.
  10. Wipe your windshield with it to repel rain.
  11. Create your own potpourri by mixing baking soda with your favorite bath salt and keeping it in sachets.
  12. Soak dry beans in water with a little baking soda to make it more easily digestible.
  13. Use it to clean bath tubs, sinks and the toilet.
  14. Use it as an antacid.
  15. Make a paste of baking soda to remove crayon marks from the wall.
  16. Remove odor from the carpet by sprinkling a little baking soda (you can use an old salt/pepper shaker) on to the carpet and vacuuming.
  17. Run a cycle on dishwasher with baking soda to keep it clean and fresh.
  18. Use it as a natural ant deterrent.
  19. Brighten your whites naturally by adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your laundry.
  20. Remove natural oil build-up and hair product residue by soaking combs and brushes in a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a small basin of warm water.
  21. Baking soda can help in the initial handling of minor grease or electrical kitchen fires, because when baking soda is heated, it gives off carbon dioxide, which helps smother the flames

There are plenty more uses for baking soda. Here are a few helpful articles on this topic – 40 uses of baking soda and 75 uses of baking soda.

3. Uses of Coca cola

I like Coca Cola as a drink. I am trying to cut this habit out, I am improving but I still drink a lot of Coke. A lot of these would work on with any soda I guess. Here are some interesting uses –

  1. Remove grease and blood stains from clothing and fabric
  2. Remove rust
  3. Loosen a rusty bolt
  4. Kill slugs and snails.
  5. Tenderize and add flavor to pot roast
  6. Clean car battery terminals
  7. Cure nausea. Take a tsp of flat coke every hour.
  8. Defrost a wind shield.
  9. Clean burnt pans, soak them in the coke and rinse.
  10. Make your hair curly(!). Pour flat coke onto long hair, leave it for a few mins and rinse.
  11. Make better compost. Coke increases the acidity and the sugars feed the microorganisms that make compost.
  12. Clean a toilet.
  13. Prevent an asthma attack.
  14. Neutralize a jellyfish sting.
  15. Remove dye from hair.
  16. Remove gum from hair.
  17. Help a lawn become lush and green.

Here is an article with more uses – 51 uses of coke. I don’t even want to know their ingredients after reading all this. I am motivated more than ever to stop drinking Coke.

4. Uses of Borax

Borax is a naturally occurring substance, but it causes skin irritation if too much of borax comes in contact with raw skin. So use gloves when handling borax. With that said, here are some uses for borax.

  1. Toilet cleaner
  2. Pesticide. Mix with powdered sugar or honey and leave it in the problem area. The sugar will attract the pest and the borax will kill ’em.
  3. Remove rust stains from the bathtub by using borax and lemon juice.
  4. Home made laundry
  5. Soften water. If you have hard water, a little bit of borax will fix the problem.
  6. Weed killer. Place it at the foot of the weed and it will kill them. Be careful when you do this, if it rains immediately and the borax is washed off to near by plants, they will probably die too.
  7. Natural flea killer. Sprinkle borax on your carpet and vacuum. But as I said it causes irritation to raw skin so make sure you vacuum really well.
  8. Cure salmon eggs for bait used in steelhead fishing
  9. Deodorizer. Use it in the garbage can or other areas where you want odors gone.

5. Uses of Coffee filters

A few years ago my roommate bought a giant pile of coffee filters and left it when she moved out. First we were going to give it to someone who had a coffee maker, but we never got around to doing that. Finally one day just for fun, I googled to see if I could do any art projects using coffee filters and ended up finding a lot of uses for it. Here are some of them –

  1. Use in the place of paper towels to wipe stuff off. Has more absorbance than regular paper towels.
  2. Use it to absorb extra oil/grease from fried food.
  3. Put a filter inside cast-iron skillets to absorb excess moisture when it’s not in use to prevent rust and other wear.
  4. Line your plant pots before putting the soil. This way only the water will go through the holes and the soil will stay in the pot.
  5. Use them to clean windows, mirrors, tv/computer screens. They won’t leave residue behind like a paper towel. (Newspapers are also excellent for cleaning windows and mirrors).
  6. Use them in between different pieces of china to prevent scuffs and scratches.
  7. Use them to store small fragile things.
  8. Use to polish shoes.
  9. Put them on top of the bowl/cup when microwaving things to avoid causing a mess in the microwave with spills.
  10. Sprout seeds; place a few seeds in a damp filter and keep it damp for a couple of weeks.
  11. Remove residual grease from a sewing machine. Run a few stitches through them before running the actual stuff.
  12. Pretty much anything you use a paper towel for.

6. Uses of WD-40

You can find WD-40 in any home improvement store. It was originally developed as a water repellant and corrosion preventer, but the manufacturer now lists 2000+ uses. I don’t know if all them are true, I tried to do find uses that people have actually tried and came across this article from Snopes. At least they have 20+ uses that are actually verified.

  1. Protects silver from tarnishing.
  2. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
  3. Loosens stubborn zippers.
  4. Untangles jewelry chains.
  5. Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing.
  6. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
  7. Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and doors in homes.
  8. Lubricates gear shift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers.
  9. Rids kids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises.
  10. Lubricates tracks in sticky home windows and makes them easier to open.
  11. Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
  12. Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
  13. Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
  14. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
  15. Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
  16. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
  17. Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
  18. Removes all traces of duct tape.
  19. Cleans bugs off of grills and bumpers.
  20. Displaces the moisture and allows a car to start when sprayed on the distributor cap.
  21. Removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor

7. Uses of Ketchup

I like ketchup with my fries. But if you have some left over ketchup that you don’t want to use anymore, here are some alternate uses for it.

  1. Shine your copper. If you use ketchup over the copper it will dissolve the tarnish thanks to the acidity.
  2. It can do the same job in auto parts as well. Rubbing the ketchup on auto parts removes the tarnish (but not the dirt, so you still have to use soap)
  3. Fight skunk odors. Some people say it doesn’t work and some people swear by tomato juice. No harm in trying I guess.
  4. Restore your hair from chlorine damage using full strength ketch up.
  5. Soothe wounds.
  6. I have not tried any of the tips for ketch up, this is merely a compilation from different sources. I have used the empty ketchup bottle as a pancake dispenser though. Makes pretty shapes.

I think most of these uses come from concentrated tomato juice, so any of these can be accomplished with some concentrated tomato juice as well.

8. Different uses of Salt

  1. Veggie wash. Soak in 1/4 cup vinegar and 2 tbsp salt to remove dirt and bacteria from the veggies. If you prefer spraying use 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp baking soda and 1 cup water. After washing with this, rinse under cold water and dry. Washing this way before storing leafy veggies like spinach or herbs makes them last much longer. The store bought veggie washes are expensive!
  2. Clean artificial flowers – silk or the nylon kind. Place 1/4 cup salt in a paper bag and shake them gently.
  3. Hold artificial flowers in place.If you place salt with a little cold water in the vase and arrange the flowers, salt will solidify and hold them in place.
  4. Fire place clean up. When you are ready to retire for the night but the fire is still burning a little, throw some salt on to it. The fire will burn out quickly leaving less soot.
  5. Remove wine from carpet. Ever spilled red wine on the carpet? Immediately pour some white wine to dilute the color and add some salt. The salt will absorb the whole thing and you can vacuum it off.
  6. Remove watermarks from wood by treating it with a paste of salt and water.
  7. Ever burned milk on a pan? I have. Sprinkle salt, soak it for a few minutes and scrub it off, the odor will be absorbed too.
  8. Remove lipstick stains from glassware
  9. Soak cut fruit in a bowl of lightly salted water briefly to stop them from browning.
  10. Extinguish grease fires

Need more uses? Here – 60 ways to use salt.

9. Different uses of Sugar

I have a sweet tooth and generally like sugar too much. Here are some other uses for sugar.

  1. Make cut flowers last longer
  2. If your plants have a nematode infection, mix a handful of sugar into the soil around the infected area. This will increase the bacteria that can fight the invasion.
  3. Make a nontoxic fly/wasp trap
  4. Hand wash. Pour a little bit of olive oil and sugar and wash your hand. Sugar will remove all the grease, paint and other stuff, oil moisturizes the hand to make it soft and clean.
  5. Store any cake or snacks in an airtight container with a couple of blocks of sugar. Sugar absorbs the moisture and keeps the food fresh for longer.
  6. Soothe a burned tongue. If you couldn’t keep your tongue off the yummy hot pizza and burned your tongue, sprinkle a little bit of sugar. The pain will ease immediately.
  7. Start a fire. If you have trouble getting the coal or wood to catch fire, throw a handful of sugar onto it.
  8. Stop hiccups. Swallow one tsp of sugar.
  9. Sugar mixed with glycerine is a great foot scrub.
  10. Sugar and some lemon is a great face scrub too.

10. Finally, Honey

Honey is considered an excellent medicinal substance in the eastern countries. I don’t know if these are scientifically proved, but here are some uses that I know of –

  1. Skin moisturizer. Honey, egg and some chick pea flour (I have chick pea flour, other flour might work too), mix them and apply as a face mask. It is a great face mask, the only thing that works on my sensitive skin.
  2. Antiseptic. Honey is a great antiseptic.
  3. Pimple/acne remover. Honey and lemon, mix them and apply on the pimple. Heals them much much faster than doing nothing or those acne creams.
  4. Energy booster. If you are feeling tired, mix some honey in water and drink.
  5. Immune system booster.
  6. Helps lose weight. In the morning, on an empty stomach, drink a glass of warm water with honey and lemon. This supposedly helps people with constipation too.
  7. Treat sore throat. Honey and lemon in warm water again.
  8. Improves blood flow.
  9. Remedy for burns
  10. Relaxant for Anxiety and Nervousness. Honey has natural calming effect.
  11. Condition dry, frizzy hair. Mix honey with olive oil and apply to the end of your hair to combat dryness and reduce friziness. Leave in your hair for 20 minutes with a hot towel wrapped around it. Rinse and shampoo as normal.

This is not a comprehensive list, just a sample of uses for these products. Do you use any regular household products for any special applications? Share it with us!

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