Uncommon Uses for Common Household Items

Posted by Sheela Cooper

Picture this: You are ironing and putting the finishing touches on the collar of your shirt, but are horrified to see hideous brown streaks on the white fabric, courtesy of the old starch and mineral deposits on your iron’s soleplate. You don’t have time to deal with that shirt now, so you grab another one. But you will still have the same problem if you don’t clean your iron. We all know that cleaning an iron is a tedious process that requires special products, right? But wait – you CAN quickly clean an iron with some things you may already have on hand (and if you don’t, they are easy and inexpensive to buy).

In fact, there are many items that we all have around the house that can help us tackle many household tasks quickly and easily. Simple things like diaper wipes and plastic wrap can do wonderful things beyond their intended purpose, and can help you save money (and your sanity).  Here are a few ways that you can use them to make your life easier.

Let’s begin with diaper wipes. Even if you don’t have a baby, diaper wipes are a wonderful thing to have around the house. Going back to our example with the iron, diaper wipes can save you in this situation. Use a diaper wipe to scrub your cool iron’s soleplate. If the residue isn’t coming all of the way off, try scrubbing with the wipe, then heating your iron and running some steam through it. Unplug  the iron, and once it’s cool enough to handle again, wipe it down with a diaper wipe one more time.

Diaper wipes are also great for spills on carpet. I have found that even spills like grape juice or red wine will come up if you scrub it with a diaper wipe soon after the spill happens. You can avoid using harsh carpet cleaners or having to break out the steam cleaner. Wipes are also great for cleaning baseboards. They cut through any dust and grime quickly, and you can even have your kids join in the cleaning fun since diaper wipes are non-toxic. Diaper wipes are a great friend to painters. If you are painting your walls or some furniture and have a drip or need to get paint off of your fingers quickly, diaper wipes will do the trick. They work better than a wet paper towel, in my experience.

Plastic wrap, specifically Press‘n Seal brand wrap, is one of my favorite things to use “off label.” Like diaper wipes, Press‘n Seal is a friend to painters. I like to line a paint roller tray with the wrap so I can have a very simple way of cleaning up when I’m done. You can save money by not buying disposable plastic paint trays, and minimize the amount of trash you generate since the plastic wrap is much smaller than a full plastic paint tray.

Press‘n Seal is also a wonderful way to preserve your paint brushes and rollers if you need to stop painting in the middle of a job. Just wrap your brush and roller tightly in the plastic wrap, cover any remaining paint in the paint tray with plastic wrap, and come back to your job later – even the next day! Painting supplies are expensive, and a brush or roller caked with old, dried paint is destined for the trash. Save your money – an inexpensive roll of Press‘n Seal works wonders.

If you need a waterproof, food-safe liner for a shelf or tray, fold some Press‘n Seal so that the sticky sides are together. You then have an instant waterproof liner that will not stick to the item you are trying to protect. Press‘n Seal also does a great job of temporarily covering small holes in drywall if you are having any repairs done. Instead of allowing dust (and maybe spiders!) into your living space, just stick a piece of Press‘n Seal over the opening, and it will stick nicely in place, without tape, and help keep your house clean!

Have you ever stripped wallpaper and been left with small paper pieces and adhesive stuck to your wall? If you spray a little glass cleaner on the pieces and wait just a minute, you can wipe them off with ease. It works wonderfully and makes quick work of a typically dreaded job. And then you’ll have time left to go clean your mirrors! (Never mix any other cleaning products or wallpaper stripper with glass cleaner, since that can result in toxic fumes.)
Finally, parchment paper does more than keep your cookies from sticking to the baking sheet – it can keep your painted projects from sticking to your drop cloth.
If you are painting a bookshelf, place pieces of parchment paper under the bottom (legs) of the bookshelf. This allows you to paint to the bottom without lifting your piece up. Before the paint is completely dry, just pull the parchment out slightly so that any pooled paint doesn’t dry and that the shelf is now resting on a clean section of parchment. Parchment paper works so much better than newspaper or drop cloth since both of those will bond to the paint and could ruin your painted piece.

I hope that these tips can help you and save you some time and money. We would love to hear your favorite uncommon uses for common items in the comments.

Note: I have no affiliation with any of the products or companies mentioned in this post. I just like these products. Use caution and common sense when using any products and doing any DIY project.


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