11 surprising uses for everyday household items

Brilliant new ways to use items you already have at home.
Indoor plant on a marble kitchen bench next to a ceramic gravy boat and linen napkinsSue Stubbs

Think you need a cabinet stocked with expensive cleaning products to keep a spotless home? These clever cleaning hacks, using a surprising selection of products you already have sitting in your fridge or pantry, will prove you wrong!

Whether you’re trying to remove the pet hair that seems to have magnetised itself to every upholstered surface in your home, or want to make your stainless steel cookware look shiny and new, these 11 tricks are sure to help.

1. Vinegar to remove sweat stains from clothing

Yellow sweat and deodorant stains on your favourite white t-shirt? Banish the unsightly marks by mixing one part vinegar with four parts water.

Pour or spray onto underarms, collars or affected areas of clothing and soak for at least one minute. Wash as directed on clothing tags.

Vinegar will help prevent sweat stains forming on your favourite pieces of clothing.

(Credit: Photo: Simon Whitbread / Styling: Lisa Hilton)

2. Aluminium foil to scrub pots

Form a loose ball of foil in your hand to scrub stubborn marks and polish to a clean finish.

Note: only use this cleaning method on stainless steel pots as foil may damage non-stick surfaces.

3. WD-40 to remove glue residue

True to form, ‘there’s always another use’ for WD-40. WD-40 can break down or dissolve the gluey substance, making it easier to remove.

Spray to cover glue residue on hard surfaces, Stanley knife blades or scissors.

4. Deodorise with baking soda

Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to a shaker of baking soda and sprinkle across your carpet or rug. Leave for 30 minutes, then vacuum.

You can also use this mix to deodorise other soft furnishings in your home including mattresses and sofas.

Keep carpets and soft furnishings odour free with baking soda.

(Credit: Photo: Simon Whitbread / Styling: Rachel Peters)

5. Dishwashing liquid as shower cleaner

Using a soft cloth or sponge, lather dishwashing liquid onto glass shower doors and tapware.

Rinse the area thoroughly and dry with a microfibre cloth to reveal a scum free shower.

6. Lift pet hair with a squeegee

Lightly spray area furniture and carpets with one part water to one part vinegar.

Drag a rubber bathroom squeegee across the area. Clumps of fur and lint will form around the squeegee blade. Pull clumps away by hand or vacuum to remove completely.

7. Clean chopping boards with lemon and salt

Scatter a generous amount of coarse salt across your chopping board. Halve lemon and use face down on salt to rub on and around the entire area to remove stains, clean and freshen your chopping board.

Keep wooden chopping boards smelling clean and fresh by scrubbing them regularly with salt and lemon juice.

(Credit: Photo: Brigid Arnott / Styling: Lisa Hilton)

8. Remove grass stains with sugar and water

Dissolve ½ cup of sugar with enough warm water to create a thick paste.

Apply directly on to the grass-stained fabric. Let sit for at least an hour. Wash according to directions on label.

9. Full fat milk as leaf shine

Dilute full fat milk with a little warm water.

Use it with a soft cloth to wipe down the leaves of your indoor plants to leave them glossy and form a protective coating against dust.

Who knew milk could keep plant leaves shiny and dust free?

(Credit: Photo: Sue Stubbs)

10. Petroleum jelly as rust inhibitor

Ensure surface is clean and dry.

Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to metal surfaces such as chrome on bikes, metal tools and outdoor furniture bolts and joins.

11. Banana peels to polish silver

Blend banana peels to a paste in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Use cloth to apply to silverware, then buff to a shine.

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