16 Hacks for Repurposing Old Household Items
Here are 16 simple hacks for repurposing old household items instead of throwing them out. We as Americans create a ridiculous amount of trash every single day. To put those numbers into perspective, the US produces nearly 268 million tons of trash annually. That’s about 4.5 pounds of trash per person, per day! And what’s even more staggering, is that a majority of everything that we throw out each day could have been recycled.
So the next time you go to throw something away, stop and think or do a bit of research and see how you might be able to reuse that item around the house. I’ve taken the time to come up with a few ideas for you. Some of the items can even be used and repurposed as part of your prepping emergency supplies.
If you find you can’t reuse them, consider putting them in a recycling bin. Most municipalities have recycling programs, and many don’t charge for the service. Take the extra time and effort to sort the items for the proper bin designation.
We’ve all heard the term one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, let’s see if we can’t help that become a for real truth!
16 Hacks for Repurposing Old Household Items
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Repurposing Old Household Items
1. Save Your Containers
Instead of always throwing away plastic and glass containers that once held food, repurpose them so that they can be used for storage. They work great when storing some tools, screws, nails, washers, and other small items that you want to keep organized. Did you know you can even use wine bottles for storage? There are tons of DIY options for reusing those wine bottles. Here are some other items you can save and reuse for other things or make appropriate recycle items for those local bins:
- Orange Juice Carton
- Glass Bottles
- Soap Dispensers
- Egg cartons
- Mason jars
- Plastic grocery bags
- Tissue boxes
- Cardboard boxes
All of these containers might come with something else in them, but you can always reuse, recycle, and even upcycle them in some cases.
Other common household items that aren’t containers that you can also hang on to in order to reuse later…
- Broken dishes
- Old shutter(s)
- Old clothes
- Shower curtains
- Dressers, old dresser(s) work best
2. Milk Jug Scoop
An empty milk jug may not look like much but it’s an extremely versatile tool. If you cut the tops off they can be used as a planter. Cut the bottom out and you’ll have a scoop for pet food, potting soil, fertilizer, and whatever else you wish to use it for. Take the cap off and it can be used as a funnel.
3. Amplify Your Bluetooth Speaker
Having a party and want to provide a little extra boom to your tunes? An old worn-out trashcan can do more than just contain garbage. Simply take an old trashcan and lay it on its side. Then place the speaker inside and you’ll be good to go. Just make sure that you’ve sanitized and deodorized your trash can ahead of time.
4. Baby-Proofing with Foam Piping or Pool Noodles
You can never be too careful with a little one running around. There’s always that chance that they’ll bump their head on the corner of a table or another piece of furniture. Instead of waiting for that to happen, cut the length of an old pool noodle or foam piping and apply it around the edges. Even if they do bump their head on it, it shouldn’t hurt much at all.
5. Keyboard Wrist Rest
Besides being used for baby-proofing, a pool noodle can also be repurposed as the perfect keyboard wrist rest. Just use a utility knife and cut the pool noodle lengthwise until you’ve reached the desired height for your wrists to rest on when you plan to spend hours on that computer.
6. Tennis Ball Bottle Opener
Just because your tennis balls are worn out and faded doesn’t mean that it’s time to throw them away. Instead, use a utility knife and cut them in half. The inside of a tennis ball is rubbery and perfect for helping you open up even the toughest bottle caps and jar lids.
You can also use a tennis ball in your garage to determine how far to pull in a vehicle. Put a screw in the tennis ball and tie some strong string to the head of the screw. Have someone pull the car or truck into the parking stall of your garage and see how far they can pull forward to be able to clear the garage door. Hang the tennis ball from the ceiling of the garage so it’s just touching the windshield. You even center the vehicle by having the ball positioned behind the rearview mirror.
7. Picture Frame Pull-tab Hook
If there isn’t a hook to be found when you’re trying to hang up pictures, all you need is a pull tab from a pop can and a small screw that will help you attach it to your picture frame.
8. Dryer Lint for Fire Starter
Are you someone that likes to go camping or have a bonfire in your backyard? If so, be sure that you set aside plenty of dryer lint ahead of time because it works great as a fire starter. Save your empty toilet rolls and start filling them with the dryer lint. Fill a small bucket so you can see how many you have collected and filled. Even if you just have a fire pit for fun, for now, don’t forget to collect that dryer lint!
9. Pie Plate Storage Pockets
Old worn-out pie plates work great for holding circular saw blades, abrasive discs, and sanding discs. All you need to do is cut your pie plates in half and hang them in your garage using a couple of screws. Cover the sharp edges with duct tape to protect your hands when using them. Bend the edges so they form a “pocket” to hold those blades and discs. Since pie plates come in a variety of sizes, you should be able to find some that fit exactly what you need.
10. Save Your Glass Jars
How about repurposing your empty spaghetti jars by turning them into a flower vase or a candle holder? You can also use them for storing food or spices in the kitchen.
11. Organize Your Cords and Cables with Cardboard Rolls
While you may think that an empty toilet paper roll or a paper towel cardboard roll has fulfilled its purpose, that’s not the case. Cardboard rolls can be used to keep all of your household cords and cables neat and tidy.
12. Use an Old Ladder as a Bookshelf or Quilt Holder
Instead of having to buy a bookshelf that takes up way too much unnecessary space, consider hanging parts of a usable ladder to your wall that you can put your books on. Now that’s a clever way to get your favorite reads on a shelf! Plus, if you have some quilts you have been gifted or made, please show them off, I love seeing homemade quilts.
13. Turn Old T-shirts into Rags
Old t-shirts are great for making cleaning rags. Whether you want to use them for wiping down surfaces or for buffing out your car, all you need to do is cut the fabric into small pieces and store them in a container. You can also keep old socks for rags!
14. Catch Chicken Droppings
Do you own chickens? Then you already know how much of a mess they can make. Instead of having to always clean up the floor of the pen, try using an old rain gutter that can be repurposed to catch a majority of their droppings by hanging them beneath their roosts or cages while using the French cleat method. Make this your next DIY project and research how to apply the French cleat method to secure things.
15. Turn an Old Tea Pot into a Planter
You can add a lot of character to your garden by using old items like a teapot, kitchen pots and pans, and old kettles, etc. that can be transformed into a beautiful planter with colorful flowers and other small plants flourishing inside. How neat!
16. Hang Your Kiddos Stuffed Animals with a Mesh Storage Hammock
Want to create an organized yet cool cradle effect with your child’s overabundance of stuffed animals? Then try hanging an old mesh storage hammock from your ceiling so that you can still see the floor every time you walk through their room. This is one of my favorite ways of repurposing old household items.
Later down the road, you can take all of these items to the recycling bin, after you no longer have any use for them. Try not to hang on to too many broken items because you want to make sure you can repurpose and make use of items!
As you can see, there are plenty of different ways to repurpose old and worn-out items. So the next time you get ready to throw something away, take a few minutes to think of how it might be able to be reused.
You never know what creative idea you can come up with! What are some clever ways you’ve repurposed old household items around your home? I’d love to hear from you. May God Bless this World, Linda
Copyright Images: Glass Jar On Wood AdobeStock_56894195 By Vadim yerofeyev
29 thoughts on “16 Hacks for Repurposing Old Household Items”
Great post, Linda! I probably save too much. LOL As for t-shirts, if you sew, and they have pictures or sayings on the front or back, you can make quilts with them, or you can frame them for decorations. My daughter did that with some of her aunts t-shits from places she’d been. Cute decorations for her crafting area.
Hi Deborah, I made one T-shirt quilt with all the T-shirt “pictures” for my granddaughter from her school sports events. It was hard for me, some of the T-shirts were high quality but some stretched out weirdly, I took the “mess” over to my sister and she helped me fix it with a special backing. I love to make quilts but never again will I make the t-shirt ones! I like the idea of framing the special ones!! Linda
The key to making a t-shirt quilt that I have discovered is using an iron on (fusible) stabilizer. That will stop the stretch. What I do is iron on the stabilizer before I cut the shirt up (just iron a little bit more than the size of the “picture” or logo. If you use a really light weight stabilizer, you won’t even notice the difference. This works for both quilts as well as framing the “picture”.
Hi Leanne, thank you, I could not think of the name of the stuff my sister had, this is a great tip for so many people. So we all need to get some (fusible) lightweight iron-on stabilizer if we want to make the t-shirt pictures or quilts!! Thank you, Linda
LP people who have chickens may also have feed bags made from a woven plastic that works nicely into tote bags. Similar material is used for birdseed, dogfood, and other bags.
Hi Melinda, great tip on the feed bags being made into totes, I love it! Linda
Pool noodles also make great hook hangers. I use them when I trotline and I also use them to insulate pipes.
My necks so red Rudolph’s jealous and needs a welding helmet to look at it. Ain’t never seen a container I didn’t like, I still remember my grandma washing tinfoil and reusing it, small pieces of t shirt n socks get made into charcloth if they ain’t used for rags, Walmart bags best not get thrown away till they’ve been used for small can liners, leftovers and trimmings got three places to go and that’s the chicken bucket, dog food or the compost but it ain’t the trash can. Even when I change the oil it’s saved for chainsaw bar oil, SHTF defense or weed killer.
HI Matt, I got the giggles over the red neck, you keep me laughing all the time! I remember the tinfoil being washed and the baggies as well by my MIL. She re-used paper napkins, which was too much for me but that was her. Great comment, Linda
Reuse is my middle name Ask my SIL! Gift opening At Christmas means checking me for reuse, esp. bags, ribbon, & boxes. Grateful I had lots of saved glass jars and tough plastic when we had the mice, recently. Velveeta cheese boxes make great drawer organizers. Cereal boxes are paper organizers, cut like the plastic ones you can buy. My heart putter patters when I find a new use for a recycled item!
Hi Marilynne, oh those Velveeta boxes are sturdy!! Shoe boxes are great to organize stuff as well. I like your middle name, reuse! I love it! Linda
Another use for pool noodles is to slit them and wrap around metal outdoor arm rests of chairs. Keeps them from getting hot in the sun.
Hi Brenda, oh my gosh, this is a great idea! Those pool noodles are awesome for stuff! Thank you! Linda
I’m grateful our city has a free recycling program. My recycling trash can is full every week. These are great ideas but can usually only be used a few times. Please don’t save every jar and container! When our parents died it was such a nightmare cleaning out their homes as they experienced the depression and didn’t toss anything! We made multiple trips to the dump – not a donation center as they wouldn’t take junk! There is a balance between reusing what you can and being a packrat. The younger generation has gone the other direction to diligently keeping their homes free of clutter. I promised my kids I wouldn’t leave them a mess for them to clean out when I die. When an item is no longer useful to me I ask the kids if they want it (love texting with photos!), it goes in the trash (regular or recycling if possible), sold, or donated. A friend of mine in California is having rat problems in her garage due to all the stuff her husband hoarded. Now he’s passed away and she doesn’t have the health to deal with it all.
HI Kay, oh you are so smart, we must all declutter because some of our “stuff” our kids may not want. What scares me is if they donate my expensive knives not knowing they can be sharpened for free by the company. I mean that’s just one dumb example, but it takes years to declutter. It’s a never-ending job. I helped moved a lady who was a hoarder and she had rats in her garage. The minute I saw the rat droppings I was done. I told the neighbors she needed to hire a company like “Got Junk”. We couldn’t risk our health. I hope your friend can hire a company to haul some of that stuff away. Hopefully, if she has kids they can help her. Yikes! Linda
This article woke me up to alot that I do manage to recycle/reuse – Tropican OJ carafes=water storage; plastic bags=kitty litter cleanup made tolerable (and tons of other uses); lunch meat containers=leftovers; Mason jars=anything! LOVE ’em!; pretty tissue boxes get refilled from the ugly boxes; tp rolls=cord minders, winding sewing supplies on; socks=rags and dusters; Christmas bows, bags, ribbons, decorations=all saved for the next year; collanders, teacups=planters and birdfeeders; colored pretty bottles=bottle tree in back yard; and last but not least, boxes! boxes, boxes, boxes-my sister will save ANY box that she perceives a use for. Me, I like the raspberry and strawberry boxes from Costco for small containers in the pantry/closet/sewing/craft area. Costco has alot of sturdy boxes for storage. Now, I’m with Kay from Utah. My sister saves everything and very frankly says she doesn’t care; it’ll be my problem to clean out her house when she dies! (she’s a bit older than me). Believe me, I’m not looking forward to that. She’s a bit of a hoarder so it’s going to be a nightmare. My brotherinlaw and his wife inherited her mother’s house and they had bottles exploding frequently from old home-canned food in the basement. One can definitely take the recycle/reuse notion too far. My sister’s in that category for sure.
Hi Robbie, oh that will be very hard to clean your sister’s house after she dies. I can only imagine. Boy, that would be nice to inherit a home even if you had to clean up the broken canned food. What a mess. Great comment, Linda
It’s going to be a nightmare to go through my sister’s house, however, her lazy, good-for-nothing stepsons get the house! All the money she’s spent and put into that house for upkeep, repairs, etc. since her husband died, she gets zero returns out of it. Never, ever trust a door-to-door Trust salesman!!! My brother-in-law totally screwed my sister out of everything and gave it all to his grown sons, one who has never worked and he’s my age…67! Can you imagine what a completely paid for, Sacramento, CA house is worth? With a swimming pool no less? Hopefully my sister will outlive at least one of the boys! I figure we’re going to go through the house, take what we want, etc. (the contents I get) and leave the mess for the stepsons to clean up! I know, not very Christian of me, but I’m too old to worry about those spoiled brats’ feelings! Wow, this all sounds so bitter. It’s so unfair but no one said life was going to be fair! I’ve learned from all this tho.
Don’t forget the pill bottles one gets with the child proof caps, Screws, sewing needles can fit in them and they are easy to store.
I had to laugh Kay about clearing out your parents homes, My dad was the KING of hoarders coupled with the fact the step wife thought one could get your Social Security number from mailing labels so NO junk mail was EVER thrown out. When Pop died it took my (retired) husband (bless him) and the auctioneer, the trustee hired, about 2 months to clear out and sort Pops house before they could do the auction. That’s after Hubs and I found the things my sibs wanted and put them aside. The sibs are out of state (at the time military) and couldn’t come to help.The stupidest things were stacked in boxes, dead plants, junk mail, old medicine etc. We found boxes of pepper and salt shakers she had lifted from restaurants along with a half dozen quart canning jars full of pepper. I dumped the jars and took them home with me. She was raised overseas during the depression and war so I guess pepper was at a premium during the war. It’s the only explanation we could come up with as to why there was so much pepper in the house.She would stash money all over the house, unfortunately she was in the throws of dementia and Alzheimer’s so it made for a heck of a time going through all that junk mail. Yes we found envelopes with cash in the boxes of junk mail, in books, under the couch, the chair cushions and in pockets of clothes and in shoes.
HI Kathy, oh, I have heard of people stashing cash in envelopes or in mattresses and in couches, etc. You hope when you help someone clean out their stuff after they’re gone you find all the cash. Or valuables if they have some. You would hate for items to do to the dump that should not have. Boy, today’s post makes us all think about our stuff, right? I’ve decluttered until I think I can’t possibly get rid of any more stuff and I see another box. Moving helps, that’s for sure. LOL! Linda
In my area, I cannot recycle glass with normal recycling pick up. I have to save the glass (no lids) and take them to a separate place. Well, I live in an apartment and just don’t have room to store glass containers. I’ve also heard that plastic bottles (soda, milk jugs, etc.) can be sent through the recycler minus lids but probably are not actually recycled. I learned that news print and aluminum cans are the main items that are recycled. There is some question as to whether cardboard is actually recycled as well.
That all said, I do have a tendency to keep glass jars with the lids. I paint the lids all the same color and make labels for the jars. These hold bulk spices, nuts/seeds, small quantities of various foods. I also use some of the jars to hold coins – I can take my stash of coins to my credit union’s CoinStar to cash them in for gift cards (no charge)!!
Hi Leanne, oh I like the coin stash idea to take to your credit union for gift cards! I’m living with my daughter still and they have some interesting recycling rules. I get it, every city is different. They won’t take a glass of any kind, they won’t take buttermilk cartons (the material that is), some plastic, and some they don’t. By the time I have washed out the mayo from the plastic container to recycle, I could have watered my garden. Not quite, but good grief. Or ketchup, mustard, or cans of soup. I really do wonder some days if it’s worth using all that water. Linda
Yankee farm life means saving lots of “stuff.” You never know when you’ll need a piece of strap iron. Or a bolt (you can always take up the extra length with a bunch of equally old washers). Or a tool handle…
Those plastic milk jugs make great garden cloches (mini-greenhouses). Cut off the bottom, then set the jug over the seedling you just planted out when it’s April and there might be frost. Take the cap off for ventilation, put it on for a hard frost. Or, when gathering berries or whatever, cut the top off (leaving the handle) and slip that handle onto your belt so both hands are free. I have to beg jugs from friends now, since we get our raw milk in returnable glass bottles!
Cardboard tubes (toilet paper, paper towel, etc.) get saved for collars around seedlings to foil cutworms.
Old clothes go into a rag bin here–cleaning rags, polishing cloths, patching… A few years back, a cavorting 3-day-old filly sliced open my scalp, so before we left for the ER I grabbed a clean rag out of the rag drawer to mop up the gore (yup, scalps do bleed copiously!) Turns out it was a raggedy (but clean) pair of husband’s BVDs. The vet later pointed out that the city ER was probably glad it was at least a *clean* pair of underwear!
Pool noodles can be slit to slide onto a door with a gap (top, bottom, or side) to top drafts.
And don’t get me started on what first-grade teachers used to save…
Hi Rhonda, yikes, the cut on your head!!! Thankfully you have a clean rag! Great tips for all of us, thank you, Linda
Use a pool noodle when you have to keep your dog from licking a surgical site or open wound.
Slice the noodle into lengths and run their collar through the hole in the middle of multiple pieces of the noodle. Length of individual pieces and how many to use depends on the size of your dog.
It worked really well for my 70 pound dog.
Hi Gwen, oh my gosh, I would never have thought of this! Those plastic cones are a joke, and they can’t be comfortable for the dog or cat. Great tip, thank you! Linda
Linda, you can use soap chips by putting them in the plastic mesh bag garlic comes in.Also I use , used dryer sheets under my foot to sweep up curlyhair on bathroom floor. I have stuffed an accent pillow with them. Glass jars used can keep blueberries fresh in refrigerator for 2+weeks.
I keep nails , tax’s, washers in old prescription bottles. I also use the plastic trays that are used in package of bell peppers for ink pin holders , keys, dividers for drawers. Large salad boxes can fit shoes 7 1/2 or smaller. I work in an office and with each party I got storage items from the containers that was discarded.
HI Kimberly, those plastic prescription bottles are strong to use for so many things, great reminder! I love to organize everything, and now we can use that plastic container we usually recycle! Love these those tips@ Linda
Hi Kimberly, oh I love this plastic esh idea for soap chips! The glass jars for fresh blueberries for 2 weeks is a wonderful tip! Linda