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25 Frugal Ways To Reuse Everyday Household Items.

As many of you know, I also run a blog about the environment and sustainability. And while I rarely cross-promote articles, I decided that this post (originally on the other site back in June) could probably come in handy over here, with the economy the way it is and the growing concern about the environment. People are looking for more ways to save money and reduce the amount of trash they throw away, and if you look hard enough, there are a ton of things that come into our houses that we can reuse for multiple purposes! Here are 25 that I came up with; what would you add to the list?

Milk jugs (gallon or 1/2 gallon plastic) – Clothespin holder after you cut the top off and hang from your clothesline.

Plastic soda or water bottles – Can be used as kids banks after a nice paint job; a cold pack to be stored in the freezer; with some small holes in it, fill with bird seed and you have a nice bird feeder.

Spaghetti jarssmall planters for around the home.

Film canister – Cut a slit in the side and you have a holder for a roll of stamps.

Beer bottle caps – You could pick up some small magnets and some glue at a craft store and make custom refrigerator magnets.

Glass bottles – pick up a light bulb fixture and you have a new lamp; can be used for vases, decorative grass holders.

Old t-shirts – rags for cleaning up around the house; sew a couple of your favorites into a pillow.

Shoe and delivery boxes – storage containers, file boxes, etc – no need to waste money on plastic containers from the container store. Every box in my closet is a reused cardboard one!

Toilet paper roll – extension cord organizer; stuff with paper and some alcohol to make a fire starter.

Sunday comics – wrapping paper. You would never have to buy wrapping paper again if you saved this all year!

An old garden hose – make a soaker hose – poke holes throughout, seal off other end, lay in garden; bucket handle,

Baby jars – votive candle holders; storing spices or seeds.

Toothbrushes – bathroom scrubbers; clothing stain scrubbers.

Mailing tubes – cut several of them to the same length, assemble into a wine rack.

Wine corks – soaked in alcohol, they make a good fire-starter.

CD’s – one-of-a-kind drink coasters (paint, cover with paper, etc).

Altoids tins – These tins are the perfect size to make small emergency kits for camping or to keep in your car; basic sewing kits for college kids.

Shredded paper – Makes great packing material for shipping gifts; also makes good packing material for when you are moving.

Old jeans – cut up and sew into squares full of padding to make pot holders.

Tires – build an earthship! Or, maybe just a tire swing.

Old shoes – send to Nike so the rubber can be turned into new playgrounds.

Bath mat – folded just right, can be used as a new floor mop!

Shower curtain – drop cloth for painting; cover the air conditioner during winter?

Mason canning jars – canning, obviously, but they also make great drinking glasses.

Paper – Be sure to use both sides of paper in the house. Just cut up “once used” paper and make notepads with the blank sides!

So what would you add?

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Comments (52)

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  1. Great list you have here, I like to use milk jugs to collect rain water for watering plans, I find that they work out pretty well (sometimes I wish the handle was located a little lower though). I’m also a fan of the Sunday comics one, it also keeps people busy when they’re waiting for their turn to open gifts. You can read it rather than fidget and get anxious about it. :)

  2. I’ve used old newspapers (without color pics) as a weed barrier under the mulch in my flower beds.

  3. david says:

    Never thought of that Jim, even more of a reason to use the comics!

    And Ron, I should have mentioned that one, good one!

  4. Seems like an inordinate amount of fire or firestarters here… something you’d like to tell us? :D

  5. We have a collection of toothbrushes that get used for any number of cleaning jobs, and I have a huge bin of leftover screws, nuts and bolts that I seem to always find a use for.

  6. david says:

    It’s my secret MITBeta!

  7. Kate says:

    I’m pretty sure I picked this one up from Ms. Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette, but it’s a goodie that bears repeating. Use pages from last year’s phone book for cleaning glass and for blotting greasy food after frying. It’s also good for wrapping up feminine hygiene products, if that happens in your house. Basically, use this free stuff instead of paying for paper towels or TP. You can use newspaper for washing windows or mirrors, but the phone book pages are already the right size. They also leave no fuzzy debris behind.

  8. David says:

    Great tips, thanks Kate!

  9. Abby says:

    You can also use rags as substitutes for dish sponges. Best of all, these can get thrown in the laundry and used again and again. So you’re not creating waste.

    And, of course, newspaper can substitute for bubble wrap in packaging things for mailing. It works well and is easy to recycle.

  10. david says:

    Newspaper as packing material (and wrapping paper) is always a good idea!

  11. Vinessa says:

    Those gallon milk jugs also make great storage containers for plastic shopping bags (and encourage you to reuse those bags, as well!) I cut a large hole in the side of the jug, push the bags in the top and pull them out through the side.

  12. david says:

    Good one Vinessa!

  13. picaro says:

    You can make disposable funnels from the tops of milk jugs and soda bottles.

    You can buy a set of funnels from the dollar store, but these work well for oil changes.

    …or if you’re making tomato sauce and require a larger drain hole.

    Oh, we funnel our homemade sauce into empty applesauce jars.

  14. [...] 25 Frugal Ways To Reuse Everyday Household Items – If trying to save money is your thing, then this post is for you. David has put together a list of 25 ways you can save by money by reusing everyday household items. And not only will you save a few bucks, but you’ll be doing mother nature a favor as well. [...]

  15. I’m loving all the milk jug ideas; that’s definitely something that ends up lying around. I use cereal boxes as magazine files (with top and a corner cut off) and cappucino and cocoa containers (the round ones) to hold office supplies. I keep thinking I’ll decoupage them all into a matching set, but to be honest, they’re fine just the way they are.

    I’d love to hear more glass bottle ideas. Can you believe that they don’t recycle glass in my area?

  16. David says:

    No glass recycling, wow…and I thought my “no plastic” town was bad! Anyone have any more ideas for glass bottles? I use ours for storing nails, screws, bolts, nuts, etc…along with making pencil/pen holders for different rooms, and for storing rice/seeds/grains/etc.

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  18. [...] at My Two Dollars posted a great list of twenty-five frugal ways you can reused everyday household items this week. I’ve never thought about soaking wine corks in alcohol to make a fire starter but [...]

  19. Yoghurt cups:

    They have a good shape and size to be recycled over and over again. I use mine for a variety of puroses, the best of all is as containers for my smaller plants.

  20. [...] Last but certainly not least, My Two Dollars provides 25 Frugal Ways to Reuse Everyday Household Items. [...]

  21. [...] David shares 25 Frugal Ways To Reuse Everyday Household Items. [...]

  22. [...] David put together a list of frugal ways to re-use everyday items. [...]

  23. Crystal says:

    I use glass jars for dry food storage, the spaghetti sauce size works great. I store all my pasta and beans in them. It also makes a great looking display on the back splash of my stove!

  24. [...] David presents 25 Frugal Ways To Reuse Everyday Household Items. [...]

  25. Michelle says:

    Fill bottles with water and put them in the toilet tank to reduce water every day!

  26. [...] My Two Dollars get 25 tips for reusing household items. Some creative ideas! [...]

  27. [...] credit-happy days, that was an excuse to go nuts.  For more tips, check out My Two Dollars‘ suggestions for re-purposing everyday items.  This week, I was washing our new wine glasses, thinking “I need a new drying rack for [...]

  28. crazyliblady says:

    How about using glass bottles/jars to accumulate to save for later deposits to a bank account?

    I re-use plastic shopping bags for small trash cans. I am re-using old towels and washcloths for cleaning rags.

    We found a metal shelving unit by the trash in our neighborhood. There was nothing wrong with it.

    We also had one of those shelving units from Walmart made of pressed wood. The shelf completely feel apart, but I re-appropriated the shelves in it for a different use.

    A co-worker was getting rid out of her house because she is renovating. I bought a cabinet with doors on the front from her and also a small bookshelf. I had to replace the door handles on the cabinet, but that was only a few dollars. It was well worth not having to spend money to buy something new.

    A church in my neighborhood had had several yard sales to raise money to replace their roof. At the end of the summer, they had a “giveaway sale” where everything was free. I told home a big box of stuff. I paid them $3 for the stuff and they seemed really confused, but I told them I can afford to pay something and would feel bad going home with so much stuff without paying. They were ecstatic.

  29. david says:

    Great tips!

  30. Jenn says:

    I got a bottle cutter from a friend and cut the necks off glass bottles to make vases and drinking glasses. You can get etching fluid and stencils from the craft store to personalize them, or if you make candles you can put them inside for your home or for gifts.

    You can cut the bottoms off 1 gallon wine jugs to make garden cloches.

  31. kitchen OCD says:

    Yogurt lids under pepper grinders and olive oil bottles. If you keep these items on the counter or in a cupboard the lids will keep the mess in line and will also remind you where the item goes. Probably standard in many homes.

  32. david says:

    razor blades last forever if you dry them off well after shaving

  33. vivian land says:

    I sew and use the glass jars for storing buttons,pins and etc. I use the plastic coffee cans to hold my knitting thread to keep it clean .Just cut a small round Hole in the plastic top for the thread to come through.

  34. [...] before you throw anything away. Is there something else you could do with it? Find creative ways to reuse household items, donate old clothes to Goodwill, check Freecycle before you buy anything new, and list your gently [...]

  35. marci says:

    Milk jugs – used to hold the sand shrimp we pump for bait for fishing.
    Milk jugs and soda pop bottles – mini greenhouses or plant starters. Make bok choy sauerkraut in two liter bottles cut down right.
    Any glass/plastic jar or bottle with lid – storage for dried fruits, veggies, and herbs.
    Plastic jars – food storage in freezer. Leftovers for soup stock.
    Old T-shirts – cut down for kids’ tops or jammies. Or a quilt top.
    Old Jeans – small sturdy quilts for carrying in the truck to the beach or woods etc.
    Toiler paper rolls – cut in half. Cut 4 slits in bottom, fold over, and use as little cups to start plants in.
    Old tires – stacked. Planters for heat loving veggies. (ok, some people might worry about the rubber etc, but I don’t)

    Obviously, I store and reuse most everything!

  36. [...] My Two Dollars knows 25 household items that you can reuse to enhance your [...]

  37. Rachel says:

    Plastic Milk Bag Mat Beds
    SENT TO THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES

    LET’S RECYCLE and MAKE A DIFFERENCE

    All you need to start is:
    Plastic milk bags (the outer bag which holds 3 smaller milk bags)
    1 pair of scissors
    1 – 9mm crochet hook
    (crochet single chain ““ very easy)

    Mat sizes :
    Adult mat 36″ x 65″
    Child mat 30″x 45″

    It’s FREE; It’s FUN; It’s EASY
    It’s for a GOOD CAUSE !

    for more information e-mail rlsrachel@sympatico.ca

  38. [...] of the spectrum you’ll hear advice that is a bit more extreme. You’ll read posts about re-using plastic bags, making your own laundry detergent, and using less toilet [...]

  39. [...] 25 Frugal Ways To Reuse Everyday Household Items. As many of you know, I also run a blog… [...]

  40. geekdad says:

    I’ve nailed up tin cans to my peg board in my garage to keep all the screws nails and nuts and bolts organized.

    the paper egg cartons make great plant starteds and if you space out the seedlings you can plant the carton after you cut the bottoms to let the roots through.

  41. MaryJane says:

    I had a dresser with 9 drawers and matching side table with 3-It was a beautiful marble green color-but one drawer and the whole top of the dresser as well as a leg on the side table got broken in our last move. I took 6 of the drawers from the dresser and made a gorgeous bookshelf by “stacking” them so the the bottoms became the inside back of the shelf.! I used scrapbook pages to line them. I also mounted the 3 bed side drawers to use as a shelf for books and indoor plants as well as one in my closet for a sock “drawer”/shelf and finally one above the toilet in the bathroom for hiding extra TP or rolling and storing wash clothes and hand towels. I used it for bath salts and candles for awhile :) The remaining drawer still in tact from the dresser I used as under the bed storage by putting wheels from a broken chair on the bottom for ease of use! Finally I used the last -broken- drawer as a bed for my kitty by sewing an extra-fluff pillow/cushion (from old pillows and stuffed animals and a shower curtain I no longer used)and made a cover to it with Velcro so I could easily remove the whole cushion and wash just the cover, PLUS if she ever decided to potty in it the liner was “moisture” proof from the curtain :) :) — also I use herbs and rice or beans sewn into a fabric of the same size as the cushion and in winter I heat it in the microwave and slip it into the cover so she has a heated bed at night!

  42. Mandi says:

    I love the idea of using glass jars to keep dry beans and legumes in. My kitchen gets fairly hot during the spring and summer and every year there are some type of silk worms or something in all my cabinet food (rice, beans, flour etc) but I had some in a glass spaghetti jar and it stayed good for EVER!!! Now I am trying to think of a good way to reuse my old couch that my kids have jumped on until it broke. I can use the wood for my chicken coop but am not sure about the fabric. WAIT!!! I KNOW!!! I will cut and sew the fabric into bean bags to throw at the kids when they aren’t listening to me….. JK!!!! :)

  43. [...] My Two Dollars knows 25 household items that you can reuse to enhance your [...]

  44. Roxeanne says:

    I just saw an article in Womens Day that used glass jars and glued orange tissue paper on the outside and black construction paper for eyes, nose and mouth and put a small candle in it and you have a halloween decoration for your porch.

  45. Bill Swan says:

    Bath mats s mops- found one I never heard of before! I could write a post on 50 ways to use plastic bags.

  46. PattyH says:

    my all time favorite and best recycling tip is for drycleaning plastic. Remove your clothes and take one end and tie a regular knot in it. Put knotted side in the bottom and gather excess plastic and tighten with another simple knot on the side of your bathroom basket. Since bathroom waste is typically smaller and lighter, this plastic works perfectly!

  47. DONALD SWIFT says:

    My little 7 year old girl had to come up with something today for a school project,,, so she wanted to do something she has seen me and her mom do hundreds of times same object but we have different use for it,,,,we take a 2 liter soda bottle and cut it right in half her mom will stick the pouring end of bottle in a milk jug full of tea and pour her sugar down through soda bottle using it as a funnel,,,I use one as a oil funnel of course not same one her mom uses :-) :-) but my own :-) :-) :-) so we made my daughter one and spray painted it and prettied it up :-) :-)

  48. Joe a says:

    Old coaxial cable from dish or direct tv…clothesline.

  49. [...] David shared 25 frugal tips to re-use household items. If you’re committed to saving our environment (and living a frugal lifestyle), you’re [...]

  50. [...] give to the environment. How can we practice the big three R’s? Reduce your waste by recycling and reusing common household items from our Austin apartments this [...]

  51. [...] 25 Frugal Ways To Reuse Everyday Household Items [...]

  52. kmatty says:

    Baby food jars or small glass jars are great for the garage. Screw the lids to the bottom of a shelf or workbench and fill the jars with screws,nuts and bolts, nails, etc..

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