Don’t Toss These Things, Repurpose Them Instead

Updated: Dec. 20, 2023

You'll be amazed at what these repurposed items can do.

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finished pool noodle wrist rest
Family Handyman

Pool Noodles

Make this easy pool noodle wrist rest for your desk. Mark the noodle where you want to make the cuts; then slice the noodle lengthwise at the marks using a utility knife. It may take a few passes with the knife to get all the way through to the center of the noodle. Pull the pieces apart, and place one piece flat-side-down in front of your keyboard. That’s it!

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Knife Block

Who says practical storage can’t be pretty? This DIY Knife Block, made from old books, is a cinch to make. Simply pick some unique books in your favorite color scheme and tie them together tightly with twine to create the perfect home for all your kitchen knives. You can even create different color schemes based on the seasons and holidays, making this a versatile hack. Need more counter space to accommodate a knife holder? Need more counter space to accommodate a knife holder? Here’s how!

Photo: Courtesy of TheViewFromVintage

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Save Your Containers

Save all your glass and plastic containers for your shop. Glass jars work well for liquids. Clean brushes in an old tin can. Brush on glue from small containers of all kinds. Sour cream/cottage cheese containers work for just about everything. Clear plastic containers are great for miscellaneous storage because you can see what’s in them. Just label everything with a permanent marker.

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Light-Duty Extension Cord Storage
Family Handyman

Light-Duty Extension Cord Storage

To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You'll be able to find the right cord easily with this extension cord storage hack, plus you've made good use of the tubes. Check out these other cardboard tube hacks.
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Scour Off Grime with an Electric Toothbrush
Family Handyman

Scour Off Grime with an Electric Toothbrush

Now that discount and dollar stores carry cheap electric toothbrushes, you can add a modern twist to routine cleaning. Rapid vibration will quickly scrub out stubborn dirt, while the long handle can get to hard-to-reach places without all the elbow grease.
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Milk Jug Scoop
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Milk Jug Scoop

Cut off the top of an empty gallon or half-gallon milk jug with sharp scissors. It helps to draw the cut line with a marker first. Clean up the cut to make sure there are no sharp or rough edges. Replace the jug cap and you have a handy (and pretty much free) scoop for pet food, potting soil, etc. Remove the cap and you can use the scoop as a funnel! See what you can do with a milk jug in the garden as well.
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Grass Seed Broadcaster

Grass Seed Broadcaster

When it's time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to save those plastic berry containers for repurposing ideas. You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container—it's perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn!
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Paint Stick to Clean Lint Buildup
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Paint Stick to Clean Lint Buildup

Once in a while it's important to clean the area around your dryer's lint trap, as the screen doesn't always catch all of the debris. A paint stir stick with a clean rag wrapped around one end makes a great tool for this task.
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Flour Sifter Flower Pot

If you have an old flour sifter you no longer use, try turning into a planter. If you don’t have one, there’s a good chance you’ll find one at a thrift store or garage sale.

Photo: Courtesy of Daisys Vintage Market/Etsy

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Oil-Bottle Hardware Tote

Oil-Bottle Hardware Tote

Here's a fun little project to keep your screws, nails, nuts and electrical whatsits handy and neatly organized. To make one, you'll need:

  • Six quart-size motor oil bottles (empty!)
  • One 9-in. x 7-3/4-in. floor made from 3/8-in. or 1/2-in. plywood
  • One 7-3/4-in. x 6-in. plywood handle
  • Two 3-1/2-in. x 9-in. plywood sides

With a utility knife or snips, fashion the oil bottles into bins with 15-degree angled sides starting 2-1/2 in. up from one side. (If your bottles have hash marks, the 12-oz. hash mark is great for the low end of the angle.)

Saw a handle slot in the vertical piece, and saw 15-degree angles on the sidepieces. Glue and nail the six-pack together. Add solid wood strips along the open sides to keep the bins from falling out and to make it easy to pull one out as needed.

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Use Soft Socks to Clean Blinds
Family Handyman

Use Soft Socks to Clean Blinds

The next time you need to clean your window blinds, use a sock on your hand! Your hand makes a perfect tool for reaching all of the nooks and crannies on the blinds, and the sock picks up dust wonderfully.
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Window Shutter

Next time you see old window shutters at the resale shop, pick one up. Screw on some small baskets and use it as a seasonal decoration or to store items such as garlic, onions and potatoes in your pantry.
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Mattress Spring Flower Wall
Courtesy mer

Mattress Spring Flower Wall

This clever DIYer used old mattress springs for a flower wall. The springs are hung on the side of the house near the patio.

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Stuffed Animal Storage

All those stuffed animals can be difficult to keep corralled. Try cleaning up an old plant hanger, painting it and hanging it in your child’s room to keep the animals off the floor.

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Broken Table Legs

This woodworker took some broken table legs and attached them to a slice of maple and created a small stool. The stool would be a great addition to a kitchen pantry where you may need help with hard-to-reach items or as an extra side table in a den.

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Sewing Machine Table

This DIYer took an old sewing cabinet, attached a shelf unit, covered the shelves with paper and painted it red. This furniture hack can now be used as a dining room hutch or extra storage in a kitchen.

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Old Patio Furniture

This table is made from an old trunk. The DIYer attached legs to the underside of the trunk to raise it up to table height and it’s now used on a patio.

Also, check out these DIY old dresser ideas to completely transform your old dresser into something stylish.

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Ladder Pot Rack

Storing pots and pans can be a challenge because they are bulky and take up a lot of space. Use an old ladder or even a wheel to hang pots from your kitchen ceiling.

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Window Frame Room Divider

To save money, this DIYer used an old window frame as a room divider in the basement. It helps break up a sitting area and a craft room.

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Tea Pot

This old tea pot has a new life as a planter. You can get a similar look with an old coffee carafe.

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Nejron Photo/Shutterstock

Shutter Divider

If you come across some old window shutters at a resale shop or garage sale, consider using them as a DIY room divider. Just paint or stain and add some hinges. You can get a similar look with salvaged closet doors, too.

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Wine Bottle

If you’re up for cutting glass, try using empty wine bottles as planters. You’ll need to cut either the side or the top, depending on the look you’re going for.

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Amalia Zilio/Shutterstock

Coffee Cup

Try using an old coffee mug or tea cup to grow some small plants. Try an oversized mug to hold flowers on your dining table.

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use gutters for tool organization

Supplies Storage

Cut your cheap downspouts into short sections, about 6 inches long, then stack and bind these sections so you have several rows of openings. You can store these downspout storage slots in a work bag for quick access, or mount them on a table. It’s a great DIY project for hobbyists with supplies that are tough to store and organize.

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Supakorn Sakdiyapan/Shutterstock

Plastic Jugs

Those plastic milk jugs can be cut and used as planters. Try hanging them from a fence with wire coat hangers, as shown here.

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Bike Chain Frame

Even if you’re not a cycling enthusiast, you have to admit, this is a pretty cool picture frame. With some hot-melt glue and a little patience you could make these frames as gifts. Simply buy a plain picture frame at a second hand store and glue well-cleaned bike chain around the edges. And these repurposed materials will create a special place to hold your favorite memories.

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Piano Breakfast Bar Island

Used pianos can be hard to get rid of, so if you have one (or know someone who’s trying to get rid of one), turn it into a useful breakfast buffet and bar. A flat surface, such as a piece of marble or wood, over the keyboard area, plus an extended flat surface installed over the top provide plenty of space for food and dishes. Add two barstools and your island is complete.

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produce-bag bathtub toy storage
Brenda Porter-Rockwell

Mesh Produce Bag

One of your easiest and most eco-friendly options for toy storage is already in your refrigerator. Empty your mesh produce bags and toss in your child’s bath or beach toys. Attach a plastic hook and hang the bag of toys on the shower wall within easy reach. And if you need more room than what you can hold in a 5-lb bag, buy a reusable mesh produce bag and still have an eco-friendly bag alternative to traditional toy storage.

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Colander Planters

What’s better than a repurposed colander for planting succulents, flowers or foliage? Not only does it look pretty, but it’s the perfect size for roots to grow freely, has evenly distributed holes for drainage, and even has handles for easy hanging. But get this: Those very traits make it perfect for another household task—straining the water out of freshly cooked pasta! Just place the colander in the sink, dump your pot of pasta inside, and watch that boiling water run right down the drain. Voila—dinner is served! Add more value to your home with these easy upgrades.

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old muffin tin storage solution
via Melina Gillies

Muffin Pan Drawer Organizers

It’s so funny that the tins we love to use to organize the drawers in our craft rooms, workshops and home offices are called “muffin pans,” because those little round cubbies that are ideal for sorting buttons, paperclips, nuts and bolts are also the ideal size for baking muffins! Cupcakes, too. Plus, they’re usually made out of aluminum or stainless steel, which are oven-safe. A stroke of domestic genius, for sure. Here are 23 annoying noises you hear at home, and how to fix ’em.

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Plant Marker

Use old mini blind slats to create garden markers. Use them to label bedding plants or rows of seeds.

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Family Handyman

Coffee Container

Lugging a heavy bag of deicer out to the sidewalk is no fun, and it’s tough to spread deicer evenly with a shovel or cup. You get a clump in one spot and none in another, so you’re wasting both time and deicer. Here’s a great solution. Make a “sidewalk salt shaker” from a big plastic coffee container with a handle. Poke 1/4-in. holes in the lid and fill it with sand, cat litter, deicer, or a mix of whatever you want and shake away! — Tony DeMarse. Check out these other clever hacks for removing ice this winter.

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Hose Reel

To keep holiday lights from getting tangled and make it easy to string them around the yard next year, roll all the strings of lights onto a portable hose reel with wheels and a handle.

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Ice Trays

Forget the old coffee can filled with your lifetime collection of screws, washers and other hardware. Take 10 minutes to organize the miscellany in ice cube trays. Nail together a case from scrap plywood and carry it right to the job at hand. Thanks to reader Leo McSherry for this extremely cool tip.

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Family Handyman

Foam Beverage Can Holders

How many times have you stubbed your toe on your metal bed frame? Ouch! Here’s a creative way to protect your piggies. Cover the bare metal leg and wheel with a foam beverage can holder. It’ll save your toes and prevent carpet dents and hardwood floor scratches to boot! — Vito Accetta

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drill dock garage organization storage
Family Handyman

PVC Piping

There are countless ways to repurpose PVC piping, we’ve 56 brilliant ways to use PVC.

Keep your drill(s) and accessories organized and close at hand to make your DIY projects run smoothly. By investing just two hours, you can build this wall-mounted drill dock to house everything you need. There’s a top shelf for accessories, a wider lower shelf for larger items such as battery packs, and the clever use of 3-inch PVC piping makes hanging holsters for different drill attachments. Here’s our guide to five must-have attachments.

The instructions for this drill dock include advice on how to customize the dock to fit your drill and you can even add a power strip to the bottom shelf to keep everything charged and ready to go. In addition to basic tools, you’ll need a circular saw, a jigsaw and a clamp to complete this project successfully.

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Dining Chairs

Grab your favorite paint color and give those old farmhouse chairs a new purpose. These two broken dining chairs were transformed into pretty planters.

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repurpose old clothes dirty cloth cleaning rag

Old Clothing

Purchasing cotton rags for painting, cleaning or dusting projects can get expensive. Make your own rags for free using old T-shirts and other unused garments. A few minutes with a pair of scissors or utility knife set up like this is all it takes to convert unwanted clothing into useful rags.

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Packing peanuts
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Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts aren’t going to go into your curbside pickup container but places like UPS and other shipping retailers will accept packing peanuts for recycling.

Recycle packing peanuts at home in your garden needs.

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Family Handyman

Use an Old Eyeglass Case for Hardware Storage

My wife has a drawer full of old eyeglass cases that she doesn’t use anymore, so I repurposed them to store small things like drill bits and screws. I stick a case in my shirt pocket when I’m working and toss it into a toolbox when I’m done. It’s much easier than digging around for small stuff in the bottom of my tool apron. — Norm Smith

Plus: How to organize anything with pegboard.

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Laundry Jug Watering Can

Instead of throwing away empty laundry detergent containers, rinse them out thoroughly and then recycle them for watering plants. Drill 1/8-in. holes in the top of the cap, and a 1/2-in. hole just above the handle to relieve pressure so the water flows freely.

Click here for more watering tips.

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Gardening Tool Hack

Don’t throw away the plastic pots from potted plants. With a rope handle attached, they make great weed buckets to carry with you as you tend the flower beds or vegetable garden. — Glen Weller

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bread tabs labeling cords

Bread Tabs

Not sure which cord goes with which electronic device plugged into your power strip? Save yourself the hassle of following the cord from the plugin to the device for each item you need to move by labeling them. Plastic bread tabs are perfect for labeling cords that are plugged into a power strip because they’re sturdy, have enough room to write on and can easily clip around the plugin end of a cord. Plus, they often come in different colors. You’ll be able to easily identify and move your electrical devices.

Plus, learn how to use a Surge Protector for Electronic Device.

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Coffee bag twist ties
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Coffee Bag Ties

Small bags of fancy coffee have heavy-duty ties to keep them airtight. The ties are handy for securing small coils of electrical cable and rope. They’re usually fastened to the bag with just a dab of glue, making them pretty easy to pull off. — Joe Gemmill

Plus: Quick and Clever Kitchen Storage Ideas

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Family Handyman

Tissue Box

An empty rectangular tissue box makes a convenient holder for small garbage bags, plastic grocery bags and small rags. Simply thumbtack it to the inside of a cabinet door. It’s one of our favorite kitchen storage ideas.

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Bubble Wrap®

Bubble Wrap® can help prevent blisters by placing some on the handle of a rake or a broom.

Discover the best rakes for dealing with leaves and how to make yard work easier.

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Family Handyman

Flexible Drainage Pipe

We have a lot of deer where I live, and they do a lot of damage by stripping the bark off newly planted trees. And in the fall, the bucks rub their antlers on the bark to scrub off the velvet. To prevent such damage, I cut lengths of 4-in. flexible drainage pipe, slit them and wrapped them around the base of the trees. I used the kind with holes in it so air can circulate and keep the trunk from rotting. The pipe also protects the base of the tree whenever I run my string trimmer and prevents winter burn from the sun reflecting off the snow. — Blake Bethards

Plus: Tips for trouble-free tree planting.

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I cut and glued a piece of carpet to the bottom of my toolbox to protect surfaces like floors and countertops from scratches. The carpet also makes it easy to slide my toolbox around rather than picking it up just to move it a little way. — Kim Litkenhaus Marino

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Family Handyman

CD Case

Now that CDs are being replaced with smartphones and other devices, I use my old CD case to organize and store my seed packets. It works great to store them by seed type or even alphabetically. It’s a convenient reference to have for the following year. I write notes on the packets to remember which seed variety worked and which didn’t. — Lisa Vice

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Family Handyman

Floor Tiles for Drawer Liners

Using shelf liner to line drawers or shelves is expensive and a hassle. It’s easier and cheaper to use self-stick vinyl tiles. Cut the tiles to fit with a utility knife, then peel off the backing and stick them in place. I’ve had tiles lining my kitchen drawers for 10 years, and they’re still going strong. — Cecelia Blanski