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30 Household Items You Had No Idea Were Reusable

Save money and reduce your carbon footprint!

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Don’t Just Throw These Things Away!

Sure, there are plenty of things you know are reusable — grocery tote bags, metal straws, reusable water bottles. But there are also plenty of other things you probably use all the time that can also be reused. Read on to find out the everyday items you shouldn’t be tossing after one use. Plus, check out these reusable versions of things you use every day.

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reusable household items swiffer dusteriStock/Casarsa

Clean Swiffer Dusters


The pads that attach to the bottom of your Swiffer don’t need to go in the trash when you finish your chores. Fill your sink with warm water and soap and swish the duster around to ready it for a second use. Roll the pad into a towel to eliminate extra moisture and let it air dry. Check out these 26 household items you didn’t know you could use in your shop.

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Unrecognizable manual worker moving up the ladders at construction site.

Ladders


If your ladder isn’t sturdy enough for you to climb comfortably, use it as a trendy shelving unit. Just lean it against a wall and fill it with books, plants and photos. Don’t miss these other extraordinary uses for household staples you already own.

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Cropped photo of finished laundry process. High angle above top view of woman hand take out linen from white washing machine standing inside flat with bright interior

Dryer Sheets


Dryer sheets are just as effective when cut in half and can be reused at least once. That’s four loads of laundry for the price of one! Who knew dryer sheets had so many uses beyond making laundry smell fresh and feel soft?

Here are 22 ways for how to use dryer sheets around the house to keep all sorts of things smelling fresh, plus how used dryer sheets make cleaning tasks easier.

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reusable household items coffee filteriStock/MackoFlower

Coffee Filters


Most coffee filters can be reused four or five times before they stop working effectively, according to groundtoground.org. Save the coffee grounds for other tasks or discard them, rinse off the filter, allow it to dry and reuse.

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shower curtain

Shower Curtain


Just because it’s plastic doesn’t mean it has to be disposable. Instead of tossing a soap scum–laden curtain, try this. Remove the curtain from its hooks and put it in your washing machine, along with regular detergent and a cup of baking soda. Rehang the shower curtain to dry. The same goes for plastic shower curtain liners. See more uses for baking soda.

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Towels In Shelf

Old Towels


As your bath towels fade and accumulate holes, don’t immediately toss them. Cut them up and use them as washable cleaning rags to take care of dirty floors, cars, pets and more.

If you’re feeling creative, you can even turn them into DIY creations like bath mats and soft dog toys. Check out these 16 cleaning hacks you’ll want to steal from professional house cleaners.

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Working in the garden, seeding a plant. Soil top view.

Seeds


Your flowers and vegetables have uses beyond just their harvesting season. Let a few of your plants go to seed. If you don’t harvest them, they will stop growing and eventually produce seeds; keep those seeds and use them for next year’s crops. Howtosaveseeds.com explains the seed-saving instructions for different plants. Plus, check out the easiest foods to grow at home.

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Empty box from under the eggsTOTUGO/Shutterstock

Egg Cartons


Egg cartons are designed to keep small, fragile items safe. Who says eggs should be the only things to get that protection? Use empty (and clean!) cartons to store small Christmas ornaments and lightbulbs, or turn them into organizing trays for screws and bolts. Here are 50 more organizing tips you’ll wish you knew all along.

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Paper Towel Pyramideyebex/Getty Images

Paper Rolls


When expert crafters see paper towel or toilet paper rolls, they see endless crafting possibilities. But you don’t need an artistic vision to reuse cardboard tubes. Slip them over wrapped cables and extension cords to keep them from tangling. Cut and re-tape tubes over the bottom of hangers to keep pants from creasing. Stuff them with the many plastic bags laying around the house. The options are endless. Here are 10 brilliant uses for cardboard tubes.

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Pickled cucumbers in glass jar on a gray wooden table.Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

Pickle Jars


Give these a quick wash and you’ll have a reusable glass storage container. Beth Nydick, founder of Blue Barn Kitchen, uses them to “store leftovers, homemade sauces, freezing soups, and dried teas.” They can even be used as a small planter. Find out some more organization secrets professional organizers won’t tell you for free.

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kitchen cabinet with mugs and glassesOs Tartarouchos/Getty Images

Coffee Mugs


Lisa Torelli-Sauer, editor at Sensible Digs, upcycles old mugs into small flowerpots. “Old coffee mugs can be painted to perfectly match your home’s decor,” she says. “Repaint multiple mugs in coordinating colors or paint them in a matching theme. Coffee mugs are an especially good size for small succulents or herbs grown inside.” Find more items you didn’t know you could recycle.

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Overhead of Plastic Gallon Water JugMint Images/Getty Images

Water Jugs

You can use water, milk or detergent jugs as weights instead of purchasing expensive exercise equipment. This brilliant idea for stay-at-home workouts comes from Dr. Karl Smith, Director of Residential Well Living at Cortland Partners. Check out these ways to recycle just about anything.

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red, white and blue retro Y-Front underpants on a washing line against a blue sky.creacart/Getty Images

Underwear

The author of Gilded Pearls (Vibrant Thoughts, Tips and Tidbits for a Full Life), Carol Gee, recycles old underwear and T-shirts as cleaning rags instead of purchasing towels. They are perfect for dusting, wiping countertops and even washing your car.

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A young man is holding a recyclable plastic food container on a white backgroundKarl Tapales/Getty Images

Takeaway Containers

When you order takeout, keep the containers and reuse them for storing food or even future takeout orders. Adam Lumb of Cashcow suggests, “The first time you try this, make sure to call the restaurant to explain your intention. Keep in mind that they might ask you to arrive a couple of minutes earlier than usual to box your food. Once they get familiar with this request, you can go back to ordering online if you did before — with a note explaining that you will bring your own packaging.” Unlike your collection of takeaway containers, here are some items in your kitchen you need to just throw out.

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Close-Up Of Eggshells On TableAndre Schebaum / EyeEm/Getty Images

Eggshells

The Marketing Director of Toolbox Genomics advises dropping thoroughly washed and dried eggshells in your morning coffee to reduce the acidity. This will improve the taste and make your morning drink easier on your stomach. Here are 15 things to never put in your disposal if you want to keep it running smoothly and your drains clog-free.

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Juicing orangesFancy/Veer/Corbis/Getty Images

Citrus Rinds


Take the rinds from citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges and boil them in hot water on the stove for a fresh-smelling house. Amy Bloomer, founder of Let Your Space Bloom, LLC, says, “I learned this trick from my great-grandmother who had a lemon tree in her backyard.”  Here are 10 unexpected ways to use lemon around the house.

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Burning candle in glass jar, succulent and notebook on wooden background, close upAtlasStudio/Getty Images

Candle Jars


Candles come in all shapes and sizes, each with a recyclable purpose, according to sustainability blogger Kaitlyn Ray. Larger glass containers can be used to store food in bulk, while smaller jars with lids are perfect for coffee, loose tea and spices. They can also be repurposed as bathroom storage for Q-tips and cotton balls, or make for a trendy cocktail glass. On the other hand, check out some of the things you’re keeping that professional organizers wouldn’t.

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Litter BoxAnthonyRosenberg/Getty Images

Kitty Litter


For all cat owners who find copious amounts of kitty litter to be wasteful, here’s an eco-friendly use for the excess product: Grease absorbent. Doron Wolffberg of We’re All About Cats says, “Plain kitty litter is often used as an absorbent, which works well for cleaning up spilt grease or oil on driveways. It’s great for the garden, too. Next time you find little sinkholes in your garden, use a few scoops of kitty litter to even it out; or, if your lawn freezes due to cold winter, cat litter is a great substitute for de-icing salt.”

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soft mattress, dust mites on bed, concept : allergy in bed room.Ratchat/Getty Images

Mattress


Sleep experts at Bedroom Critic suggest that if you have time on your hands, take apart a worn-out mattress. The buttons and fabric can be reused for sewing, while the stuffing serves as a sturdy protectant for transporting fragile items. Here are some home improvement projects just about anyone can do.

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Multicolored toothbrushes in a glass cup front view, blue backgroundTatiana/Getty Images

Toothbrushes


Save old toothbrushes for cleaning. Will Tottle of Steam Shower Parts suggests them for hard-to-reach places — cleaning a shower head, removing grout or on delicate surfaces. They’re also good for applying hair dye, and even as an eyebrow brush. Check out more clever tricks for cleaning hard-to-clean spots.

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Cardboard BoxPinkybird/Getty Images

Shoeboxes


These cardboard boxes, especially those with a flip-up lid, are a convenient way to store craft supplies. Check out these super-creative and fun projects that repurpose cardboard into something useful and/or beautiful.

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Turkey, Marmaris Area, 2017: View Of New Red DuvetKypros/Getty Images

Plastic Zippered Bags


The giant plastic zippered bags that you immediately throw in the trash when you buy new bedding or pillows are actually great for storage. Natalie Clausen, founder of Full Green Life, suggests storing winter sweaters in them during the warmer months. Check out some more ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

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A stack of newspapers tied up with stringHalfdark/Getty Images

Newspapers


Recycle newspapers or even old magazines as wrapping paper. The paper can also wrap fragile objects when moving to prevent scratches or breakage. Newspapers are also exceptional at absorbing odors. Leave small, balled-up paper in your stinky sneakers for a fresher smell in the morning. Plus, use newspaper to clean a stinky fridge.

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Directly Above Shot Of Broken Plate By Carpet At Home

Broken Dishes


Channel your inner Pinterest artist and get creative! Broken dishes can add design to outdoor tables, flower pots or walkways. You may even repurpose it into some trendy DIY jewelry.

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blue tissue boxstuartbur/Getty Images

Tissue Boxes


Use empty tissue boxes to store plastic bags. This solution is neat and simple, and it will ultimately save you space. Here are some more organizational tips that can save you lots of money.

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Yellow mustard squeeze bottle container with no label. Breakfast sandwich on background. Food product.Gingagi/Getty Images

Condiment Bottles


Fill old, cleaned-out condiment bottles with pancake batter or icing to create an easy-to-clean breakfast or beautiful cupcake designs. Here are additional uses for ordinary kitchen gadgets.

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Senior adult man gets prescription medicines out of cabinet.fstop123/Getty Images

Prescription Bottles


An empty prescription bottle can become a handy, travel-sized first aid kit with enough space for some Band-Aids, gauze pads and ibuprofen. The small bottle won’t take up much space in a backpack, and you’ll be the hero of the group when someone scrapes their knee or rubs up a blister on their foot.

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Directly Above Shot Of Multi Colored Bottle CapsJordi Clave / EyeEm/Getty Images

Bottle Caps


Fill bottle caps with wax to make tiny candles. These are especially great for large gatherings that call for a couple of decorative candles on each table. Reusing things like this is one of the little everyday changes you can make to help the environment.

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Directly Above Shot Of Green Tea Cup On Table

Tea Bags


One tea bag can make two cups of tea, possibly even three or four. To get the most bang for your brew, continuously steep your tea in a teapot on the stove. If you only drink one cup in the morning, place your used tea bag in the refrigerator and repurpose it later in the day to relax your eyes. Cool tea bags do wonders for eye puffiness and irritation.

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reusable household items cookiesiStock/ThitareeSarmkasat

Parchment Paper


Got a birthday party coming up? Bake multiple batches of cookies on the same piece of parchment paper. Most brands are oven safe up to 450 degrees. And as long as there’s nothing stuck to the paper that could easily burn, it’s safe to reuse. Plus, check out these clever kitchen storage hacks you’ve never thought of before.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest