30 Brilliant Ways to Repurpose Ordinary Stuff You Already Have

published Jul 18, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

We talk a lot about, say, our favorite organizers and the best recent finds we’ve picked up at Target. But oftentimes, the best stuff — the stuff that’ll really make a difference in your home — is the stuff we already own. Because you already own it! You’ve already procured it and spent the money — and now it’s just hanging around somewhere, taking up space. So when you can put something to good use (and get your money’s worth), well, that’s just great.

In the spirit of making the most of the stuff many of us already have, we’ve rounded up 30 super-surprising ways to use common, everyday items. All of these creative ideas will either help you put a castaway back to work, use something that would otherwise go wasted, or help you solve a problem in a pinch.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Dish Rack

If you have kids, you probably struggle with keeping all their dishes in order. Use an old wire dish rack! You’ll find there’s a place for everything — including the tiny forks and spoons. Don’t have (little) kids? We’ve got another great way to reuse an old wire dish rack: Turn it upside down and use it to weigh down lightweight items on the top rack of your dishwasher.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Tension Rods

Stop stacking your baking sheets, cutting boards, and cake pans! (They’re just going to tumble when it’s time to pull one out.) Instead, set up a few tension rods so that you can file them vertically like books. This way, you can pull one out without worrying about an avalanche.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Mesh Laundry Bags

Tired of digging out small pieces that get lost in the dishwasher during a cycle? Grab a mesh bag from the laundry room. You can load it up and just toss it on the top rack. The pieces will still get clean — and they’ll also stay where you put them.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Old Plastic Cutting Boards

Put an old/cheap-o cutting board under the small appliances that you have to pull out and push back into place. (Looking at you, toasters and stand mixers!) Without the boards underneath, these things will skip along your counter. With the boards, they slide oh-so-easily.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

5. Command Hooks

There are so many ways to use Command Hooks that go beyond hanging stuff on the wall, but perhaps our favorite use for them is on a trash can. Just put a hook on the side (UPSIDE DOWN!) and loop the drawstring around the hook. It’ll keep the bag from falling into the can as you fill it up.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

6. Silverware Organizer

A little bit of paint and some hooks can turn an old silverware drawer organizer into a cute jewelry holder for your bedroom.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Rubber Dish Gloves

Picking up pet hair feels almost as futile as dusting. One way to do it super effectively? Use a rubber glove. A swipe of the hand over the carpet or your couch will result in a fistful of fuzzies.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

8. Orphaned Socks

Because every nearly household in America has a pile of socks that have lost their mates. Use the fluffiest ones as Swiffer covers and you can just shake them out, wash them, and reuse them.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

9. Silicone Cupcake Liners

Let’s say your oven mitts are in the wash (and you really should wash them!). but you want to cook something while you wait. Use silicone cupcake liners to handle hot pots. They won’t conduct heat and they’re super easy to clean, should you end up making a mess.

Credit: Lauren Volo

10. Salad Spinner

Maybe you have a salad spinner but you do not have a cake carrier? Take the bowl from that salad spinner, put your cake on a plate, and put the bowl over the cake. Instant cake dome! You’ll still need to be careful if you’re transporting the cake, but it sure beats any other option you may or may not have.

11. Wire Baskets

Hang a wire basket (of any shape and size) and you’ve got a fun new shelf. If you have a wide one, hang the bottom on the wall to create a makeshift cubby.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

12. Coffee Filters

Before your next repotting session, drop a coffee filter into the bottom of the planter. This will help keep the dirt in when the extra water drains out through that bottom drainage hole.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

13. Egg Cups

Somehow, beauty blenders nest perfectly inside most egg cups. Put one to use in your bathroom and keep your blender separate from other dirty brushes and applicators.

14. Binder Clips

Slip some labeled binder clips on the shelves in your fridge, freezer, and pantry and it’ll be hard for people to ignore them. Translation: Your family roommates might just start putting stuff back where it belongs.

Read more: 10 Office Supplies You Should Use in the Freezer

Credit: Joe Lingeman

15. Chopsticks

If you’re making lots of salads for a cookout this summer, you may find yourself running out of fridge space. But you can stack bowls if you just lay some chopsticks across them first.

Credit: Faith Durand

16. Old Baking Sheets

Use baking sheets to corral pantry ingredients that often get used together. This way, you can just grab the whole tray and bring it over to your workspace, rather than having to walk back and forth a bunch of times.

Credit: Lauren Volo

17. Egg Cartons

Don’t be so fast to throw that egg carton into the recycling! You can rip the top off and use the bottom on your fridge door to hold upside-down condiments that are nearly empty. They won’t fall over when you open the door — promise.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

18. Sponge Holder

Put a sponge holder on the inside of your fridge and you’ve got the perfect place to hold extra condiment packets that you save after a night of takeout.

19. Magnetic Knife Strips

Most people hang knife strips the way you’d think: on a wall, so they can hang their knives from it. But there’s another way! If you hang it on the bottom of your upper cabinets, you create a spice rack. Just use jars with metal lids.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

20. Mesh Produce Bags

You know those bulk bags that your lemons and limes come in? Save the next one you get and you can make a DIY pot scrubber!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

21. Ice Cubes

If you have a pile carpet anywhere in your house, you most certainly have dents in it from furniture legs. Let an ice cube melt on it and the dent will heal itself. Chances are, your ice cube tray is overflowing anyway.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

22. Paper Towel Rolls

Silicone baking mats can be annoying to store. Cut off a length of a cardboard paper towel tube and you’ve got a perfectly sized holder.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

23. Squeeze Bottle Cap

Go take the cap off a squeeze bottle in your kitchen and you’ll see that it’s the perfect size to fit on the hose attachment of your vacuum. The suction from the vacuum will keep the cap in place and then you can use it to clean up hard-to-reach crevices like your laptop keyboard or window tracks.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

24. Bread Tags

Tape a plastic bread tag to the side of your counter or desk and use the hole to keep your computer wires in place. This way, your iPhone cord won’t fall every time you unplug your phone.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

25. Wine Racks

Adding a little home gym to your basement? Use an old wine rack to hold your little hand weights. You can also use a wine rack to hold extra towels in the bathroom.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

26. Silica Gel Packets

Congratulations on that new pair of shoes! (They look great on you!) Now, take that gel packet and tape it to the top of the container that’s holding your rice. They’ll help combat any sort of moisture issue that could arise.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

27. Sponges

Maybe you recently heard about how gross kitchen sponges actually are … right after you bought a bunch of sponges? What to do with all those sponges? Wet them and put them in little baggies for DIY ice packs.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

28. Chalk

If you’re not already keeping chalk in the kitchen, you might want to start. Turns out, it’s really great for absorbing grease splatters, which would otherwise stain your clothes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

29. Hotel Shower Caps

You know all those shower caps you’ve been stealing (er, taking) from your various hotel visits? Use them this summer to keep insects out of the fruit salad. You can even wash and reuse them from weekend to weekend.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

30. Used K-Cups

No judgements if your household runs on coffee made with K-Cups. Just do your part to help keep those cups out of the landfill. We have a few ideas, but we’re partial to these upcycled light shades.

There are tons of other great hacks out there. Are there any we missed that you absolutely love?

Credit: Kitchn