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Household Substitutes: 11 More Ways You Can Use This for That

I was halfway out the door, car keys in hand, and on the way to the home improvement center when I remembered that I might already have what I needed. Cooking spray! That’s it. I’d heard that it is a terrific household substitute and that it just might work.

It did, and quite perfectly, too. No more squeaks and I saved a needless trip and a needless purchase, too.

household substitute cooking spray to fix a brass squeaky hinge

Squeaky door

Got a squeaky door or sticky drawer? Instead of replacing that squeaky hinge or just live with a sticky drawer, try this household substitute: Spritz a little cooking spray on the hinges or drawer slides then work it back and forth to distribute the “lubricant.” Wipe away any drips with a dry cloth or paper towel.

White water rings

Use mayonnaise to get rid of white water rings on wood furniture. Make sure the area is completely dry then spread enough full-fat mayonnaise on the spot. Let it sit for several hours, even overnight. Now wipe it clean, and buff with a soft clean cloth. Magical, right?

Eyeglasses case

Don’t toss out that spare eyeglasses case. Use it to protect your jewelry in your suitcase. Or how about that collection of crochet hooks that are rolling around in a drawer? They’ll fit nicely into an old eyeglasses case. It can also make for a dandy manicure kit or emergency first aid or sewing kit. Kinda’ makes you wish you had several cases, doesn’t it? Here’s one more: Storage bin for those rascally earbuds.

Piping bag

Fresh out of piping bags and that birthday cake must be decorated right now?! Here’s a terrific household substitute:

Grab a plastic sandwich or freezer bag. Fill the bag with decorating icing. Push it towards one of the bottom corners. Now, using scissors, snip off the end of that corner to create a small opening. There you go—a terrific piping bag.

Buttermilk

I can count on one hand the times I’ve purchased a quart of buttermilk. But I use it frequently in recipes that call for buttermilk. How? I make it myself and it works like a charm.

To make one cup of “buttermilk:” Pour 1 tablespoon white vinegar into a one-cup measure, plus enough milk (2% or whole) to the 1-cup line. Stir and allow to sit for 5-minutes.

Copper cleaner

Fresh out of your favorite copper cleaner? No worries. Grab a lemon and that coarse salt sitting in the back of the spice drawer. Just sprinkle salt on the cut side of a lemon half and rub on the copper surface.

Toilet bowl cleaner

Whether you’re fresh out of your favorite toilet bowl cleaner or have a stain problem beyond its ability to clean, you can just grab that can of WD-40 sitting on a shelf in the garage.

Spray WD-40 on tough limescale stains and mineral deposits, allow it to sit for a few minutes to an hour, then finish with a toilet brush or pumice stone. Easy.

Dry shampoo

You use it to add a day or two between washing your hair with regular shampoo. That’s a good idea as daily shampooing can dry out your hair. Whether you are trying to avoid traditional dry shampoo or you simply ran out, use baking soda instead.

Baking soda works great as a dry shampoo, helping with ph levels on the scalp while absorbs odors and oils. It neutralizes odor rather than covering it up with fragrance. Baking soda also adds volume.

Aged shower curtain

Got an old shower curtain? Even if it’s no longer good enough for its original purpose, there are several ways to extend its useful life: Use it to cover your patio furniture or barbecue next winter. Connect it with bungee cords. Or keep it in the trunk of your car as a tarp for roadside emergencies in the event you need to sit on the ground, change a tire or make a quick underbody repair.

Rain-X for shower doors

Look for Rain-X in the automotive aisle of your favorite discount store or home improvement center. It’s sold as a product to keep windshields free of water spots and help rain to sheet off windows. It works great on tub and shower walls and doors to prevent hard water stains. 

Pro Tip: Rain-X Shower Door Water Repellant is now available specifically for shower doors, which will also prevent soap scum, hard water deposit, and grime from building up.

Rubber band

Got an annoying stripped-out screw that you need to remove? Easy! To get a better rip, trap one side of a wide rubber band (use one that you saved from that last bundle of fresh broccoli) between the screwdriver and the screw head. Now give it a try.

Question: What is a favorite household substitute you’ve discovered either quite by accident or from a very smart friend or relative? We want to know about it, too!


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7 replies
  1. Lori Cole says:

    I sprayed Pam on the wheels wells to keep mud, slush and ice from accumulating. I want the tires free to turn when going over Wolf Creek Pass.

    Reply
  2. Glenda E Wilson says:

    For windshields that want to fog up, clean windshield with shaving cream- bought some at the dollar store so nothing fancy. Works wonders.
    Also for buttermilk, I use warm/hot water, evaporated milk and lemon juice – instant buttermilk.

    Reply
  3. Chris says:

    I use an eyeglass case to hold my pens and pencils for my purse. Keeps them all together and stops the ink marks in your purse.
    I also bought a dry mix of buttermilk that I keep and can use just enough for what I’m needing it for.

    Reply
  4. Angela L says:

    I’ve tried the mayonnaise trick on several wood tables and it works! Also, those little plastic containers that the razor blades come in ( the ones with the shaving stuff on them) are perfect to carry in your purse or luggage for jewelry or hair pins/elastics and even extra medicine/vitamins, any small items.

    Reply
  5. Alba says:

    Re: making quick buttermilk….
    Do you know if adding vinegar to POWDERED milk will also work this way to make buttermilk. I’m thinking I terms of long term food storage and using it up/rotating it out.
    Thanks ~ you are amazing❣️❣️

    Reply
  6. Patti T says:

    I use this awesome product called Wet and Forget on my showers, tubs and shower curtains. It is amazing, I no longer have to scrub the showers to get soap scum off because I don’t have any and my clear plastic shower curtain liner from Family Dollar looks like new and it’s 8 months old. Follow the directions on the container and you will be amazed. I know it’s available at Home Depot, Amazon and Drug Mart. Tip: I set the container in front of the shower after I have sprayed it so that everyone knows they need to rinse it well before using or they will end up on their bottom or worse, it’s slippery if not rinsed properly. Also, we only use shower gel, it makes a huge difference in the amount of soap scum you will have.

    Reply
  7. ANna Marie Peterson says:

    Baby powder makes a great dry shampoo also. I read that brunettes can use cocoa powder but I haven’t tried it!

    Reply

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