We spend loads on all sorts of cleaning, health and other household products every week, but quite often you can get the same jobs done with less obvious products already in your house. Here are ten of our favourite household stand-ins.
In a lot of cases, it might not necessarily be cheaper to use something you already have in the house, but if you're in a bind, any of these will work well — no trip to the store required. Plus, a lot of them get the job done without harsh chemicals or other annoyances, which is a big plus.
10. Surface Cleaners
Whether you're cleaning the bathroom, the windows, or the kitchen, you probably have everything you need in your pantry. You can clean your toilet with pretty much any acidic beverage, like a can of Coke, and while you're in the bathroom you can take a grapefruit and some salt to your grimy bathtub. When it comes to the countertops in the kitchen, a bit of wine or some laundry detergent will get things squeaky clean, while some rubbing alcohol and ammonia will make the windows sparkle.
9. Itch Relief
There's no need to go grab an expensive remedy at the chemist when you get bitten by mosquitoes; you probably have a ton of different itch remedies right under your nose. Vick's VapoRub does wonders, but you could even get by with some Scotch tape or nail polish. If you have some meat tenderiser around, that can actually get the job done too.
8. Metal Polish
If the chrome on your car or the steel in your sink is looking a little dull or scratched, you can use one of any number of things to polish it up. Baby oil and cola both work well on Chrome, while flour is a good choice for stainless steel. Flour plus salt and vinegar makes a good brass polish, and you can shine up that silver with bicarb soda or a banana peel. Incidentally, banana peels also work great for polishing shoes.
7. Insect Traps
If your house is infested with insects, why buy traps to kill them? They're obviously visiting because you have food they want: use it to your advantage. Trap fruit flies with apple cider vinegar, or sprinkle some baby powder, chalk, or borax around those ants' favourite hangout to deter them. Alternatively, putting vegetables on your counter makes them realise you're no longer a source of the good stuff, and they'll go away.
6. Drain Uncloggers
Skip the harmful Drano, and just grab some bicarb soda for stubborn drain clogs. If your toilet is a little backed up, some laundry detergent can do wonders. If the above products need a little help, you can get in there yourself with a cable tie or duct tape to get the pipes flowing freely again.
5. LCD Cleaner
We all know you aren't supposed to use things like Windex on an LCD screen, but that doesn't mean you need to buy a fancy screen cleaner. All you really need is a cloth and a bit of water. When it comes to full-on scratches, though, the best you can do is take a pencil eraser to it and hope for the best.
4. Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are more commonly used in the US than Australia, but your local supermarket does stock them. That said, a bottle of fabric softener will get you much further. Combined with an old towel, you can easily replace those dryer sheets with one big, reusable one, or turn it into an after-the-dryer wrinkle releaser. Alternatively, you can get the anti-static goodness from some aluminium foil, or fluff those clothes in the dryer with a tennis ball.
3. Sticker Removers
Products like Goo Gone are pretty useful, but you can easily get by with a number of things in your kitchen. From hair dryers to vodka, vinegar, and even lighter fluid, you've got more than one way to wash away sticky residue from a surface.
We all have to deal with funky smells every once in a while, but you can remove odours with just about anything, from the usual bicarb soda and charcoal to vinegar or even newspaper. And if you've got to de-stink an entire room, why make it smell like Febreeze-y chemicals when you could just throw some vanilla in the oven and make it smell like fresh-baked cookies?
1. Stain Removers
Stains always seem like the end of the world, but with the right household fix, you can clean just about any stain. Vinegar works well for many stains, while shaving cream does a good job on greasier stains (as does rubbing them with chalk). Dish detergent will get rid of that occasional gasoline stain, and asprin will remove those stubborn sweat stains on your clothes. Grab some cornflour for furniture-related stains, and whatever you do for any of these, make sure you act quickly. If you've got a stain we didn't list, you can bet the database over at Stain Solutions has a recommendation, so head there for more info.
There are many products that you can replace with household stand-ins, but these are a few of our favourites. Got any of your own products you've stopped buying in favour of something you already have lying around? Let us know about it in the comments.