When it comes to utility, not all products are created equal. In fact, some products have so many uses beyond their advertised purpose it is truly amazing.
So if value can be defined by versatility then, clearly, not all products provide you with the same bang for your buck.
Sure, everybody knows about the incredible versatility of duct tape; it is absolutely legendary in terms of the number of ways it can be used. Heck, I even wrote a popular article a while back that showed how duct tape can fix your personal finances.
Did you know there are other versatile items out there besides duct tape, many of which can be found in your local grocery store? It’s true.
In fact, savvy grocery shoppers often take advantage of these highly versatile products to save money by using them for alternative applications.
After some exhaustive research, here is my official list of the six most valuable grocery store products – along with a partial list of their many uses.
Oh, yeah… and here’s the obligatory disclaimer: no, I haven’t personally verified all of these tips. So, please, use them at your own risk.
When it comes to grocery store products, vinegar is liquid gold. People have been using it for ages – and not just for cooking and preserving foods. Vinegar’s versatility is virtually unmatched; there are literally hundreds of potential applications. Aside from its primary applications, here is just a small sample of all the other things vinegar can be used for:
1. Disinfect wood cutting boards.
2. Soothe a sore throat; use 1 tsp of vinegar per glass of water, then gargle.
3. Fight dandruff; after shampooing, rinse hair with vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.
4. Remove warts; apply daily a 50/50 solution of cider vinegar and glycerin until they’re gone.
5. Cure an upset stomach; drink 2 tsp apple cider vinegar in one cup of water.
6. Polish chrome.
7. Keep boiled eggs from cracking; add 2 tbsp to water before boiling.
8. Clean deposits from fish tanks.
9. Remove urine stains from carpet. (Heh. Hopefully, it’s animal urine!)
10. Keep fleas off dogs; add a little vinegar to the dog’s drinking water.
11. Keep car windows from frosting up; use a solution of 3 oz. vinegar to 1 oz. water.
12. Clean dentures; soak overnight in vinegar and then brush.
13. Get rid of lint in clothes; add 0.5 cup vinegar to rinse cycle.
14. Remove grease from suede.
15. Kill grass on sidewalks and driveways.
16. Make wool blankets softer; add 2 cups distilled vinegar to rinse cycle.
17. Remove skunk odor from a dog; rub fur with full strength vinegar and rinse.
18. Freshen wilted vegetables; soak them in 1 tbsp vinegar and a cup of water.
19. Dissolve mineral deposits in drip coffee makers.
20. Deodorize drains; pour a cup down the drain once a week, let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse.
21. Use as a replacement for a lemon; 0.25 tsp vinegar substitutes for 1 tsp of lemon juice.
22. Make rice fluffier; add 1 tsp of vinegar to water when it boils.
23. Prevent grease build-up in ovens; wipe oven with cleaning rag soaked in distilled vinegar and water.
24. Kill germs; mix a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
25. Unclog shower heads; place in a pot with 50-50 solution of vinegar and water, bring it to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
26. Shine patent leather.
27. Make propane lantern wicks burn longer/brighter; soak them in vinegar for 3 hours, let dry.
28. Act as an an air freshener.
29. Soften paint brushes; soak in hot vinegar then rinse with soapy water.
30. Remove bumper stickers and decals; simply cover them with vinegar-soaked cloth for several minutes.
31. Prolong the life of fresh-cut flowers; use 2 tbsp of vinegar and 3 tbsp of sugar per quart of warm water.
All of these vinegar applications, and scores more, can be found at this informative site.
2. Baking Soda
Aside from its primary use as a baking agent, baking soda is another grocery item with an almost countless number of applications. For example, among other things, baking soda can be used to:
1. Deodorize your refrigerator; put an open box in the fridge.
2. Remove odors from shoes.
3. Keep drains clean and free-flowing; use 4 tbspns of soda and flush with hot water.
4. Keep your underarms smelling fresh.
5. Soften your skin.
6. Relieve diaper rash.
7. Relieve sunburn; apply a paste of soda and water.
8. Extinguish small grease and electrical fires.
9. Polish silverware.
10. Clean your refrigerator. (Or your neighbors, for that matter.)
11. Remove cat box odors; cover the bottom of the box with soda, then top with kitty litter.
12. Clean and remove stale odors from thermos bottles and coolers.
13. Make dried beans more digestible by soaking them in a solution of baking soda and water.
14. Make wild game taste less, well, “gamey.”
15. Remove oil and grease stains from laundry; add baking soda to the wash water.
16. Remove stains from marble, Formica or plastic surfaces; apply a paste of soda and water.
17. Remove grease from garage floors.
18. Clean vegetables and fruit; sprinkle some in water, then soak and rinse.
19. Wash garbage cans.
20. Clean and remove odors from your dishwasher; just run it with soda instead of soap.
21. Inhibit smoldering butts in ashtrays.
22. Clean shower curtains.
23. Keep teeth or dentures clean. (Preferably, yours.)
24. Relieve indigestion and heartburn; drink 0.5 tsp of soda in 4 oz of water
25. Use as a mouthwash and/or relieve canker sore pain; gargle with 0.5 tsp of soda in 4 oz of water
26. Remove baked-on food from pots and pans; soak in soda and water for 15 min.
27. Relieve bee sting pain.
28. Make homemade Play Dough; combine 1.25 cups water, 2 cups soda, 1 cup cornstarch.
29. Remove feathers more easily when scalding a chicken; just add to the water.
30. As a windshield water repellent.
31. Clean canvas handbags.
32. Shine chrome and stainless steel.
For even more baking soda applications, check out this site.
You can’t get a gallon of milk at your local Home Depot, but you can often find WD-40 in a grocery store! WD-40 was originally developed as a water repellent and corrosion preventer, but today the manufacturer claims the product has over 2000 uses. But, Len, if there are 2000 uses why isn’t this product listed at number 1? Well, the answer is two-fold: 1) because most of those 2000 uses are just variations of the same basic applications; and 2) this is my list and I’ll do as I want. (So there.)
1. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
2. Loosens stuck zippers.
3. Untangles jewelery chains.
4. Keeps pigeons off the balcony. (Apparently, they hate the smell.)
5. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
6. Protects silver from tarnishing.
7. Keeps ceramic/terracotta garden pots from oxidizing.
8. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
9. Lubricates squeaky home and vehicle door hinges.
10. Lubricates gear shifts and deck levers on riding mowers.
11. Eliminates squeaks from kids’ swings.
12. Makes home windows easier to open. (And it’s safer than a hammer!)
13. Helps stubborn umbrellas to open and close.
14. Restores and cleans vehicle roof racks.
15. Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
16. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles.
17. Removes residual duct tape adhesive.
18. Cleans bugs off of grills and bumpers.
19. Displaces the moisture and allows a car to start when sprayed on the distributor cap.
20. Removes black scuff marks from floors.
1. Remove grease and blood stains from clothing and fabric.
2. Clean oil stains from a garage floor.
3. Remove rust. (My mom said she used to do this as a kid do get corrosion off her bike – I guess she didn’t have any WD-40!)
4. Loosen a rusty bolt. (Another WD-40 trick. Am I the only one here beginning to think Coke is a main ingredient in that stuff?)
5. Tenderize and add extra flavor to a pot roast. (Okay. Let’s see WD-40 do this!)
6. Kill slugs and snails.
7. Help a lawn become lush and green.
8. Prevent an asthma attack.
9. Defrost a frozen windshield. (I prefer using hot coffee – black – but that’s just me.)
10. Clean burnt pans.
11. Neutralize a jellyfish sting.
12. Clean car battery terminals. (I’ve done this before. It works!)
13. Entertain the kids by creating an exploding fountain. (With the help of a pack of Mentos.)
14. Make your hair curly.
15. Age documents and photos.
16. Clean tile grout.
17. Make better compost. (The the acidity and sugar feeds microorganisms.)
18. Remove gum from hair.
19. Remove stains from vitreous china.
20. Clear up swimming pool water.
21. Deodorize laundry.
22. Remove dye from hair by pouring Diet Coke over it.
23. Remove marker stains from carpet.
5. Fabric Softener Sheets
Who hasn’t used fabric softener sheet at least once in their life? Most of us though use them to make our clothes soft and remove static cling as they come out of the dryer. But did you know that these versatile sheets can also:
1. Repel mice and ants.
2. Act as a mosquito, bee and yellow jacket repellent; tie one through a belt loop.
3. Prevent dust from settling on computer monitors.
4. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors.
5. Eliminate wastebasket odors; just place them in the bottom.
6. Prevent dust from settling on Venetian blinds; wipe them down and no more dust.
7. Deodorize stinky shoes.
8. Keep stored tents and sleeping bags smelling fresh.
9. Prevent musty suitcases.
10. Collect cat hair. (No word on whether it works on dog hair too.)
11. Act as a car or room air freshener.
12. Prevent thread from tangling; run a threaded needle through a sheet before sewing.
13. Collect sawdust resulting from drilling or sandpapering.
14. Eliminate odors from dirty laundry; place a sheet at the bottom of a hamper.
15. Remove splattered bugs from cars; scrub with a wet sheet.
16. Clean baked-on food from pans; put a sheet in pan, fill with water and let sit overnight. Sponge clean.
6. Paper Towels
What the heck can you do with a paper towel besides sop up spills? Plenty! Paper towels can also:
1. Act as a quick-and-dirty lumbar pillow. (You’ll need to use the whole roll, of course.)
2. Remove silk from fresh corn; just run a damp paper towel across the ear.
3. Act as a coffee filter. (I’ve done this before in a pinch and it works well.)
4. Keep lettuce fresh longer; wrap around lettuce head to soak up excess moisture. (I’ve done this for years.)
5. Prevent frozen bread from getting soggy as it thaws; simply place a paper towel in the bag before freezing.
6. Provide temporary sunburn relief; lay a damp towel across affected skin.
7. Clean your can opener; close the opener over a paper towel edge and turn the crank.
8. Keep cast iron pots rust-free; placed in clean pots, they’ll absorb moisture.
9. Remove crayon from chalk boards; place a paper towel over wax, then press a warm iron over towel.
10. Remove candle wax from carpet and upholstery. (Use the same method as above.)
11. Sprout seeds; place a few seeds between damp towels, then keep damp for two weeks.
12. Act as a cheap place mat.
13. Strain fat from broth; place a paper towel in colander and pour the broth through it.
14. Protect Christmas tree ornaments during storage.
15. Prevent bacon splatter in a microwave oven.
16. Remove residual grease from sewing machines; run the first few stitches through the towel.
Well, that’s it. Remember, these are only partial lists for each of these products.
If you have any favorite special applications for any of these items, don’t be shy! Share them with the rest of us!