So. When you ask your butler for a little extra help—what? No butler? All right, then surely your maid—no maid, either? Oh good, then I don’t have to be jealous. 😉
Please, let me assure you, however, you do have household help. We all do.
I’m referring to the everyday ingredients just sitting around your house, ready to pull double-duty to help you. I’ve listed many of them below (and of course they’re in alphabetical order, because that’s how much I love my readers). Each and every item on this list has its normal, everyday use (which I won’t bother mentioning), but also a myriad of others. I’ve only listed some of the most useful-ish of uses and didn’t go into detail with them, because if I did, this blog post would be three hundred pages long. Feel free to interpret the list as a jumping point, to dive off into Google-mania, should you choose.
Image via Unsplash/Anda Ambrosini
Activated Charcoal uses: teeth whitening, homemade eyeshadow/eyeliner (as I’ve shown in my homemade makeup tutorial), included in homemade deodorant recipes, a paste of this plus baking soda will draw out toxins from spider bites, bee stings, etc. *Caution: can stain clothing and rough or porous surfaces
Aloe Vera uses: treat minor burns/sunburn and insect bites, facial moisturizer, including before and after shaving, help treat acne, scars and stretchmarks, wrinkles and other signs of aging
Aluminum Foil uses: remove tarnish from silverware (line pan, add 2 tsp salt and fill with cold water, let silverware soak for a few minutes, then rinse and dry), sharpen scissors by cutting several layers of foil, clean iron by running over foil, use beneath clothing when ironing to help release wrinkles, wrap paintbrushes in foil (or plastic wrap) and freeze until next use (defrost before using)
Apple Cider Vinegar uses: armpit detox (yes, you read that right! Find the instructions here), post-shampoo hair rinse, facial toner, upset stomach soother, detoxifying bath, gargle for freshening breath or soothing a sore throat, remove warts by soaking a cotton ball in ACV and leaving on overnight (protect surrounding skin by coating in coconut or other heavy oil), fruit and vegetable wash, deodorizer, add a little dish soap to ACV to trap fruit flies
Baking Soda uses: soothing bath soak, make paste to scrub sinks, bathtubs, stainless steel surfaces or cookware without scratching, freshen carpets, add to washing machine to brighten clothing, use paste to help whiten teeth, deodorizer, gently exfoliate skin with a water/baking soda paste, combine with distilled white vinegar to unclog drains safely, make a paste to remove the itch from insect bites (can combine with activated charcoal)
Image via Unsplash/Lotte Löhr
Banana peels uses: polish shoes, buff scratches in CDs to keep from skipping, soothe an itchy bug bite, bury pieces of peel in soil around plant bases to keep aphids away, buff teeth with the inside of a banana peel to whiten, dust plants with the inside of a banana peel—they’ll love the added potassium!
Beer uses: shampoo your hair with flat, warm beer, treat brown spots in your lawn by helping to kill fungi and feed nutrients to the grass, help remove stains from carpet, kill slugs in the garden, polish copper pots, catch fruit flies
Beeswax uses: make candles, lip balm, moisturizer, lotion bars, homemade mascara and/or salves, use it in place of other waxes to wax thread, make crayons, polish wood and countertops, make reusable food covers by coating cotton fabric, alternative to oils for household lubricant, waterproof shoes, help prevent rusting on tools
Bleach uses: sanitize items, clean wooden countertops and cutting boards, get rid of mold and mildew, add a little to the water holding cut flowers to keep them fresher
Castor Oil uses: encourage hair growth (massage some into scalp each day—if hard to remove when showering, work in conditioner, rinse, then shampoo as usual), soothe delicate skin under eyes (but keep away from eyes themselves), massage into skin to help relieve the pain of arthritis or sore muscles, apply to lips to moisturize (I use it as part of my homemade lip balm)
Image via Unsplash/Aliis Sinisalu
Chocolate (the darker, the better) uses: help prevent cavities, promote health—heart health, fight depression, improve circulation, boost brain activity, increase good cholesterol, antioxidants help prevent cancer, stimulate insulin production and boost kidney health, also help reduce food cravings and, just to gild the lily, it’s also an aphrodisiac. Really, though, do we need any of this to convince us to love chocolate?
Cinnamon uses: help promote health—anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, help lower cholesterol, boost brain function, simmer in water with citrus peels to scent your house, cinnamon tea can soothe your stomach *but don’t drink if pregnant!*, repel ants and moths–I’ve used it for ants and it worked wonderfully!
Citrus Fruits uses: polish copper with lemon juice or brass/aluminum with a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar, lemon can be used to help remove lime scale and stains from sinks and faucets, soak citrus peels in vinegar/water cleaning solution (strain before using) to boost antibacterial powers, help clean laundry by adding to wash or scrubbing underarm stains with lemon juice/water solution, grind citrus peels through your garbage disposal to help clean it and remove odors, lemon juice will clean windows, an orange studded with cloves will bring a great scent to your home and will keep moths away if stored in a closet
Eggs uses: beat with olive oil and apply to hair once frothy, feed your dog a weekly scrambled egg to bring luster to its coat, whisk egg whites with some water to cleanse your face and tighten pores, or use the Vitamin A-rich yolks to wash face, whip up egg whites to clean leather and buff to a shine, cool the water after boiling eggs and give it to your plants, break up egg shells around the base of plants to deter slugs and other soft-bodied pests—tomatoes especially love the added calcium from such an eggshell treatment, compost egg shells or fill them with soil to use as seed starters
Epsom Salts uses: add to your bathwater to soothe aching muscles and help promote better sleep (your skin will absorb the magnesium), use a high concentration of Epsom salts to water as a soak to help remove a splinter, boost growth of roses or tomatoes by adding some to soil around base of plant, make a paste to clean tile and grout, paste will also reduce itchiness from bug bites and minor sunburns
Image via Unsplash/Sonja Langford
Honey uses: great for skin, use as a mask and rinse after ten minutes or dilute some in water and wash your face with it (manuka honey works especially well for facial washes), use it to make a hair mask or homemade shampoo, add some to your bath for a sweet-smelling, skin-softening soak, raw honey’s antibacterial properties help treat minor wounds as well as sore throats or dry coughs, locally-sourced raw honey can help lessen seasonal allergies, also helps alleviate nausea and indigestion. As long as it isn’t contaminated by something else, honey never spoils!
Hydrogen Peroxide uses: disinfect small wounds *but only use once in the beginning—will kill off healthy skin cells with continued use, mix into a paste with baking soda to help whiten teeth (watch for tooth sensitivity), disinfect toothbrushes, clean household surfaces, clean fruits and vegetables
Milk of Magnesia uses: homemade deodorant (no kidding! Just apply and let dry) *just make sure your milk of magnesia only contains water and magnesium hydroxide, rather than added bleach/bleaching agent sodium hypochlorite*, balance oily skin, help prevent acne, help treat minor skin problems, such as sores and rashes,
Oatmeal uses: colloidal (finely ground) makes a great face powder, cooked and cooled oatmeal can prevent or treat acne, combine with honey for a soothing mask, add to bathwater to soothe your own or your pet’s skin
Oils (Coconut, Grapeseed, Olive, Sweet Almond, etc.) uses: great for moisturizing skin and making homemade skin products, but various oils have different properties, so it’s important to know which one is best for you. Here are two resources to help you determine that: one and two
Peanut Butter uses: use in place of other oils as a household lubricant, disguise medications to give to pets (just ask my dogs how well this works), remove glue from hair, remove stickers from items, clean leather with it (my dogs would love this a little too much, however), use to shave if you run out of shaving cream! I included that last one specifically for my cousin Jim, who once challenged me to find a use for peanut butter, after hearing of my milk of magnesia deodorant. He probably won’t see this, but in case he does–Hi Jim!
Rubbing Alcohol uses: clean bathroom fixtures, help remove some stubborn laundry stains, remove stickers from items, can be used as a stand-in nail polish remover, clean windows
Sugar uses: making lovely sugar scrubs for skin, a dash of sugar in the mouth can help ease the pain of a burnt tongue or from spicy foods, feed cut flowers when combined with white vinegar, clean coffee grinders, etc., make a paste to rub into grass stains before laundering, trap pests like wasps, roaches and flies, and also helps feed the butterflies. We love the butterflies! We’ve had two injured butterflies join our family over the years and they would drink a sugar-water mixture right from the palm of our hands.
Image via Unsplash/Morgan Sessions
Tea uses: tea leaves freshen carpets, brewed tea will help shine a wood floor or wooden furniture, tea leaves deodorize litter boxes, refrigerators, etc., wet/used tea bags soothe tired eyes or minor burns/sunburns and help dry out poison ivy rash, wash your face or bathe with green tea to nourish skin and help prevent acne, use a wet teabag to stop the bleeding from a lost tooth or to reduce bruising, brewed tea will add shine to hair, use in garden as fertilizer
Toothpaste uses: remove scuffs from shoes, polish irons and diamonds, prevent mirrors or goggles from fogging (wipe on, wipe off, Danielson), shine sinks and fixtures, remove crayon from walls and stains from clothing, remove water marks from wood furniture, treat blemishes, remove smells from hands
Vinegar uses: dilute with water (can also add citrus peels and strain solution) to make an antibacterial household cleaner, polish scissors, wipe down electronics, remove water marks from wood (wood ash will also do this), clean windows, remove carpet stains, brighten brickwork or woodwork, use as a fabric softener in your washing machine and a drying aid in your dishwasher, deodorize and polish surfaces, unclog drains (use with baking soda and hot water), clean coffee makers and other kitchen appliances, fight mold and mildew, help keep car windows frost free, help deter weeds (don’t get it near the plants you don’t want to annihilate, however)
Image via Unsplash/Alice Donovan Rouse
Wine uses: dye fabrics, soften skin, white wine will remove a red wine stain, clean kitchen surfaces (not granite!), remove grass stains, clean fruits and vegetables, promote heart health. There must be one or two more uses for wine…. Oh, nevermind, I’m sure you’ll figure out something to do with it!
Witch Hazel uses: tighten pores, heal blemishes, shrink swollen varicose veins, help with bug bites and sunburns, help treat dandruff, soothe puffiness under eyes, treat and heal minor wounds or skin irritations
Yogurt uses: support immune system, fight yeast infections, soothe skin as mask treatment, help with digestive upset, soothe sores and sunburn pain
So there you have it, a list of some of our wonderful household helpers. Just think of all the cleaning, pampering and healing we can do while we’re pining for our beloved Downton Abbey–maybe with a glass of red wine in one hand and a box of dark chocolates in the other? For the health benefits, of course. We may not have a Mr. Carson or a Mrs. Hughes to help us run things, but we certainly have our own cast of household helpers. Ta-ta for now … it’s tea time here!
Have any household helpers you’d like to add? Please share in the comments, because we’d love to hear about them! Thanks for visiting!