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Save Money With New Uses For Old Stuff

You can make old new again -- at least, in terms of what you use lots of things around the house for. And when you do, that saves money for you!

On The Early Show Tuesday, Real Simple magazine's Kris Connell described new uses for several common household items, outlining ways to repurpose and re-use them -- the topic of a popular column in the magazine:


Original Use: Preventing baked goods from sticking to the pan.

Aha! Use: To pick up dirt and dust. Rip off a piece roughly the size of your sweeper -- or Swiffer -- and attach it just as you would a cleaning cloth. As you sweep highly trafficked or dirty areas, the gunk sticks. Good money-saver.


Original Use: Cushioning delicates for shipping.

Aha! Use: Replacing potting mix in a large planter. Fill the bottom half with leftover peanuts before adding soil. They are light and improve drainage, which promotes healthy roots. Good money-saver.

Styrofoam peanuts are airy, so they allow water to drip through. They're not better for the plant than potting soil. They're just lighter to put in the pot (if you need to move it) and free compared to potting soil.


Old Use: Brushing your teeth.

New Use: For removing silk from fresh ears of corn. Before cooking, use the bristles of an unused brush to dig out stray silk threads stuck between the kernels so they don't get caught in your teeth during dinner. Great for summer!


Original Use: Cooling and soothing skin

Aha! Use: Relieving achy muscles. Freeze one part rubbing alcohol and three parts water in a re-sealable plastic bag overnight to create a soft, comfortable gel pack.

It's not the alcohol that's soothing on muscles. It's the coldness, like how you put ice on sore/injured muscles. The alcohol won't freeze completely, so that's why it becomes a gel.


Original Use: A flavor addition

Aha! Use: Chill a bottle of bubbly - fast. Place ice around its base in an ice bucket; sprinkle with a few tablespoons of salt. Layer salt and ice until they reach the neck. Fill with water. Wait 10 minutes; serve.

Salt dissolved in water has a lower freezing point than plain water. So water can actually be colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) and still not freeze. Eventually, the water gets colder than it would without the salt while sitting in the freezer and the heat transfers from the bubbles in the champagne faster. This is why people throw salt on streets before it snows. That makes it harder for the snow freezing over after it melts making the roads icy. By adding salt the melted snow will need much lower temperatures to freeze.


Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, first hit the mass market in 1846, when Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight began selling their red-labeled soda packages. Not only does baking soda neutralize odiferous fatty acids but it also attacks grease by turning it into - believe it or not - soap. Fact: More than 100 tons of the refrigerator staple were used to clean the Statue of Liberty's inner copper walls during its 1986 restoration.

Original Use: Making cakes rise.

Aha! Use: To Exfoliate skin. Wash your face, then apply a soft paste made of three parts baking soda and one part water. Massage gently with a circular motion, avoiding the eye area; rinse clean. (Good money-saver!)


Original Use: Keeping those shower curtains in line!

Aha! Use: Use them to hang purses from a rod in your closet.

If you have any new uses for old things you'd like to alert Real Simple to, click here.

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