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What are Some Strange Uses for Everyday Products?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Humans have long been known for their creativity, and for their inventiveness in developing strange uses for everyday products in their world. Fans of the TV show MacGyver especially enjoyed the application of MacGyver’s problem solving ability to stop crime with an assortment of common objects. You don’t have to be MacGyver to know that some strange uses for everyday products can simplify your life. While some people want to purchase products specific to a single purpose, it’s often not necessary to double up on purpose-specific things when you may already have something in the home that may work just as well.

For instance, do you really a need a back massager when a racket or tennis ball will give you a great massage? Do you need a stain remover if you have access to club soda and cola, and is it necessary to buy expensive hair conditioners if you’ve got olive oil and honey in the house? There are a number of books devoted to the practical and sometimes strange uses for everyday products. Chief among these is a series of books by writer Joey Green, though it should be noted he’s picking up the ball from columnists like Heloise, who’s been suggesting multiple uses for products for many decades.

Listed below are a few suggestions of strange uses for everyday products. This list is by no means exhaustive:

  • Honey mixed with olive oil makes a great hair conditioner, or apply honey to burns to help cool them.
  • Powdered milk blended with water and watercolor powder can be used to paint your house.
  • Blending up Cheerios&reg: and then applying a small amount of water can make a terrific paste to relieve the itch of poison ivy or bug bites, or add a bit of blended up oat cereal to your bath tub for the same purpose.
  • Try dusting baking soda under your arms or adding it to shoes as a natural deodorant.
  • Before you hammer in nails or screw in screws, add a waxy lip balm like Chapstick® to them and you’ll be able to hammer with less force.
  • Get that bright eyed and bushy tailed look by letting wet teabags sit on closed eyes for 15 minutes.
  • Clean your dog’s brush with a toothpick
  • Use orange peels, flour, coffee grounds, or cloves to repel ants.
  • Create coffee filters out of paper towels.
  • Use canned whipped cream to shave.
  • Consider using a blow dryer on a low setting to help calm middle of the night ear pain in kids.
  • Turn the vacuum cleaner on to help relieve the cries of colicky babies.
  • Coat cut up sponges with petroleum jelly to make great fish bait.

For more strange uses for everyday products, check out the following books:

  • Paint Your House With Powdered Milk, and Hundreds More Offbeat Uses for Everyday Products by Joey Green
  • All-New Hints from Heloise by Heloise
  • The Bubble Wrap Book by Joey Green and Tim Nyberg (look for used copies since the book is out of print).
  • Stump the Duct Tape Guys by Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg, which features hundreds of strange uses for everyday products focusing especially on duct tape.
WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By clintflint — On Jan 12, 2014

@bythewell - If you feel like getting creative most things can be made at home with common ingredients. I don't think there's anything crazy or strange about that. It's only in the last few decades that we've even had the option to buy things like cleaners from a supermarket, rather than making them in a household.

It's just that most people don't have the time to do this. It's easier to spend a couple more dollars and pick up a product from the supermarket.

By bythewell — On Jan 11, 2014

@Fa5t3r - Whenever you check out books on uses for household items baking soda generally has a whole chapter to itself because it can be used for so many things. I don't buy cleaner for my kitchen now, because I just use a recipe I found online where you mix baking soda with lemon peel and water and it works pretty well (and smells nice too).

By Fa5t3r — On Jan 11, 2014

The baking soda thing really works, although I wouldn't use it under my arms except in an emergency, as it can be quite itchy, especially for sensitive skin.

When I was first starting out at work I didn't really have all my personal habits sorted out and I would often be embarrassed by how much my walking shoes smelled when I changed them for my work shoes in the back room.

One of my coworkers suggested that I use baking soda and that night I basically poured it into the shoes. I didn't realize that you were supposed to remove it the next morning. I just wore the shoes with the baking soda in them to walk to work.

I ended up with big, painful blisters all over my feet. Which was a shame, because the baking soda trick really does work, you just need to get rid of the baking soda by banging your shoes against the ground a few times before you put them back on.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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