Polish Chrome With Baby Oil
Original purpose: Keeping skin baby-soft.
Aha! use: Polishing chrome. Apply a dab to a cotton cloth and use it to shine everything from faucets to hubcaps.
Reward: Shiny, happy surfaces from a medicine-cabinet staple. (Who actually owns chrome cleaner, anyway?)
Dust Crown Moldings With a Broom
Original purpose: Sweeping up kitchen crumbs.
Aha! use: Dusting crown moldings. Place a microfiber rag over the bristles and secure with a rubber band. Then use the long handle to dust areas that your arms can't reach.
Reward: No more circus acts (starring you, on a rickety, wobbly stool).
Scour Your Coffee Grinder With Rice
Original purpose: Making a bed for your stir-fry.
Aha! use: Scouring your coffee grinder. Mill a handful of grains and the fine particles will absorb stale odors and clean out residual grounds and oil. Discard rice and wipe clean.
Reward: A cleaner cup of coffee (and another take on rice and beans).
Buff Scratched CDs With Toothpaste
Original purpose: Brightening your pearly whites.
Aha! use: Buffing scratches from CDs that skip. Apply a small dot of toothpaste (not gel) to a cotton pad. Rub in a straight line from the center of the CD outward and over the scratch. Rinse off the toothpaste with water.
Reward: Your heart, not the CD, will skip a beat when Sinatra sings.
Prevent Vacuum Skid Marks With Masking Tape
Original purpose: Sealing boxes.
Aha! use: Preventing skid marks on baseboards and walls when you vacuum. Cover the edges of the vacuum head with masking tape so they don't leave dark smudges when you inevitably bump the wall.
Reward: No black marks on your cleaning record.
Remove Carpet Dents With a Fork
Original purpose: Twirling spaghetti.
Aha! use: Reviving dents in carpeting made by heavy furniture. Use the tines to gently fluff plush carpet fibers back to their original height. Now, that's a real fork lift.
Reward: A smooth rug. Those spaghetti stains are another matter.
White Bread and Ketchup
Use white bread to: Dust an oil painting. Gently dab a slice of white bread over the surface to pick up dirt and grime.
Use ketchup to: Remove tarnish from copper and brass cookware. Squeeze ketchup onto a cloth and rub it on pots and pans. They should go back to their coppery color in minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.
Use it to: Scrub very dirty hands. Make a thick paste of oatmeal and water; rinse well.
Use it to: Clean the inside of a vase or a thin-necked bottle. Fill three quarters of the vessel with warm water and add a tablespoon of uncooked rice. Cup your hand over the opening, shake vigor-ously, and rinse.
Use it to: Scour rusty garden tools. Brew a few pots of strong black tea. When cool, pour into a bucket. Soak the tools for a few hours. Wipe each one with a cloth. (Wear rubber gloves or your hands will be stained.)