Everyday things: Are you buying quality or quantity?

In April 2005, the article “101 New Uses for Everyday Things” appeared on the Real Simple Magazine website. Although the article is old, its underlying premise is still valid: Items you already own can serve multiple purposes and save you from having to buy even more stuff.

For example, if you own olive oil, do you also need to own wood polish?

Knowing about the potential of what you already have on hand can keep you from acquiring even more things. What are some everyday things in your home that can serve double-duty? Let us hear your suggestions in the comments.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

12 Comments for “Everyday things: Are you buying quality or quantity?”

  1. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    The little silica packages that come in shoe boxes (that say: Do Not Eat) are great for absorbing moisture. You can add these packets to:
    clothes, shoes, suitcases, purses in storage
    toolboxes, cans of nails and screws (so they don’t get rusty).
    Pieces of chalk (like chalkboard chalk) work well too and it is inexpensive.

  2. posted by Pierre Louren on

    We use vinegar and water on our windows. We don’t bother buying a ton of disinfectants for our counters, either. Just keep a sponge around and wet it. You can disinfect every once in a while.

    Also, I don’t own a TV because I wouldn’t watch it. If I want to watch a movie, that is what my laptop is for.

  3. posted by Melissa on

    Baking soda- I use it to scrub all the sinks and tub and the toilet. I don’t buy Comet or Ajax or Bon Ami anymore.

  4. posted by Debi on

    Like Melissa, I also use baking soda. It’s cheap, nontoxic, and works well without scratching the surface.

  5. posted by Anne (in Reno) on

    Um, you don’t need to own wood polish but I wouldn’t use olive oil instead, it can go rancid.

  6. posted by Andamom on

    Interestingly, Real Simple does this monthly in their magazine — Some of it is obvious stuff — but a neat one they had was using a fork to fluff up the carpet when furniture is moved. I’m going to write up a list of useful stuff too on my blog in the near future — because if I can declutter by using one product or object for multiple purposes — fabulous!

  7. posted by Anamika on

    Baking Soda and Vinegar are two must have ingredients for most of the cleaning around the house. These are non-toxic and very GREEN.

  8. posted by Gretchen Rubin on

    The humble Zip Lock bag is the most useful thing in the house — the huge ones are better than plastic boxes, for things that aren’t very heavy, because they take up less space and let you squish stuff into odd corners.

  9. posted by quench on

    Um, my olive oil is more expensive than wood polish!

  10. posted by Char on


  11. posted by Lorna on

    Coconut oil: makeup remover, moisturizer, cooking oil, leather conditioner, bullet proof coffee

  12. posted by SkiptheBS on

    Handheld device/smartphone is the best multitasker ever.
    I don’t own a TV, either (Netflix app). The lovely little critter replaces a solid wall of bookshelves and another of records, a digital voice recorder, flashlight, much of a small-town library, a map atlas, insurance and business card folder, Rolodex, file cabinet; and grocery list.
    I still keep dead-tree notebooks and measuring tapes and prefer a paper newspaper but I acknowledge these preferences may be a trifle grannified.

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