New Uses for Old Things: 10 Ways to Rethink Household Items

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Go find that purse with the stuck zipper. We know how to fix it—with something you probably already own.

Common objects do double-duty around the house with these clever new uses.

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Attach Gift Cards With Photo Corners

Self-adhesive photo corners to hold a gift card

Use this reader tip from Linda D’Onofrio of East Brunswick, New Jersey, and your gifts will always look a little classier: Attach gift tags to presents with the photo corners you usually use for scrapbooking. Neater and more attractive than Scotch tape (but just as easy to apply), they make even the simplest wrap job look impressive.

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Hone Scissors With Sandpaper

Sandpaper sharpening scissors

Sandpaper can do more than smooth wood; it can also sharpen shears. To hone dull blades in a pinch, just snip a piece of sandpaper a few times.

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Baking Soda as Hair Cleanser

Baking soda in the shower
DAVID PRINCE

If daily use of mousse or gel is weighing down your locks, add a pinch or two of baking soda to your shampoo once a week to remove product buildup. Getting squeaky-clean strands is a piece of cake.

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Candle as Zipper Fixer

Candle to fix a stuck zipper

Release a stubborn zipper by lightly rubbing a candle along the teeth on both sides to smooth the way.

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Paper-Towel Tube as Plastic Bag Holder

Paper-towel tube to hold plastic bags

Store and dispense plastic bags by stuffing them in a cardboard tube, then place it in a drawer for handy retrieval. A tidier kitchen is in the bag.

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Flat Iron as Touch-Up Iron

Straightening iron and dress shirt

No time to drag out your iron and ironing board? A straightening iron works perfectly between buttons where a regular iron doesn’t fit. And it smooths collar creases and minor wrinkles. So you can look perfectly pressed when you’re pressed for time.

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Wine Corks as Cabinet Silencers

Kitchen cabinet with wine cork cushion

Silence cabinet doors that slam by slicing a cork into thin disks and sticking them onto the inside corners of cabinets to muzzle the closing noise.

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Tape as Scoop Scraper

Masking tape as a scoop scraper on a Hersey's cocoa container

Attach the sticky side of a shorter piece of masking tape to the sticky side of a larger piece. Then place the tape across the top of a container of, say, cocoa so that the ends adhere to the sides of the can. The next time you scoop, you can easily level off your helping and avoid cocoa-verload.

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Cast-Iron Pan as Recipe Board

Cast iron pan as a recipe board

Hang a skillet on a kitchen wall and you’ll have a convenient magnetic spot to display recipes, important reminders, and anything else your brain is too, well, fried to remember.

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Key Protectors as Jingle Stoppers

Key protectors as jingle stoppers on dog tags

You love your dog and can even tolerate the occasional barking. But you could do without the incessant jingle-jangle of his tags. Well, here’s a new trick for you, courtesy of reader Jayne Burns of Sebastopol, California: Cover them with rubber key protectors.

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