9 Unexpected Household Items That Are Genius Cleaning Tools in a Pinch

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Image Credit: Ana Stanciu

A lot of stuff around your house is teeming with cleaning potential, it just takes a little imagination. To help jumpstart your next housekeeping session, we rounded up an assortment of ways to repurpose everyday items into handy cleaning tools — no money necessary. From used toothbrushes-turned-detail brushes to vinegar hacks and more, here are nine ways to transform some things you're already sitting on into effective cleaning supplies.

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1. Used Toothbrushes

Next time you're done with your toothbrush, do yourself a favor and don't throw it in the trash. Instead, drop it in a pot of boiling water for about ten minutes, take it out with a pair of pliers, and then bend the head of the brush backwards to score an angled cleaning brush that can easily squeeze into tight corners and crevices.

2. Vinegar

If you aren't already hip to the cleaning power of white vinegar, then now's the time to smarten up. Filled with acetic acid, vinegar is acidic enough to naturally break down grime and buildup, so you can use it to clean everything from rusty tools to kitchen countertops — no multipurpose spray necessary.

3. Aspirin

Searching for a goofproof way to clean your bathroom in a pinch? The salicylic acid in aspirin makes it a surprisingly efficient household cleaner that's abrasive enough to break down soap scum. Just dissolve a couple of tablets in warm water and then use the solution to clean your sink, fixtures, and tub.

4. Shaving Cream

Fresh out of cleaning spray? No problem. Similar to other household soaps, shaving cream is packed with surfactants that work as mild cleaning agents, so you can use it with a cleaning rag to wipe down windows and other glass surfaces, or to polish stainless steel and chrome appliances and fixtures throughout your home.

5. Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are a many-splendored thing. Not only do they fluff and soften your laundry, but because they're slightly abrasive, they make pretty good cleaning scrubbers, too. Before you toss out your used dryer sheets, try moistening one with a little warm water and use it to remove lime deposit buildup and soap scum around your kitchen and bathroom.

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6. Ketchup

If you thought ketchup was only good for French fries then you'd be mistaken. Made with citric acid and white vinegar, ketchup is also an effective cleaner. Obviously, you don't want to use it to clean white shirts or carpets, but you can apply it to brass pans, cast iron skillets, silverware and other metal fixtures and surfaces to naturally remove rust and other buildup.

7. White Toothpaste

Often made with baking soda, certain white toothpastes — not charcoals or gels — make awesome household cleaners. Use it on a clean cloth to brighten up chrome fixtures, silverware, sinks, and even white sneakers when you're running low on cleaning spray. And if it's a whitening toothpaste, even better — they're formulated to have superior stain fighting capabilities!

8. Lemons

When life hands you lemons, turn them into all-natural cleaning supplies. The citrusy acidity of lemons ensures that they can cut through grease and clean an assortment of surfaces around your house. Simply cut a lemon in half and use it as you would a sponge or scrub brush to wipe down your countertops, mirrors, windows, and more. Finish by wiping the surface clean with a damp cloth.

9. Walnuts

Newsflash: If you're stashing walnuts (or another oily nut like pecans) in your kitchen, you can use them to remove scratches from wood floors and furniture. Just crack it in half and then rub the meat of the nut over the scratch (so that the oil can soak into the wood) for a few minutes before wiping it down with a soft cloth and voilà — your wooden stuff should look as good as new.

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Caroline Biggs is a writer living in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Apartment Therapy, Refinery 29, and more.