1 of 28Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran
Salt as Homemade Drain Cleaner
Get a slow-moving drain flowing again and pour a solution of ½ cup of salt for every quart of hot water down the pipe.
2 of 28Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran
Tennis Ball as Light Bulb Remover
Remove a hot bulb that’s just burned out, using the other half of the ball.
3 of 28Photo: Philip Friedman; Styling: Linden Elstran
Pool Noodle as Blade Guard
To create a protective case for a saw, use the saw to shorten a pool noodle to the length of the blade, then slice a slit to the hollow core.
4 of 28Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino
Rubber Band as Jar Opener
Get a grip on a tricky top; wrap a rubber band around a slippery or sticky lid to give yourself some extra oomph.
5 of 28Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran
Newspaper as Refrigerator Odor Absorber
Absorb odors in the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer with a lining of newspaper.
6 of 28Photo: Philip Friedman; Styling: Linden Elstran
Bobby Pin as Small Nail Holder
When working with a too-tiny-to-grip nail, slide it into the grooves of a bobby pin, then hold the end of the bobby pin as you hammer.
7 of 28Jens Mortensen
Scratched CD as Safety Reflector
Want drivers to see—not sideswipe—yourmailbox at night? Glue headlight-catching CDs onto its side.
8 of 28Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran
Ice Scraper as Decorating Tool
Hide your picture-hanging mistakes. Smooth wall filler into nail holes and small cracks with the scraper.
9 of 28Levi Brown
Binder Clip as Sponge Stand
To prevent a smelly, waterlogged sponge, air-dry it in a binder clip away from the sink.
10 of 28Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran
Socks as Floor Protector
Protect wood floors. Slide socks onto the legs of chairs and tables so they don’t scratch the floor when you rearrange the room (yet again).
11 of 28Photo: John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran
Luggage Tag as Decorating Aid
Avoid decorating mistakes. Tuck fabric, wallpaper, and paint swatches inside so you can ensure a perfect match.
12 of 28Quentin Bacon
Aluminum Foil as Fixture Protector
Protect doorknobs and hardware in the kitchen and bathroom when you're painting by wrapping foil around them to catch dribbles. The foil molds to the shape of whatever it's covering and stays firmly in place until the job is complete.
13 of 28Antonis Achilleos
Dryer Sheet as Sawdust Clearer
An easy way to keep the work area clean. Saw dust at a work station sweeps up so fast with one pass of a used fabric softener sheet.
14 of 28James Wojcik
Hose as Bucket Grip
For a handle you can comfortably handle: Snip off a section of an old garden hose, make a slit down its length, and put it over a skinny bucket wire.
15 of 28Bob Hiemstra
Duct Tape as Light Bulb Loosener
Safely loosen a hard-to-remove lightbulb. Press the center of a footlong strip of tape to the middle of the bulb. Fold each loose end in half so it sticks to itself. Gripping each end between a thumb and index finger, give a counter clockwise twist to loosen the bulb.
16 of 28Alexandra Rowley
Electrical Tape as Chair Decorator
Liven up a child’s chair with colorful stripes. (Use lead-free or plastic tape.)
17 of 28James Baigrie
Jar as Knicknack Organizer
Superglue the lid to the underside of a cabinet and gather bits and pieces—thumbtacks, say, or nails—into the jar itself. Then screw the jar into the lid to whisk clutter up, up, and away.
18 of 28Alexandra Rowley
Tape as Plaster Securer
Keep a plaster wall from chipping when you hang a picture by placing a small piece of tape over the spot where you plan to hammer in the nail.
19 of 28Antonis Achilleos
Tube Socks as Floor Protectors
Slide socks onto the legs of chairs and tables so they don't scratch the floor when you rearrange the room (yet again).
20 of 28Alexandra Rowley
Walnut as Scratch Filler
Repair hardwood floors by rubbing shelled nuts into shallow scratches. Their natural oils help hide the flaws.
21 of 28Alexandra Rowley
Packing Tape as Nut and Bolt Holder
Gather loose bolts and nails in the garage by sticking them to a length of tape and layering another piece of tape on top.
22 of 28Gemma Comas and James Merrell
Press'n Seal Wrap as Fixture Protector
During home repairs and painting, use the wrap to keep dirt and drips away from vents, lamps, and other household items, just tear, press, and seal.
23 of 28John Lawton
Rice as Cell Phone Dryer
So your phone fell into the sink? Try your own CPR (that’s “cell-phone resuscitation”): Dry any visible droplets, pop out the battery, and stick both the phone and the battery in a bowl of rice overnight. The rice will soak up most of the remaining moisture.
24 of 28John Lawton
Vanilla Extract as Paint-Odor Masker
Disguise unpleasant fumes with this sweet-smelling pantry staple. Stir in a few drops of pure extract for each gallon of (nonwhite) paint.
25 of 28Kirsten Strecker
WD-40 as Crayon Cleanup
To remove crayon marks apply just a small amount to almost any surface (plastic, metal, TV screens, freshly painted walls) and rub away with a clean cloth.
26 of 28James Wojcik
Credit Card as Contact Paper Smoother
Smooth out pesky air bubbles from contact paper or stickers.
27 of 28James Wojcik
Double-Sided Tape as Hammer Grip
Keep your tools from sliding out of your hand by wrapping the handle with double-sided tape.
28 of 28James Wojcik
Packing Tape as Hardware Holder
When you're moving, tape nails to the backs of framed works of art so the appropriate hardware will be handy.