Fresh Ways to Reuse Things in Your Kitchen
From using ice cream cones as cupcake holders to re-purposing last night’s to-go container as a paint palette, new uses for old kitchen items offer clever ways to reuse and upcycle—rather than throw out—kitchenware and kitchen gadgets sitting around the cookspace.
Kitchens cabinets and cupboards can easily be cluttered with kitchen tools and equipment, cookbooks, and other miscellanea. This isn’t a bad thing at all—many of these kitchen items make life so much simpler—but it can be a little frustrating when a one-trick kitchen tool takes up a lot of storage real estate while only serving a single purpose. That purpose or function may be important, but that doesn’t mean it does anything to lessen frustrations, especially when kitchen storage spots are full to bursting.
This is where new uses for old things in the kitchen come in handy. These upcycling ideas give a second (or even a third or a fourth) purpose to common kitchen items, so everything is an efficient multitasker. No more agonizing over how much space a muffin tin takes up or wondering if it’s worth it to keep those to-go containers around. No more guilty feelings every time something gets tossed. With new uses for kitchen items, everything will have a second life serving another purpose, either while it’s still in use for its original purpose or once its original usefulness is up.
Put these clever new uses and upcycling ideas to work in the kitchen, and then give the upcycling philosophy a try in other areas—office supplies, school supplies, and more all have their own creative repurposing opportunities to help reduce waste and increase the usefulness of everything in the home.
Dish Towel as Wine Bag
Place the bottle along one side of the fabric so that the bottle’s top meets the top of the fabric. Fold the excess material at the bottom over the bottle, forming a pocket of sorts. Then roll the dish towel evenly and secure at the neck with ribbon.
Cocktail Shaker as Egg Scrambler
Whip up fluffy omelets by adding eggs, milk, and seasonings together in a cocktail mixer. Give it a few shakes and it's ready for the skillet. Submitted by: suziegirl
Baby Food Jar as Easter Egg Decorating Aid
Design Rothkoesque Easter eggs. Fill a jar with dye, then dip half the egg in and let dry. Dip again, but only one-third of the egg. Repeat with both ends of the egg until you have stripes in varying shades.
Need a quick refresher on how to dye Easter eggs? Watch this quick video to learn how to hard-boil an egg, then check out these homemade Easter egg dye recipes.
White Bread as Glass Magnet
The next time a tumbler takes a tumble, sponge up the shards with a slice of bread. Even tiny slivers will cling to it.
Cereal Box as Sweets Carrier
Attention, PTA members: Here’s a practical Transport Alternative for the bake sale. Tape a cereal box closed, then cut away the front or back panel to create a tray for those top-selling brownies. Best of all, you can just "donate" the box.
Colander as Knitting Assistant
To prevent balls of yarn from tangling, string the end of each through a colander hole.
Wine Corks as Cabinet Silencers
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.
Chopsticks as Glue Stick
To get a tiny sequin in just the right spot during your next craft project, use the tip of a chopstick to nudge it into place without gumming up your fingers.
Gift Box as Sugar Holder
More lovely to look at than the branded box from the store, but it still slides easily into the pantry for storage.
Holiday Tags as Drink Labels
Merlot gone missing? A small, adhesive gift tag keeps each drink in the right hand.
Colander as Toy Scoop
One of the most popular kitchen tools also happens to double as a clean-up aid. Before draining the tub, use a colander to make scooping up small toys fun and easy.
Colander as Splatter Blocker
When frying, top the pan with an upside-down metal colander to protect yourself from burns while still allowing heat to escape.
Wrapping Paper as Placemat
Turn rectangles of giftwrap into placemats you don’t mind getting dirty. You can even write guests’ names on the edges to designate seats.
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.
To-Go Container as Paint Palette
Even a starving artist eats takeout sometimes. Use the plastic top from a to-go container as a palette for mixing colors; when you’re finished, just toss.
Cupcake Liner as Mason Jar Lining
Secure a cupcake liner over the top of a jar with a rubber band. It can be a temporary fix if you’ve lost the lid, a pretty solution to keep flies out of the lemonade, or a cute topper for a gift-in-a-jar.
Tic Tac Box as Spice Holder
Pack small amounts of your favorite spice (red pepper flakes, anyone?) in old Tic Tac boxes, to season food on-the-go.
Use a Wineglass as a Candleholder
Give some height to a candle display by perching a pillar on an upside-down wineglass.
Paper Towel Tube as Linen Organizer
Keep linen placemats and runners crease-free; roll them around a paper towel holder instead of folding.
Wrapping Paper as Tray Liner
Turn an old tray into a special serving piece with a single scrap of pretty paper. Use double-sided tape to keep it secure.
Holiday Lights as Night Light
Fill a large Mason jar with a strand or two of battery-powered lights to add whimsy to a walkway or a nightstand.
Cereal Bag as Crumb Maker
These durable bags can take a beating. Fill one up and give it a whack with a rolling pin to make crumbs out of crackers, cornflakes, or candy. Remember to twist the top closed to prevent flyaways.
Ribbon as Utensil Holder
When utensils are wrapped together, guests can grab what they need in one go—great for a buffet table.
Cupcake Liners as Garland
Using a large sewing needle, thread a string through the alternating colorful cupcake liners to make a ruffled garland.
Cereal Box as Photo Saver
Sending Grandpa a shot of the all-star soccer team but don't want the postal journey to bend it (like Beckham)? Sandwich the picture between the large panels of a flattened box.
Turkey Baster as Pancake Shaper
Use a baster full of batter to squeeze custom pancakes onto the griddle. Start with easy letters and shapes, then work up to more complicated designs, like these leaves. (The trick is to draw the outlines and veins first, let them brown, then fill in the gaps with more batter.)
Muffin Tin as Large Ice Cube Tray
The cold, hard truth: Small ice cubes melt fast, leaving a pitcher of lemonade watery. To make long-lasting jumbo cubes, use a muffin tin. Pop them out by running the back of the tin under hot water for 30 seconds.
Chopstick as Brewing Tool
For mess-free tea, tie a bunch of bags to a chopstick and rest it across the pitcher’s rim (use 2 bags per cup of boiling water). Brew for about 4 minutes, then lift and discard the bags.
Contact Lens Case as Travel Spice Holder
Pack small amounts of salt, pepper, and spices for a camping trip.
Binder Clip as Sponge Stand
To prevent a smelly, waterlogged sponge, air-dry it in a binder clip away from the sink.
Rubber Bands as Sandwich Labels
Distinguishing chicken salad from tuna is no picnic. Next time you’re packing sandwiches, stretch a thick rubber band around each one and label it with a permanent marker. Divvying up lunch will be a snap.
Chopsticks as Lint Remover
Pluck the lint buildup from a clothes dryer's trap.
Cupcake Liners as Candleholders
Nothing holds a candle to dining al fresco, unless it’s so dark you can’t see the food in front of you. Place tealights in foil cupcake liners for a little glow at your next outdoor party. They’re cheap enough to use by the dozen, and cleanup is a piece of (cup)cake.
Bowl as Garlic Peeler
Peel garlic. Place cloves in a bowl, cover with another bowl to form a sphere, and shake. The peels will flake off.
Salt as Iron Cleaner
Eliminate sticky residue from an iron. Run the hot iron (no steam) over plain paper sprinkled with salt.
Colander as Laundry Aid
Hand-launder delicates. A colander shields them from any residue in the sink that can harm the fabric, such as peroxide from toothpaste or caustic agents from cleansers.
Sponge as Envelope Sealer
Safeguard your taste buds during holiday card season. Replace a dried out ink pad with a damp sponge and use it to seal envelopes and attach stamps—no licking required.
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.
Newspaper as Refrigerator Odor Absorber
Absorb odors in the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer with a lining of newspaper.
Olive Oil as Sap Remover
If dragging and decking out fresh spruce leaves you with sticky digits, pour a tablespoon of oil onto a cloth, then rub until clean. Bonus: The oil is a great moisturizer for dry winter skin.
Aluminum Foil as Party Garland
Twist foil into links to make a sparkly garland for an almost-instant party decoration (or a rainy-day distraction for the kids).
Olive Oil as Stainless Steel Cleaner
Buff streaks out of stainless steel with a little oil on a terry-cloth rag, then shine with a dry paper towel.
Olive Oil as Cat Food Supplement
Prevent hair balls. Add ⅛ to 1¼ teaspoon to your cat’s food for easy digestion.
Salt as Stain Remover
Remove coffee and tea stains from the insides of cups by rubbing with a salted citrus peel.
Parchment Paper as Musical Instrument
Make a kazoo by folding a piece of parchment or wax paper over a comb’s teeth (the paper should hang over about an inch).
Cornstarch as Makeup Protector
Balance the oiliness of moisturizing makeup. Brush on a thin layer as a finishing touch.
Felt Pads as Cutting Board Anchor
Anchor a cutting board’s corners to make prep work easier and safer.
Soda Bottle as Pasta Measurer
Said good-bye to soda? Fill the mouth of a dry 20-ounce bottle with uncooked spaghetti; the opening holds enough for a hearty single serving.
Belt Hanger as Kitchen Towel Hooks
Hook extra dish towels and pot holders on a belt hanger for easy retrieval.
Binder Clip as Chip Clip
Secure half-eaten bags of potato chips with a binder clip for an easy way to keep your favorite snack fresh and crunchy.
Cake Stand as Soap Dish
Glam up a bathroom or vanity. Stock soaps and washcloths on top, or showcase your prettiest perfume bottles.
Cereal Box as Drawer Organizer
If you're the flaky type, cereal boxes (including the single-serving minis) can corral desk-drawer chaos. Slice off the tops and the bottoms and fill them with loose odds and ends.
Pipe Cleaners as Drink Labels
Skip the fancy wine charms and use an array of brightly colored pipe cleaners to identify guests' drinks at your next get-together. Submitted by: LassieBV
Collapsible Laundry Bins as Garbage Bins
During seasonal cleaning binges, soft-sided, handled laundry bins can double as trash cans. Submitted by: HookemSuz
Chip Clip as Bookmark
Attaching a chip clip to each side of your cookbook will not only keep your place while whipping up dinner, it will also help keep the book open. Submitted by: kriehl5
Silverware Holder as Bathroom Drawer Organizer
Use a utensil tray in your bathroom drawer to keep small items like tweezers, nail clippers, and makeup brushes organized. Submitted by: Margaret2580
Melon Baller as Jar Scoop
Scoop and strain from a narrow-mouth jar at the same time by using a melon baller. Works especially well for foods like capers and pimento. Submitted by: KimEH1
Sugar Dispenser as Kitchen Twine Holder
Keep kitchen twine from tangling and jamming your drawers by using a glass sugar dispenser as a spool. Simply place the twine in the jar and thread through the open hole.
Cake Stand as Counter Organizer
Curb countertop clutter. Drop keys and bills on the stand instead.