New Uses for Old Things in the Bathroom


Originally published by Real Simple

Fresh new spins on bathroom essentials:

Toothbrush | Soap | Cotton balls | Shower curtain | Toilet paper tube/roll |
Hair dryer | Conditioner | Baby oil | Dental floss | Flat iron |
Cotton swab | Epsom salt | Hair spray | Lip balm | Nail polish/remover |
Petroleum jellyRubbing alcohol | Comb | Toothpaste | Others


  1. Electric Toothbrush as Grout Scrubber
    Scour bathroom crevices with a battery-powered toothbrush.
  2. Toothbrush Holder as Vase
    Don’t have a vase small enough to display those pretty buds you picked? A seldom used toothbrush holder fits a small arrangement perfectly.
  3. Toothbrush as Plastic Wrap Loosener
    Find the loose end of plastic wrap. Rub a brush around the translucent roll to locate its elusive edge.
  4. Toothbrush as Corn Cleaner
    Use a clean toothbrush to remove stray threads of silk from freshly shucked ears of corn. The bristles will lift them away quickly and efficiently.


  1. Soap as Zipper Unsticker
    Loosen a stuck zipper by rubbing a bar of soap along its teeth. The trick also works well on furniture drawers that are hard to budge.
  2. Gravy Boat as Unique Soap Dish
    Fill an antique gravy boat with a bar of soap to transform it into an elegant soap dish.
  3. Bar of Soap as Pretty Pincushion
    Stick needles and pins in a wrapped bar of soap. The soap’s oils make the pointy ends glide through fabric “sew” easily.
  4. Soap as Dirt Blocker
    Keep nails clean when gardening by scraping your fingers along a bar of soap before digging in. The soap stays under the nail and keeps everything else out. Wash with a nailbrush to remove.
  5. Soap Case as Camera Carrier
    Protect your picture taker from getting knocked around in your carry-on by placing it in a hard plastic travel soap case.

Cotton Balls

  1. Cotton Balls as Teddy-Bear Stuffing
    To add fluff, cram cotton balls behind the torn seam, then stitch him back up.
  2. Cotton Balls as Shoe Resizer
    Give roomy heels and ballet flats a perfect fit (so you don’t pull a Cinderella) by filling in the toe area with some cotton balls.
  3. Cotton Ball as Rubber Glove Protector
    For leak-resistant gloves at your fingertips, push one cotton ball into the end of each finger of a dishwashing glove to keep sharp nails from splitting the rubber.
  4. Cotton Ball as Flower Plug
    Help hollow-stemmed blooms, like daffodils, delphiniums, and amaryllis, soak up water and stay hydrated longer with this fresh idea: Cut the bottom of each stem at a 45-degree angle, turn the stem upside down, fill it with water, and stuff it with a piece of cotton.

Shower Curtain

  1. Shower Curtain as Picnic Blanket Liner
    Do dew diligence and layer a liner underneath a picnic blanket to avoid soggy bottoms and grass or mud stains.
  2. Shower Curtain Liner as Child’s Smock
    Finger-painting on the day’s agenda? Cut a new shower curtain liner in half or in fourths, and then cut a hole in the center for your little one’s head to pop through.
  3. Shower Curtain Rings as Scarf Storage
    Sort and hang scarves by threading them through rings hung on a closet rod.

Toilet paper tube/roll

  1. Toilet Paper Tube as Wrapping Paper Holder
    Slide empty toilet paper tubes over wrapping paper to keep it from unraveling.
  2. Toilet Paper Roll as Cord Holder
    Contain extra extension cords by wrapping the length of one around your hand then sliding the whole thing inside the tube.
  3. Toilet Paper Tube as Hair Accessory Holder
    Store hair accessories on an empty TP tube by stretching elastics around the roll and sliding clips and bobby pins on one end.

Hair dryer

  1. Hair Dryer as Mirror Defogger
    After a steamy shower, clear the bathroom mirror with a quick blast of hot or cold air.
  2. Ice Bucket as Hair Dryer Holder
    Store your hairdryer in an ice bucket to add a decorative touch to your bathroom and keep the counter tidy.
  3. Hair Dryer as Eyeglasses Fitter
    Give store-bought plastic eyeglasses a custom fit. Heat them with a dryer, then mold them to suit your face.
  4. Hair Dryer as Sticker Remover
    A little hot air quickly loosens price labels—with zero fingernail-chipping frustration.


  1. Conditioner as Shaving Cream
    Lighten your carry-on load and sub conditioner for shaving cream.
  2. Hair Conditioner as a Shave Gel
    All out of shaving cream? Rather than skipping the shaving session altogether, reach for the conditioner to help soften your skin.

Baby oil

  1. Baby Oil as Paint Remover
    Dab some baby oil on splatters to remove latex paint from skin.
  2. Baby Oil as Chrome Polish
    Forget keeping skin soft, baby oil also polishes chrome. Apply a dab to a cotton cloth and use it to shine everything from faucets to hubcaps. You’ll end up with shiny, happy surfaces from a medicine-cabinet staple. (Who actually owns chrome cleaner, anyway?)
  3. Baby Oil as Necklace Detangler
    Rub a few drops of baby oil into each knot and work them gently free with a straight pin.
  4. Baby Oil as Tar Remover
    Bare feet left with a bit of tar after a long day on the beach? Lift it off with a dose of baby oil.

Dental floss

  1. Dental Floss as Picture Hanger
    Hang a lightweight painting. Wrap one end of a strand of floss several times around one of a pair of screws or hooks attached to either side of the back of the frame. Wrap the other end around the remaining screw or hook, leaving some slack. Knot the ends and hang from a nail.
  2. Dental Floss as DIY Popcorn Garland
    String a popcorn garland for the holidays (after a pit-stop in the medicine cabinet).
  3. Dental Floss as Cheese Slicer
    Use floss to slice soft cheese, cake, and hard-boiled eggs. (Or try it as a substitute for kitchen twine to truss a chicken.) It’s hygienic, neat, and cheap. Unwaxed works best, and of course you know better than to mix mint-flavored with a vintage Gorgonzola.
  4. Dental Floss as Vine Winder
    Because it’s resilient, dental floss is ideal for training vines on a trellis. Be careful not to tie the floss too tightly or it will dig into the growing stem.
  5. Dental Floss as Umbrella Mender
    If your umbrella has detached from its metal spines, tie or sew it back together with waxed floss, which will endure longer than regular thread.
  6. Dental Floss as Cake Slicer
    When a recipe calls for splitting a cake in two horizontally, use a two-foot piece of waxed dental floss to make a clean straight cut. Just make sure it’s the unflavored type!
  7. Dental Floss as Thread Substitute
    Rely on waxed dental floss for temporary but durable clothing repairs, such as sewing on a button or reattaching a strap.
  8. Floss as Kitchen Twine
    When you’re out of kitchen twine (or if you never had any in the first place), unwaxed floss is a perfect stand-in for trussing a bird. Just be sure it’s the unflavored wax you use!
  9. Dental Floss as Necklace String
    Rethread the beads of a broken necklace. Slide beads onto a piece of floss one by one, leaving a few extra inches of loose string. Tie the ends to the jewelry findings from the original necklace and knot several times.

Flat iron

  1. Flat Iron as Ribbon Smoother
    Get the kinks out of wrinkled wrapping ribbons that were tied around your birthday presents for recycled bows without the telltale creases from the previous gift box.
  2. Flat Iron as Touch-Up Iron
    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.

Cotton swab

  1. Cotton Swab as Computer Detailer
    With the machine turned off, disconnect the keyboard and trace between the keys with a cotton swab lightly dipped in isopropyl alcohol. If your mouse is the kind that rolls on a ball, unscrew the bottom and go over the ball and the interior with a cotton swab, too.
  2. Cotton Swab as Travel Makeup Kit
    Make an on-the-go cosmetics kit by applying a bit of your favorite eye shadow, concealer, and lip gloss to the ends of cotton swabs and stashing them in a plastic bag in your purse.
  3. Cotton Swab as Silver Polisher
    Apply a dab of polish to the end of a cotton swab to shine those hard to reach crevices in silver flatware and serving dishes.

Epsom salt

  1. Epsom Salt as Plant Fertilizer
    Encourage green growth on your house plants by applying a solution of 2 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon water once a month.
  2. Epsom Salt as Hair Degreaser
    Remove greasy buildup from hair by adding 1 tablespoon salt to 1 cup water and massaging through hair. Rinse well.

Hair spray

  1. Hairspray as Static Stopper
    Banish static cling in the winter with a quick spritz of hairspray on the areas that are bunching.
  2. Hairspray as Needle Threader
    Thread a needle quickly by spraying the string’s end to prevent it from fraying and raising your frustration level.
  3. Rubbing Alcohol as Hairspray Remover
    Lift off hair-spray residue from bathroom walls. Spray a mixture of one part rubbing alcohol, two parts water, and a dash of dishwashing liquid onto vinyl wallpaper or semigloss (not flat) paint. Wipe clean.

Lip balm

  1. Lip Balm as Cuticle Moisturizer
    Rub a bit of lip balm on dry cuticles for a quick and easy way to soften them when you’re on-the-go.
  2. Lip Balm as Shoelace Securer
    Keep shoelaces from coming undone by creating your own version of waxed laces: Just use the balm to coat the strings where you loop and knot and they won’t budge.

Nail polish / remover

  1. Nail Polish as Snag Preventer
    Keep a snag in your stockings from growing by dabbing it with clear nail polish.
  2. Nail Polish Remover as Cap Loosener
    To loosen stubborn glue lids, dip a cotton swab into nail polish remover and rub around the bottom of the cap.
  3. Nail Polish as Key Coder
    Differentiate your keys by color-coding them with your favorite nail hues. Lay keys flat and apply a thick coat of a different shade to the top of each one.
  4. Nail Polish as Rust Preventer
    Coat the bottom of a shaving-cream can to fend off rust rings on the ledge of the tub.
  5. Nail Polish as Screw Securer
    After tightening the loose screw, dab polish across the top for a longer-lasting fix.
  6. Nail Polish as Envelope Sealant
    When the flap of your letter won’t stay stuck, find closure with a coat of clear polish.
  7. Nail Polish as Button Securer
    Apply a thin coat of clear polish to the center of a button to keep the thread from coming loose.
  8. Nail Polish as Eyeglass Screw Securer
    Keep a loose screw secure in your eyeglass frames by dabbing it with a touch of clear nail polish.
  9. Nail Polish as Fray Preventer
    Prevent the ends of ribbon from fraying by dabbing on clear nail polish.

Petroleum jelly

  1. Petroleum Jelly as Mascara
    Give eyelashes new luster by brushing them with a bit of petroleum jelly for an instant length-enhancing shine.
  2. Petroleum Jelly as Cap Unsticker
    Prevent a nail-polish cap from sticking by dabbing the jelly around the bottle’s ridges before sealing.

Rubbing alcohol

  1. Rubbing Alcohol as Ear Dryer
    Evaporate water from your ears by using an eyedropper to insert a few drops of rubbing alcohol into each ear canal.
  2. Rubbing Alcohol as Hairspray Remover
    Lift off hair-spray residue from bathroom walls. Spray a mixture of one part rubbing alcohol, two parts water, and a dash of dishwashing liquid onto vinyl wallpaper or semigloss (not flat) paint. Wipe clean.
  3. Rubbing Alcohol as Permanent Marker Remover
    Remove permanent marker from countertops and walls. Pour a bit of alcohol onto a cotton ball and rub on the stain. (Spot test on a hidden area first.)
  4. Rubbing Alcohol as Ice Pack
    To improvise an extra ice pack, mix one part rubbing alcohol with three parts water and freeze in a zippered plastic bag.


  1. Comb as Nail Holder
    Protect your fingers while hanging a picture, by holding the nail in the tines of the comb.
  2. Comb as Carpet Fluffer
    Fluff up a spot in the carpet squashed by a furniture leg.
  3. Comb as Sweater Depiller
    Gently brush the surface to remove unsightly balls from your knit top.


  1. Toothpaste as Linoleum Cleaner
    Use white toothpaste to buff scuffs out of linoleum tiles.
  2. Toothpaste as CD Cleaner
    To restore a damaged CD, apply a dot of non-gel formulat toothpaste to a cotton cloth and rub in a straight line from the center of the CD outward, covering any scratches. Rinse off the toothpaste with water.
  3. Toothpaste as Goggle Defogger
    Prevent goggles from fogging. Before hitting the pool, smear some paste onto the lenses, then wipe off.


  1. Deodorant as Blister Preventer
    Make breaking shoes in less of a pain. Rub clear-gel deodorant on spots prone to blistering before you step out in a stiff new pair.
  2. Q-Tip as Makeup Brush
    Artfully dab on costume makeup without getting your good makeup brushes dirty.
  3. Contact Lens Case as Travel Spice Holder
    Pack small amounts of salt, pepper, and spices for a camping trip.
  4. Locked Cosmetic Bag as Childproof Storage
    Put medications in a locked cosmetic case for an easy way to keep curious kids away from poking around the medicine cabinet.
  5. 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.
  6. Metal Magazine Rack as Towel Holder
    Roll pool towels and store them vertically, so your kids can grab one before taking a swim.
  7. Suitcase as Toiletry Container
    Keep extra travel-sized toothpaste, shampoo, cotton balls and other personal items in an old suitcase. With a trunk full of toiletries, you’ll never run out of necessities. Plus, you’ll save valuable shelf space for the things you use every day.
  8. Baby Wipe Container as Yarn Holder
    Don’t let your yarn get crossed. Use an empty baby wipes container to keep yarn clean and tangle-free.
  9. Beer Koozie as Shaving-Cream Holder
    Protect your bathtub rim from rust rings by slipping this foamy college relic over a can of Barbasol (rather than Budweiser).
  10. Hair Clip as Towel Securer
    Maintain some modesty in the locker room. Hold towel in place with a clawlike clip post-shower.
  11. Baby Powder as Dry Shampoo
    Fake freshly washed hair by sprinkling powder on, then comb through down to the roots.
  12. Bath Mat as Car Seat Protector
    Protect your car seats from muddy paws by covering them with a bath mat or two before packing Lilly the Lab in the backseat. The rubber bottom will help the mat stay in place. Between trips, stow the mat in the trunk.
  13. Denture Tablet as Vase Cleaner
    When residue clings to unreachable spots inside a vase or a decanter, fill the container with warm water and drop in one or two denture-cleaning tablets for every eight ounces of warm water. Let the fizzy solution sit for the time specified on the product’s box, then rinse.
  14. Emery Board as Eraser Saver
    To revive a dried-out eraser or clean a smudged one, lightly rub it over an emery board. The board’s fine grain will shave off the eraser’s old top layer, leaving you with a good-as-new mistake-removing surface.
  15. Pumice Stone as Sweater Depiller
    Restore a favorite, well-worn cardigan to form by lightly running the stone across the surface to lift off any unsightly pills.
  16. Paper Towel Tube as Plastic Bag Storage
    Contain plastic bags in a drawer or under the cabinet by stuffing them into an empty tube and pulling out as needed.
  17. Anti-acid Tablet as Vase Cleaner
    Lift bouquet residue from the bottom of a vase. Fill the vase with water, add two tablets, let sit for a few minutes, wipe, and rinse.
  18. Vitamin Organizer as Travel Makeup Palette
    Skip individual travel-size bottles and load lipstick shades and cream foundation into the compartments of a multi-day pill case.
  19. Hosiery as Hairbrush Cleaner
    Prevent gunk from settling into your hairbrush by pushing a swatch of stocking fabric over the bristles, so it rests on the base. When the brush needs cleaning, remove the swatch and hair and product buildup will go with it.
  20. Magnet as Tweezer Holder
    Stop tweezers from going astray by installing a magnet on the inside of the medicine cabinet and they will always be at your fingertips.
  21. Makeup Case as Art Supply Storage
    Now that your travel toiletries have taken up residence in a plastic bag, stash markers and colored pencils where the makeup brushes used to, and tuck stickers and stamps into the case’s smaller compartments.
  22. Shower-Curtain Liner as Tablecloth
    Protect your tablecloth (or antique wood table) from paint, crayons, markers, and glitter during arts and crafts. The result: More masterpieces, fewer disaster-pieces.
  23. Denture Tablet as Wineglass Cleaner
    Do away with red-wine dregs in goblets. Fill the glass with warm water, drop in a tablet, and let it dissolve.

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