Styled, Staged & Sold

Bringing you the latest home design and staging trends. From REALTOR® Magazine.

7 Surprising Household Items You Can Use for DIY

By Jeffrey Ill, guest contributor

The "Property Brothers" Drew and Jonathan Scott have teamed up with Esurance to create "DIY Ditties," a series of humorous videos that offer tricks to fixing common household items.

Whether it’s a clogged shower drain, crayon-graffiti walls, or rusted chrome on your beloved ride, keeping up with maintenance can seem never-ending -- not to mention, require a wide assortment of (sometimes pricey) products to remedy each mishap. But what you might not know is that in many cases a solution can be found in your pantry.

For DIY aficionados and novices alike, check out these 7 household remedies for common home mishaps.

1. Unclog Showerheads with Vinegar

Mineral deposits from hard water are known to get wedged into showerheads, causing the sprayer to go helter-skelter, or reduce water pressure. Luckily, vinegar can dislodge them.

Just remove the showerhead, soak it in a bowl of warm vinegar for about an hour, and most of the deposits should dissolve. Any remaining gunk can be gently removed with a brush. After you’ve demineralized your showerhead, top it off with a good rinse and re-attach it. Fast-flowing water -- and a fresh start to your day -- should be restored.

2. Baking Soda — The Be All, End All

While primarily used as a leavening agent, baking soda has prodigious amounts of applications -- from putting out small grease fires, to pest control, to pyrotechnics, to teeth whitening and much more.

That said, baking soda also can be a wondrous cleaning agent. Using a damp sponge or gently bristled brush, it can help remove mold from shower curtains, clean gunk out of kitchen and bathroom sinks, and remove crayon art from the walls. Plus, baking soda’s a decent mustiness-remover and is often employed to rid the malodorous effect of used books. Simply sprinkle a little baking soda in a container or bag, place the book inside, seal it up for a few hours, and – presto -- the baking soda should absorb the odor. It’s kind of like magic.

3. Cleaning Chrome with Cola

You can use Coca-cola not to just quench your thirst but also as a cleaning product too. It actually does fairly well as a chrome cleaner for tarnished, old car bumpers. Simply take some regular (or diet) Coke, a piece of foil, and scrub the chrome—what you should get is a gleaming luster.

There is a caveat, though. Coke’s combination of carbonation and low pH levels can help remove rust from brass, copper and other metal alloys but may be corrosive to iron, tin and steel.

4. Substituting a Phillips Head Screw Driver

If your Phillips Head is ever stripped or missing when you need to remove a screw pronto, you might have everything you need in your kitchen drawers (or junk drawer).

First, check the kitchen drawers for a butter knife or potato peeler (of course, the duller the better in this instance). Insert the flat edge of the butter knife or the top of the peeler into the screw head’s groove and turn it counterclockwise (remember, “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”). Just be careful when you’re dealing with a stubborn screw since it can bend and damage either utensil.

If cutlery isn’t available, check your junk drawer for loose change or even an old club card, and see if either will do the trick.

5. Remove Car Scratches with Toothpaste

The Scott Brothers showed us how to clean headlights with toothpaste. But amazingly, toothpaste -- particularly brands labeled with “tartar control” -- can also help remove minor scratches from your ride. That’s because tartar control has grittiness, which can effectively buff out the edges of scratches.

Before applying toothpaste to the damage, be sure to clean the area first. Then, apply a liberal amount to a paper towel and spread it over damaged area. Leave it on for about ten minutes and then buff it out with a towel. Most, if not all, the damage should be gone. But if some remains, just repeat the process.

6. Deodorize the Microwave with White Vinegar

Got a foul-smelling microwave? The solution, once again, may already be in your pantry. Mix a half cup of water with a half cup of white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it on high to bring it to a boil. Odors will likely be vanquished and congealed food splatter should be loosened, making it easier to clean.

7. Repair Wall Cracks with Super Glue and Baking Soda

In lieu of wall spackle, the marriage of super glue and baking soda makes for a pretty strong sealant. Simply add a little baking soda to a drop of super glue, apply it to the damaged portion of the wall, and then -- voila. What you get is much like a pliable, plastic surface that you can sand down to evenness.

Next time you need a quick fix around the house, save yourself some time and money by heading for your cupboards before you head to the store. You might find you already have everything you need.

And now that you’ve whet your DIY appetite, check out DIY Ditties with Drew and Jonathan Scott of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” for a few more surprising DIY tips and tricks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey Ill is the vice president of product at Esurance where he leads the homeowner insurance program. Being a 33-year veteran of the insurance business, he has held numerous leadership roles at major insurance companies and has been involved in a wide array of product implementations.


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