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How to Repurpose Common Household Items

Learn 8 DIY repurpose ideas for repurposing household items and transforming them into a new use.

How to Repurpose Common Household Items

We all want to spend less and waste less (pretty please, says Mother Earth!) You can reduce, reuse, and recycle way more than trash! Before you throw out your old stuff, see if it can serve a new purpose. By repurposing old items, you can ...

  • Reduce waste
  • Decrease the environmental burden that goes into creating something new
  • Save money

It's also a great opportunity to break out your creative genius. Make it a fun project to do with friends and family! 

1. Old lotion bottle = cell phone charging station

Do you have a lot of devices and cords at home that people tend to trip over? The Make It & Love It blog has an ingenious way to get rid of clutter and get more organized. All you need is a large (empty) plastic bottle — body lotion, conditioner, you name it. A flat bottle works better than a round one since you'll position it against a wall.

  • First, rinse out and dry the bottle
  • Measure the bottle against your phone to determine the size of the holder you want
  • Use a pen to draw a straight line on one side and a long curved line on the other side that will hang against the wall
  • On the bigger side, draw a hole you’ll cut out for the charger plug

Use scissors or an Exacto knife to cut the bottle and the hole. You can add some fabric to or paint the plastic to match the wall or room decor. Plug in your phone through the hole you created in the case, then drop it in the pouch on the bottom. Now you’ll have a discrete way to charge your device that complements the room.

2. Broken pots = garden markers

Has weather chipped your pot planters? Repurpose them, so they still have a happy home in your garden. Break off the bottom of a terra cotta pot. Keep the lip of the pot and use a permanent marker to write out the names of what you’re planting. Then stake that label in the ground. The material will fit in perfectly with your other pots and help you stay organized.

3. Baby food jars = spice holders

Save space in your pantry (and money on a special rack) by using baby food jars to store your spices. Add magnets to the tops of clean jars. Affix a label on the bottom to identify the spice. Stick the magnetized jars to your fridge, dishwasher, or magnetic board. Now seasonings you reach for often are easy to grab, freeing up precious pantry space for storing lesser-used items.

4. Magazine file = kitchen storage

Even if you've gone all-digital with your magazines, keep your magazine files! These inexpensive file folders are the perfect shape for holding long, thin items like Tupperware lids.

Affix one to the inside of a cabinet door. Organize the lids from small to large, so it’s easier to grab what you need quickly.

You can also use magazine files for storing produce like onions and garlic in the pantry. If you have a larger vertical magazine rack, you can repurpose it in the pantry to hold something bulkier, like pot lids.

5. Old dresser = new bench

This is a more labor-intensive transformation, but if you’ve got the elbow grease, you can turn an old dresser into something magical.

Grillo Designs shows you how it’s done. In addition to a long old dresser, you’ll need:

  • Wax
  • A circular saw
  • A nail gun
  • Chalk paint

Take all the drawers out and use the circular saw to cut the top of the dresser off and remove the “bones” of the drawers in the space where you’ll be sitting. You can repurpose what you’re repurposing (bonus!) by turning the top of the dresser into the bench seat. Use the nail gun to install it back into the dresser.

To create a sturdy back for the seat, attach wood planks (1 x 4’s should work) with the nail gun. Then paint the dresser with chalk paint and seal it with wax. You can keep the drawers that weren’t removed for the bench space. So, bench + storage!

This furniture project is so gratifying since you’re in control of the paint color. You get a new piece of furniture you made yourself and save from having to splurge on something new.  

6. Mason jars = bathroom organizers

Save mason jars you get from soups and sauces at the store. Use them to tidy up your counter space and organize toiletry drawers. Use them to store small, loose items like:

  • Cotton swaps
  • Makeup brushes
  • Cotton balls
  • Toothbrushes
  • Hair ties

If you really want to get fancy, The DIY Playbook shows you how to create a mason jar organizer. The process involves affixing the jars to a wood plank, so they hang in a line. You can use the organizer for everything from the bathroom to flowers in an entryway to herbs in your kitchen.

7. Broken crayons = the COOLEST new crayons

Ever heard of rainbow crayons? They’re a bunch of your kids’ favorite colors in one big crayon. If you have little ones at home, this is a fun project that shows kids the value of getting the most use out of old items.

Here’s how it’s done.

  • Grab your materials. You'll need four clean tin cans, four empty prescription bottles or film canisters, and old and broken crayons in four colors that deserve new life instead of the trash can.
  • Prep your crayons. Choose a single color to start with. Remove all the paper from the crayons, then break them into smaller pieces.
  • Boil the crayons. (Adult required for this and the next step!) Place those pieces into a tin can. Boil some water, around a couple of inches, in a medium saucepan. Place the can in the pan.
  • Pour the wax. Once that crayon color has melted, evenly pour it into the four prescription bottles or canisters.
  • Repeat the process. After the wax of the first color has hardened, repeat the process with the three remaining colors. Use a new tin can for each color.

Once all the wax has hardened, carefully stick a knife down into one side of the container. The new “crayon” should pop out and can be reused for more coloring activities!

8. Unwearable jewelry = beautiful magnets

If you're like us, you've got a box of sparkly misfits you can't bear to part with. Your orphaned favorite earring. The snapped bracelet. The charm that’s lost its chain ...

When your jewelry is no longer wearable, admire the pretty parts in a whole new way. All you need is some hot glue and small magnets that will fit on the back of a charm or jewel.

You can also buy small mirrors and hot-glue smaller charms to them, then add magnets to those backs. They’re a cute way to liven up a refrigerator or any other magnetized surface in your home.

So many easy repurposing ideas

For every object you have, there’s probably someone who has figured out a way to rejuvenate it. Do an online search for “What can I do with a broken [object]” and see what comes up!