• Many common household items, including aluminum foil, lemons and vinegar, can serve double duty around the home.(Contributed photo)<p class='dotPhoto'>All Chico E-R photos are available <a href='http://chicoer.mycapture.com/'>here</a>.</p>

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We like to make the most out of the things we have. And oftentimes, the things we already have lying around the house possess magical alternate and effective uses.

Here”s a list of common household items that can serve double duty around the home.

Aluminum foil

If your scissors are getting a little dull, cut through multiple sheets of foil to sharpen them up a bit.

Aluminum foil can also help slice your ironing time in half. Place a layer of foil beneath the cover of your ironing board then iron your clothes on top of it. The foil will retain the heat, and you ironing both sides of your clothes simultaneously.

Microwave

Don”t toss that sponge just because it smells from the fish dinner you cleaned last night. Soak the sponge in a mixture of water and vinegar or lemon juice and microwave it on high for about a minute. This will prolong the sponge”s life by disinfecting and deodorizing it.

Eliminate time (and energy) needed to boil a pot of water, and steam your veggies in the microwave. If it”s possible, put the veggies in one layer on a dish (without water) and cover it tightly with plastic. Cook on high, with tender veggies going for 30 seconds and items that are more solid and crunchy for up to four minutes. Experiment with the time until you get it dialed in.

Baking soda

Speaking of the microwave, it”s a good idea to clean it occasionally. Take a microwave-safe bowl and add two tablespoons of baking soda and add about a cup of water. Put the bowl in the microwave for two to three minutes. The baking soda will absorb the odors, while the steam will loosen any food and oil caked to the wall.

Baking soda can also help eliminate carpet odor. Sprinkle some baking soda on the carpet about 20 to 30 minutes before vacuuming.

Dishwasher

This isn”t just for cleaning your plates, cups and silverware. You can easily and effectively clean other things, as well.

Two items that I discovered that turn out just fine (and clean) after a cycle through the dishwasher are a sponge and baseball cap. Both can get absolutely filthy, and both can benefit when being placed on the dishwasher”s top rack.

Vinegar

Vinegar is a powerful and all-natural cleaning agent, and it can be used inside and outside the home. If your showerhead has lost some of its water pressure, the nozzles could be clogged. Place the showerhead in a plastic bag with enough vinegar to cover the nozzles. Do this overnight, and by the time you take your morning shower, you”ll have your regular water pressure back.

If your cat treats your outdoor garden or sandbox like a litter box, spray straight vinegar along the perimeter. Refresh every few weeks and after rain.

What are some of your favorite alternative uses for common household staples? Let”s see how creative you can get, and send your suggestions to smurphy@build.com.

Until next time, Happy Home Improving!

Sean Murphy is a copywriter for Build.com in Chico. Visit the company”s website for more home improvement tips at http://build.com.

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