Brilliant uses for tin foil, old tights and nail varnish that you never knew about

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  • These money-saving household hacks use random objects most of us will have lying around at home

    Did you think tin foil was just for covering roasting meat or lining baking trays? Or that tennis balls were, erm, for playing tennis? Then we’re about to rock your world. Because there are countless items lying around our homes that have more far uses than the obvious thing that they were designed for. And unlocking their potential could save you a whole heap of cash.

    With help from our penny-pinching friends at, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite multi-purpose money savers. And we’ve come up with some genius household hacks for each one.

    1. Tin cans


    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Food tins can make stylish storage with the right treatment. Soak off any labels and remove the tops carefully, sanding down any rough edge. You could then dip them in paint and use them as a pretty desk caddy, as seen here. Or pop them on the dining table and fill them with knives and forks that guests can help themselves to.

    2. Aluminium foil


    Image credit: Chris Alack

    Tin foil has plenty of uses besides baking ones. Did you know, for example, it can be used to clean silverware, cutlery and jewellery?

    Line a Tupperware dish with foil, and add a litre of boiling water and two tablespoons of baking soda. Next, pop in your silver and watch it fizz as the tarnish magically disappears. You might have to do it a couple of times if it’s badly tarnished. Finally, buff dry to a sparkle with a cloth.

    You can also use foil to iron faster, by popping a piece between the board and your laundry. Or you can screw a piece of used foil into a ball and use it to scour dirty pots and pans.

    3. Nail varnish


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    There are plenty of ways to use up your old lacquers. Our favourite hack comes in handy if you’re trying to thread a needle. Just dip the end of the cotton into varnish and leave it to dry – you’ll then find the task a whole lot easier.

    You can also use varnish to seal an envelope – a great idea if you hate licking the gum – or to colour code the tops of your door keys. We’ve even used it to decorate plant pots!

    4. Tennis balls

    Pound shops and discount stores often sell cheap packs of tennis balls – and while they’re great for games of fetch with the dog, they also have a practical use at home. Cut the balls in half and place them at the bottom of chair and table legs – this will protect the floor from scratches. And if luminous yellow doesn’t go with your decor, you can always spray paint them to match.

    5. Olive oil


    Run out of furniture polish? Olive oil is the perfect substitute. Or you could use it to soften dry patches of skin – say, on the balls of your feet.

    6. Old tights

    Sticking with the cleaning theme, the soft fibres of old tights make them ideal dusters. Alternatively, if you hate the way your bars of soap slide around the sink, cut a foot off a pair of old tights and stick the soap inside.

    7. Baking soda


    This inexpensive white powder has hundreds of uses. You can make your own air freshener by popping it in a jar with some essential oils, and covering with a piece of fabric, secured with a hair bobble or elastic band. or add half a cup of it to your washing powder – not only will it make your clothes cleaner, your laundry detergent will go further, too.

    Related: How to unblock a sink with or without a plunger

    8. Old toothbrushes


    Image credit: Colin Poole

    When they’re too worn to use on your teeth, toothbrushes make great little cleaning tools for hard-to-reach spots. Use them to scrub grout, or around taps and sink overflows. Genius!



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