15 secret uses for everyday things in your home you probably didn't know about

There are so many secret uses for everyday things around your home. Have you ever wondered why there's a hole in a pasta spoon for example? We've got the answer to this and more

did you know graphic - Real Homes
(Image credit: Future)

Did you know there are actually lots of secret uses for everyday things in and around your home that most of us don't even know about? 

The items we use in everyday life have become such intrinsic parts of our lives, that we've stopped wondering why they are the way that they are a long time ago. 

From clothes pegs and spaghetti servers to toasters and tape measures, there are little details in these designs that may at first seem purely for looks or that aren't widely publicized but that actually serve unique purposes or that make them even more useful.

So, we decided to take a closer look at some of the most common everyday items to show just how much thought was put into designing them so you can use them to their full.

a woman holding a jar of toothpaste and a toothbrush - GettyImages-1317409509

(Image credit: GettyImages-1317409509)

1. Toothpaste cleans more than your teeth

Using toothpaste is a winning bathroom and kitchen cleaning hack you might not have heard of. Gabby Martin, a supervisor with Bio Recovery (opens in new tab) explains:

'One household item you wouldn't think has many practical purposes is toothpaste! Think of how toothpaste reduces staining on your teeth. It actually operates similarly on most surfaces, including wood and ceramic countertops. Next time you have a stain on your table, hit it with toothpaste.'

And if you're looking for a hack for how to remove scratches from glass, then look no further than toothpaste.

a pasta spoon scoop with spaghetti in the middle hole - GettyImages-1211751510

(Image credit: GettyImages-1211751510)

2. Your spaghetti server has in-built portion control

Have you ever looked at your pasta spoon and wondered what that big hole in the middle is all about? Is it for draining water more efficiently or maybe it's just to make it look pretty? 

Turns out, it's actually made so you can measure portions of pasta accurately with no need for scales of any kind. The hole measures out one portion of dry spaghetti, solving the issue of having a heap of leftovers to munch... which obviously depends on how much you love gorging on pasta, of course.

a washing line with colourful clothes pegs and a peg bag - GettyImages-113199221

(Image credit: GettyImages-113199221)

3. Pegs make line-drying way easier 

If the extra notch in a clothes peg or clothespin keeps you up at night, we've got the lowdown on what it's for. 

Apparently, instead of folding our clothes over the line and pegging them to keep them on, we should be placing the peg over the line and hanging our clothes below. 

The extra nifty little notch allows the clothespins to comfortably sit on the line so the grip part can hold the items below. Genius.

Our Place Always Pan on a dining table with matching tableware and decor

(Image credit: Our Place )

4. Pan handle holes have many purposes

Jessica Randhawa, the head chef, recipe creator, photographer, and writer behind The Forked Spoon (opens in new tab) says, 'Have you ever wondered why there's a hole on the handle of most pots and pans? The obvious answer is so that you can hang them up on a hook when you're not using them. But there's another reason. Instead of setting your stirring utensil on a dirty stove or counter, you can slide the utensil through the whole to have it stand upright, angled toward the pot or pan.'

Newer innovations in pots and pans have made this feature even more practical like Our Place's Always pan (opens in new tab) which features a built-in spatula and spoon rest.

a walnut cracked open on a wood table

(Image credit: GettyImages-1062161888)

5. Walnuts are great for more than just baking

If you're looking to restore damage to an old piece of wood furniture or flooring as part of your DIY home repairs, Todd Saunders, CEO of FlooringStores (opens in new tab) has a great secret weapon for you to try out.

'Walnuts are a great tool for fixing scratches in your wooden floors and furniture. The key here is walnut oil, which is rich, dark, and often used in woodworking to give wood a beautiful dark tone and help to preserve it.'

'By rubbing a walnut over a scratch in your woodwork, you're essentially working this high-quality oil right into the scratch, often obscuring it completely. Finish by rubbing the scratch with your finger and then buffing with a soft cloth.'

a woman ripping off a piece of aluminum foil

(Image credit: GettyImages-1332933936)

6. You've been tearing off aluminum foil all wrong

Shane Paarman, founder and CEO of awesomestuff365.com (opens in new tab) explains, 'you can push in a tab on either side of most foil boxes, and this is so that you can hold the roll of foil in place, to avoid it from moving when you pull out a piece.'

gold shower head in blue bathroom

(Image credit: Big Bathroom Shop)

7. Plastic zipper bags can be used to clean showerheads

When figuring out how to clean a shower head, you'll find tons of great tips and tricks but have you heard of this one: plastic zipper bags can be used to clean showerheads? 

By putting vinegar in a ziplock bag and immersing the showerhead inside of it with a rubber band, you can get a clean showerhead within an hour or so.

Modern living room with sofa, soft furnishings, prints, and a dog

(Image credit: FollowTheFlow / Getty)

8. Cornstarch can be used to detangle

Cornstarch is an epic detangler. Pour it over tangled shoelaces, necklaces, tassels, or strings to help detangle them quickly and effectively. You can even use it on matted pet fur. According to Ashleigh Gibbs of PetsRadar (opens in new tab), you can use cornstarch in combination with baking soda to create a DIY dog grooming powder that's gentle on their skin: 

'1 cup (230 g) of baking soda and 1 cup (128 g) of cornstarch (opens in new tab) (which you can grab at Amazon) combined in a bowl can be useful. Comb it through your dog's fur to remove dirt and grime. It might not be something to use too often, however, as it can cause residue to build up on their fur.'

warming drawer in a bosch oven in a white kitchen with wood countertops - Bosch

(Image credit: Bosch)

9. The bottom drawer of your oven isn't for storage

Do you know the drawer under your oven? The one where you've been sticking all your baking sheets and trays that can't seem to be stored anywhere else? It wasn’t actually designed for that. Instead, manufacturers made that drawer for keeping food warm until you're ready to serve it. 

The best ovens actually have really roomy drawers so if you have big get-togethers you can keep lots of dishes warm at once. Nifty.

tefal avanti classic tt780f40 4 slice toaster in copper

(Image credit: Currys)

10. Your toaster can toast more than bread

Believe it or not, there are tons of things you can make in the best toasters that you never would have guessed, and it's just about as easy as it gets. From grilled cheese sandwiches, veggie burgers, and garlic bread, to waffles, paninis, and reheated pizza, this is what cooking should be about. 

And if you're worried about the mess these options might create, bag yourself some toaster bags at Amazon (opens in new tab).

stanley tape measure on a piece of paper - stanley

(Image credit: Stanley)

11. Measuring tape secret features

You’d think a measuring tape is pretty self-explanatory but… Nope. This must-have DIY tool's metal tab you use to pull it along a surface actually has two extra purposes: the wide hole in the metal piece is the perfect size to hook over a nail head to keep your markings steady when measuring something. It also has an edge on one side that you can use to gently press and mark a surface.

sweaters hanging on wooden hangers

(Image credit: Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash)

12. Choose wood hangers over plastic

Did you know wooden coat hangers are for more than just looking nice in your wardrobe? They’re usually made from cedar wood, which helps repel bugs and are a secret weapon when figuring out how to get rid of clothes moths

They also have a nice scent and are great for heavy pieces of clothing like jackets and/or garments that are susceptible to damage like wool, linen, and silk.

brass door knob on door - grace and glory home

(Image credit: Grace and Glory Home)

13. Choose brass doorknobs for a germ free home

You might not have really thought about doorknobs too deeply. But it turns out, that a lot of doorknobs are made out of brass because it destroys bacteria. 

Great if you have young kids or simply aren't a fan of germs, brass actually has antibacterial properties, meaning they can kill a wide range of microbes in a matter of hours.

blue kitchen with cupboard filled with appliances

(Image credit: Brayer Design)

14. You can silence your microwave

If you really want that leftover pizza at 2 am but don't want to wake up the whole house, did you know that most microwaves have a hidden feature that helps you silence their sounds? Typically, if you hold down a single button on the microwave for a few seconds (try the 0 or 1 button or the button that says 'stop'*), it will activate silent mode, and you can now use your microwave, free from beeping. 

* No two microwaves are the same so the best way to switch off the beeping on your microwave is to check the instructions. Plus, most of the best microwaves actually have a mute button.

Instant Pot Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer

(Image credit: Instant)

15. An instant pot hack

Want another reason to buy an Instant Pot over another of the best pressure cookers? Melanie Musson, culinary expert with Clearsurance.com (opens in new tab) has a handy hack for you.

'With an Instant Pot, the handles on the lid fit into the handles on the body. So, your Instant Pot has a built-in lid holder. All you have to do is set the lid perpendicular to the body, and the lid handle will slide into the body handle. This hack works with Instant Pot but not other brands of pressure cookers.'

Jenny McFarlane
Jenny McFarlane

Jenny is Senior Digital Editor and joined the team in January 2021. She also works on the homes brands' video show, on the Future Homes Network (opens in new tab), which is packed full of ideas to help you make the most of your own home and garden. Since getting on the property market with her first apartment and then more recently a house, her passion for interior design and gardening has taken on a new lease of life. Jenny's currently on the lookout for a doer-upper to put her stamp on. She loves collecting and salvaging unique items (much to her other half's despair) but sniffing out stylish home bargains is her one true love. When she has a spare minute, she loves to do a spot of crafting, having studied textiles at Uni – although she hardly gets the chance with a toddler who keeps her permanently on her toes.

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