Unique Uses for Household Products

Many families are trying to reduce the number of chemicals they use, but have trouble finding substitutes that works as well. The Long Island Mamas have compiled a list of unique uses for household products that are probably already in the pantry. They’re all easy to find, comparatively inexpensive and eco-friendly.



Banana Peel
Bananas are a favorite fruit in most families, but the peel is useful too.·

  • Help relieve itching from bug bites or poison ivy with banana peel. Rub the inside of a banana peel on the affected area and allow to dry. Repeat a few times a day. The banana peel will help soothe the area and shrink the bites.
  • Banana peel applied to acne also reduces inflammation. Use overnight or on a day where visitors are not expected, as oxidized banana peel can turn brown.
  • After brushing teeth, rub the inside of a banana peel onto teeth to whiten them.


Coconut Oil

Coconut oil looks like candle wax and smells like pina colada. Coconut oil is incredibly versatile. Look for cold-pressed organic coconut oil at the local grocery store. Trader Joes and Whole Foods have excellent store brands that are comparatively inexpensive.

  • Make a chemical-free lotion by applying a few teaspoons and massage into skin.
  • Coconut oil has anti-fungal properties and can be used as a diaper cream.
  • For families that are dairy-free, coconut oil is a great substitute for butter when cooking and baking.

Find coconut oil locally at:
Sherry’s Market
in Babylon
Trader Joes in Commack, Garden City, Hewitt, Lake Grove, Merrick, Oceanside and Plainview
Whole Foods
in Jericho, Lake Grove and Manhasset


Lemon is so much more than just a flavoring for iced tea!

  • Searching for an aluminum-free deodorant that actually works? Look no further than the refrigerator. Lemons provide protection against wetness and odor. Slice a wedge off and apply to underarms. Long Island Mama Tip: Wait at least 15 minutes or more after shaving to apply.
  • Clean a humidifier with a few teaspoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
  • Lemon is a wonderful morning sickness remedy. Sour beverages like lemonade help relieve nausea and help keep expectant moms hydrated. If sugar intake is a concern, lemon slices in water or tea also work well.

Read Long Island Mamas’ listing of Farmer’s Markets to find local lemons.


Minty fresh breath is just the beginning when it comes to toothpaste.

  • Remove dye stains from the skin around the hairline with a dab of toothpaste. Let it sit for a minute then rinse well.
  • Polish silver jewelry with an old toothbrush and toothpaste. Rinse with water and shine with a flannel cloth.
  • Remove “artwork” from walls by applying toothpaste to the masterpiece, allow it to sit for a few minutes and then scrub off with a rag.



Vodka is not just for shots and screwdrivers anymore. Vodka has many uses that won’t leave users with a hangover.

  • Shine fixtures with a small terry cloth rag moistened with vodka.
  • A few teaspoons of vodka and sugar in a vase of water can help preserve a bouquet of flowers.
  • Put vodka in a spritz bottle and spray skin (or the bug) to avoid bites.
  • Kill mold/mildew in bathrooms by spraying vodka on the affected area, letting it sit for several minutes and scrubbing with an old toothbrush or terrycloth rag.


White Vinegar

Vinegar is a must-have item for a family trying to go green.

  • Kill weeds and grass growing in unwanted places by pouring full-strength white distilled vinegar on them.
  • Clean hard surfaces and plastic toys with 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. It’s safe for most kinds of tile and won’t harm children or pets.
  • Add ½ a cup of distilled white vinegar to laundry during the rinse cycle. The clothes will get cleaner, and it will brighten the colors.
  • When boiling or steaming cauliflower, beets or other vegetables, add a teaspoon or two of white distilled vinegar to the water to help them keep their color. This will also improve their taste and reduce gassy elements. This also works when cooking beans and bean dishes.

Read our other articles about green and natural living:

Gateway Park Community Garden – Revitalizing Huntington Station through Organic Gardening

Bakeries for Customers with Dietary Restrictions

Holistic Moms Network – Suffolk County Lake Grove Area Chapter

7 Tips for Buying Organic Without Spending a Lot More

10 Ways for Families to Celebrate Earth Day

Tiger Lily Cafe – A Healthy Eatery in Port Jefferson

Local Artisan, Greener Jewelry Making

Health Food Stores in Suffolk County

Review: Nature’s Premiere Diaper Service

The Best Eco Friendly Toy Companies


By Rachel Minkowsky

Vodka Image (top) Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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