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Real Simple 869 New Uses for Old Things: An Encyclopedia of Innovative Ideas for Everyday Items
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Real Simple 869 New Uses for Old Things: An Encyclopedia of Innovative Ideas for Everyday Items

3.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  156 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
"New Uses For Old Things" is one of Real Simple's most popular franchises. It showcases how to repurpose everyday items in clever ways. These ideas appeal to readers because they're a) economical, b) green, and c) surprising.

Over the past decade, Real Simple has developed 800-plus ideas for all sorts of common items, from accordion files to zippered plastic bags. It seems
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Oxmoor House (first published October 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 337)
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May 27, 2011 Maicie rated it it was ok
Shelves: finished-in-2011
I picked this up at the library because the cover says, “an encyclopedia of innovative ideas for everyday items.” According to the introduction, this is a regular and favorite feature of the magazine “Real Simple.” At the risk of being sent nasty messages from “Real Simple” readers, I have to say the title says it all.

Some of my favorite examples:
*Empty baby food jars: use to put stuff in. (Damn, I wish I had thought of that.)

*Kazoo: dip in soapy water and blow for a sudsy symphony of bubbles. (
Mar 27, 2011 Tamara rated it liked it
Shelves: green, non-fiction
Not all entries are eco-friendly, but many of the tips reuse everyday household items. My biggest complaint is that a lot of the suggestions are party-related. I don't entertain that often, and when I do I don't need a lot of things they suggested.

Aluminum foil: Use to scrub food off of a glass pan

Baby powder: Prevent sweat stains on white shirts by sprinkling powder on underarms of shirts then ironing.

Citrus peel: Lightly salt the peel to rub off coffee stains from a mug. Or use vinegar.

Sep 20, 2014 Jon rated it did not like it

Do you ever think to yourself, "Keeping up with all the forwarded tip emails that grandma sends me on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the occasional Sunday is getting to be way too difficult. I wish someone would compile all those tips into a colorful book that I can put on my shelf and read if I ever end up with a traumatic brain injury."

Yea, me neither, but calling this book "859 Tips That are Marginally Useful to People Who've Suffere
Jun 12, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
Some novel ideas and a lot of so-so ones.

A couple of my favorites (hopefully this will help me recall them when needed, too): non stick cooking spray to seal nail polish, banana peel to nourish a rose bush, travel crayons for kids in an altoid can, wash hair brushes and combs in dishwasher (duh to me), empty wine bottles to keep form in tall boots, dental floss to truss a chicken (another duh to me), strong black tea and a couple hour soak to clean rusty garden tools, protect garden tools with
Irene McHugh
I'm really glad I did not buy this book. While the book is nicely organized as an encyclopedia of how to reuse stuff you've got hanging around your house, most of the "new uses" have been featured in the magazine Real Simple. I read Real Simple on a pretty regular basis, so the practical ideas featured in this book aren't new to me. If someone read Real Simple on a regular basis, but had a change within their family, like a new baby, then I think this book could be incredibly helpful. You'd be s ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Ida rated it it was ok
Most of these suggestions are just silly. I can think of better uses for food than putting it in your hair.
Suggestions for repurposing this book: Doorstop! Cut out the center and use for letterboxing! Shred the pages to line a catbox!
Feb 06, 2012 Chris rated it did not like it
Shelves: home-family
I agree with the other reviewers that said this book was a waste of money. I didn't like the way it was organized. And practically all the hints were either old or not useful.

For example:

Dryer sheets
#1- Loosen caked on food by placing one in a pan with water overnight. Gee Whiz, water along will loosen caked on food when soaked overnight.
#2, #4, #5, #6 - All were different places you could put dryer sheets to help with odors. Wow, such a shocker! Also, couldn't that have been 1 thing and not 4.

Feb 24, 2015 nick rated it it was ok
friend gave this to me. it was amusing but 55% ideas youve heard of, 35% if you found yourself in that situation you would of come up with the idea on your own, 8% interesting ideas you never heard of, 2% i had no idea what the object was
Nov 12, 2010 Beth rated it liked it
This was a very helpful book. It is in alphabetical order and lists alternative uses for a wide variety of common household items (not really "old things" as the subtitle implies). There is an index at the end as well. The book also features a number of "master multitaskers" that have many uses, e.g., salt, vinegar, baking soda, tennis balls, coffee filters, pennies, etc. Some of the suggestions are a bit silly or would require effort, but many are very useful and clever. You are bound to find s ...more
Mar 16, 2011 Joanne rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Could be a reference book around the house, though it's organized oddly -- by the thing that you'd use -- rather than by its use. E.g., rubber bands can be used to open a jar or to dye Easter eggs, so they're listed under R for rubber band. The index in the back might list j for jar or e for egg, but I think it would have been better organized by use instead of by the item. Or at least cross-listed. I think people are more likely to ask, "How am I going to open this jar?" than, "I have a lot of ...more
Apr 06, 2012 Mary rated it liked it
This book has received some low reviews, but I'm so glad I read it anyway. I have been trying to remove some stains in my bathroom using all the available products in the stores. But nothing was working, until I tried the recipe on page 20 using cream of tartar. Wow, I never would have remembered that from chemistry class. It worked miracles.

I took notes from this book for other projects that need attention around the house, and ideas for traveling too like using a pill box for carrying your ear
Sep 11, 2014 ~*kath*~ rated it really liked it
Chock full of handy hints, some old, some new, some downright weird!
Jan 06, 2012 Jan rated it it was amazing
Its a great gift. But first you gather some the items noted in the book. It's also alot of fun searching for these, like a scavanger hunt. Wrap these up as a gift and give this package first. Your reciepient will be baffled at the odd assortment of junk. Now present the package with the book. Its a great conversation starter. Everyone will be talking and laughing!
Dec 21, 2011 Bunny rated it really liked it
This is really fun. There's nothing absolutely earth shatteringly new and inventive, but there's a lot of simple things that you don't think of in the moment. And a lot of things that I knew before looking at the book, but I'd forgotten.

I'd really like to own this book. It's common sense, but even common sense needs reminders.
Apr 17, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it
I kept thinking "really" and "wow" while reading this book. Of course, will these things really work is a different story. And I won't remember any of it (except using a bird bath to plant flowers in which I plan to try). I would have to buy this book to really make it useful and I doubt I will do that.
Aug 05, 2012 JDAZDesigns rated it it was ok
I would've liked to be on the staff who had to sit around and look at normal everyday items and think of cool ways to use them. Almost like a drinking game. Or, like the job of naming OPI nail polishes!

This is a fun read.

I wouldn't buy it.

But I would laugh when I read it!
Nov 17, 2011 Jess rated it it was amazing
This book is all about practical solutions using simple materials. For example, using empty wine bottles to "preserve the shape of tall leather boots" which I immediately did because I love my boots! This is an awesome home reference book.
Apr 01, 2011 Westerville rated it liked it
Shelves: adults, non-fiction
"Not all entries are eco-friendly, but many of the tips reuse everyday household items." - Tamara, Web Content Librarian

Reserve a library copy!
Feb 26, 2011 Missy rated it really liked it
Shelves: crafts-and-arts
I received this book by a gracious accident. It is a book just full of my favorite part of Real Simple Magazine: the new uses for old things. I am glad to have it around. Oh, the ideas are in alphabetical dictionary form, so that is nice.
I love tips like these. Wish I could memorize this book. Also, I feel like I want to own it, but I think that's mostly because of the beautifully designed, rainbowy cover.
Feb 09, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok
I love the concept and love this regular feature of the magazine. It just doesn't work as well in book form. As others have noted, the organization was odd.
Apr 08, 2012 April rated it really liked it
I hate to waste anything and I am always looking for ways to recycle. This book does a great job in giving you ideas on how to do that with a lot of items.
Liz De Coster
Dec 24, 2010 Liz De Coster rated it liked it
Shelves: hobbies
Handy reference guide, but maybe not one-stop shopping - I'm not sure I'd have it around just for the occasional look-up.
May 20, 2012 Jamey rated it liked it
There were some really useful ideas in here and a few that were.plain ridiculous. All in all, a fun browsable book.
May 07, 2013 Beckey rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Loved this! So many clever ideas. I borrowed this from library and now want my own copy for reference.
Nov 12, 2013 Anna rated it it was ok
I don't really recommend this book. Most of the ideas were ones that are obvious and I already knew
Aug 13, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it
Has a lot of good recyable ideas of ways to use what you already have.
Oct 08, 2011 Tara rated it liked it
Shelves: crafting
So much information! Hard to digest - needs more pictures!
Aug 27, 2011 Relyn rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women
Recommended to Relyn by: Real Simple magazine
This is a fun book and a great column idea.
Sep 26, 2015 Martha added it
read again in Sep 2015
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