13 Vintage Home Hacks That Still Work

Because some solutions truly are timeless

A collection of cleaning products and wood accessories

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There are some trends that fade with the seasons, and some that are as timeless as they come. And it’s no surprise that there are plenty of vintage home hacks we still hold near and dear.

Whether it’s a suggestion your grandmother gave you about cleaning or a DIY trick from an old family friend, there are countless traditions we just can’t seem to let go of, despite the fact that there may be contemporary (and perhaps more efficient) solutions.  

Here are some of our favorites, recommended by designers and home décor aficionados alike, who have held these ideas close throughout the years.

  • 01 of 13

    Clean (Everything) With Baking Soda

    A jar of baking soda for cleaning


    There are countless products that claim to ‘clean grime,’ ‘reduce grease,’ or ‘get your surface fully clean.’ But have you tried baking soda?

    “Baking soda is gentle enough to use on almost any surface, even though it is technically abrasive,” says Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy Painters. “It will clean stuck-on gunk off your pots and pans, make your kitchen sink sparkle, and even help remove old skin off your face! Seriously, it is tough enough to scrub gunk, but gentle enough to make a paste with water and use it as an exfoliant in your nightly routine.” 

    From spoons to your skin, baking soda is truly timeless.

  • 02 of 13

    Create a Cardboard Holder for Paint

    A green paint can

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    If you're someone who likes to paint, you can create a ‘catch box’ for excess paint with something as simple as a cardboard box.

    “Painting indoors or outdoors can be a hassle if not managed properly, says Joel Phillips, Founder of Home Guide Corner. “Place your paint can in a cardboard box. This will fit nicely between the legs of your fold-down ladder. Not only does it make transportation of paint cans easier, but it also minimizes the spilling of paint while you work.”

  • 03 of 13

    Use Vinegar to Remove Residue

    A stack of clean towels on top of a laundry machine

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    Vinegar, although not the best­ smelling product cleaning product you can use, can do wonders when it comes to cleaning. If you’re looking to remove excess soap reside from your laundry or dishes, you can throw vinegar into your next wash cycle to refresh it. Make sure you do a rinse cycle before adding any dishes or clothes, though, just to be sure the smell is fully out.

  • 04 of 13

    Get an Egg Container for Moving Furniture

    An empty egg carton

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    An age-old vintage home hack, you can put a cut-open egg container underneath heavy furniture to prevent indents in the carpet when you’re moving things around. If you do end up with indents while moving, you can also add ice to those spots to easily remove them. You’ll just have a few mini-puddles temporarily when the ice melts.

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  • 05 of 13

    Un-Tarnish With Lemon

    Lemon and salt on a cutting board

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    Did you know that you can remove tarnish with lemon?

    Leah Ashley, DIY-lover, stylist, and mother, shares about how she uses lemon to clean her brass items: “All you need is a lemon and some salt. Start by rinsing off the brass piece with warm water. Next, add a good amount of fresh lemon juice and salt to a sponge. Start scrubbing and watch as years of tarnish disappears.”

  • 06 of 13

    DIY Your Own Detergent

    Someone pouring laundry detergent into a washing machine

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    Just because you want to clean clothes doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy soap. In fact, you can make your own mild, lye-free soap at home.

    “Take 1 cup of fresh (or 1/2 cup dried) soapwort and combine with 2 cups distilled water,” Theresa Tesolin, co-founder of RusticWise, shares. “Boil for 15–20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, then strain and pour into a spray bottle. Use this as a mild fabric cleaner.”

  • 07 of 13

    Clear Fog With Shaving Cream

    A clean mirror in a bathroom

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    You can remove fog from your bathroom mirrors with shaving cream. If you add the cream directly to the mirror, Tesolin explains, you can wipe with a microfiber cloth and all of the fog will disappear (without streaks).

  • 08 of 13

    Update Your Wood Furniture With Soap

    A rustic dining set in a dining room

    Martin Barraud / Getty Images

    Soap on furniture? Ashley says that it’s actually a great and age-old vintage home hack. “The first thing I do with old furniture is vacuum it all over,” she says. “This gets rid of any cobwebs and dust that might be hiding deep in crevices. The next step is to take a simple solution of gentle dish soap and wipe it down. This removes any of the dirt and grime your vacuum missed.”

    You can also opt to continue the cleaning process by shining the surface with Murphy’s Oil, or the like, she recommends.

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  • 09 of 13

    Refresh and Clean With Essential Oils

    Lavender-scented essential oils

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    If you have stinky clothes, you can add a few drops of essential oils to a water-based solution. “Use three tablespoons of unscented witch hazel, six drops of orange essential oil and 10 drops of purification oil,” Ashley recommends.

    Then, if you spritz your clothes, the smell will disappear.

  • 10 of 13

    Keep Your Tools Rust-Free With Sand

    A rusty gardening tool

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    “One of my favorite vintage home hacks is using a bucket filled with sand to keep garden tools rust-free,” shares Codey Stout, Head Operations Manager at TreeTriage.

    “Get a bucket large enough to fit your garden tools, then fill it with sand mixed with a cup of motor oil. These will help keep the rust away and it makes for an easy-to-use and safe storage.”

  • 11 of 13

    Tea-Stain Old Items

    Tea towels and utensils on a countertop

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    An age-old vintage home hack for napkins or other cloth items is to tea-stain them. Rather than these just looking dirty, you can make the stain part of the aesthetic.  

    “Add four black tea bags to a bucket of hot water, then let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes,” says Jeneva Aaron, Founder of TheHouseWire. “[Then] remove the tea bags and add the cloth. Swish it around to absorb water. Let it sit until you reach the desired color. You will get an antique brown effect on linens.”

  • 12 of 13

    Make a Coffee Can Brush Holder

    A collection of paint cans and a clean

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    “If you paint often, you need a way to keep your brushes in good shape.” Chaz Wyland, DIY home repair enthusiast and small business owner. “You can use an old coffee can with a hole cut in the lid to store and soak used brushes, so they don’t get crusty and destroyed during a painting project.”

    Continue to 13 of 13 below.
  • 13 of 13

    Use Jugs for Easy Carrying

    A tangled orange extension cord

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    “Another hack I learned from my Grandpa and still use today is an extension cord holder made of a plastic gallon jug,” shares Wyland. “Cut the top off of the milk jug but keep the handle intact. Then cut another small hole for one end of the cord in the bottom."

    With this makeshift carrier, you can roll up your cords and keep them ready for action.