We homesteaders are a practical bunch. Some things we want to make pretty, others we only want to get it done so we can move on to more important things.
The indoor homesteading hacks that follow are mostly in the ‘get it done' category. They are quick, easy solutions to help you get organized or help you make household improvements using things you already have. These won't cost you a penny and can be done in about 5 minutes.
Feel free to take a few extra minutes to make these ideas pretty too, if you are in the mood!
Practical Indoor Homesteading Hacks
Mail Packaging Re-purposed
I confess… I do a fair bit of ordering from Amazon. Mostly I buy books that come in puffy mailer pouches. The pouches are paper on the outside and bubble wrap on the inside. That means the recycling center won't take them as plastic or as paper.
So, if I don't find ways to use them, they end up in the landfill. To prevent that from happening, I try to find uses for these wherever I can.
1. Easy Earring Organizer
For this one (photo above), all you need is a skirt hanger and a mailing pouch, plus a few minutes to get your earrings in order. Then, hang your new earring organizer at the end of your closet or on the back of a door for easy access.
You can upgrade this idea by painting the envelope using those craft paints that I know you've already got on hand. You can also frame it with scraps from your ribbon collection.
2. Ice Pack Insulator
Muscle sprains and strains occasionally happen on the homestead. Since those heal faster with the application of alternating heat and cold, I often find myself in need of an ice pack. Those mailer bags make great insulation to wrap around freezer bags full of ice for homemade ice packs.
3. Seed Storage
Mailers can also be used to help you sort and store seeds. The bubble wrap makes for excellent protective wrapping around your seeds. You can use a marker to write on the outside to indicate the seeds you saved inside.
Or, you can make them pretty and paint them with images of the contents or decoupage seed catalog descriptions outside. You can even get your kids (or friends kids) to decorate them for you!
Egg Carton Organization
Just about everyone I know saves their egg cartons for me. I need some for eggs, but not nearly as many as my friends and family collect. So, I like to put them to use in other ways.
4. Jewelry Sorter
My necklaces kept getting stuck together in my jewelry box. So, I sorted them into egg cartons and labeled the outside of the egg cartons with fancy necklaces, everyday necklaces, etc. You can use this for rings, earrings, and some bracelets too.
5. Start Seeds
Use your egg cartons to start seeds. They are perfect for things that are slow to start or have shallow root systems as seedlings. Avoid using them for tap-rooted veggies as they are not quite deep enough.
6. Self-Watering Seed Starting
For the Styrofoam cartons, poke two holes in the bottom of each egg cell. Then cut off the top and fill it with water. Put the top half underneath the half with the cells. Fill the egg cells with soil and let the potting soil wick up moisture from new self-watering seed system you've just made.
You still want to water from the top as needed too. But this will encourage roots to reach deep for water as your seedlings grow.
Old Sweater Storage
I get so attached to my comfiest sweaters that I have a hard time letting them go. So, I don't. Instead, I re-purpose them as storage bags.
7. Cozy Up Your Garlic or Grocery Bags
Got an old loose knit sweater too beat up or stained to wear? Cut off the sleeves and turn them inside out. Use a rubber band to close up the wrist side of the sleeve. Flip it right side out and curl the top rim. Add a bit of thick twine or ribbon as a handle. Then load with garlic and hang!
Note: This only works if you have a loose knit sweater because garlic needs to breathe during storage. But, you can also use this trick to store grocery bags or other durable goods you want to hang.
8. Go Big on the Storage Sweater Bag
You can repeat the garlic bag trick on a bigger scale using some twine instead of a rubber band. Flip your sweater inside out. Tie up your sweater to just under the armhole. Make sure it is good and tight so your sweater won't unravel.
Cut off the entire shoulder and armhole area all around. Turn the sweater right side out. Add a handle.
If your sweater is loose at the bottom, you may need to weave some twine or yarn on the bottom edges to draw up the opening and keep things from falling out. This trick works great for bigger storage veggies like potatoes, onions, and sweet potatoes.
Beat the Blue Jeans Blues
I don't know about you, but I destroy a few pairs of jeans each year. After wearing them all fall and winter, I cut them into shorts and use them all spring and summer before finally putting them to rest as mulch for perennial plants in my garden.
Don't throw out those cutoff pant legs just yet, though. There are several easy things you can do with them in about 5 minutes.
9. Lumbar Support
Make a tootsie roll lumbar support for your favorite farm chairs. All you need to do is rubber band one end. Then stuff the pant leg with your old t-shirts, rags, or leftover sweater bits (from making garlic and potato sacks). Then rubber band the other end.
If you want to add a little decorative interest, cut the seam at the ankle off too and run the legs through the drier to fray a bit before stuffing them.
10. Drafty Door Fix
That jean leg idea above also makes a perfect drafty door fix. You may need two jean legs to span the whole door length. You can also add decorative elements like ribbons, iron on patches, or pins if you want to make your door draft protectors a bit more interesting.
11. Get a Leg Up on Your Spring Planting
Using the same basic idea as the sweater bags, you can also make blue jean planter bags to use for spring planting. Just cut the legs into halves, thirds, or quarters to make the bag size you want.
Use a couple of rubber bands or bailing twine to close the bottom for security (since these will be filled with soil). Finally, cuff the top instead of closing it to make it a bit sturdier for holding in the soil. Or, fray it for decorative interest.
Add your soil, water, and plant!
12. Weed Prevention for Garden Paths
Slit those pant legs down the seem and lay them out as mulch on your garden paths. Cover them with rocks or hardwood mulch to hold them in place.
These will prevent weeds for up to 3 years depending on your weather conditions. They are water permeable and will eventually decay (though seams may hang around longer).
Clothespins to the Rescue
I am a huge fan of using clothespins for laundry and everything else.
13. Clothespin Necklace Holder
For necklaces that don't fit in egg crates, some twine and clothespin, and an over the door hook (or any other kind of hanging device) make an easy necklace sorter.
14. Homestead Sticky Notes
Instead of necklaces, use your clothespins and twine to hang notes for yourself. Write these on the backs of junk mail or receipts to give those items new purpose as well.
15. Glove Sorter
My dog loves to steal my gloves, so I started hanging them up on an over the door hanger using twine and clothespins. Since they sometimes get wet while gardening, this method also keeps them from getting all gross and mildewy!
16. Chip Clip
You don't need a fancy chip clip. You've got clothespins. Fold your bag over, and secure the fold with your handy dandy clothespin. You can also use these for freezer bags of veggies, cheese culture bags, and more.
Pining About Twine (String, Ribbon, etc.)
I love twine of all kinds. It has so many uses on the homestead. We all use it to tie up our herb bunches, during pig slaughters, and more. But have you thought about these uses?
17. Salvage Your Overstuffed Drawer Bottom
After a few years of stuffing too much stuff into my drawers, the paperboard bottoms started to sag and slipped out of their groove. A long piece of twine, tightly tied around the center of the drawer keeps the bottom from sagging so I can keep on stuffing it!
Use twine or ribbon that appeals to your aesthetics. Use it even on your non-broken drawers to integrate the fix into the look of your dresser or cabinet. Feel free to add decorative details to take this cheap furniture fix to the next level!
18. Hang a Curtain
Don't have the hardware to hang a curtain or shower curtain? No problem. Find yourself a suitable, decorative branch. Attach it the wall using screws. Then, use twine to connect your curtain to your homemade rod.
Better Ways to Use Baggies
I don't use baggies for food storage. I prefer reusable or recyclable stuff for that. But I do use them for sorting and storing since they are see-through and last so long.
19. The Underwear Drawer
Keep your bikinis, stockings, and fancy bra and panty sets together in reusable plastic bags. This makes them easy to find. It also cuts down on accidental snags of lacy items.
20. Office Supply Sorting
If you have an office drawer, you may have one of those organizer thingies that has slots for your paperclips, tape dispenser, extra staples, etc. Well, I am sorry if you do. I detest those things.
The first time you eat at your desk, crumbs will inevitably find their way in the drawer and pollute those little pockets. After a couple of weeks, your office drawer displays evidence of everything you've eaten and other things you can't quite recognize.
Cleaning it is such a pain, that I usually don't. Or… you can just put your supplies in clear baggies and seal them up. They stay clean and are easy to see. If you need to clean your desk drawer, pull out the bags and wipe out the drawer. This method also makes doing inventory easy.
21. Battery Baggies
I also use baggies for my battery storage and sorting. Ready to use, ready to recharge, and ready to recycle batteries each get their own baggy. This way I never waste time checking to see if batteries are charged or work.
I don't know why, but lots of people have given me wooden salad servers over the years. I prefer tongs for tossing salad. So, I had never quite figured out what to do with these pretty but not dishwasher safe salad ornaments. Until now!
22. Salad Fork Coat Hook
Turns out, the curved shape of a spoon and the fact that they are solid wood, makes them the perfect answer for a DIY coat rack. Simply find a stud. Then, put a screw through the spoon area of the server and into the stud. The handle side becomes the hook.
Note: This doesn't work as well with the spork-side of the serving pair since those tend to split. Pre-drilling your holes does help though.
23. Hand Towel Holder
Do the same thing as above, but turn the salad server so it is horizontal. Then screw a second screw under the bottom of your new hand-towel bar to keep it from rotating down and dropping your towel on the ground.
Fold your towel in threes (long-wise) and hang it over the arm. If you want to get fancy, you can put a little wood putty over your screw head. Then stain it or color it with mascara after it dries.
Wine Bottle Makeover
There are so many things you can do with your wine bottles – from edging your garden to labeling your plants and more. But, my new favorite use is this.
24. DIY Tape and Rubber Band Dispenser
Masking tape, duct tape, and some electrical tape rolls fit perfectly over wine bottles. Clip a clothespin to the top rim to store smaller tape rolls. Slide your rubber bands on the bottom for easy access (without having to move the tape rolls).
25. Vinegar Extractions
Wine bottles also work well for storing your fancy vinegar extractions. It only takes a few minutes to start your extraction. Then a few weeks from now, you can bottle your flavored vinegar in your extra wine bottles for long-term storage.
These indoor homesteading hacks you can all do for free in just a few minutes, and it will make your life easier and more organized. Don't let a lack of time or resources limit your homestead dreams. Get creative and make significant progress each day a few minutes at a time!