20+ Genius Upcycling Ideas: Learn How to Turn Your Trash Into Treasure!

Oct 22, 2021 | DIY, Organization

Want to get your home organized, tackle a fun DIY project, or put your leftover food to good use? We have dozens of FUN upcycling ideas that will save you major time, money, and sanity!

little boy in dino costume made from box, from Fun Cheap or Free

Before you toss that egg carton or throw your baby food jars away, you might want to read this post! With just a little creativity, you can turn any piece of trash into a household treasure. We're about to prove it!

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Upcycling, which means creatively repurposing something you would have otherwise thrown away, is a game-changer for anyone trying to live a frugal lifestyle. So today, we've rounded up some brilliant upcycling ideas for you to try! From home organization to food storage and travel hacks, this is going to be fun and useful. Here we go!


Want to get your home in tip-shop shape and tame the clutter once and for all? Try these upcycling ideas:

  • Bread Bag Tabs – Those random (kinda annoying) little tabs do serve a purpose! Bundle, organize, and label your cords. Just reach for a sharpie and write on those tabs. Ex: printer, FitBit, iPhone, etc.
  • Paper Towel Tubes – Speaking of cords, drop them in a paper towel tube for safekeeping once you label and tag them. Get your random cord drawer under control once and for all!
  • Egg Cartons – You don't need to shell out money on a Christmas ornament storage solution. Organize/protect your fragile Christmas ornaments in an old egg carton!
  • Empty Wet Wipes Container – Do you store plastic grocery bags under the sink? Clean up that clutter! Place all those bags in an empty wet wipes container.

Boom! If nothing else, we just gave you that kick in the booty you needed to tackle that junky cord drawer. 😉


woman reusing an old makeup container, from Fun Cheap or Free

Ladies, we bet you've tossed hundreds of makeup containers over the years! After you read this, you'll want to save them. Check out these upcycling ideas:

  • Make Pretend Makeup – Pour nail polish in your empty eyeshadow containers and it makes “play makeup” for your daughters when it dries. We even save old brushes for playtime, too!
  • Travel Storage – Fill old containers with body lotion or other thick creams for when you travel. They make great jewelry holders for earrings and rings, too!
  • Consolidate – If you have a large container of makeup, put some of it into a small container and carry that with you. It's easier to take with you, and if you lose or break it, then you still have the rest at home!
  • Fix Broken Makeup – When your makeup breaks and crumbles, put it in one of the empty containers and use it like you would mineral or powder makeup.

Old makeup containers make great bathtime toys, too!


Tired of cluttered counters? Sick of hearing, “honey, where's the salt?” We have some solutions that won't cost a dime!

  • Baby Formula Canisters – Have babies at home? Think twice before you toss those canisters! You already spent an arm and a leg, so why not get your money's worth? Remove the label, carefully wash it out with hot and soapy water, dry it, and then fill with flour, rice, sugar, or any other baking needs.
  • Empty Baby Food Jars – Use them as storage containers, condiment holders, or spice containers. You could even freeze your own homemade baby food.
  • Parmesan Cheese Lid – Fun fact: those lids are the perfect size for mason jars! So, make those cute jars a functional part of your kitchen decor!

If the baby formula canister idea got you excited, you'll love what's coming next! Let's get crafty, eh?


DIY decorative tissue paper balls, from Fun Cheap or Free

Okay, before you get scared and leave, know this. We are NOT crafty. But these easy upcycling ideas are pretty foolproof, and so much fun:

  • Use Ripped Tissue Paper – The next time you get a gift, save the tissue paper! You can use it to make pomander balls for your next party.
  • Empty Tin Cans – Turn those 3/$1 green bean cans into party favors! Take pop-top tin cans, open them from the bottom with a safety can opener, clean out the can, fill with candy, then hot glue the base back on. Make a cute label and use it for clever treats and favors for holidays, baby/bridal showers, etc. 
  • Old Pot Holders – Have a ratty, burnt potholder that you've been meaning to toss? Do this instead! Cut it in half, sew it, and use it to carry your hot curling/straightening iron when traveling. 
  • Make Leg Warmers – If you've got an old sweater that doesn't fit, use Make and Do Crew's tutorial to make leg warmers.
  • Amazon Boxes – Do you have a stash of Amazon boxes in your garage, too? Those things seem to multiply! Have a little fun and turn them into fun costumes for the kids. The square boxes make a perfect dinosaur head. Just get the scissors, glue, and paint out and have some fun!

By the way, the leg warmers and curling iron holders make cute DIY gift ideas, too. Want more homemade gift ideas? We've got TONS!


Whether you've got a pile of broken pool toys to get rid of, or you found some hidden treasures at a garage sale, check out these upcycling ideas:

  • Broken Pool Noodles – Use them as boot supports. Cut the noodle, insert it into boots, and it will keep them standing tall and not toppling over in your closet. 
  • Old Picture Frame – Broken glass? Turn your old picture frame into a jewelry holder! Run picture hanger wire across the frame and hang your earrings on it.
  • Broken Crayons – Have a ton of broken crayons? Make new ones in fun shapes and colors! Check out this easy DIY crayon tutorial from Little Bins for Little Hands.
  • Old/Broken Books – If you get the chance to snag some old, tattered books, do it! You can use them to stash secret items: broken books = storage gold. Just cut out the center. You could even hot glue a few books together to make a cute knife holder!
  • Electric Toothbrush – Time for a new toothbrush? Save the old one and use it for cleaning. Bonus points if the spin function still works!

There are so many cool and clever ways to reuse broken things you might have around the house, so think twice before you toss!


Jordan Page in front of moving boxes, from Fun Cheap or Free

Moving stinks and packing is the WORST. There's no way around it. But these upcycling ideas might make your next move just a little bit easier:

  • Jar Lids – Save your pickle jar or applesauce lids and use them to move heavy furniture. Put the lid of a jar under the furniture legs, and watch it glide over carpet easily. Boom!
  • Junk Mail – Use those sale flyers to wrap your dishes and the return mail envelopes from junk mail to organize your moving gear! Store important paperwork, keys, etc. By the way, we totally use those junk mail envelopes for budgeting, too!
  • Socks – Pack your glasses in old socks to keep them from rattling!

By the way, if you need help getting ready for your next big move, check out our packing hacks and moving tips!


Now that we've shared dozens of our favorite upcycling ideas, it's your turn!

Do you have an upcycling hack that you swear by? We want to hear about it. So please leave a comment below, okay?

image with text that reads "upcycling ideas", from Fun Cheap or Free

Looking for more DIY projects?

Just remember, one woman's trash is another woman's treasure! 😉


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