some text Ellen Phillips

Has your old toothbrush started working to your cleaning advantage since last week? If not, I hope today's ideas stir up enthusiasm enough to grab that sucker and start scrubbing.

So your little one – the budding artist – has been at work on his mural (the living room walls!)? Before throwing your own tantrum louder than that two-year-old's, spread shaving cream over the crayon marks, then gently scrub with an old toothbrush to remove the marks Little Picasso painted.

Splinters are found in lots of places around the house or yard and end up in a body part. Rather than poking yourself with a knife to remove the offender, use a little water and baking soda; apply the paste onto the splinter, wait a little bit and gently brush it out of your skin with a toothbrush.

My husband is pretty fanatical about keeping his dress shoes cleaned and polished. Instead of getting out newspaper, shoe polish, and cleaning rags, take a bit of toothpaste and an old toothbrush to remove scuff marks from the surface.

(Read more: Consumer Watch: Reuse your old toothbrush in a variety of ways)

I prefer leaving the skin on my baking potatoes – plus, it's good for our health – but a good scrubbing is in order. Fill a basin with warm water and one cup of baking soda. Let the potatoes soak for a few minutes, then brush them til the dirt is gone. So far as "food" cleaning is concerned, I always use a soft toothbrush to remove the silk off of fresh corn. (Just be certain you've sanitized the toothbrush thoroughly before touching its bristles to food; see last week's column.)

Another great idea is one I've used back when my used-to-be-naturally dark hair needed a touchup. Rather than paying big bucks at a salon just for my roots, I bought color "paste" and spread it on a soft toothbrush. Apply to where that touchup is needed and deposit what it would have cost professionally in your "Kitty."

All sorts of vents can benefit from a good toothbrush cleaning. From the car vents to the heating/cooling vents in your home. The brush's compact size makes it easy to fit in those tight spaces. Speaking of cars, wheel rims also need an occasional cleaning. The bristles are soft enough so they won't scratch the metal, and the long handle makes it manageable enough to reach nooks and crannies.

I often find spots on clothes to be washed. Whether I'm getting so old that food misses my mouth or what, it seems like each time I get a load together, those spots jump out and slap me in the face. (I'm mortified to think I've worn these clothes out in public.) Take some baking soda and gently rub the spot with a soft toothbrush.

Here's hoping readers have not only enjoyed all the toothbrush hints but, also, you'll collect the used brushes from your families to manage a brighter and cleaner home.

Contact Ellen Phillips at