The Surprising Camping Gear Item That I’ve Repurposed for Cleaning

published May 26, 2023
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Cleaning of the house and apartment.
Credit: Getty Images/ Ekaterina Goncharova

Once when I was cleaning the bathroom, my home lost power. While everyone else had to stop what they were doing (video games, email, learning dance moves on YouTube), I grabbed a headlamp from our camping gear and kept working. To my surprise — and honestly disgust — I realized that the gentle lighting in the bathroom was ideal for an evening soak but not at all conducive to thorough cleaning. The shower door I’d just cleaned was revealed to be covered in water spots in this new light. Eventually, the power came back on, but I didn’t turn off the headlamp. 

When I finally finished cleaning the bathroom, I started exploring other dark corners of our house. “What else is secretly dirty?” I wondered. My teenage son said, “Mom, your light is still on.” I told him that it was on purpose. He asked what I was looking for, and I said domestic failures. He knew enough to avoid inquiring further. 

On our next family cleaning day, I passed out headlamps to everyone. No one wore one but me, but that’s fine. I don’t mind looking ridiculous in pursuit of excellence. 

If you, too, want to know what’s lurking in the dark, I highly recommend these headlamps, but a more affordable option like these from Amazon will work, too. Make sure you change the batteries regularly, as the light will dim so gradually that a significant difference in brightness can feel imperceptible over time. 

Now, I use my headlamp for any task that would be helped by extra illumination — removing splinters, clipping my dog’s nails, and knitting the unnecessarily complicated scarf I’ve been “working on” for years. 

This cleaning victory inspired me to dig through our camping gear to see what else could be repurposed for everyday use. My insulated stainless steel camp French press is infinitely better at keeping our coffee warm than our Chemex — so why not use it every morning? This multi-purpose tool makes opening boxes a breeze and it replaced my bottle opener, too. And my collapsible strainer stores vertically with my pans, freeing up the space formerly occupied by my bowl-shaped conventional strainer. 

In truth, my bathroom was probably clean enough before. But now I can’t unsee what the headlamp revealed. So proceed with caution. It’s totally understandable if you’d rather stay in the dark. 

Let us know your favorite cleaning hacks in the comments below. 

Buy: Energizer LED Headlamp, $12.13 (originally $15.99)