30 Household Hacks to Rule DIY
Adulting is hard, no matter how long you've been doing it. Maybe you're trying — and failing — to get a stain out of a piece of clothing or maybe you’re trying to figure out the best way to make DIY repairs that won’t cost you a fortune. Even if DIY isn't your thing, it doesn't have to be an intimidating concept.
In truth, there’s probably an easy way to do most things at home. You just have to know what it is. The answer to your problem could very well already be in your house, but you just don’t realize it. To get you started, here are 30 household hacks to help you rule DIY projects around your home.
Conquering the Hot and Cold Battleground
The thermostat setting is a major point of contention in most homes. Everyone has different opinions on how to set it, so you can keep a close eye on your indoor climate with the ThermoPro Temperature and Humidity Monitor.
The good news is science has an answer to your thermostat quarrels. According to EnergyStar, the ideal home temperature is between 70 and 78 degrees. Adjust the temperature by eight degrees when you're not home and five degrees while you're sleeping to conserve energy.
Donuts for (Almost) Every Meal
When reheating food in the microwave, it's not uncommon to find cold spots. For certain foods, that cold spot can be enough to completely ruin your appetite. Fortunately, there's an easy fix for this common conundrum: Make a donut.
Reheated food is often cold in the center because the waves of radiation used to heat up microwaved food cancel out in certain places. It's like when two ripples meet in a pond. Where the waves meet, they cancel. The same thing is happening to your food. The best solution is to make a ring with your food, leaving the dead zone in the center empty. No cold leftovers, no problem.
Another great microwave hack involves frozen goods. Specifically, it involves ice cream — and a little bit of impatience. If you've got a hot date with some cold dessert, but you can't bear to wait for the ice cream to thaw enough to stick a spoon in it, just pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds. It will come out perfect for indulging.
On the flip side, when it comes to getting things cold fast, you can perfectly chill a warm bottled beverage by wrapping it in a damp paper towel and sticking it in the freezer for a few minutes. Who says you can't have the best of both worlds?
Most people have to deal with keyrings at some point, and it's never a pleasant experience. If you don't have long, strong fingernails, they're almost impossible to pry open, but a Claw Staple Remover can handle the problem with ease. The simple gadget may look like monster jaws, but it’s perfect for opening keyrings — and holding them open — while you slide your keys into place.
The good news is you probably already have one of these nail-saving gadgets in your desk drawer at home. If not, they are inexpensive to buy at around $6.
If you have small scrapes or dings in your wood furniture, try touching them up with a shelled walnut. Simply crack the shell, remove the nut, break it in half and rub the exposed interior against the areas you want to touch up. The oils from the nut help recondition the wood and restore it to its former glory.
You can also make homemade furniture polish with four parts olive oil to one part vinegar and a few drops of lemon essential oil to make it smell nice. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and wipe it on with a rag. Let it sit for a minute or so before wiping off the excess with a clean towel.
Plastic packaging can be a real pain in multiple ways. It's a nightmare to open, it destroys scissors and it could leave you with a nasty cut if you're not careful. That hard plastic packaging that usually protects electronics or other valuable goods doesn't have to be your worst nightmare.
So, what’s an easy way to open up that clamshell packaging? A can opener! Cut along one edge with the can opener and then carefully slide a knife into the opening to cut across the rest of the packaging. No fuss, no hassle, no band-aids.
Lean, Green, Stain-Fighting Machine
Gardners, parents, athletes and outdoorsy folks all have to face those nasty green stains at some point. You could switch to wearing only green clothes, or you could just wash the stains out. Not as easy as it sounds, right? Washing machines can't always do the work for you, but getting out grass stains isn't actually difficult.
After rubbing off whatever you can by hand, soak the stained area in rubbing alcohol and let it dry. For delicate fabrics, cut the alcohol with an equal amount of water. Once the alcohol has dried, rinse the area with cool water and massage the stain with liquid detergent for at least five minutes. Wash off the soap, and your stain should be gone!
Preparing for the Unexpected
Food stains are gross, but they inevitably happen. If you're lucky, they happen at home where cleanup is relatively easy. If stains happen while you're out and about, things are tricky but not impossible with the help of Tide to Go Stain Remover Pens.
Carry one in your bag for those awkward emergencies, and you will never have to worry about stains caused by leaks or drips again. The sooner you treat most stains, the better the pen works. Take some of the stress out of life’s little disasters with a little bit of inexpensive insurance in your pocket.
Hindsight Is 20/20
Everyone knows the old adage about hindsight, but did you know that foresight is 20/20/20? If you're someone whose job and maybe even leisure activities have you staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, you need to listen up. Headaches, eye strain and other screen-related pains can be a thing of the past.
One tried and true method for preventing eye strain is the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps prevent the fatigue and headaches that come from staring closely at screens for too long. Give it a try and see for yourself.
Best Seats in the House
If you're among the crowds who still go to movie theaters, here are some pointers for you. Although many people insist front and center are the best seats in the house, that's about as far from the truth as you can get.
It’s true the best seats are dead center — but about two-thirds of the way up into auditorium (or as close to it as you can get). When audio engineers do their final mixes for movies, that's where they set up shop. Any seat is likely to be good these days, but if you want the ultimate auditory experience, that's where you need to sit.
Spin, Spin, Spin!
This little trick is one that has been around for a while. It's no magical lifesaver, but it doesn't require any extra materials, so it's a handy little thing to know when you need it. Even if you don't like eggs, you could always use this tidbit as a fun party trick.
One way to tell if an egg is raw or cooked is by doing the spin test. If you spin a cooked egg and then suddenly stop it, it will stay stopped. A raw egg will start spinning again when you let go because the liquid inside still has some momentum from when the egg was going for a whirl.
Turn Your World Upside Down
Dairy products are delicious, but they seem to consistently go bad quickly, especially yogurts and other creamy goods. Half the time, they don't even make it to their expiration dates before they start looking — and smelling — like science projects. It doesn't have to be that way, and the solution doesn't even involve buying anything else.
Storing tubs of dairy products like yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese upside down in your fridge can help them last longer. Inverted storage inhibits the growth of bacteria, ensuring you get every day between purchase and expiration to enjoy those products. Just make sure they're tightly sealed!
Free As the Wind
Nobody likes to pay for things they could otherwise get for free, right? In the online world, not paying for products could potentially get you into trouble, especially when it comes to software. Still, not wanting to pay hundreds of dollars for Adobe Suite is totally understandable, and there is a possible solution.
To avoid malware and limited trials, search for "open source" software instead of "free software." You're far more likely to find what you're looking for without having to worry about the safety of your computer. Plenty of free-to-use software swap-outs are available if you know to search for them. Depending on what you need, open source might do the trick.
Rust is literally the worst. It makes items difficult to use and unpleasant to look at. Rusty tools flake everywhere when you touch them and generally make a mess while staining your hands. The good news is that it's easy to get rid of rust if you have a big enough container.
Soaking your rust-crusted tools in white vinegar — or cola for really tough rust — overnight will remove the rust buildup. The acid in the vinegar or soda eats away at the rust, and the carbonation in the cola helps get underneath the rust for extra lifting power when you need it.
Dog on Duty
This life hack is less about making your life easier and more about potentially saving someone else's. Service dogs are working animals trained to do a specific set of tasks. They are not pets or emotional support animals, although both of those animals have important duties as well.
If you see a service dog on duty, leave it alone and do not ask to pet it. If a service dog comes up to you without an owner, however, follow it. A service dog won't leave its person or interact with anyone else unless something is wrong. Spread the word to your friends so everyone can be prepared in the event of someone else's emergency. You just might save a life.
Bad at math? You’re not alone. Percentages can be especially confusing when you have to calculate them on the fly, so here's a quick tip that might help: X percent of Y is the same as Y percent of X. Don't know what 7% of 50 is? Try 50% of 7. They have the same answer.
Multiplication is also taught differently around the world. If the U.S. school system's memorization math doesn't work for you, consider using dots and lines like they do in Japan or one of several other methods that break down large numbers into smaller components. You might not be as bad at math as you thought when you take a different approach.
Beat the Bugs
Sitting outside in the summer is usually pretty pleasant when the air isn’t filled with bugs. Attract fewer insects with Sylvania’s Warm White LED Bulbs. They give off less blue and UV light, which is what attracts insects.
That means you can enjoy the warm air, the glow of a fire and the sweet smell of dew settling on the grass as the air cools after a long hot day without hearing the sizzle of yet another stupid moth trying to make out with a light bulb. These bulbs might not eliminate your bug problem, but they can certainly help.
Sports are a stinky business, and hockey is among the worst when it comes to pungence. (All that heavy equipment just begs you to sweat buckets.) When store-bought odor killers just won’t do the trick, it's time to turn to your kitchen for assistance. Two ingredients in a spray bottle make the best deodorizer you can find anywhere.
Take a cup of vodka and a tablespoon of lemon juice and mix them together in a bottle that has a spray nozzle. Liberally spritz the offending gear and hang it out to dry in the sun (if possible). Once the solution dries, the stink will have mostly disappeared. If it can get the smell out of hockey goalie gear, it can get the smell out of pretty much anything.
Naturally Relieve Your Migraine
Popping pills to combat headaches is never fun, especially if you're sensitive to medications or don't like swallowing tablets. In the ER, bad headaches and migraine attacks are treated with magnesium, so instead of taking an Excedrin, get your Popeye on.
Spinach contains a lot of magnesium, which can help naturally ease the pain of your headache. Don't have any spinach on hand? Eating 15 to 20 almonds has the same effect as taking an aspirin. Bananas, peanut butter and dark chocolate are also good sources of magnesium if you don't have spinach or almonds handy. Give it a try and see how it works.
A Real Pain in the Glass
A dropped glass inside the house is never fun, especially if it falls on a hard floor. Someone is bound to get a sliver of glass stuck in their foot if you don't meticulously pick up every little piece, and a vacuum simply can't be trusted. Make sure you get all the pieces by combining these two simple steps.
First, carefully pick up all the large pieces. Next, use a slice of sandwich bread to pat the area where the glass broke. The tiny shards will stick in the bread instead of in your hand or foot. Double check to make sure you got it all by laying a flashlight on the floor. Any remaining pieces will cast a shadow.
Cola Strikes Again!
It was already mentioned that cola cleans rust, but the popular drink has so many more uses than that. It can remove tarnish from brass or silver in the same way it removes remove rust. Just soak the pieces overnight and wash them in the morning.
Warm cola can also be used to clean oil stains off concrete. Glow up your garage or tidy your driveway by pouring cola over grease stains and wiping them up the following morning. Clean the area with water to ensure no sugar is left behind to attract ants, of course, and your concrete will look good as new!
DIY Bath Goodies
Want to take a relaxing spa-style bath without forking over a bunch of money for bath bombs? Take the skin-soothing soak you deserve by making bath mixes from stuff you may already have at home. The easiest "bomb" only requires five to 10 green tea bags. Toss them in your tub for a rejuvenating bath experience.
Another tub trick is to add a spoonful of coconut oil and either rose water or orange blossom water to the tub as it fills. The oil will moisturize your skin while the flower essences lightly fragrance and clarify your skin.
Keep It Down
A simple treatment for nausea before it gets to the point of puking is ginger. You can buy it fresh, in tea form or in Chewable Candy form. If you have chronic stomach problems or a sensitive tummy, ginger is one of the best ways to keep it calm and carry on.
If that doesn’t work at some point, here’s a weird tip for you. If you feel like you're about to toss your cookies, start humming. Granted, the last thing you probably want to do when you don’t feel well is hum, but the throat movement stifles your gag reflex, making it impossible to throw up. If you’re nowhere near your own bathroom when the urge strikes, this tip can be a lifesaver.
Learning Is Easy
If you’re raising little ones who are learning to read, watching TV can be educational. Turn on subtitles while they're watching and let the program help them learn new words. They learn to follow along as the characters speak, and repeated words become more familiar in time.
It's similar to reading a book: Repetition breeds familiarity. Getting to know new vocabulary through TV shows can help them recognize words in other contexts. They have less sounding out to do as they learn to read in school because they have encountered the words before. Who says you can't learn something useful from cartoons?
Fill Those Shoes
Do you have a favorite pair of shoes that is just a tiny bit too small? What about some new kicks that you’re dreading wearing right away to break them in? Unlike breaking in baseball gloves by running over them with your car, breaking in new shoes is much easier (and doesn't use any gas).
Fill up a pair of Ziploc bags with water and place them in your (clean) shoes. Place the shoes with the bags in the freezer overnight and let physics work its magic. The water expands as it freezes, stretching out the shoes in the process. Your feet will thank you.
You have undoubtedly shrunk something in the washer at least once, perhaps even recently. Plenty of guides tell you how to avoid shrinking clothing, but no one really talks about how to reverse it. That's right, it’s possible to undo the most dreaded laundry mistake.
All it takes is a bowl of warm water and some conditioner. Place the damaged article — your shirt, sweater, girlfriend's favorite dress, etc. — in a bowl with warm (not hot!) water and a tablespoon of hair conditioner. Let the clothing soak for 30 minutes and gently stretch it back out. Let it dry, and it should be good as new.
Target Those Deals
Here's a shopping hack for the discount-savvy. If you like to frequent Target, pay close attention to their markdown tags. If the price ends in an eight, it's likely to be marked down again soon. If it ends in a four, that's the lowest the price is going to go.
If you go shopping for appliances, check other stores for better deals. Many places will price match, but be aware that some suppliers issue slightly different model numbers to different stores to prevent stores from price matching. Always shop around first and look out for holiday sales. If you shop with coupons, check out RetailMeNot or install the Chrome plugin called Honey.
No Time for a Cold
There are plenty of ways to catch an unpleasant bug that comes with a sore throat. Sore throat remedies vary from simple lemon and honey to concoctions involving vinegar and garlic. Just about all of them will do the trick as long as they include an acid and an antiseptic/anti-inflammatory.
Vinegar, lemon juice and lime juice are all fairly strong acids. You might think that with a sore throat, the last thing you want in your mouth is an acid-wash. However, the low pH helps kill bacteria, which can keep you from getting sick. Garlic and honey are both antiseptics, which kill germs. Additionally, these last two are anti-inflammatories, so they can help keep the soreness from getting worse.
Permanent markers are great until they end up being permanent somewhere you don't want. If marker gets on nonporous surfaces like whiteboards, jar lids or glass, you can remove it with nail polish remover. If it's being particularly stubborn, scribble over it with more permanent marker and then wipe it down with an acetone-soaked cloth.
If marker gets on walls, acetone can also do the trick. Other quick solutions include hand sanitizer and hairspray. Just apply them to the scribbled area and wipe down immediately. It might take a little scrubbing or a few attempts, but the permanent marker will fade away in time.
This last one is perfect for the forgetful people who live in rainy areas like Portland or the Great Lakes region. If you get caught in the rain without an umbrella, swing into the nearest bar and grab a drink. Before you go, ask if they have any abandoned umbrellas.
Most places end up with a collection of forgotten umbrellas that have been there for months. If you ask nicely and leave a good tip, you just might score yourself one. If not, at least you have a place to wait out the rain. Pass this tip along to a friend. It just might save the perfect outfit!