10 Quick, Clever Household Tricks

The ability to turn junk into useful tools is what separates man from beast. Read this post and you’ll discover how walnuts can smooth out wood scratches and cereal bowls can double as MP3 player amps.

If Angus MacGyver took a crack and homemaking, he’d come up a list of suggestions much like that of the The Daily Buzz. Here are some of our favorites:

* Use WD-40 to clean crayon marks off TV and computer monitor screens.

* Wrap a rubber band around a sliced apple to keep it intact in a lunchbox.

* Pack bedsheets inside the pillowcases that go with them to avoid losing track of them.

* To amplify an MP3 player’s sound, place it in a bowl.

* Use baby powder to get sand off your skin at the beach.

* Strap light stuff to your closet’s ceiling with wire to save shelf and floor space.

* Mount a magnetic strip inside a bathroom cabinet door to hold bobby pins and nail clippers.

* Pack shoes inside of shower caps to keep them from getting your clothes dirty in suitcases.

* Snap bread tags on power cords to keep track of what goes with what.

* Freeze aloe vera in ice trays and pull out the cubes to ease sunburns.

25 clever ideas to make life easier [The Daily Buzz]


Edit Your Comment

  1. pop top says:

    I don’t know what to say. Some of these ideas are intriguing, and dare I say it? Useful.


    • ilovemom says:

      They really are. I was expecting another useless blog of common sense. The stocking over the vacuum hose is Nobel prize worthy.

  2. deathbecomesme says:

    Use Dawn to get grease stains out of your clothes! Newest trick I learned from my ex that saved me from throwing out a lot of the shirts I liked because they had grease stains

    • lim says:

      Any dish detergent that has “enzymes” will do the trick. Works on axle grease as well.

    • kc2idf says:

      You can also use it (SMALL amounts) in the washing machine to get the grease smell out of clothes (I live with two professional chefs who use this approach to get all of the kitchen smells out of their uniforms)

  3. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    He forgot the ubiquitous question, “What are your favorite household tricks?”

    • tugnutt says:

      and this is one case where it would actually be warranted!

    • RonYnz says:

      To kill moles in the lawn… place pieces of unwrapped juicy fruit in the hole. The mole loves them but cannot digest.. and die. It is non toxic if you have other pets.

  4. conquestofbread says:

    Any good tips for cleaning a disgusting microwave?

    • anker says:

      Boil a cup of vinegar in the microwave for 2-4 minutes, it will wipe clean with cloth and water. Also…Open a window, it stinks!

    • chatterboxwriting says:

      You can also add lemon juice to a cup of water and then heat the water inside the microwave for a few minutes. Smells a lot nicer and works well.

    • I just blue myself says:

      I put a bowl of water in the microwave and zap it for a minute to loosen up hardened gunk and then I attack it with baking soda and a sponge.

    • PSUSkier says:

      put a measured cup of vinegar in the microwave and let it run for about 5-10 minutes (depending on the crud buildup you have in there). Take a paper towel and wipe the crud out and you’re done.

      The vinegar smell dissipates pretty quickly after too.

      • shepd says:

        Remember to put a toothpick in the vinegar so the liquid has something to form steam bubbles on. You do not want superheated water in there! Plus it will go faster…

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        But do cover your mouth and nose – I once washed out a contained with hot water and white vinegar (a good way to eliminate odors!). The stench was so strong I nearly threw up and had to run out and get air.

    • qwickone says:

      Grease Lightening always works for me. But give it a wipedown at least once a week makes things much easier.

    • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

      Prevention is the best cure. Simply line the bottom of your microwave with aluminum foil.

    • faceonmars says:

      Put a cup of water in the microwave and heat to boiling. Leave it there for ten to twenty minutes to let the steam soften the crud, then try scrubbing.

  5. Cat says:

    Cats don’t do “tricks”. Unless the live in a cathouse.

  6. chefboyardee says:

    I find a pint glass to be much more useful than a bowl for amplifying my phone’s speakers.

    • framitz says:

      If you find the right wooden bowl it’s possible to get an amazing improvement. Harder surfaces, not so good.

    • bsh0544 says:

      Depending on the device, all sorts of containers can work to make the sound louder and/or fuller. Don’t be afraid to experiment. My wife thought I was nuts the first time she saw me put my phone on a bowl while working in the kitchen, and a week later I found her trying the same thing.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Oh I’m going to try that. I can’t hear very well at all out of my phone’s speakers (my house phone). That’s the one I tell people to call me on at night because it doesn’t cost me anything.

  7. caradrake says:

    If you have trouble with your garbage bags falling into the can, use binder clips to secure it to the sides.

    Use beach-soaked paper towels to clean tile in bathtubs. I leave it in place overnight (the moist towel is enough to keep it in place) and in the morning the bathtub is all clean with very little effort on my part, and no scrubbing.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      How do I beach soak something? Do I need to dip it in the surf?

    • Electric McButt says:

      Binder clips are also awesome for the edge of a desk, to keep open ended plugs on top (i.e. 1/8″ audio plugs, iThing chargers, USB cables). I love having them right there at the edge when I need them and not deep in the rats nest of cables behind my trillion pound desk.

  8. Rebecca K-S says:

    I love when these lists get oddly specific, like packing shoes in shower caps. I don’t have a shower cap. If I did, I would probably not want to put shoes in it, as I might later choose to put the shower cap on my head. I do, however, have quite the supply of plastic grocery bags. I imagine I’m not alone in this.

    • Rachacha says:

      Nope, I do the same thing with plastic grocery bags, although if you needed a bag for your shoes at the end of the trip and it was either repurposed, or it was damaged, using the free shower cap that the hotel provides could be a good alternative.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      that one was most useful when i worked in a hotel. people would actually ask for shower caps at the front desk to put their dirty running shoes into before packing up to leave

      • Rebecca K-S says:

        Oh, sure, it totally makes sense to me on the way out from a hotel. I just doubt most people have those lying around.

    • caradrake says:

      I took this to refer to the disposable shower caps, where you can get them very cheaply at a dollar store.

      • DrPizza says:

        Brilliant! Go to the dollar store and buy a disposable shower cap. Then, pack your shoes in the bag that the dollar store put your shower cap into.

        • caradrake says:

          They’re usually 50 caps for $1, or thereabouts. Should have specified that you weren’t just buying 1 single cap. We always have a pack on hand for various projects, although I’ve never used them for wrapping shoes – I don’t pack dirty shoes, and they go on the bottom of the duffel anyways.

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      I’d fold the showercap inside-out before putting my shoes in it, so that when I wear it, the dirty side is on the outside and gets clean in the shower.

  9. SporadicBlah says:

    Bread tags? Who can afford to eat begals or english muffins anymore? Regular bread is over $2 a loaf and all you get with it is a twist tie.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Look at big stores on the bakery clearance rack. Or try a different store, or a different brand.

      Whenever I get something with one of those things, I save it in a sugar bowl over my sink in case I lose the twist tie. I lose those all the time. It drives me crazy because then I can’t close my bread. This is an even better use for the extras.

      • mszabo says:

        Whenever I used to get one of those, I’d break off one of the tabs stick it to the end of my finger and flick it at my little brother. Yeah I guess I’ve been getting twist tie only bread for a couple decades now.

    • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

      The 1% can! Bwahahahaha. THAT is what the OWSers should be protesting: the price of bread.

  10. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    How does one take “a crack and homemaking”?

    Also, I tried putting my MP3 player in a bowl, but it didn’t sound any louder in my headphones.

    Finally, you forgot your #HintsFromPhiloise tag.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      yeah, most of these are in my vintage helpful hints from heloise collection. in between “put socks on your hands to dust” and “soften refrigerated cold hard butter by putting hot water in a bowl, dumping it out and turning the bowl upside down over the butter for a minute”

    • SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

      They used to teach this stuff to us in junior high (boys and girls alike), but I don’t think it’s taught now.
      My daughter-in-law is “taking a crack at home making” right now. I think she was raised by wolves.

    • Bye says:

      You need to take the Froot Loops out of the bowl before you put your mp3 in there.

  11. BrightShopperGettingBrighter says:

    I love this list! Sharing on Facebook, now.

  12. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    good stuff
    i know we’ve seen the tension rod to hold spray bottles one here before because i do that too and was excited that i’m not the only one.
    but the gutter garden one – i read the original blog post that came from a few years ago and the verdict was still out on how the vinyl siding might leech chemicals into the soil as the rain runs off it, and how much damage it would do to the siding itself in the long run. so proceed with caution there and maybe don’t grow edible plants on the non food grade plastic [even if you line the gutter to prevent plastic compounds getting into your lettuce, the siding could still be a concern]

  13. Geotis says:

    VERY few people know McGyver’s first name off hand. I applaud you.

  14. Geotis says:

    VERY few people know McGyver’s first name off hand. I applaud you.

  15. polishhillbilly says:

    cut an onion in half and place halves in corners while painting, the onion absorbs the smell.

    • Costner says:

      Great… so instead of a room smelling like paint it smells like onion!

      How about you just pop for the low-VOC paint that doesn’t stink? Chances are not only will it smell better (or not at all) but it will probably be a higher quality paint that will make the job that much better.

  16. Murph1908 says:

    The baby poweder one is very useful!

    “No, honey. I wasn’t at a strip club. I was at the beach!”

  17. akronharry says:

    Place your MP3 player in a bowl of water. It’s hilarious!

  18. SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

    Old-School Irish Housewife Cleaning Tips:
    Use crumpled aluminum foil to scrub burnt crap off your grill, oven racks, or uncoated metal cookware.
    Clean and buff stainless steel appliances with a small amount of mineral/baby oil on a damp cloth.
    Soak clogged shower heads in vinegar to loosen up mineral deposits.
    Use a pumice stone to scrub mineral deposits and rust stains out of your toilet bowl. Yes, this requires you to put your hand inside the toilet. Don’t be a wuss.

    • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

      Why are you cooking crap? Do you paint it and sell it at craft shows or something?

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:


      • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

        It just came in the mail from somebody in Germany. Had to do something with it.

      • SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

        I had considered just letting all the crap accumulate, then spray paint everything bronze and hang a few octopus pendants on it, but AliBaba.com was fresh out of octopus pendants (I know, right?). Instead, I collected a bunch of “found objects” from the alley behind the methadone clinic, encased them in Lucite, strung ’em on a ball chain, and listed them on Etsy w/a “steampunk” tag.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i love the vinegar vs shower head one. been using it for years. if you can’t remove the shower head to soak it [had an apartment where it was too tight for me to loosen] then get yourself a baggie and a rubber band, fill the baggie with vinegar and raise it up to the shower head and use the rubber band to fasten it. leave it overnight. if it leaks or falls, it’s already in the shower so no big deal

  19. curiositykt says:

    * Pack shoes inside of shower caps to keep them from getting your clothes dirty in suitcases

    But.. Why would I bring a shower cap with me? I generally just put my shoes in grocery bags, or I just make sure my shoes are clean.

    • Martha Gail says:

      Perhaps he means the free ones from hotels. I usually take all the toiletries with me when I leave, even if I didn’t use them. Except for the crappy bar soaps. But next time I travel I don’t have to buy travel size shampoo…or shower caps.

  20. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    WTF? I snapped bread tags on my power tool cords, but all they say is $2.99 and I still can’t tell them apart. And don’t even ASK me about putting shoes in a shower cap…

  21. James says:

    Strap stuff to your closet’s ceiling with wire? Not sure what they’re picturing, but be sure whatever you’re doing you’re drilling into the stud. Or else it’ll come crashing down.

    Some closets are way underused. Small closets (for coats and brooms or whatever,) and long bedroom closets often just have one shelf 3/4 of the way up with a hanger bar under it – and that’s it. You can go nuts adding broom hooks, lower shelves, plastic organizers, so it’s laid you well and doesn’t get dusty.

    And if you don’t mind messing up the inside of the door you can put a pegboard, (frame it on a 2×4) or small shelves there too. I’ve done this in my furnace basement closet and it holds all my small jars. Small storage galore!

  22. PadThai says:

    The aloe vera one is bogus. You shouldn’t apply ice to a burn, it can damage your skin further.

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      The tip is partially good, one does not know true sunburn pleasure until you put aloe gel in the fridge.

    • Saltpork says:

      Aloe vera really isn’t that useful for burns either. When I was younger I had a very bad 2nd degree grease burn. I went to a doctor. He told me to soak it in cold water until I could pull it out and feel no heat. I asked about sunburns and he said do the same. I have no scarring to this day. My treatment was 2-3 hours of submerging my hand 4-5 times a day. I never used ice.
      In 2 days the burn was completely stopped.

      The secret is the specific heat of water and thermodynamics. The issue with burns is that it will continue to burn after it’s started because of the heat trapped. Remove the heat, stop the burn.
      Aloe just allows for a sticky substance with a lot of water in it to sit on the skin and absorb the heat. Using regular water in a bucket or tub works better due to the increased volume.

      If you have to use a bathtub, be careful of hypothermia. It’s very easy to make your core body temp drop when lying in a tub of 70 degree water.

  23. jbandsma says:

    If you have a child with sticker mania (all over your walls, doors, etc), coat them with mayonnaise, let sit for 15 minutes and wipe right off.

  24. James says:

    Magic Eraser works great for shower/bathtub scum. Have no idea what’s in those but peels it right off.

  25. framitz says:

    I wouldn’t even consider using WD-40 on a TV screen.

    A dry microfiber cloth takes crayon off easily with no petroleum solvents to damage the screen coating.

    If the microfiber doesn’t work I MIGHT consider some orange oil, but it would be the last resort.

  26. Kuri says:

    I never even considered the bowl trick with a speaker. Neat.

  27. Suaveydavey says:

    I tried the MP3 trick, and all it did was make my Cheerios taste odd.

  28. hmburgers says:

    “* Use WD-40 to clean crayon marks off TV and computer monitor screens.”

    CRT ONLY! i.e. GLASS ones…

    Do not put WD-40 on an LCD screen which has a face made from a plastic… WD-40 may dull or otherwise destroy it. Bad advice.

  29. maxhobbs says:

    Instead of baby powder, just bring a jug of water to the beach with you then at the car just rinse off your feet.

  30. hmburgers says:

    Why not save your shower cap and instead pack them in a plastic grocery store bag? I throw a few of them in my suitcases to hold dirty laundry. Helps to keep the clean stuff smelling better–this is particularly useful if you’re traveling between multiple destinations (i.e. business trips)

  31. maxhobbs says:

    How do you get blood out of a trunk of a car and off of carpeting?

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      hydrogen peroxide

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I don’t know whether to laugh or be alarmed at this exchange…

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          i hit a turtle and took it to the small animal emergency hospital at the local vet school. it bled all over my floor mats.
          i am just going to assume that maxhobbs had a similar situation, right?

  32. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I like the hint about storing the linens in their own pillow cases, but that means I’d have to be a whole lot more careful about how I fold them. Let’s just say I don’t always get them folded that perfectly.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      nah, as long as they fit and you don’t mind wrinkles they don’t have to be folded perfectly.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Cool! Permission to just shove the stuff in the pillow case and sit on it to make it fit in the linen area! Awesome!! :)

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          hah! i don’t know about permission but i know what works for me. i find they fit no matter how carefully i fold them. and after the blankets are on, who can see the wrinkles?

  33. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    I’ve been stashing my bedsheets in the matching pillowcase for a couple years now, it’s really effective.

  34. OthelloAndreus says:

    The bread tag “trick” is silly. The tags aren’t going to stay in place at the top of the wire as pictured without breaking. Just buy a sheet of stick-on wire labels for a dollar.

  35. Max Headroom says:

    But how does one fold a fitted sheet???

  36. Outrun1986 says:

    Anyone got a good solution for gluing a small piece of carpet that has come up. It would look fine if I could just glue it down but I want to use the right type of glue so I don’t mess it up further. Also buying another whole carpet is not an option, so I need to know what type of glue works well on carpets.

    • Costner says:

      I’m assuming you are talking about an industrial or commercial style of carpet that does not have a pad underneath and is glued down rather than laid on tack strips and only held at the perimeter, so there are a few options.

      They make a carpet tape which is nothing more than extra wide double sided tape with a really strong adhesive and a tough base layer (think of a strong duct tape with adhesive on both sides). That would work well for a small area and would be really easy to install. Just don’t confuse this with carpet seaming tape – which is tape that has a heat activated adhesive on one side… meant to hold carpet together at a seam (or used when patching carpet). They do make carpet seaming tape that is a peel and stick type too, but that isn’t what you need since the adhesive is only on one side.

      Another option is contact adhesive. You apply it to the surface or in some cases both surfaces… let it set long enough to just be tacky – and then stick the carpet down.

      You could also use hot glue if the carpet has some form of backing to prevent the glue from coming through. Hot glue tends to be thicker and will harden very fast so you can hold the carpet down for a minute or two as it sets. In a small corner I’d probably just stack a few books on it and leave it for an hour or two.

  37. ovalseven says:

    I store my linens in the same plastic zippered bags they came in. I always save those things. Not only does the set stay together, it stays fresh and dust-free.

  38. Cantras says:

    I’m not sure I’d be down with frozen aloe. I’m sure I’d attempt to pop out a few cubes and toss them in a drink at some point. BUT you can store it in the fridge.

  39. Debbie says:

    The baby powder trick doesn’t work for sand that’s wet with salt water, but it’s good for sand from the sandbox or around fresh water. And they really mean cornstarch, not talc.