25 Brilliant Life Hacks You Need to Try

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These life hacks will help you clean, cook, organize, and just live more efficiently.

1. USE A BOWL AS A MAKESHIFT IPHONE SPEAKER.

Woman with a hand to her ear to listen.
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Pump up the volume at any impromptu party by putting your smartphone in a bowl: The concave shape will amplify the music from its speaker.

2. ADD A LAZY SUSAN TO YOUR FRIDGE.

Woman pulling food out of a fridge.
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Sick of having to take five plastic containers out of your fridge in order to reach something behind them? Put a Lazy Susan on each shelf. Next time, all you have to do is spin to access food way in the back.

3. PROGRAM FREQUENTLY USED WORDS TO AUTO-FILL ON YOUR PHONE.

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It can be very frustrating to type on your smartphone's tiny keyboard rather than the roomy layout of a computer keyboard. Save time on words you use often by creating custom text replacement shortcuts. For instance, if you type your full name out a lot to fill out forms, set up your initials to autocorrect to your name. Try it for usernames, email addresses, addresses, or simple phrases like "Leaving now" or "Be there soon."

4. TAKE SCRATCHES OUT OF YOUR CDS AND DVDS USING A BANANA.

Close-up of CD with scratches.
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To de-scratch a CD, peel a banana and rub the fruit on the disc in a circular motion. Use the underside of the peel to rub the banana in deeper before wiping away the residue with a lint-free cloth. Lastly, give the disc a spritz of Windex and remove smudges with a new cloth.

5. COOL A WARM SODA IN THREE MINUTES.

Soda cans on ice.
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Say you went to the fridge for a LaCroix, only to discover that no one restocked the shelf. The cans in the pantry aren't cold, and putting one in the fridge now will take forever to cool. To have an ice cold can in just a few minutes, put your drink in a large pot and cover it with ice. Fill the pot with water, add a couple cups of salt, and stir until the salt is dissolved. Your canned beverage will magically be cold. (Alternative: Unless you need the portability of the aluminum can, keep it simple with a cup of ice.)

6. USE A HAIR DRYER TO GET RID OF WATER RINGS.

Rings of water on wooden table.
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So, you forgot to use a coaster once (or many times) and now your nice coffee table is covered in white water rings from the bottom of your glass. Luckily, you can banish them them with a hair dryer. Blast the stains with a low heat setting until they start to disappear. When they're gone, rub a little bit of olive oil on the spot to recondition the wood.

7. USE A MESH BAG TO HOLD SMALL ITEMS IN THE DISHWASHER.

White mesh laundry bag
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When you need to put small things in the dishwasher, like corn-on-the-cob holders, put them in a mesh laundry bag (the kind you use for delicates). That way, nothing will fall through the grates. Try it for tiny containers, measuring spoons, and the caps to reusable bottles.

8. BOIL SALT WATER TO GET RID OF BURN MARKS.

hand scrubbing a pan
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The good news: You cooked yourself a lavish meal. The bad news: Now there are burn marks on your pan. Instead of resigning yourself to ages of hard scrubbing, follow this tip from Martha Stewart. Fill the pot or pan with cold water and two to three tablespoons of salt and let it sit overnight. The next day, bring the water to a boil, pour it out, and do a final wash with soap.

9. EXERCISE BETWEEN 5 P.M. AND 6 P.M.

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During this period, your physical performance is at its peak, your risk of injury is at its lowest, and your muscle strength, lungs, and hand-eye coordination are all at their best and most efficient, which puts you in peak workout mode. Plus, if you work out at roughly the same time every day, you'll create a ritual that'll be harder to break when you're feeling less motivated.

10. COLOR CODE YOUR KEYS.

keys with colorful plastic caps on table
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If you have trouble remembering which key is which, color code them to solve the problem once and for all. You don't need any fancy supplies: Just use nail polish. Simply dab a dot of color on the head of the key. Avoid painting any part of the key that makes contact with the lock; you don't want nail polish rubbing off inside of your locks. If you have trouble telling keys apart in the dark, try a glow-in-the-dark paint.

11. DE-SCRATCH FURNITURE WITH A WALNUT.

bowl of walnuts on wood table
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Erase dings and scrapes in wood furniture by rubbing a walnut over the problem area: The oil from the nut will make those scrapes disappear.

12. CUT CLEAN SLICES OF CAKE WITH DENTAL FLOSS.

Slices of a rainbow layer cake.
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To avoid smeared frosting and clumps of cake breaking off, use a long string of unflavored dental floss to cut through a cake. This also works with soft cheeses!

13. HULL STRAWBERRIES WITH A STRAW.

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You don't need a strawberry huller: Take the stems off strawberries cleanly by driving a straw right through from bottom to top.

14. HANG WRINKLED CLOTHES IN THE BATHROOM WHILE YOU SHOWER.

Wrinkled shirt hanging up.
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In a pinch, like when you're traveling, you can spruce up wrinkled clothes by hanging them in the bathroom while you shower. When the room gets steamy, the heat and moisture will help un-wrinkle your duds for you, but you will want to smooth the clothes out by hand afterward.

15. BURN CRAYONS IF YOU'RE OUT OF CANDLES.

Lots of crayons.
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If the power goes out and you can't find your emergency candles, grab a box of crayons. Carefully set one upright in a small glass, and use a lighter the same way you would on a regular candle. The crayon should burn for up to 30 minutes.

16. STORE SHEET SETS INSIDE THE PILLOWCASES.

white sheets on clothesline
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No more hunting in your linen closet for the right sheets: Organize each matching sheet set by folding everything and storing it inside one of the pillowcases.

17. WAX YOUR STOVETOP TO MAKE FUTURE CLEANING A BREEZE.

kitchen with stove
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After you've given your stovetop a thorough cleaning, apply a thin layer of car wax and then buff it off with a clean towel. Now, wiping off future spills and blobs of food will be painless, plus your stove will look shiny and new.

18. USE A CLOTHESPIN TO HOLD A NAIL WHILE HAMMERING.

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Once you use a clothespin to hold a nail while hammering, you'll wonder why you ever risked hitting your fingers before.

19. CHILL WINE WITHOUT WATERING IT DOWN.

Glasses of chilled wine.
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Sometimes you need to chill your wine, and under no circumstances do you want melting ice cubes to water down your drink. For a sustainable solution, invest in some reusable plastic ice cubes. Unlike traditional cubes, plastic ones won't melt. These colorful ones from Kikkerland are filled with real water. Or, try these stainless steel wine pearls from Uncommon Goods, which are filled with food-grade freeze gel.

20. USE THE BLENDER TO CLEAN A BLENDER.

A clean blender.
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Don't risk slicing your fingers by cleaning a blender with a sponge—pour in soap and water, turn it on, and rinse it out. Voila!

21. USE THIS TRICK TO TELL IF YOUR EGGS HAVE GONE BAD.

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Determine if an egg has gone bad by placing it in a bowl of cool water. If it sinks onto its side, it's perfectly fine. If it sinks and stands on its smaller end, it's still edible, but won't be for very much longer. And if it floats, it's bad. How does this work? Fresher eggs have less air under their shells, which is why they sink to the bottom.

22. USE DRYER SHEETS AND A FAN AS A MAKESHIFT AIR FRESHENER.

Close-up of a yellow fan.
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Create a makeshift air freshener by turning on a fan and taping a dryer sheet or two on the back. They'll stick on and work efficiently to eliminate odors.

23. KEEP YOUR GARBAGE BAG IN PLACE WITH ADHESIVE HOOKS.

Trash can with a bag.
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If your garbage bag is always slipping into the bin, secure it with this hack. You'll need two sticky wall hooks and a drawstring garbage bag. Attach one hook upside down on the outside of either side of the trash can and hook the trash bag's drawstrings on.

24. USE 'AAA' BATTERIES IF YOU RUN OUT OF 'AA' ONES.

Assorted batteries on an orange background.
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Can't find any more AA batteries in the drawer? When you need to replace the batteries in the remote without trekking to the store, stick a AAA battery in there. Then, roll a small ball of aluminum foil to plug the gap on the negative end of the battery.

25. TOUCH UP WRINKLED CLOTHES WITH A HAIR STRAIGHTENER.

A flat iron against a pastel background.
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While using a clothes iron to straighten hair is an old trick (which is apparently new again?), using a hair straightener on collars and that space between buttons also works.

12 Good Ol' Facts About The Dukes of Hazzard

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Getty Images

When The Dukes of Hazzard premiered on January 26, 1979, it was intended to be a temporary patch in CBS’s primetime schedule until The Incredible Hulk returned. Only nine episodes were ordered, and few executives at the network had any expectation that the series—about two amiable brothers at odds with the corrupt law enforcement of Hazzard County—would become both a ratings powerhouse and a merchandising bonanza. Check out some of these lesser-known facts about the Duke boys, their extended family, and the gravity-defying General Lee.

1. CBS's chairman hated The Dukes of Hazzard.

CBS chairman William Paley never quite bought into the idea of spinning his opinion to match the company line. Having built CBS from a radio station to one of the “Big Three” television networks, he had harvested talent as diverse as Norman Lear and Lucille Ball, a marked contrast to the Southern-fried humor of The Dukes of Hazzard. In his 80s when it became a top 10 series and seeing no reason to censor himself, Paley repeatedly and publicly described the show as “lousy.”

2. The Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee got 35,000 fan letters a month.


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While John Schneider and Tom Wopat were the ostensible stars of the show, both the actors and the show's producers quickly found out that the main attraction was the 1969 Dodge Charger—dubbed the General Lee—that trafficked brothers Bo and Luke Duke from one caper to another. Of the 60,000 letters the series was receiving every month in 1981, 35,000 wanted more information on or pictures of the car.

3. Dennis Quaid wanted to be The Dukes of Hazzard's Luke Duke—on one condition.

When the show began casting in 1978, producers threw out a wide net searching for the leads. Dennis Quaid was among those interested in the role of Luke Duke—which eventually went to Wopat—but he had a condition: he would only agree to the show if his then-wife, P.J. Soles, was cast at the Dukes’ cousin, Daisy. Soles wasn’t a proper fit for the supporting part, which put Quaid off; Catherine Bach was eventually cast as Daisy.

4. John Schneider pretended to be a redneck for his Dukes of Hazzard audition.

New York native Schneider was only 18 years old when he went in to read for the role of Bo Duke. The problem: producers wanted someone 24 to 30 years old. Schneider lied about his age and passed himself off as a Southern archetype, strutting in wearing a cowboy hat, drinking a beer, and spitting tobacco. He also told them he could do stunt driving. It was a good enough performance to land him the show.

5. The Dukes of Hazzard co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat met while taking a poop.

After Schneider was cast, the show needed to locate an actor who could complement Bo. Stage actor Wopat was flown in for a screen test; Schneider happened to be in the bathroom when Wopat walked in after him. The two began talking about music—Schneider had seen a guitar under the stall door—and found they had an easy camaraderie. After flushing, the two did a scene. Wopat was hired immediately.

6. Daisy's Dukes needed a tweak on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Bach’s omnipresent jean shorts were such a hit that any kind of cutoffs quickly became known as “Daisy Dukes,” after her character. But they were so skimpy that the network was concerned censors wouldn’t allow them. A negotiation began, and it was eventually decided that Bach would wear some extremely sheer pantyhose to make sure there were no clothing malfunctions.

7. Nancy Reagan was fan of The Dukes of Hazzard's Daisy.

Shirley Moore, Bach’s former grade school teacher, went on to work in the White House. After Bach sent her a poster, she was surprised to hear back that then-First Lady Nancy Reagan was enamored with it. “I’m the envy of the White House and I’m having your poster framed,” Moore wrote in a letter. “Mrs. Reagan saw the picture and fell in love with it.” Bach sent more posters, which presumably became part of the decor during the Reagan administration.

8. The Dukes of Hazzard's stars had some very bizarre contract demands.

Wopat and Schneider famously walked off the series in 1982 after demanding a cut of the show’s massive merchandising revenue—which was, by one estimate, more than $190 million in 1981 alone. They were replaced with Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer, “cousins” of the Duke boys, who were reviled by fans for being scabs. The two leads eventually came back, but it wasn’t the only time Warner Bros. had to deal with irate actors. James Best, who portrayed crooked sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, refused to film five episodes because he had no private dressing room in which to change his clothes; the production just hosed him down when he got dirty. Ben Jones, who played “Cooter” the mechanic, briefly left because he wanted his character to sport a beard and producers preferred he be clean-shaven.

9. A miniature car was used for some stunts in The Dukes of Hazzard.

As established, the General Lee was a primary attraction for viewers of the series. For years, the show wrecked dozens of Chargers by jumping, crashing, and otherwise abusing them, which created some terrific footage. For its seventh and final season in 1985, the show turned to a miniature effects team in an effort to save on production costs: it was cheaper to mangle a Hot Wheels-sized model than the real thing. “It was a source of embarrassment to all of us on the show,” Wopat told E!.

10. The Dukes of Hazzard's famous "hood slide" was an accident.

A staple—and, eventually, cliché—of action films everywhere, the slide over the hood was popularized by Tom Wopat. While it may have been tempting to take credit, Wopat said it was unintentional and that the first time he tried clearing the hood, the car’s antenna wound up injuring him.

11. The Dukes of Hazzard cartoon went international.


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Warner Bros. capitalized on the show’s phenomenal popularity with an animated series, The Dukes, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired in 1983. Taking advantage of the form, the Duke boys traveled internationally, racing Boss Hogg through Greece or Hong Kong. Perhaps owing to the fact that the live-action series was already considered enough of a cartoon, the animated series only lasted 20 episodes.

12. In 2015, Warner Bros. banned the Confederate flag from The Dukes of Hazzard merchandising.

At the time the series originally aired, little was made of the General Lee sporting a Confederate flag on its hood. In 2015, after then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke out against the depiction of the flag in popular culture, Warner Bros. elected to stop licensing products with the original roof. The company announced that all future Dukes merchandise would drop the design element. Schneider disagreed with the decision, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Is the flag used as such in other applications? Yes, but certainly not on the Dukes ... Labeling anyone who has the flag a ‘racist’ seems unfair to those who are clearly ‘never meanin’ no harm.'”

10 Fascinating Facts About Chinese New Year

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iStock.com/aluxum

Some celebrants call it the Spring Festival, a stretch of time that signals the progression of the lunisolar Chinese calendar; others know it as the Chinese New Year. For a 15-day period beginning January 25 in 2020, China will welcome the Year of the Rat, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac table.

Sound unfamiliar? No need to worry: Check out 10 facts about how one-sixth of the world's total population rings in the new year.

1. Chinese New Year was originally meant to scare off a monster.

Nian at Chinese New Year
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As legend would have it, many of the trademarks of the Chinese New Year are rooted in an ancient fear of Nian, a ferocious monster who would wait until the first day of the year to terrorize villagers. Acting on the advice of a wise old sage, the townspeople used loud noises from drums, fireworks, and the color red to scare him off—all remain components of the celebration today.

2. A lot of families use Chinese New Year as motivation to clean the house.

woman ready to clean a home
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While the methods of honoring the Chinese New Year have varied over the years, it originally began as an opportunity for households to cleanse their quarters of "huiqi," or the breaths of those that lingered in the area. Families performed meticulous cleaning rituals to honor deities that they believed would pay them visits. The holiday is still used as a time to get cleaning supplies out, although the work is supposed to be done before it officially begins.

3. Chinese New Year will prompt billions of trips.

Man waiting for a train.
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Because the Chinese New Year places emphasis on family ties, hundreds of millions of people will use the Lunar period to make the trip home. Accounting for cars, trains, planes, and other methods of transport, the holiday is estimated to prompt nearly three billion trips over the 15-day timeframe.

4. Chinese New Year involves a lot of superstitions.

Colorful pills and medications
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While not all revelers subscribe to embedded beliefs about what not to do during the Chinese New Year, others try their best to observe some very particular prohibitions. Visiting a hospital or taking medicine is believed to invite ill health; lending or borrowing money will promote debt; crying children can bring about bad luck.

5. Some people rent boyfriends or girlfriends for Chinese New Year to soothe their parents.

Young Asian couple smiling
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In China, it's sometimes frowned upon to remain single as you enter your thirties. When singles return home to visit their parents, some will opt to hire a person to pose as their significant other in order to make it appear like they're in a relationship and avoid parental scolding. Rent-a-boyfriends or girlfriends can get an average of $145 a day.

6. Red envelopes are everywhere during Chinese New Year.

a person accepting a red envelope
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An often-observed tradition during Spring Festival is to give gifts of red envelopes containing money. (The color red symbolizes energy and fortune.) New bills are expected; old, wrinkled cash is a sign of laziness. People sometimes walk around with cash-stuffed envelopes in case they run into someone they need to give a gift to. If someone offers you an envelope, it's best to accept it with both hands and open it in private.

7. Chinese New Year can create record levels of smog.

fireworks over Beijing's Forbidden City
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Fireworks are a staple of Spring Festival in China, but there's more danger associated with the tradition than explosive mishaps. Cities like Beijing can experience a 15-fold increase in particulate pollution. In 2016, Shanghai banned the lighting of fireworks within the metropolitan area.

8. Black clothes are a bad omen during Chinese New Year.

toddler dressed up for Chinese New Year
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So are white clothes. In China, both black and white apparel is traditionally associated with mourning and are to be avoided during the Lunar month. The red, colorful clothes favored for the holiday symbolize good fortune.

9. Chinese New Year leads to planes being stuffed full of cherries.

Bowl of cherries
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Cherries are such a popular food during the Festival that suppliers need to go to extremes in order to meet demand. In 2017, Singapore Airlines flew four chartered jets to Southeast and North Asian areas. More than 300 tons were being delivered in time for the festivities.

10. Panda Express is hoping Chinese New Year will catch on in America.

Box of takeout Chinese food from Panda Express
domandtrey, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Although their Chinese food menu runs more along the lines of Americanized fare, the franchise Panda Express is still hoping the U.S. will get more involved in the festival. The chain is promoting the holiday in its locations by running ad spots and giving away a red envelope containing a gift: a coupon for free food. Aside from a boost in business, Panda Express hopes to raise awareness about the popular holiday in North America.

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