These life hacks will help you clean, cook, organize, and just live more efficiently.
1. USE A BOWL AS A MAKESHIFT IPHONE SPEAKER.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.