50 Amazing Skills You Can Learn on YouTube

With a bit of YouTube help, you can teach your pets some handy new tricks.
With a bit of YouTube help, you can teach your pets some handy new tricks.
Nils Jacobi/iStock via Getty Images

We at Mental Floss are always eager to learn new things and develop new skills. If you resolved to pick up a new hobby or just need to finally figure out how to do some home repairs on your own, we have you covered. Here, we've collected 50 YouTube tutorials that will give you all the basics to learn both the fun (like poker or calligraphy) and the practical (like CPR or how to clean a cast iron pan). Happy learning!

1. How To Whistle With Your Fingers

This one definitely takes some practice, but it will come in handy should you ever need to hail a cab, call a dog, or get someone's attention from afar. The video shows you exactly how to position your mouth in order to get that perfect whistle.

2. How To Unclog A Kitchen Sink

For everyday clogs, you can often avoid the plumber by putting chemistry to good use. The principles Pan the Organizer uses here are the same that made your volcano bubble over at the elementary school science fair—baking soda and white vinegar, plus some heavy helpings of boiling water. It's a method that's great for people short on time, patience, or tolerance for plumber's crack.

3. How To Make Kombucha

Kombucha may seem complicated, but with a little know-how, it's actually one of the easiest drinks to make at home. All you need is a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, the kombucha starter that is also sometimes called "the mother"), tea bags, sugar, water, and a big jar. Follow the recipe, set it out of the way, and watch it ferment for anywhere between one and four weeks before bottling and refrigerating it.

4. How To Speed-Read

If you made a resolution to read more books this year, then this is the tutorial for you. Memory expert Ron White highlights a few techniques you can use to double, triple, or even quadruple your reading speed. One of the tips is to stop sub-vocalizing, or reading to yourself in your head using "silent speech." A bit of Bach in the background doesn't hurt, either.

5. How To Remove A Stain From A Couch Or Carpet

Stains are a fact of life, but watching Oprah's method for removing them in this Vanity Fair video makes them a little easier to bear—and remove. Her secret involves several doses of club soda, which loosens the stain and makes it bubble up, followed by a modest application of dishwashing detergent. You'll not only learn a handy trick here, but you get to watch Oprah's face light up with glee as she watches the club soda do the job. Who doesn't love bubbles?

6. How To Build A Campfire

Grab your tinder, kindling, and fuel wood and let this video from REI show you how to build a great campfire. Along with teaching you how to build a classic "teepee-style" fire, the instructor also explains the "log cabin technique" and the "pyramid technique." These two types of long-lasting campfires require minimal attention, giving you extra time to eat an another s'more.

7. How To Do A Cartwheel

For the young at heart who want to frolick and flip in the meadows come spring (or, just teach some kids a skill you never quite mastered), a cartwheel is a far more attainable gymnastic goal than, say, a back handspring. Warm up with some stretches, and then follow these instructions on how to find your dominant side, where to place your feet and arms, and how to begin straightening your legs so there's some semblance of grace.

8. How To Remove A Red Wine Stain

First, blot as much of the liquid out of the stain as possible. Then, pour cool water on the fabric, followed by a generous pour of salt. Next, take boiling water and pour that over the stain. Let it sit for a while. If that doesn't do the trick, mix one part vinegar and two parts water, soaking the stain in that solution. Toss it in the wash to make it good as new. Then, pour yourself another glass of red.

9. How To Fix A Candle With A Buried Wick

If you can't light your favorite candle because the wick has gotten buried by wax, it's relatively easy to fix the issue. All you have to do, according to eHow Home, is heat up the candle with a torch or other heat source (a hair dryer will work, as long as you watch out for splash) so that the top layer of wax melts. Then pour off the hot wax to reveal the lost wick. Keep heating the candle until you've melted and poured out enough wax to expose a significant piece of wick. You can use tweezers or another tool to straighten out the wick and then re-light the candle.

10. How To Say "Hello" In Nearly 50 Languages

You might already know namaste and konnichiwa, but what about zdravo, ahoj, or annyeong? Let Lingualizer be your guide to cross-cultural greetings in 46 different languages. Whether you're planning a trip around the world or just want to impress at a party, this two-minute tutorial will help you make friends no matter where you go.

11. How To Change A Tire

Sometimes you need to be your own roadside assistance, which is why Howdini's quick and simple tutorial on how to get back on track after a flat tire is a must-watch. You’ll not only learn how to mount a spare, but how to do it safely and without risking injury from passing traffic.

12. How To Tie A Tie

Never fear another formal event with this guide to tying a necktie with a simple knot. Only four steps—behind, across, out, and through—need to be mastered. After only minimal practice, you should easily be able execute a knot in less than 10 seconds.

13. How To Cut An Onion (Without Crying)

There's no need to break out the industrial goggles every time you chop onions. It is possible to prepare the ingredient without weeping all over your cutting board—you just need to know which part of the pungent veggie to avoid.

14. How To Survive A Shark Attack

In the exceedingly rare, infinitesimally small chance that you could be attacked by a shark, Joe Bereta of Epic How To has a few tips. First, avoidance is key: keep out of the water at night, don't swim near river deltas where sharks like to hunt small fish, and never go swimming in Florida's open waters. If you do encounter a shark, stay calm, remain vertical in the water (it's more difficult to bite you that way), and move quickly toward shore. If the shark isn't getting the hint, bonk it on the nose with a rock or your fist and just get the hell out of there.

15. How To Clean A Cast Iron Pan

Cooking great food with a cast iron pan is easy. It's the part that comes after the meal that scares many home cooks away from owning this essential piece of kitchen equipment. Unlike some other pans, you can't stick a dirty cast iron skillet in the dishwasher. Scrubbing it with soap will damage the pan's layer of seasoning, and letting it sit around wet can cause it to rust. Fortunately, when you know how to clean and season a cast iron pan (rub it down with a mild oil, like flaxseed or vegetable oil—not olive oil!), maintaining one isn't so intimidating.

16. How To Make A Bed Properly

Ever wonder how hotels manage to make their bed sheets look so perfect? It's a skill you can easily master with this HGTV primer on creating a Four Seasons-ready bedding ensemble, including how do a proper "hospital corner" tuck at the foot of the bed. You'll even learn the secret for having crisp, wrinkle-free sheets. (Hint: It's not ironing.)

17. How To Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Have you ever tried to boil an egg and ended up with a squishy, sulfurous mess? Tasty is here to help. Place eggs in a saucepot, cover completely with water, and bring to a full boil. Then remove the pot from the heat and cover with a lid. Timing is important: For soft boiled eggs, keep the pot covered for 4 to 6 minutes; for medium-hard, 8 to 10 minutes, and for hard, 14 to 16 minutes. Then, pop them in a quick icebath to make peeling easier, and enjoy!

18. How To Make A Simple Bouquet

Want to add a personal touch to a romantic gift? Flowers are always welcome—but a gorgeous bouquet, crafted with your own two hands (and creative abilities) is even better. Prep the flower and filler greens by stripping the stems of any thorns or excess leaves, arrange in three equal bunches with the focal flowers supported by the accent greens, and then bind the three bunches together with string. This clip even shows how to wrap your bouquet in brown paper for that straight-from-the-farmers'-market look. It's a skill that will come in handy on Mother's Day, anniversaries, birthdays, and beyond.

19. How To Be A Better Dancer In Three Steps

No matter how awkward or insecure you may be (and you're not alone), there comes a time when everyone must hit the dance floor with pride, or (maybe) die trying. Thankfully, this video from The Wall Street Journal breaks down the art of dancing into three easy steps: finding the basic beat of the music; step-touching with your feet; and trying variations of the step-touch to make it your own. It's an incredibly simple way to make the terrifying task of dancing in front of your friends and relatives a bit less daunting.

20. How To Save A Burnt Cake

Have your cake and then eat it, too. It takes so much work to bake a cake, and with this easy trick using a basic cheese grater to smooth off any blackened sections, you can avoid the massive letdown of a burned-looking dessert. Even better, the same trick will also work on a loaf of bread.

21. How To Play The Piano

Even if you never took piano lessons as a child, you can learn the basics with this series of short lessons. Whether it's learning the names of each key (like in this four-minute clip) or the follow-up videos on how to play various major and minor chords, a few minutes on YouTube will certainly get you past the "Chopsticks" playing level.

22. How To Repair Drywall

Fixing a hole in drywall isn't necessarily the sexiest skill, but it is one of the most satisfying—and essential. Rather than hiring a handyman to make the fix, use this video from Lowe's, which runs you through fixes for everything from tiny holes (which require some spackle and a drywall knife) to dents from door knobs (you'll need a patch kit) to bigger holes (get yourself some drywall, furring strips, and joint tape!). They might seem intimidating, but it's surprisingly easy to DIY.

23. How To Hit A Baseball

Many people can attest to the difficulty of hitting a baseball; some have even said it's the hardest thing "in the galaxy" to do. This video by ProSwingNY, however, breaks down the basic logistics in just seven fundamental steps, from squaring up to the pitcher to, of course, breathing. It might not take you to major league level, but it'll certainly give you a major advantage!

24. How To Juggle

Juggling is one of those skills that looks hard but is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. This video will help you learn to juggle three balls at once, starting from the very basics (learn to toss one ball back and forth with your eyes closed) up until you feel comfortable adding the second and third ball.

25. How To Pack A Suitcase

This video from Heathrow Airport uses flight attendant tips to help travelers maximize space in their suitcase. First, lay out everything you're thinking of bringing, then eliminate a third of it. Shoes go first: Stuff underwear and socks inside, then pop the shoes into the suitcase heel to toe. Pack the space between them with soft items like T-shirts (roll them if you have to!). Next, layer bulkier items like jeans and dresses by putting each item half in, half out of the suitcase, alternating sides; then, fold the parts outside the suitcase back into the suitcase. The next layer is a bag for your dirty clothes, over which you'll pack items like toiletries and books (make sure they're in the middle!). Snake belts around the inside edge of your suitcase. The last layer is collared shirts.

26. How To Improve Your Handwriting

Nearly everyone's handwriting can devolve into illegible chicken scratch without some practice and upkeep. If you want to spruce up your penmanship, this tutorial will walk you through some tips that you might have forgotten over the years, like how you shouldn't over-embellish any cursive loops and that proper spacing is key.

27. How To Do Calligraphy

If you've mastered cursive and want to take your writing skills to the next level, or if you just want to be able to enhance your next handwritten invitation, this how-to on modern calligraphy gives you a broad scope of the basics. Start by practicing all of letters individually to get used to making a thin upstroke and thick downstroke—and while you're at it, you'll be able to hone in on your favorite lettering style.

28. How To Get Wax Out Of A Tablecloth

Candle wax on the tablecloth is one of those unavoidable dinner party realities. But you won't cry over spilled wax if you have this video from Real Simple, which shows how to remove the melted material from fabric in two (or less) easy steps: First, freeze the waxed fabric, then scrape the wax off with a knife and throw the item in the laundry. If there's still wax remaining, it's time to get out some wax paper and an iron.

29. How To Ride A Bike

Biking is a great way to get around town—and a fun way to stay in shape—but if you didn't learn as a kid, riding on two wheels can seem pretty intimidating. This video by Cycling UK helps makes learning to ride as an adult easy, breaking down each step to properly guide you. It also emphasizes one particularly important fact: Practice makes perfect!

30. How To Make Balloon Animals

Balloon animals are irresistible. If you want to be a hit at the next children's birthday party you attend, this video by Balloon Animals on how to make a balloon dog is the place to start. It's commonly the first animal twisters learn to make, and because it requires three "lock" twists (at the ears and each set of legs), you'll learn how to make a sturdy animal from the get-go.

31. How To Knit

Though it may seem daunting at first, knitting is one of those skills that only becomes more rewarding over time. This how-to takes a look at the very first step necessary to knit anything: casting on. Let the soothing voice of Kristen Mangus of Goodknit Kisses be your guide as you learn to make your first stitch. Once you master that skill, GoodKnit Kisses has hundreds more videos of different techniques and tutorials for you to tackle.

32. How To Make A Paper Airplane

The fun of paper airplanes is often in the customization (hint: fancy wing fins), but it's also in the satisfaction of a successful flight. This video shows you how to not just make an airplane that will fly, but one that will fly fast. One you have the hang of this particular fold, you can move on to adding more embellishments.

33. How To Perform A Magic Trick

What's a great way to make your presence felt at whatever event you're attending? Magic, obviously. This video by Troom Troom SELECT shows you how to prepare and perform not just one, but 20 wildly different magic tricks. Each bit is designed for beginner magicians, but they'll still dazzle your unsuspecting audience.

34. How To Teach Your Cat To High-Five

Cats are notorious for doing only what they want to do, but don't let that fool you: They can be trained. To teach your cat how to high-five, stock up on a treat she loves, find an area that's distraction-free, and try to get her to bat at the treat. Interrupt the batting with your hand, make a clicking noise, and give her the treat; repeat. As with any skill, practice makes perfect, so keep at it with the tips in this video from Woman's Day—your kitty will be high-fiving in no time.

35. How To Meditate

Maybe you're stressed over that final paper you have due in a week, or there's a family gathering that you have been tasked with putting together. Finding ways to help your brain relax is important—and one of those ways is meditation. Achieving serenity isn't always easy, but this video breaks down the process into five easy steps: having the right location, keeping a straight spine, pre-mediation preparation, focusing on your breath, and observing without judgment.

36. How To Code

Coding—a.k.a. computer programming—is one of the most desirable and valuable skills to have in the 21st-century workplace. The complex system of symbols, letters, and commands can be intimidating, and learning the basics will take quite a bit longer than many of the other skills on this list. But starting with this video from Clever Programmer will help you understand what to look for in an online course and how to narrow down which language makes the most sense for you and your goals. Think of it as the tutorial before you begin your tutorials.

37. How To Dive

If you ever watch the summer Olympic Games, you might have been awestruck by the ways athletes made diving look so elegant. While this video by Sikana English can't guarantee you a spot on the podium, it does show you three methods—the pencil, sitting, and standing dives—for beginner divers, which will help you make a graceful entry into the water.

38. How To Play Poker

Don't know a flush from a flop? In under 10 minutes, get schooled on Texas Hold 'Em by a couple of professional British players from PokerStars, who up your ante by helping you learn the most important terms and the hierarchy of betting hands.

39. How To Drive Stick

Driving stick is almost a lost art form these days, but the delicate dance between clutch, brake, gas pedal, and gearshift can be mastered with help from Jalopnik's six-minute video. The goal is to avoid stalling the car; to do that, push the clutch all the way down to shift gears and brake, then ease slowly off the clutch as you press down on the gas. For your maiden voyage, it might help to have someone in the passenger seat giving you instructions.

40. How To Moonwalk

Learn to mimic the moves made famous by the King of Pop with this helpful guide from DZRCK, a dancer who offers a wealth of hip-hop tutorials on his YouTube channel. In this video, he breaks the magical glide of the moonwalk into three, easy-to-understand steps (and also addresses basic mistakes regularly made by beginners).

41. How To Do Basic CPR

CPR saves lives—just ask Michael Scott. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is easy to get the hang of (especially if you keep this playlist in mind), but it's more complicated than it appears, and updated information on proper techniques has changed over the years. This quick, 2-minute guide covers basic, compression-only CPR.

42. How To Play Chess

With over 100 million different variations of possible games, chess is the antithesis of what you might call simple. This video by Triple S Games won't make you a chess wiz, but it provides a succinct explanation of the basic principles of the game, including the rules and how each separate piece can move. Who knows, you might get hooked!

43. How To Play Pool

If you've seen movies featuring characters who enjoy a good hustle, chances are there was a game of pool involved. But it's not always as easy as it looks on the screen. This video by FargoBilliards teaches you how to play pool in under 10 minutes, so next time you find yourself at a local bar, you won't embarrass yourself pretending to be Paul Newman.

44. How To Play Guitar

At one point or another, the allure of being a rock star has probably crossed your mind. This video by onlineguitarschool may not lead you down the path of eternal glory, but it will give you the steps it takes to begin your journey in under 10 minutes, including an explanation of how each part of the guitar works and the function of the chords and strings on it. There's even a helpful mnemonic, "Elephants and Donkeys Grow Big Ears," to help you remember the order of the strings!

45. How To Take Better Photos

Ever heard of the "rule of thirds"? Using the grid feature in your camera app (or by conjuring up a mental grid), you'll want to position the most interesting elements of the photo along the points where those lines intersect. This could be a person standing on one side of the frame, or a tree in the bottom left corner. The off-balance effect will make your photo all the more appealing, and in this video, landscape photographer Joshua Cripps walks you through how to make your next vacation photos the envy of your whole network.

46. How To Frost A Cake Like A Pro

If you've ever cut into a homemade layer cake and realized the tiers of frosting inside looked a bit lopsided, this video from Martha Stewart's Kitchen Conundrums is for you. As host Thomas Joseph shows, all you need is a frozen cake, a serrated knife, an ice cream scoop, and—the secret ingredient—a rotating cake stand.

47. How To Fold T-shirts To Maximize Drawer Space

Make your drawers spark joy. Though this how-to calls for a folding tool (like this one), you can still achieve the tight fold for your various shirts without one. Once you get the hang of it, your dresser drawers will seem much more spacious (not to mention pretty, if you manage to also color-code them).

48. How To Order Wine At A Restaurant

Multi-page wine menus can be intimidating, even to those who have a general idea of what they like. But with this quick tutorial from a Texan sommelier, you'll have the basics covered with food pairing, price ranges, and what to say when ordering. (Hint: If you buy by the glass, the best bet is the second-cheapest option.)

49. How To Beatbox

Do you ever find yourself trying to replicate that cool beat you heard on the radio, but your unpolished skills produce a sound reminiscent of a car malfunctioning? Have no fear; this video by Howcast teaches the basics of beatboxing in just seven steps, and all you need is your mouth and a rhythm to focus on.

50. How To Fold An Origami Crane

Folding paper planes is a satisfying endeavor, but sometimes you might have greater aspirations in the paper-folding arts. Origami, in many ways, is the next step of this hierarchy of paper machinations. This video by EzOrigami gives you a detailed guide of how to create the iconic crane model, and the only thing you'll need is one square sheet of paper.

By Colin Ainsworth, Erika Berlin, Michele Debczak, Shaunacy Ferro, Kat Long, Bess Lovejoy, Erin McCarthy, Emily Petsko, Lucas Reilly, Javier Reyes, and Jake Rossen.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More

Apple
Apple

During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

1. Apple AirPods Pro; $219

Apple

You may not know it by looking at them, but these tiny earbuds by Apple offer HDR sound, 30 hours of noise cancellation, and powerful bass, all through Bluetooth connectivity. These trendy, sleek AirPods will even read your messages and allow you to share your audio with another set of AirPods nearby.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

2. Sony Zx220bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones (Open Box - Like New); $35

Sony

For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46

Sony

This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

4. Martha Stewart 8-quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker; $65

Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

5. Jashen V18 350w Cordless Vacuum Cleaner; $180

Jashen

If you're obsessive about cleanliness, it's time to lose the vacuum cord and opt for this untethered model from JASHEN. Touting a 4.3-star rating from Amazon, the JASHEN cordless vacuum features a brushless motor with strong suction, noise optimization, and a convenient wall mount for charging and storage.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

6. Evachill Ev-500 Personal Air Conditioner; $65

Evachill

This EvaChill personal air conditioner is an eco-friendly way to cool yourself down in any room of the house. You can set it up at your work desk at home, and in just a few minutes, this portable cooling unit can drop the temperature by 59º. All you need to do is fill the water tank and plug in the USB cord.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

7. Gourmia Gcm7800 Brewdini 5-Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker; $120

Gourmia

The perfect cup of cold brew can take up to 12 hours to prepare, but this Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker can do the job in just a couple of minutes. It has a strong suction that speeds up brew time while preserving flavor in up to five cups of delicious cold brew at a time.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

8. Townew: The World's First Self-Sealing Trash Can; $90

Townew

Never deal with handling gross garbage again when you have this smart bin helping you in the kitchen. With one touch, the Townew will seal the full bag for easy removal. Once you grab the neatly sealed bag, the Townew will load in a new clean one on its own.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

9. Light Smart Solar Powered Parking Sensor (Two-Pack); $155

FenSens

Parking sensors are amazing, but a lot of cars require a high trim to access them. You can easily upgrade your car—and parking skills—with this solar-powered parking sensor. It will give you audio and visual alerts through your phone for the perfect parking job every time.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

10. Liz: The Smart Self-Cleaning Bottle With UV Sterilization; $46

Noerden

Reusable water bottles are convenient and eco-friendly, but they’re super inconvenient to get inside to clean. This smart water bottle will clean itself with UV sterilization to eliminate 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. That’s what makes it clean, but the single-tap lid for temperature, hydration reminders, and an anti-leak functionality are what make it smart.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

What the Color Codes on Toothpaste Tubes Really Mean

PeopleImages/iStock via Getty Images
PeopleImages/iStock via Getty Images

Packaging details—like the circles on chip bags and the symbols on cosmetics labels—can be mystifying to the average consumer. For years, a graphic has circulated the internet claiming to explain the hidden meaning behind the colored markings on the bottom of toothpaste tubes. While it's true that those color codes are there for a reason, the reason is much less interesting than the online rumors suggest.

According to Snopes, a widely-shared image on social media alleges that the colors on the seams of toothpaste tubes correlate to certain types of ingredients. The picture shows four different colored markings, with green meaning natural, blue indicating natural and medicine, red meaning natural and chemical composition, and black signifying pure chemical.

This "decoding" isn't based in truth, however. The markings on toothpaste packaging have nothing to do with the ingredients inside the tube—and even if they did, classifications like natural and chemical are too vague to mean anything. The real reason the colors are there is to aid the machinery responsible for putting the packaging together. The tiny colored rectangles are actually called eye marks or color marks, and they tell light beam sensors where a tube needs to be cut or folded. Once the toothpaste reaches the store, the markings no longer serve a purpose.

If you do want to know more about the ingredients in your toothpaste, it's not as hard as deciphering a mysterious code. "Oral care companies don’t mark their toothpastes with colored squares to try to trick consumers and hide ingredients from them," Colgate writes on its website. "If you want to know what kind of ingredients your toothpaste has, don’t look for a colored block at the end of the tube. Instead, take a look at the packaging for a comprehensive list of ingredients."

You can find the ingredients in your toothpaste listed on the outer box and/or the tube itself—and you don't need to know any secret codes to read them.

[h/t Snopes]