Quick Tricks to Make 10 Dreaded Chores Easier

iStock
iStock

Chores are a part of life that most of us just can’t avoid. But come next housecleaning day, don’t get mad—get creative. These tips will help those pesky little items on your “to do” list breeze by a little bit faster.

1. DRYING LOTS OF DISHES? USE AN OVEN RACK. 

Dish racks never seem to have enough space—especially after a big family dinner, when there are always plenty of extra implements that just won’t fit. Here’s a simple solution from the PBS series America’s Test KitchenWhen you’ve finished washing all the dishes, place a clean oven rack over one end of your sink. Put excess cups, plates, etc. on top—all their drippage will go straight down the drain.

2. POKE A HOLE IN YOUR TRASH CAN.

King Arthur might have pulled a sword from a stone, but even he'd probably have a hard time yanking an overstuffed bag out of a royal garbage bin. Why is this so difficult? It's all about suction: The tugging motion produces a stubborn vacuum. However, cutting a hole out of the bottom of your trash can will allow air to escape.

3. MICROWAVE THE STAINS OUT OF TUPPERWARE™ CONTAINERS. 

What do you do with nasty post-meal stains that cling to the plastic? Fill your container with a quarter cup of bleach, a little bit of dish soap, and plenty of water. Put the Tupperware™ into your microwave for about 40 seconds (or until the mixture starts bubbling). Remove the container and let it sit until the water turns lukewarm. Then, clean it out with soap and water or put it in the dishwasher.

If you don't want to use bleach, try the lemon juice method.

4. USE ALKA SELTZER TABLETS TO CLEAN THE TOILET. 

These indigestion-fighting tablets are a secret weapon that belongs in everyone's cabinet: You can use them to clean everything from jewelry to your toilet. Drop four tablets into the toilet bowl; wait about 20 minutes, then give the bowl a quick once-over with a brush followed by a single flushing. Finally, admire your sparkling toilet.

5. FOLD T-SHIRTS IN 2 SECONDS.

Pinch the garment with your right hand halfway between the right sleeve and the neck hole. Now, imagine a straight line extending from this point to the bottom of the shirt. Using the free hand, pinch said line at its halfway point. Without releasing the sleeve area, cross your left hand straight down to the bottom. Grab a piece of it, then lift the shirt and uncross your arms. You’ll find that one sleeve will still be dangling down—utilize a hard surface to fold this underneath the article of clothing. If you're having trouble visualizing, watch the video above.

6. OIL UP YOUR SNOW SHOVEL. 

It’s almost that time of year again. Getting up early to shovel the driveway is always a hassle, but clingy snow makes this chore even worse. Prevent snow from clinging to your shovel by spraying non-stick cooking oil over both sides before going out. Don't have cooking spray handy? You can also use car wax.

7. SQUEEGEE THE PET HAIR OUT OF YOUR CARPET. 

When our four-legged friends start shedding, not even vacuums can get all the fur out of a carpet. Tough rubber squeegees, on the other hand, are great at stripping away hard-to-reach cat or dog hair.

8. SOCK IT TO YOUR BLINDS.

Whoever said “nothing is certain but death and taxes” forgot to mention dust accumulation. When this stuff builds up on your blinds, removing it can take what feels like an eternity. Fortunately, there’s a cheap way to cut down on your dusting time. Slide a clean sock over your hand and dunk it into a 50/50 water-vinegar blend. Now swipe the wet garment over each individual slat. For best results, manipulate the sock like it’s a children’s puppet while grabbing each blind.

9. USE A GRAPEFRUIT TO CLEAN UP A BATHTUB.

Sponges are old hat. Next time you notice some dirt and grime inside your bathtub, chop a grapefruit in two. Liberally smother each half with kosher salt and start scrubbing (ideally, you’ll want to squeeze some of the juice out every so often). This should remove even the toughest of grime.

10. Make Your Bed—Without Getting Out of It!

Straightening sheets every morning can be pretty obnoxious. So is getting out of bed. Here's how to make the bed without even getting up: If you use a throw blanket, lean down and straighten it. If not, grab the corners of the sheet and comforter. Now stretch out your arms as far as they go. While still holding those corners, lean backwards, and pull them taut over your head. Next, sit up at a 90-degree angle and slowly lower the corners, thus creating an attractive fold. Release the corners when you’ve done so. Finally, slip out from under the sheets as gently as you can, taking care to keep the edge of that fold straight and parallel to the headboard.

Congrats! You’re now ready to face a brand new day. This calls for some coffee.

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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The Reason Dogs Are Terrified of Thunderstorms—And How You Can Help

The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Deafening thunder can be a little scary even for a full-grown human who knows it’s harmless, so your dog’s terror is understandable. But why exactly do thunderstorms send so many of our pawed pals into a tailspin?

Many dogs are distressed by unexpected loud noises—a condition known as noise aversion, or noise phobia in more severe cases—and sudden thunderclaps fall into that category. What separates a wailing siren or fireworks show from a thunderstorm in a dog's mind, however, is that dogs may actually realize a thunderstorm is coming.

As National Geographic explains, not only can dogs easily see when the sky gets dark and feel when the wind picks up, but they can also perceive the shift in barometric pressure that occurs before a storm. The anxiety of knowing loud noise is on its way may upset your dog as much as the noise itself.

Static electricity could also add to this anxiety, especially for dogs with long and/or thick hair. Tufts University veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, who also co-founded the Center for Canine Behavior Studies, told National Geographic that a static shock when brushing up against metal may heighten your dog’s agitation during a storm.

It’s difficult to nail down why each dog despises thunderstorms. As Purina points out, one could simply be thrown off by a break from routine, while another may be most troubled by the lightning. In any case, there are ways to help calm your stressed pet.

If your dog’s favorite spot during a storm is in the bathroom, they could be trying to stay near smooth, static-less surfaces for fear of getting shocked. Suiting them up in an anti-static jacket or petting them down with anti-static dryer sheets may help.

You can also make a safe haven for your pup where they’ll be oblivious to signs of a storm. Purina behavior research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan suggests draping a blanket over their crate, which can help muffle noise. For dogs that don’t use (or like) crates, a cozy room with drawn blinds and a white noise machine can work instead.

Consulting your veterinarian is a good idea, too; if your dog’s thunderstorm-related stress is really causing issues, an anti-anxiety prescription could be the best option.

[h/t National Geographic]