Shari’s Amazing Household Hacks!

Confession: I am trying to be like Dorcas Smucker (of Mrs. Smucker’s 7 Amazing Life Hacks!!) and try my hand at clickbait for once. It’s awfully fun.

(Thank you, Mrs. Smucker.)

I love shortcuts around the house, little tricks for making housekeeping work. My ideas today are simple and efficient. They are less the organize-your-life-and-transform-your-world tips and more the random-and-specific-but-useful-ideas-for-the-next-time-you-do-THAT tips.

From Merriam-Webster:
“Life hacks,” as they are known, are all about eliminating life’s manifold frustrations in simple and deliciously clever ways. The best involve tricks that are free, efficient and stunningly obvious in retrospect, deploying household items (like the humble toilet roll) for purposes beyond their wildest aspirations.—Michael Koziol

Here we go.

  1. Carry hangers on your wrist.

You know how hangers always tangle up, in between fetching-them-from-the-closets and rehanging-them-in-the-laundry-room? Hang them over your wrist to keep them neatly in a row. This is also an extremely useful tip for thrift store shopping. Maybe you’re not the kind of person who selects eight items to try in the fitting room, in hopes of finding one or two that you like – but I am. And I rarely have a cart. Looping the hangers over my wrist is an amazing way to carry them, leaving both hands free for finding more. You won’t believe how simple it is till you try.

One caveat: I have skinny wrists. Not saying any other part of me is skinny, but my wrists are. Would this work for everyone? Give it a try and let me know!

  1. Clean any sweat-smelling clothes in a vinegar soak.

Sweat is one of my least favorite body fluids, so bear with me as I attempt to discuss it. Sometimes clothes that are otherwise clean still smell unpleasant. Add a cup of vinegar to a tub of water (the bottom of your washing machine works wonderfully – just pause the cycle after some water has collected), then let the clothes soak in it for several hours before washing.

Just don’t grab the bleach jug in the dark instead of the vinegar! True story – not a good idea.

  1. Smooth dairy products before refrigerating to avoid separation.

Yogurt and sour cream tend to separate when chilled, the curd and whey running apart. If you smooth the top of the product before refrigerating, this problem goes away. Think about it – where would the liquid run TO?

  1. Poke holes in the ends of meat packages to aid in removal.

Suction keeps the meat inside. Using a sharp knife to pop an air hole in the end of the package releases the meat to slide out in one piece.

  1. Measure the paper lining for cake pans by marking with your fingernails.

I imagine you line your cake pans too, when you want to invert them to cool or decorate. I like using wax paper. Instead of measuring or drawing the right shape, just lay the paper into the pan, and run your fingernails gently around the inside bottom edge. It’s so fast. And it traces a scratch mark that’s easy to cut around with a pair of scissors.

Speaking of scissors…

  1. Pop balloons without noise.

Do you like hearing balloons pop? It sets my teeth on edge. You can deflate balloons quickly and almost soundlessly by snipping with a scissors just below the balloon tie, where the latex is darkly colored because it’s not stretched. If it’s not stretched, there’s no pressure on it. A hiss of air is all you’ll hear.

(Don’t cut all the way through, or you’ll lose hold of the balloon. All you need is a slit.)

Very useful for eliminating unwanted balloons three days after the party, when toddlers have lost all interest in said balloons but would Object to their Disposal if they Knew. (BANG!)

  1. Remove stray bits of egg shell by using egg shell.

Oops. You cracked an egg into a bowl, but lost a bit of egg shell. Now you’ll have to chase it around in there for the next five minutes trying to get it out. Right? Wrong. The egg shell in your hand is a valuable tool. It cuts right through the slipperiness of the eggs, and will scoop out the missing piece in a jiffy.

Tip numbers two and three were taught to me by other people; the rest were taught to me by Life.

I hope you are thinking WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! But you are probably yawning because you already know this stuff. Oh well. It took me a while to discover it.

Happy housekeeping,

What random shortcuts do you use around your household?

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Kathryn Swartz
5 years ago

I never really thought of this as a life hack, but someone recently sounded surprised at the idea, so… I have three small laundry baskets–the old one-piece laundry baskets, not those with mean handles that fall off. We have them in different locations where we could fit them in closet and bathroom, and each one is used for specific types of laundry. I use an automatic washer on conjunction with a wringer washer, so there’s a basket for first load/whites, a basket for last load/terribly dirty compost/turkey house work clothes and socks, and a basket for everything else which for our small family includes some good clothes and some everyday outer clothes to sort. But I can start the laundry pretty fast by grabbing the last “first” items around the house and the “first” basket. When I have a little baby I add a trash can or something somewhere for baby laundry.

5 years ago

The balloon deflation trick is genius. Makes me want to go try it on some unsuspecting balloon.

5 years ago

I wrap pipe cleaners from Dollar Tree around plastic hangers to keep my cardigans and other clothing items from sliding off.

Wrap raffia around a canning jar(Dollar Tree has jars similiar to canning jars if you don’t have any) to make a nice vase.

Glass gems in a canning jar with a silk flower dresses up a room nicely. (Can you tell I like Dollar Tree?☺)

I keep my ear buds in a empty prescription bottle( wash first of course)
to keep them tangle free and help our overcome her chewing ear buds addiction.

Save empty mints containers for carrying nonprescription meds like Tylenol. I usually peel the labels off.

I’m sure there are other hacks I can think of but those are just a few that we do around our house.

5 years ago
Reply to  Regina S

Oops! That should have said help our cat overcome her ear bud chewing addiction. It was late and I was very tired last night when I typed my response.

Sheila G.
5 years ago

I am blind and recently bought myself a talking countdown timer. Surprise! It is keeping the whole family (the rest of whom are visual) nicely on time school/Sunday mornings. It announces the time remaining in ten minute intervals and then gets more urgent by announcing every minute of the last ten minutes and then every ten seconds of the last minute and finally every second of the last ten seconds. I’m anxious to try #1 and 2-I think my wrists are skinny enough and finding sweaty clothes?-no sweat. 😉

5 years ago
Reply to  Sheila G.

THIS is a genius idea! Thank you!

5 years ago

At least you didn’t say “mind blown!!” How many people do we have with their “mind blown”??!??

Dorcas Smucker
5 years ago

I have been digging for eggshell bits with fingers and spoons for 50 years but NO MORE.
Thank you!

5 years ago

BTW,this isn’t a gadget post but I have one I think you’d love. I’d send a pic if I knew how. Look up toothpaste dispenser on ebay.

5 years ago

One of my mom’s favorite life hacks was a tip to keep your trash can from overflowing so fast — anytime you have a box, i.e. cereal, crackers, you name it, open the bottom end of it and fold it flat before sliding it into the trash! She also took the bottom out of every metal can that she could and smashed them flat with her foot ☺

5 years ago

An easy way to roll out pie crusts and get them into the pie pan nicely, is to roll them out on a thin piece of plastic (like butcher plastic) or wax paper. Once they’re the right size, peal the top plastic off, set your pie plate upside down on top of the crust & flip it over… then you can easily press the crust into the pan and peal the bottom plastic off.

5 years ago

I enjoy recycling the unprinted bags from cereal. Makes the best patty papers, cut to size and freeze a stash of burgers for easy grilling all summer! It’s really my favorite wax paper for anything in the freezer.
I also use it as a shelf liner for fun fall cleaning! Line the laundry detergent shelf, pots n pans, etc.

Wendi Bollinger
5 years ago

Some of my favorite hacks: when boiling something in a kettle, lay a wooden spoon across the top of the kettle and it won’t boil over. Also when peeling hard boiled eggs, use a spoon upside down to peel the shell off. Crack the shell first then slip the spoon underneath the shell. The inverted mouth part is shaped just like the egg and slides between the layers and it peels nicely. I don’t know how to describe this without showing you but experiment a little. Coolest thing ever! And then when you are doing peeling the eggs, soak them in leftover dill pickle juice or banana pepper ring juice for a couple days for awesome non-red beet eggs!

5 years ago

For washing my covering, I soak the strings in a bleach/detergent solution for a while; then I pour the solution over my whole covering and scrub it with one of those nylon scrubbies that all good mennonites have by their sinks. (I use a new one for coverings, of course). Then lay out a towel and put your covering on an upside down drinking glass to dry. I’ve used the scrubbies on veilings too and they really work well!
This is a strange one, but it works gr8 as long as your children don’t get a hold of it. Keep a utility knife blade on your kitchen sink. It works great to scrape off any baked on impossibles and also cleans off your flat top stove in a jiffy! This will leave rusty spots on your sink though, so maybe you should find another handy place to hide it so your sink doesn’t look like mine!

5 years ago

I keep coming back and reading the comments. I love all the ideas! Tried the egg shell trick and found it nifty. Also smoothing the yogurt and sour cream is so smart! Can’t wait to try peeling eggs with a spoon, laying a wooden spoon on boiling kettle and I’m GOING to buy a talking timer, what better thing to put in the bathroom for those boys taking looonnnggg soaking showers!!!

5 years ago

I’m embarrassed to say my mouth was hanging open when I read the meat package tip. Why did I never think of that??! Also I love the sneaky balloon disposal method for moms of toddlers. 🙂 These were all great tips!

5 years ago

Stubborn spots on clothes… Spray with Shout or any liquid stain remover. Sprinkle with Oxyclean powder. Spray again with Shout until powder is soaked. Let it sit for about an hour and then wash. Takes out almost all the problems with no scrubbing.

another mom :-)
5 years ago

Um… that lining your pan with wax paper tip… we invert the pan we want to use, onto the wax sheet, trace around it with a scissor blade or paring knife tip (do this on your counter top or a hard surface, NOT your table cloth!!). The sharp point makes a sort of perforated or “easy tear” line & you just sort of pull away the part outside your trace line.The pan’s outer edge is always a tad wider than the bottom inside part, which gives just enough extra to go up the side a wee bit.

5 years ago

I have always known you are a clever woman….just how clever though….you continue to reveal in absorbable intervals.

I am especially intrigued by your egg shell removal and the vinegar for sweat. I shall be trying both in the near future.

5 years ago

I tried the hanger trick and it’s great! I loved the idea of using the nylon scrubbie for cleaning coverings. Mine gets so stained!

Rachel Habegger
5 years ago

Thanks for the tips! The balloon trick is one I’ve done myself- necessity is the mother of invention.
A hack I like is putting a dishrag in a bowl with vinegar and water between dish washings. Not only is it in a constant state of sanitizing, you can bid farewell to obnoxious Sour Dishrag odor, next-of-kin to BO. (gag)

5 years ago

For those of you who use 9×13 pans and don’t have a decent cover &/or just need something to keep the Saran wrap from sticking to the coolwhip, etc put rubber bands across width wise first and then put your covering (lid, wrap, foil) over the bands.

Kendra Sensenig
5 years ago
Reply to  Tina

Oh, thank you for this!

5 years ago

My sis-in-law gave me the great idea of sanitizing stainless steel scrubbers in the silverware rack of the dishwasher.

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