You’re probably familiar with home living and organization hacks. Everyone from Oprah to Martha Stewart to Uncle Bob’s has their own simple and clever ways to clean up, add storage space and make life at home a little easier.
Unfortunately, many of the same tired household hacks seem to be recycled again and again (bagel toted in an old CD holder, anyone?). Some of these hacks maintain their serendipitous creativity — but many have fallen by the meh side.
A few of the writers here at Uncle Bob’s Self Storage decided to scour the seemingly endless lists of hacks available online to shine a light on real home living and organization gems. Dumping your condiments in a muffin tin at a picnic? Kind of gross. Using vodka to clean your mattress? You better believe we’re trying that.
Here is the first half of our 50 favorite household hacks, tips and shortcuts, ranked in order of usefulness (as determined by our very unscientific test group of about 70 friends and co-workers). If you have great ideas of your own, be sure to leave them in the Comments below or tweet @unclebobstorage. Your hack could appear in Part 2!
Top 50 Home Organization Hacks: Numbers 50-26
50. Make a reusable lunch container from a milk jug.
Repurposing food containers can give me the willies (I get a little sick to my stomach whenever I see the ketchup-bottle-as-pancake-dispenser hack) but this creative reuse of a gallon milk jug is elegant — and brilliant. Just make sure you clean the heck out of that milk jug first.
49. Make perfect ice cream sandwiches.
You had me at ice cream sandwiches, Justin. Usually if there is a knife and some Ben & Jerry’s involved, my wife is trying to prevent me from finishing the Peanut Butter Fudge yet again.
48. Hide your ironing board with coat hooks.
Ironing boards can be unwieldy, prone to tip-overs and are inconvenient in almost any storage space. A much easier solution: coat hangers fixed behind a door.
47. Magnetize your spices and hang them in your kitchen.
Spices are often seem like a cupboard clutter magnet. Turn the tables by placing a magnetic board on a wall in your kitchen, gluing magnets to the bottoms of small jars (baby food containers will work) and transferring your spices and seasonings into these little containers.
46. De-pill your clothes with a razor.
Pills are the result of tiny fibers breaking and pushing out of your clothes, usually from overwashing or lots of use. Liz at the Cotton and Curls blog has a provocative idea — use a disposable razor to shave down the pills, then collect the mess with a piece of masking tape. She does warn, however, not the accidentally slice your clothes (or yourself).
45. Teach your kids right from left with shoe stickers.
Getting out the door in the morning is much easier when your young children start to handle some basic responsibilities, like putting on their own shoes. The first step? Learning left from right. Adding half a sticker to each side of the shoe gives kids a visual way to see the difference.
44. Use command hooks to make any wall a tablet-viewing station.
I hate putting down my tablet when I need to cook, fold laundry, make my bed or do just about any household chore. A few cleverly-placed command hooks make tablet viewing much easier.
43. Hide your thermostat / wall safe / etc. behind a hinged painting.
42. Use a carabiner with groceries.
Make two trips to the car? That’s for suckers. When you have a trunkful of plastic grocery bags to retrieve, you can trudge back and forth from your kitchen to your car like some poor sap, or you can flex your guns, clip the bags to a carabiner and hulk that load inside in a single trip.
41. Use shower rings to hang scarves, declutter closets.
Cheryl Najafi of the blog Cheryl’s Style has good instructions for transforming a wooden hanger into a multi-scarf storage unit. It takes a little work — and possibly a trip to the craft store, since adhesives and embroidery floss are required — but it’s still a fairly easy way to make sure that your scarves are easily accessible and organized.
40. Create your own fabric refresher.
Home hackers call it “faux-breeze.” Simply add a small amount of liquid fabric softener to a spray bottle of water and vinegar to get the same effect – at no additional cost. Jillee from One Good Thing and Kristie from A Fine Reflection have battle-tested recipes available on their blogs.
39. Use salt to clean the bottom of your iron.
Dirty irons will ruin your clothes — usually when you’re already running late. According to the A Mum ‘n The Oven blog, you can easily clean the bottom of your iron by cranking up the heat, turning the steam setting off and ironing over a batch of sprinkled salt.
38. Use shaving cream to keep your bathroom mirror from fogging.
Part of staying organized is staying on a schedule. It’s much easier to get in and out of the bathroom in the morning when the little things go your way — like having a usable mirror as soon as you pop out of the shower.
37. Add electrical outlets underneath kitchen cabinets.
Adding outlets to your kitchen is never a bad idea — especially in older homes. Janet Hall’s Remodelista blog shows how easily outlet strips can be added to a room for less than $50.
36. Put a stocking over the end of a vacuum cleaner hose when you lose small objects.
If you’ve ever dropped an earring or anything similarly tiny, you know how difficult — impossible? — it can be to find that object on the floor or in a carpet. Simply slip a nylon stocking over the end of a vacuum cleaner hose and do a quick once- or twice-over the search area and you can snag the runaway object.
35. Freeze your paintbrushes when taking a break mid-job.
The smart folks over at Apartment Therapy came up with this one — instead of going through the tedious process of scrubbing out your paintbrushes when you’re stopping mid-job, simply wrap the business ends in sandwich bags and stick the brushes into your freezer. When you’re ready to resume the next day, remove the brushes, let nature take its course, and voila — when the paint has thawed, you’re ready to resume (and the paint on the brush itself is still usable). Genius!
34. Use a rubber glove to collect pet hair.
I love my pets, but I don’t love it when they shed on the carpet and the furniture. A rubber glove that is lightly spritzed with water will collect the pet hair that falls in bunches on your fabric surfaces.
33. Squeegee away pet hair.
Feel weird about gloving your couch? A simple squeegee is a brilliant way to quickly and thoroughly collect that doggie dander. It’s shocking how much animal fur this tool can pull from household fabrics.
32. Remove red wine stains from clothing using white wine.
You spilled Cabernet on your clothes! Quick thinking — and a little white wine — may save your shirt. The Cleanopedia recommends “applying white wine to the stain, which will help neutralise it. Just gently dab the stain to remove the excess liquid.” Pre-treating the stain with salt also helps. You should see a difference almost immediately.
31. Use car wax to keep your stovetop clean.
Nothing makes an otherwise clean kitchen look grungier than a grease- and food-splattered cooking surface. A thin coat of car wax on your stovetop will make clean-up much easier the next time your pot runneth over.
30. Use plastic wrap to protect your possessions while painting.
For quick painting jobs, the whole ordeal of painter’s tape, newspapers and plastic tarps may seem like overkill. Peggy Pardo at The Decorating Files notes that plastic wrap can do the trick to protect your possessions from drips, splatters and brush-bumps, instead — just remember that it won’t prevent paint from getting beneath the plastic.
29. Clean your blender by blending some soap, ice and water.
You don’t need any hassles the day after a trip to Margaritaville. Cleaning your blender can actually be pretty easy when you follow this bit of advice from Lifehacker — use your sink’s hose to spray out the bulk of the leftover mix, then add warm water, dish soap and a few ice cubes until the container is one-fifth full. Blend that trio, rinse in your sink and your next daiquiri adventure is just a frozen pouch away.
28. Frozen lemons and vinegar can clean your garbage disposal.
A quick and environmentally sound solution to a smelly garbage disposal involves freezing lemon rinds and vinegar in an ice cube tray and then running those cubes through the disposal for roughly a half-minute. Credit Kelly at the New Leaf Wellness blog for this fresh solution.
27. Use nail polish to distinguish house keys.
If you’ve ever found yourself at the front door, loaded with heavy bags and trying — unsuccessfully — to figure out which key is which, then you already know that this simple but effective hack from Emily at Simply Gourmet in Southie can be a huge time- and trouble-saver.
26. Use a slice of bread to pick up broken glass.
Even the most dexterious among us take a dangerous risk when attempting to scoop broken glass from the floor. Sweeping sometimes misses those little tiny bits that we inevitably find when we walk through the room barefoot. The solution? Use a slice of bread to snag those shattered pieces. Your fingertips and the soles of your feet will thank you.
Next Week: Stop back over to catch the second half of our Top 50 list of greatest hacks.
Share your favorite household hacks and tips in the comments section below or tweet us at @UncleBobStorage!
Main image from Wallhub.com.