Life hacks are an environmentally-friendly way to help you save time and money. They are a way to utilize household items, with a singular function, and breathe new life into them. These life hacks will help you solve common problems in an efficient and inexpensive way.
1. Coconut oil as furniture polish
Like dry skin, wood furniture needs a little moisture to shine. The problem is those commercial furniture polishes are a nightmare when it comes to toxins, and they often leave a sticky film. Instead, grab your coconut oil and a soft cloth. A little coconut oil and a little elbow grease go a long way in restoring wood furniture. And, the natural coconutty scent won’t assault your nostrils like furniture polish does.
It works wonders on water marks and naturally repels fingerprints! Grab a feather duster, beforehand, to remove any dust. Then apply the coconut oil with a soft cloth and rub until absorbed. If you get a little on your hands, that’s okay too. From all that polishing, your hands could probably use a little moisture-rich coconut oil.
2. Extend the life of your strawberries
It’s no secret that strawberries go moldy fast, even when stored in the fridge. Here’s a quick hack that will keep your strawberries fresher for longer. Simply wash your berries in one cup of vinegar and three cups of water. Dry them well before placing them in the fridge.
The vinegar solution kills the mold-growing spores on the berries, preventing them from spreading and ruining an entire batch before you’ve had a chance to sink your teeth into them.
3. Make your own dishwasher tablets
Yes, you can make your own dishwasher tablets easily, economically and with a few simple ingredients. They work great and will cost you a lot less than pre-packaged versions. A word of warning: Make sure to wear gloves when making these tabs since washing soda is caustic. Here’s what you’ll need to make dishwashing tabs:
- 1 cup of washing soda
- 1 cup of baking soda
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice
- Rubber gloves
- Plastic or glass bowl
- Glass jar
- With gloved hands, pour ingredients into a large bowl and mix together.
- Pack it tightly into ice cube trays and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the tablets from the ice tray and store in a glass jar, ready to use as needed.
4. Make your own washing soda
As you may have noticed, the previous hack asked for washing soda. If you’re not entirely sure what washing soda is, or where you can find it, here’s what you need to know. Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate, soda ash or soda crystals, is not baking soda but is in the same family as baking soda. It’s not edible, so don’t even think about putting any in your baking!
Washing soda has been processed differently from baking soda. It has a much higher alkalinity, with a pH of 11, which turns it into a stain-removing powerhouse. Although it doesn’t release harmful fumes, you do need to wear gloves because it can irritate your skin.
Washing soda is a natural cleaner and water softener. It’s usually found in the laundry aisle of the grocery store beside laundry boosters. But if you live in a rural community you may not be able to find it on the shelves.
What to use washing soda for
To make your own power-boosting washing soda, sprinkle baking soda on a shallow pan and bake it for about half hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir it occasionally so that it bakes evenly. Basically, steam and carbon dioxide are released during the cooking process, changing the chemical structure from baking soda to washing soda.
Washing soda is so effective around the house. It can be used in a number of ways, including:
- As a laundry booster to remove heavy stains. Simply soak your garments in a strong solution and then wash as normal.
- To improve the efficiency of your washing machine and to reduce lime scale build-up add a half cup to your load.
- To clean ovens, range tops and broiler pans. Use a solution of half cup washing soda dissolved in a gallon of warm water. Remove burners and soak in solution for at least 30 minutes. Rinse well and dry.
- To unclog drains by pouring a quarter cup down the drain, then flushing with water.
- To clean tiles and brighten grout.
5. Make stainless steel pans sparkle
Your stainless-steel frying pans and saucepans can easily collect grease and gunk. To bring back the natural shine to your pans, simply pour white vinegar into the bottom. Set the pan on high heat and allow it to boil on the stove. Once the gunk and grease start to release from the bottom, remove the pan from the stove and place it in your sink. Let it cool and add a little baking soda to the vinegar. Give it a light scrubbing and rinse well. Your pans will be sparkling again in no time!
6. Clean your microwave with an old lemon
Between splatters, spills and smelly messes, your microwave can quickly turn into to a less-than-desirable place to warm your food. To easily wipe away and deodorize baked on messes, remove the turntable and give it a quick wash. Toss an old lemon halve or quarter into the microwave — that’s it! Turn on the microwave for one minute. The lemon will soften, steam and release its juice. Discard the lemon piece and simply wipe away the gunk from inside your microwave. The acidic nature of the lemon with easily remove build up, plus the lemony scent will refresh the interior.
7. Whiten your teeth
Whiten your teeth naturally with baking soda and lemon juice. But don’t do this often because the acidity from the lemon could weaken the enamel on your teeth. Simply put a little baking soda in a cup and add enough lemon juice to make a thick paste.
Apply a thin layer of the paste to your teeth and allow it to sit for one minute. Brush off the paste with water, or toothpaste if you prefer. And there you have it — a dazzling smile.
8. Remove furniture dents in carpet
Moving furniture around often leaves behind indentations in the carpet. But, there’s an easy trick to removing those unsightly dents.
- Place a large ice cube — or a few cubes, if you’re dealing with larger dents — directly into the matted carpet fibers.
- Allow the ice to melt for at least two hours, and up to 12 for those deeper dents. The water will engorge the nap of the carpet, bringing it back to life.
- Blot the excess water with a sponge.
- Lastly, use a spoon or fork to gently lift the matted fibers.
9. Create cupboard space by storing vertically
Nothing is worse in the kitchen than opening a cupboard door only to have the contents — baking pans and serving trays — come spilling out. Conserve space and organize large and awkward pieces in the kitchen by installing tension rods vertically between shelves. Use this space to store and secure cutting boards, baking pans, muffin tins and serving trays in an upward position.
10. Pan lid space saver
Most cupboards don’t have specific spaces designated to store lids. So, why not use the door to free up room in the cupboard and organize lids? Hang lids with command strips on the door. Two strips are required to cradle each lid.
11. Hide your valuables at the beach
Going to the beach is a great way to destress and unwind. But not if you are continually worrying about your phone, money and keys being stolen while you’re cooling off in the water. Keep thieves at bay by storing your valuables in an empty sunscreen bottle. Thieves are generally looking for wallets, not sunscreen. Just make sure to properly clean and dry the bottle before storing your items.
There you have it, some simple yet effective life hacks that will make your days a whole lot easier.
— Katherine Marko