Household Hacks

Hacks, tips, tricks – whatever you call them, they sure make running a household a lot easier! Below are just a few of my favorite hacks that I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully they help you as much as they’ve helped me!

Laundry Hacks

Grease & Oil Stains

Easily remove grease and oil stains by placing a small dab of Dawn blue dish soap on the stain and gently rubbing it in. Then launder as usual. This works for set in stains as well. The stain should completely disappear!

A shelf with a bottle of blue Dawn dish soap, a container with "Laundry" printed on it, and a small plant

Coffee Stains

Keep wet wipes on hand for easy removal of coffee stains. A few years ago I stumbled upon an amazing deal on a used Coach purse at a local consignment shop. It was heavily discounted because it had horrible coffee stains inside – they covered about 80% of the interior. After getting home I pulled out one of Baby Girl’s baby wipes and got to work. Just a few minutes later the stain was completely gone! Simply use the wipe to gently rub the stain and it should come out within a few minutes – easy peasy!

Blood Stains

Blood stains can be difficult to remove once set, but if treated prior to laundering, they come out easily. To remove, run the stain under cold water to remove as much blood as possible. Then cover the stain with hydrogen peroxide. It will turn white and bubble up. Make sure you launder immediately after treating the stain with the peroxide. Cold water works best. Following these steps should remove the blood completely!

Persistent Stains

Stains that refuse to budge with stain removers and after laundering can often be saved by the sun. While the item is still damp (fresh from the wash before placing in the dryer), place stain-side up in the sun. Give it a few hours for the item to completely dry. Oftentimes, the sun will have completely bleached the stain away! We used to do this when we got persistent cloth diaper stains. Very rarely did we get a stain that the sun couldn’t fix!

Three children's dresses pinned to a clothesline in the sun

Kitchen Hacks

Keep Berries Fresh

Fill your sink with water and add 1 cup of white vinegar. Throw the berries in and let them soak for 10 minutes. Drain the sink and rinse any remaining vinegar off the fruit. Lay on paper towels and allow to dry completely. Then line an airtight container with a paper towel (to absorb moisture), place the berries in the container, and put in the refrigerator. This process will prolong the life of your blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries so mold will not grow. I don’t recommend this process for raspberries though as they are more delicate.

Two cartons of blueberries side by side at an angle

Prolong the Life of Lettuce

If you have extra lettuce left after washing it, wash and dry it completely before storing in the refrigerator to prolong the life. Lay a gallon sized Ziploc bag on the counter and place a paper towel on the bottom of it (or technically the side if the bag were to be standing upright). Then place the lettuce on the paper towel, zip it up, and put it in the fridge. The paper towel helps absorb any excess moisture, prolonging the life of the lettuce.

Test Eggs for Freshness

Not sure if the eggs in your fridge are still fresh? Place them in a bowl of water (covered with an inch or more of water). If they lay on their side on the bottom of the bowl, they are still fresh! If they sit upright, but don’t float, they are still good but should be used soon. And if they float to the surface of the water, toss them out.

Aerial view of a carton of eggs, all tan and brown

Leftover Herbs

Fresh herbs sold in the store generally come in fairly large bundles, more than I’ve ever been able to use before they spoil. To reduce waste, chop them up and sprinkle them evenly in an ice cube tray. Then fill each portion of the tray with olive oil. Freeze for a few hours until firm, pop them out of the tray, and place in a freezer bag. Stored in your freezer, the herbs and oil last for a long time and are readily available when you need them for cooking. Just pull one out of the bag, pop it into a hot pan, and you’re ready to go! This same method works great for leftover sauces like pesto!

Aerial view of a bowl filled with basil leaves

Leftover Wine

Like the above, leftover wine can be frozen into ice cubes for use in cooking. I hate opening an entire bottle of wine when a recipe calls for just a few tablespoons. Storing wine cubes in the freezer eliminates this problem, making wine readily available when needed!

Leftover Coffee, Iced Tea, Lemonade, etc.

On the theme of ice cubes, coffee, iced tea, lemonade, and other beverages make great ice cubes. When I make a pot of coffee that I can’t finish, I pour the rest into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then in the summer when I make iced coffee from my homemade cold brew, I use the coffee cubes so that my beverage doesn’t get diluted as the ice melts! Lemonade and ice tea cubes work similarly and are also great for flavoring water. You can get creative and even add in herbs or small pieces of fruit! Alternatively, you can throw the coffee cubes in a blender or food processor and make granitas!

Close up of a coffee granita in a clear glass

Cleaning Hacks

Carpet Stains

Remove carpet stains by spritzing them with white vinegar from a spray bottle. Then sprinkle baking soda over the stain. The baking soda will start to bubble as it reacts with the vinegar, lifting the stain. Wait until the baking soda dries completely (generally around 24 hours), then vacuum. If the stain remains, try treating it again. Most stains will be lifted on the first try, but persistent stains may take an additional treatment.

Close up of the bottom of a vacuum going across a shaggy rug

Remove Sap, Tape Residue, & Other Sticky Substances

While Hubby swears by Goo Gone, I prefer to use coconut oil and baking soda for the removal of sticky residue (it’s cheaper and natural). Just mix together equal parts coconut oil and baking soda. You can also add a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil for a nice scent (though completely optional). The coconut oil does not need to be melted. As you apply it to the sticky surface, the warmth of your fingers will melt it, making it easily spreadable. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes, then just wipe away! This mixture also works great if you get sap on your skin. Rub it in and rinse away with warm/hot water – waiting 10 minutes is not necessary in this case!

A jar of coconut oil with clumps of it around the jar and on a spoon, with a few pink petals

Remove Water Spots on Wood

A few years ago, a friend set a cold beverage on one of my antique tables without a coaster and forgot about it. The condensation left a very noticeable water ring in the wood when I discovered it a few hours later. Fortunately, I had a jar of mayo in my fridge that completely removed any evidence of the water damage! To fix water rings or stains on wood, simply cover the stain with mayo and rub it in a bit. Then leave for at least an hour, or preferably overnight. Wipe away with a dry cloth the next day and the water spot should be gone! If it’s not, reapply and try again. The mayo won’t damage the wood, so if it doesn’t work you’ll just be out some mayo.

Plant Hacks

Improve Drainage

Too much water in a potted plant can lead to root rot from poor aeration. Avoid this by placing a few sponges (in larger pots), or pieces of sponges (in smaller pots) in the bottom of the pot before filling with soil. The sponges create air space and absorb excess moisture. A layer of rocks can also improve drainage and help aerate the soil, though they won’t absorb moisture like a sponge.

Close up of a woman putting potting soil into a small clay pot, with dirt, pots and plants in the background.

Watering Plants While on Vacation

Going away for a few days? Keep your potted plants watered by placing them in a shallow dish filled with water. You can do the same with outdoor potted plants by placing them in a kiddie pool and filling with a few inches of water. The soil will absorb the moisture, keeping your plants well-watered until you return.

What are some of your favorite hacks? Share them in the comments below!

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