Hacks, once the domain of those wacky neighbors down the block, have become acceptable and even essential in recent years for a variety of reasons—as a way to save money, save the planet, and save time. With spring just around the corner, it is the perfect time to learn clever ways to keep your house sparkling clean, fix and organize, and keep life’s frustrations down to a minimum. And best of all save some of that green stuff!
Homemade spray cleaner—The Windex bottle is always empty in my home—pets and kids cause a mess! But a DIY version makes for a cheap option. Add equal parts water and white vinegar (toss in a few citrus peels for fragrance) to an empty container. Allow it to sit for a few days, then strain it into an empty spray bottle and add a drop or two of dish soap (take out peels).
Clean the grill with an onion—Heat up the grill and spray the grates with white vinegar to loosen the dirt. Then scrub using half an onion—the acid is a great cleaner.
Organize a messy linen closet—Got a jumbled mess? Use a pillowcase cover to store matching sheets.
Newspaper cleans dirty windows—This olden time tradition really does work. Spray a mix of ¼ cup white vinegar, 2 cups water, and 2 teaspoons of liquid soap onto glass and scrub with newspaper for a streak-free window (or mirror).
Use tongs to clean blinds—Forget a duster that doesn’t do the job well. Instead, wrap dish towels around either side of a pair of tongs and secure with rubber bands. Then slide the tongs between the slats.
Use toothpaste to remove furniture scratches—Rub a pea-sized amount of non-gel paste in a circular motion on small scratches until the scratch buffs out, then clean the surface with a damp towel.
Use a tennis ball to protect walls—Got little ones that are incapable of opening doors gently? Save your walls with this easy trick. Cut a slit in a tennis ball and wrap it around the door knob—the knob will bounce off the wall rather than leaving a mark (or worse).
Fix a window screen with clear nail polish—Women of a certain age know this one (the go-to hack to stop nylons from running). Fix a minor hole in a window screen by putting clear nail polish over the offending area.
Clean a showerhead—Fill a plastic Ziploc bag with white vinegar (yup again) and submerge the showerhead in the bag. Then use a rubber band to secure the bag, and let it soak for an hour.
Polish copper with ketchup—Give your copper some zing. Put some ketchup on a rag and sprinkle salt on top. Completely cover your copper object with the mixture. Then rinse off and enjoy the shine.
Use a lemon to clean the microwave—Squeeze juice from a lemon into a half cup of water and insert the remaining lemon into the bowl. Run the microwave for about three minutes (for water to boil). Keep the door shut for five minutes so the mixture steams the interior, and then use a rag to wipe out.
Easy duct tape storage and use—This one is so simple, it is funny. Instead of struggling to find the end of the duct tape, stick a paper clip (or plastic bread tab) at the end of the roll.
Optimize your ceiling fans—Change your ceiling fans directional setting every season. In summer, you want your blade to run clockwise, giving a breeze to cool the room. However, in winter you want the reverse so that you pull warm air upwards.
Spruce up patent leather—If your shoes or bag are looking scuffed, bring them back to life with this easy hack. Put a bit of petroleum jelly on a cotton swab and dab onto your surface, then gently buff with a soft cloth.
DIY ice packs—Be ready for all owies. Add one cup rubbing alcohol to two cups water to a one quart plastic freezer bag (use a second bag to contain any leaks). Let freeze for one hour or longer.
Extend the life of floral arrangements—Everyone loves to get flowers but hates when they droop too soon. Put a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar into the water of a bouquet to delay wilting.
Swap yer stuff—Organize a swap with your friends and neighbors. Select a spring theme like gardening or summer toys. Give away what you don’t need or have duplicates, and seek out the stuff you need.
Here are a few hacks for those tackling home design repairs and projects:
Clean caulking—Line the edges of a caulked area with painter’s tape to get a highly professional look. Go fix up those windows and tubs.
Crates as shelving—Got some old crates around? Paint them and hang them as bookshelves/storage on the wall. A few stacked together and hung makes a great decorative statement.
Homemade headboard—Got some spare fencing in the garage? Old skis? Be inspired to find objects to work as a headboard. For instance, paint the fencing a nice shade, attach together, and then attach to the wall behind the bed.
DIY table top—Need a new coffee table? You can repurpose an old door as the top for a table. Go for a rustic look or paint with a pattern.
DIY planters—This one is easy for anyone. Just repaint old paint cans and use them as planters.
DIY candleholders—Here’s another one that most of us can handle. Make punch-hole designs in old coffee cans and then use votive candles to reflect the light in a beautiful way.
The hacking life is addictive and can add up to real savings. But you should also think about how important it is to not only save in this way but also to also create a savings strategy for emergencies. State ECU makes savings easy with the free Kasasa Saver account that links to your free Kasasa Cash or Kasasa Cash Back accounts. Earnings on the checking accounts are automatically moved into the Saver account (which also now earns 0.75% APR on balances up to $50,000). That’s like the best hack around!