The Hack: Keep your unused batteries in the refrigerator. They’ll last longer that way!
The Flaw: First of all, it’s just bunk science. If anything, cold temperatures will actually damage your batteries. The cold air can cause condensation to form on contacts, which leads to corrosion, which leads to a ruined, leaky battery. Next to your food. The Solution: Rechargeable batteries are available in pretty much any voltage these days. If you really want your batteries to last a long time, get the kind you can recharge.
The Hack: Fill an old ketchup bottle with pancake batter to pour perfect flapjacks every time!
The Flaw: First of all, there’s the intense scrubbing you’ll have to give these bottles to keep your pancakes from tasting like ketchup. Then there’s the fact that you have to somehow get your pancake batter through the quarter-sized mouth of the ketchup bottle, which always ends in a horrible mess. We’ll pass, thanks. The Solution: Use a measuring cup to ensure uniform size. Then just carefully pour your half-cup of batter into a single spot on the hot griddle.
The Hack: Put your toaster on its side to make a great, effortless grilled-cheese sandwich.
The Flaw: Two words: fire hazard. A 66-year-old woman named Suzanne Dale recently figured this one out the hard way. She tried the grilled-cheese life hack and her toaster burst into flames. What about oily cheese and enclosed heating elements aren’t people getting? The Solution: It’s called a frying pan, and trust us, it’s not that hard.
The Hack: Drill a few holes in the bottom of your kitchen trash can to prevent the suction that makes it hard to pull out the bag.
The Flaw: Garbage water is the flaw, and it’s the flaw to end all flaws. Picture a reeking stream of filth flowing through your kitchen, then reconsider this “life hack.” The Solution: When you pull out a full trash bag, don’t try to pull straight up. Tug toward a single edge of the can. This will break the full seal between the bag and your can so you can finally take the trash out like you were supposed to do last week.
The Hack: Use a bunch of tension rods to make a DIY baby gate!
The Flaw: First of all, who has that many tension rods lying around? The whole point of a “life hack” is that you don’t have to go buy a bunch of products designed to make your life more convenient. Secondly, babies are often stronger than a tension rod’s hold. Watch what happens when little Joey uses one of those things to practice his standing. Just make sure you have your ear plugs in, because that kid is going to scream. The Solution: Instead of buying 15 tension rods, just get a baby gate that’s designed for the job.
The Hack: Throw a cup of water into the microwave when you heat up day-old pizza. It will make the crust crisper!
The Flaw: In a word, science. The argument behind this hack is that the cup of water will somehow absorb moist air, leaving only “dry” air to heat your pizza. Neither physics nor microwaves work like that. The Solution: Heat your pizza up in a toaster oven. It takes a little longer, but if you want a crisp slice, this is pretty much your only real option.
The Hack: Use an old CD spindle to store your lunch bagel.
The Flaw: CD spindles aren’t air tight. Save a bagel sandwich for lunch in one of those, and it’ll be stale by noon. Besides, bagel holes are inconsistent. There’s no guarantee you’ll even be able to fit your chosen bagel around that plastic spindle. The Solution: You’d be amazed at the advances in Tupperware they’ve been making these days. It’s like they were DESIGNED to store food or something.
The Hack: If you get stung by a jellyfish, pee on the wound for quick relief.
The Flaw: First of all, gross. Secondly, jellyfish stings deposit angry little venom-delivery structures called nematocysts into your skin. When the salt concentration surrounding the nematocysts changes, they release even more venom. Is the salt content of your pee always identical to that of ocean water? Nope. The Solution: Rinse a jellyfish sting with seawater (odds are, if you just got stung by a jellyfish, there’s plenty available). Then apply an oral analgesic, like benzocaine, which will take care of the pain much more effectively than your body’s waste products.
The Hack: Lay a wooden spoon across the top of pot to prevent water from boiling over.
The Flaw: Proponents of this patently false life hack (we’ve tried it; doesn’t work) say that the spoon pops bubbles on the surface of the water before they can spread. That might work if bubbles only formed in a straight line beneath the spoon, but unfortunately, they rise up all over the surface of the boiling water. The Solution: When water reaches a rolling boil, turn the heat down a bit. Keep an eye on the pot. If the froth on the top starts to build, lose a little more heat. It’s that simple.
The Hack: Fill your stinky shoes with tea bags to get rid of the odor.
The Flaw: Tea bags aren’t any better at absorbing the bacteria that cause foul smells than a handful of fallen leaves. Plus, jeez, what a waste of perfectly good tea. The Solution: Start by preventing stinky shoes in the first place. Alternate between sneakers so that each pair gets a chance to dry out fully before you put them back on. If smell becomes a problem, there are lots of odor-destroying powders on the market. They aren’t even that much more expensive than another box of tea bags.
The Hack: Boost the volume on your keyboard speakers with a plastic cup cut in half!
The Flaw: For this to work, you would have to reflect sound waves outwards, toward your ears. Half of a plastic cup will actually just send the volume straight back down into your computer. If anything, the sound will end up a bit more muffled. The Solution: Pointing speakers at a rounded, open surface, like the inside of a bowl, will propel sound outwards. Unfortunately, most laptop speakers face upwards. Bowls are much more helpful when you’re trying to give your phone speaker a boost. If you really want more volume, though, there are lots of actual external computer speakers on the market.
The Hack: Serve condiments in a muffin tin at your next barbecue. It’s clean, organized, and easy to wash later!
The Flaw: If you’ve ever seen a spoon-based condiment station, you know that it always leaves a mess. Besides, there’s a much easier way to limit post-barbecue dishwashing duty. The Solution: Most condiments are packaged in squeeze bottles these days. Why pour them into a muffin tin or anything else?
The Hack: The slot on your pot handle doubles as a holder for your cooking spoon!
The Flaw: Wooden spoons come in a wide variety of designs, so there’s no guarantee that yours will fit into the slot on your pot handle. Those slots are there so you can hang up your cookware, not to hold your utensils. The Solution: You don’t have to run out and buy a fancy spoon holder. A saucer will do just fine.
The Hack: Cut up to 10 cherry tomatoes at once by sandwiching them between two Tupperware lids.
The Flaw: Where to start? First of all, your knife will have to be sharpened to a monomolecular edge to keep from pushing the tomatoes around while you “slice.” Secondly, cherry tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes, and leaving your cuts sloppy and uneven. Finally, it’s not much faster than simply slicing each tomato individually. The Solution: Try using a serrated knife. They go through tomatoes like crazy. Just cut each tomato individually. It really doesn’t take that long.
The Hack: Store your towels on a wine rack. Who doesn’t have a spare wine rack laying around?
The Flaw: If you are a wine-rack-owner, you probably use it to store wine. If you own more than one wine-rack, you can probably also afford a towel rack. So, you know. The Solution: How many towels do you need at a time? This is crazy, but we just leave our towels folded on a shelf in the bathroom closet. Now that’s a life hack.
The Hack: Use a shoe organizer to organize cleaning supplies! Or packaged foods! Or anything besides shoes!
The Flaw: To be fair, maybe this is our flaw, not the hack’s, but we had never heard of a “shoe organizer” before the internet came up with umpteen million ways to use them. Who’s hoarding all these shoe organizers? The Solution: Just store your stuff where it fits. Humanity has gotten along for millennia with nothing but cabinets, shelves, and closets. Maybe the old ways are the best after all. Maybe all this life hackery is just another way the internet tries to hold your attention. Some life hacks might really be game-changers. But from what we’ve seen today, life hacks are just another life hoax.