The Most Brilliant Life Hacks Ever Devised

Tune out the noise. Here are the real tricks that will actually make you the MacGyver of everyday life.

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1. Every DIY carpenter needs a good clothespin or two.

There’s nothing worse than hammering your fingers. Why not keep your tender digits away from the danger zone? 

2. Outsmart your microwave with the ring technique.

You know how microwaved food always ends up freezing cold in the middle? Don’t let that happen to you.

Just make your food into a ring, with an empty space in the center, like a giant food-doughnut (assuming your food is not already a doughnut—and if it is, why are you microwaving it?)

The radiation waves won’t know what hit them. They’ll be like, “Well, we’d better just heat this evenly, we guess.”

Well done. Enjoy your Spaghetti-Os.

3. Hey, speaking of microwaves: Use vinegar and water to clean your microwave.

Put equal parts water and vinegar into a medium bowl (white vinegar works best), then turn on your microwave for five to 10 minutes, monitoring occasionally to make sure that the liquid doesn’t evaporate completely. Ideally, you should also put a wooden spoon or toothpick into the water, as this disturbs the composition enough to prevent an explosion (yes, that can really happen).

After some of the liquid has evaporated, you can clean up easily with a sponge.

4. Freeze sponges to make a much better ice pack.

The problem with typical ice packs is that they’re made of ice. No, seriously; that water gets everywhere when they melt, and they’re almost too cold to touch to your skin. Instead, try this trick: Rinse a sponge, then squeeze out excess water. Place into a bag and freeze. Voila! A much better ice pack.

By the way, you can also use jumbo marshmallows. This is a great way to get kids to stop crying really quickly after “ouchies.” However, it might give them weird ideas about the healing powers of marshmallows. You win some, you lose some, parents.

5. Cool down your coffee with coffee ice cubes.

Why didn’t we ever think of this before?

Whether you’re making iced coffee or cooling down a steaming hot cup of Joe, coffee ice cubes are the answer to all of your caffeine-related problems. This also works for tea, soda, and…well, any liquid, really. That’s sort of how ice works.

6. When you go on vacation, save some cash spy-style.

Chapstick is awesome at keeping your lips from flaking off, but did you know that those used-up tubes can also give you the pedigree of an international spy? Sort of?

Here’s what you do: Wait until your Chapstick tube is empty (or don’t, if you want to be wasteful about it). Then keep twisting the base until you can grab and extract the little plastic pedestal.

Once you’ve got an empty tube, roll up your emergency cash and store it away. Not even a Bond villain will think to check there.

7. Clean up your wooden furniture with a simple walnut.

Wooden furniture is both classy and classic, if you can believe that. Unfortunately, it’s also vulnerable to the occasional ding or dent, which is why all of our furniture is made out of plastic.

Still, it’s good to know that you can keep your living room presentable with a handful of walnuts. Rub the nut on an indentation in your wooden furniture to watch it disappear. If only the human heart were so easily reparable.

8. Loaning something to a friend? Have the friend take a picture with the object.

Sure, you might come off as a bit of a jerk, but you’ll always know who has your stuff.

Your friend will know that you know, too, and you can always prove it in court (okay, maybe this wouldn’t stand up in court, but it’d probably stand up pretty well in an episode of Judge Judy).

9. Here are two quick tricks for using your screwdriver. No, seriously.

Pesky screws not staying in place? Too small to hold? What about a stripped screw head? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. 

10. Use soda tabs to make the most out of limited closet space.

Soda tabs are perfectly sized for your wire hangers (provided that they’re actually made from metal and not a thick plastic).

You can essentially double your closet space, provided that you drink a soda for each of your favorite shirts. Hey, that sounds like a challenge.

11. Your phone will charge faster when it’s off or in airplane mode.

Forget the “fast-charging” apps. Those things are bunk. What you really want to do is put your phone in airplane mode while you’re charging it.

Better yet, turn the phone off. That allows the battery to fill without simultaneously depleting. You’ll be shocked how fast your phone charges when you can resist the urge to keep using it for just a few minutes.

12. Cover your razor heads with a binder clip before you travel.

Believe it or not, you can still travel with razors. The problem is, your Mach 3 might tear through your luggage as the plane shakes. That’s not a situation you want to explain to security.

Keep your razor and yourself safe by using a simple DIY razor cover. Just attach a common binder clip. That’ll act like a sheath to the Excalibur that is your razor. Everyone’s happy.

13. Sure, Coca-Cola can remove rust. But not as fast as vinegar and salt.

A lot of digital ink has been spilled over cola’s power to dissolve rust. If you really want to blast the oxidation, though, just soak that bit of rusty metal in a solution of vinegar and salt.

Leave it overnight. Then attack the object with a bit of steel wool. It’s not as exciting as using cola, maybe, but it works way, way better.

14. You don’t know how to copy and paste until you master Ctrl+Shift+V.

What would life be without keyboard commands? We know professionals who should really tattoo “Ctrl+C” and “Ctrl+V” onto their knuckles.

Actually, though, you should probably use Ctrl+Shift+V more often than not. This variation on the common “Ctrl+V” theme pastes text without retaining the original formatting. That makes it a must when going from one program to another, or when you don’t care for your quoted source’s italics, for instance.

15. If you have an indecisive S.O., use the “5-2-1” trick.

It’s a relationship saver. Say you want to pick a restaurant for dinner. Offer your partner five possible choices. Let them pick two. Once they’ve narrowed it down, you step in to make the decision final.

If you’re indecisive, too, you can always flip a coin once you narrow the options down to just two.

16. Is it too hot to walk your dog? Use the hand test.

Unlike you, your pooch doesn’t have an inch of shoe-leather between foot and ground. A blacktop walk on a hot day can be unwitting torture for your poor dog.

Luckily, your dog’s paw pads are about as sensitive as the back of your hand. If you want to know if the ground is too hot for a walk, just lay your fist down on the sidewalk. If you can’t stand it after a few seconds, stick to the park.

17. Break in your new shoes with a hairdryer and a pair of socks

If your new flats are a little tight you can break them in easily by putting on a pair of thick socks first and then blasting the shoes with a hairdryer. Leave them on till they cool down and voila!

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