Smart Hacks That Will Legitimately Change Your Life for the Better

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In the world of modern technology, we have so much knowledge at our fingertips it’s almost overwhelming. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have access to it all. But we do, and it can be a lifesaver because, while we might think we have the whole “living our life” thing down pat, we’re probably missing out on a lot of tricks to make our lives even easier. Here are a few hacks that’ll definitely change your life for the better.

Keep Your Toothbrush Clean

Whenever you go to a hotel, even though everything has been cleaned, it’d be nice not to have to put your toothbrush down on the sink. That’s in a definite splash zone, which isn’t great for something you use to clean your teeth.

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To keep your toothbrush clean, simply poke a hole in the bottom of a paper cup and use it as a stand for your toothbrush. (If you don’t have one in your room, the front desk can probably get you one.) It’s a ridiculously easy hack that’s guaranteed to keep your toothbrush nice and clean during your stay.

Take Soothing Showers When You’re Sick

Taking a shower when you have a cold feels lovely — it can help clear your sinuses and leave you feeling a lot warmer than you were before you got in. But what if there was a way to make those showers even better? Well, as it turns out, there is.

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Make a Vicks VapoRub ice cube. Mix two liters of boiling water and two tablespoons of VapoRub together, and then fill an ice cube tray and freeze it. Put a cube in your shower next time you’re sick. You get instant Vicks steam, helping unclog your sinuses and ears — a perfect hack to help you feel a million times better.

Heat Up Butter Better

So, your cookie recipe calls for softened butter, but you forgot to take it out of the fridge. You plop your butter in the microwave for a few seconds, only for it to go from cold to melted in no time flat. Surely there’s a life hack that can help with this conundrum and still get you your cookies?

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Well, there is. Heat up a tall glass by pouring in some boiling water. Once the glass is warm, dump out the water, and put the glass over a stick of butter. The butter will warm up quickly without melting.

Fit More in Your Microwave

We all know the struggle of trying to heat up bowls or plates one at a time in the microwave. It seems trivial, but it can get pretty annoying, especially if you have a lot of things to heat up. But there’s a life hack that can make even this task easier — it’s so easy you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself.

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Simply balance one of the bowls or plates on top of a mug. It’s fairly sturdy, and it means you can fit two or maybe three bowls (depending on how big they are) into your microwave at once.

Store Sheets Smartly

Sheets are everyday items, so you might think we’d have figured out how to store them by now. Surprisingly, most of us are probably doing it wrong. In the linen closet they can get messy and disorganized pretty quickly, and you might find yourself pulling out three different sheets from three different sets every time you want to make your bed.

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Keep your sheet sets separated in pillow cases instead. It can help keep your closet way more organized and keep all your sheet sets apart, making laundry day a breeze. Give it a try and see what you’ve been missing out on.

Save Yourself a Frozen Avalanche

You open up your freezer to get out a popsicle, and that open bag of frozen peas falls out, scattering ice and peas everywhere. It’s a disaster just waiting to happen. And even if your frozen bags don’t fall out, all those bags get messy in your freezer.

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Try using heavy-duty binder clips to keep your freezer a little more organized. You can hang your freezer bags from the racked shelf in your freezer, making it a lot easier to find everything — and making a frozen-pea catastrophe a lot less likely.

Maximize Your Counter Space

Life in a tiny kitchen can be difficult, especially when you don’t have enough counter space to hold all the ingredients you’re prepping for a delicious dinner. To maximize all your available space, there’s a super-easy trick to use, and all you need is a cutting board.

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Just open up one of your kitchen drawers and balance the cutting board on top of it. You’ll immediately have extra counter space to hold ingredients or utensils, and (if your drawer is sturdy enough) you have an extra chopping space, too. It’s fast and easy and will make cooking a lot more pleasant.

Freeze a Homemade Ice Pack

No one wants to spend money on expensive ice packs, but when you find yourself needing one, suddenly you’re not so sure avoiding the cost was a good idea. There are alternatives to buying them, though, and they’re actually pretty easy to make.

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Soak a sponge in water, seal it in a plastic zipper bag and freeze it. When you’re ready to use it, grab a towel or a rag so that you don’t freeze your skin, and your ice pack is all ready. It won’t drip everywhere as it melts, and you can reuse it as many times as you need to.

Organize Your Bobby Pins

Bobby pins are one of the necessities of the hair world; they’re also some of the most difficult things to keep track of. They always seem to end up at the bottom of a purse or a drawer, behind a sofa or under a bed. Never where they’re supposed to be.

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To make your morning routine easier, use a magnetic strip to keep them organized. Just put one in your bathroom drawer (gluing it in the back is a nice option), and use it to line up all your bobby pins. You’ll never go scrambling to find them again.

Make Brunch Less Messy

Sunday brunch is always fun, but the cleanup is slightly less entertaining. Trying to ladle all that pancake batter into the pan can make for a drippy disaster, even if you’re an excellent ladler. But there’s a sneaky hack you can use to keep brunch fun and minimize cleanup.

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Pour your pancake batter into an empty ketchup (or similarly squeezable) bottle. Your batter will come out easily, and you’re much less likely to drip it all over the counter. Plus, you can make fun designs with your batter without having to buy a fancy tool. Bring on brunch!

Check How Fresh Your Eggs Are

Sure, we could look at the expiration dates on our egg cartons, but sometimes that’s not the most accurate way to determine freshness. And if you get your eggs fresh from somewhere, maybe there isn’t a date printed that you can look at. There’s an easy way to tell exactly how fresh your eggs are, though.

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Fill up a clear bowl with water and put your egg in it. If it sinks to the bottom and sits on its side, it’s very fresh. The more upright it stands, the older it is. If it floats up to the top, it’s probably too old to eat.

Make a Bigger Zipper Bag

Sometimes the usual sizes of plastic zip bags just aren’t big enough. Maybe you’re trying to protect a book from the rain while it’s in your backpack, or maybe you’re trying to transport a bunch of snacks for a big group. Whatever the reason, there’s a solution.

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Take two of whatever size baggie you have (they do need to be the same size) and turn one of them inside out. Now, when you put them end-to-end, they’ll connect to one another at their zippers, doubling your bag size.

Save Your Phone Charger

Seeing your phone charger tear and give out is one of the most disappointing things of our time — something you rely on on a daily basis, gone in a flash. There’s a pretty easy way to extend the life of your phone charger and save it from giving out, however.

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Use a spring from an old pen to protect the cord and keep it from bending as much. Just slide the spring on near the end of the cord, where it’s most likely to bend, and it’ll keep the cord straight. Enjoy a functional charger for a much longer time.

Get That Food Hotter and Tastier

Admit it. We’ve all been disappointed at some point by our apparent inability to microwave properly. We take out our food and the edges are lava-hot while the middle is still, quite literally, frozen. Luckily, there’s a super-easy hack to save you from culinary catastrophe every time.

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All you have to do is arrange your food around the edge of the plate. If you have a plate full of nuggets, for example, arrange them in a large circle near the plate’s perimeter. It’ll make sure the food warms up evenly, so you’ll have perfectly heated food every time.

Easily Store Your Plastic Bags

Saving plastic bags is pretty much a given, right? But organizing them seems to remain a mystery for the ages. No matter what you do, they seem to end up in a tangled explosion of plastic in the back of a cupboard somewhere.

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But don’t despair — there’s an easy hack to organize all those bags. Take an old tissue box, and stuff it full of all the plastic bags currently lurking around your kitchen. It keeps your bags neatly organized, and it makes it really easy to grab one without taking six at once.

Extend Your Zipper Life

We’ve all had that moment of defeat when a zipper gives out. The bag or pants may still be in the prime of their lives, but we can’t use them anymore because we can no longer zip the zippers. Well, there’s actually a fairly easy solution to that problem.

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Use a paperclip or some paracord to loop through the bit of the zipper that’s still there, and you’ll be good to go. It might not look quite as fashionable, but it’s worth it if you want to save that suitcase or your favorite vintage jeans.

Remember a Name

This one might be less widely used, but it’s still a helpful hack. Maybe you’ve only met someone a couple of times, whether it be a coworker, someone new you’re dating or a friend of a friend. You realize you’ve forgotten their name — so embarrassing!

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Instead of subjecting yourself to that, take them to Starbucks. Yes, you read that right. See what name gets called out for their drink, and you’ll have your answer without ever having to reveal you forgot their name in the first place. Plus, you get bonus points for going with them for coffee.

Make Your Room Actually Dark

Hotel rooms are usually pretty comfortable for guests, but most of them also share a similar problem. Their curtains simply don’t close all the way, leaving you with a strip of light coming in to either keep you awake or wake you up at a ridiculously early hour.

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To save your sleep, all you need is a hanger (which hotel rooms tend to have in abundance). Take one of the hangers for pants that has clips, and clip the two curtains together. You’ll get rid of that strip of light, leaving you to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Avoid Nasty Garbage Juice

You go to take out the trash, but the bottom of the bag is practically a soup of different liquids that have trickled down. It sounds disgusting, but sadly it’s something we have to deal with on a fairly regular basis. To avoid this in the future, try using one simple hack.

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Lay down some old newspaper pages at the bottom of your garbage bag. They’ll soak up any gross liquids from food that end up in your trash so you don’t have to deal with a gross, dripping garbage bag next time you take out the trash.

Make Cuter Cable Holders

It seems like today we have endless numbers of cords running everywhere around our houses, even if many of our devices are wireless. Sometimes it can be a difficult task to keep them all organized, and it’s an even more difficult task to make them look good while we’re at it.

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To keep your cords organized and looking good, try using a little Lego figurine. Their hands are actually kind of the perfect size for holding cords, and they look pretty cool while they’re at it. You’ll never go back to basic, boring cord organizers again.

Don’t Water Down Your Wine

Sometimes it’s nice to have a couple of ice cubes in your wine, but then you’re left with the tragic yet inevitable consequence: watered-down wine as the ice cubes melt. While this may seem like an inescapable tragedy, there’s actually a pretty easy life hack to save you from it.

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Instead of using regular ice cubes, which will melt, freeze some grapes and use those in your wine. They’ll still chill your beverage but won’t melt and water it down. It’s the perfect solution for those who don’t want to deal with the taste of watered-down wine (a.k.a. everybody).

Keep Chips Fresh

You know those chip bag sealer clips we all buy because we don’t want our chips to go stale? (Although, let’s be honest, how many of us let the chips sit around long enough to go stale?) Well, it turns out we don’t need to spend money on those.

Photo Courtesy: Marco Verch/Flickr

Just take the clips from an old plastic hanger — the kind you’d clip pants or a skirt on. Break off the clips, and voilà! You have your very own chip bag clips. These are way cheaper than the kind you buy at the store, and they actually work better, too.

Organize Your Pot Covers

Keeping a kitchen drawer organized is a nightly battle. Pots and pans have to be stacked just so, and all the lids usually end up in a chaotic pile somewhere, lost in the depths, despite your best intentions to keep them organized and orderly.

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To help with this problem, try using those plastic Command Hooks. It sounds weird but works like a charm. Simply put a pair on the back of your cabinet door for each pot lid, and put your lid on them like a mini-shelf. It’ll keep your lids organized and keep your cabinet a lot neater.

Verify Medication Easily

If you have a daily pill to take, remembering whether or not you took it is a regular hassle. If your medication comes in those blister packages, though, there’s a quick trick you can use to make sure you know whether you took it or not.

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Don’t buy a labeled pill case; make your own. Just write on each pill casing the date you’re supposed to take it. If it’s empty, then you did. No more struggling to remember or thinking that you forgot.

Craft a Custom Pan Scraper

So, you’ve finished making a delicious dinner, but now it’s time for cleanup. You try to scrape off the sides of your frying pan, but it’s at a bit of a funky angle. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to find something that fits it perfectly, so you’re left with gunk on the sides.

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No more! For a cheap, easy option, simply cut out the perfect shape from a milk carton. Your cleaning task will become infinitely easier, and you won’t have to spend insane amounts of cash to replace the scraper when it wears out.

Make Your Own Big Mirror

Hanging a big mirror is a great way to add some class to any room. It makes the space appear larger and just generally looks good. But large mirrors can get expensive, so it’s not always the most cost-effective option.

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Now you can get that large-mirror effect without a large-mirror price. Simply hang a series of cheaper tall mirrors in a rectangular pattern until you get the size you want. It’s so easy, and you can find these types of mirrors pretty much anywhere. You’ll get the illusion of having a huge mirror without shelling out the cash.

Protect Your Bagel

Bagels are one of those delicious staples that you never seem to get tired of. Make it sweet, make it savory, make it a sandwich… It’s perfect for every occasion. But if you’re taking it to work, you run the risk of squishing it in your bag before you can enjoy a single delicious bite.

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If you have an old CD spindle lying around from the days of yore, you can solve this problem pretty easily. Simply slide the bagel onto the spindle, clasp the lid on tight and there you have it. Your bagel is perfectly protected and ready to eat.

Safeguard Your Shins

Maybe you got a new bed frame and didn’t realize how sharp the edges were, or maybe you’re on vacation and dealing with a coffee table that’s not yours. Either way, sometimes those edges are sharp, and if you hit your shin it can be pretty painful. There’s an easy and cheap way to save yourself the pain of a shin attack, though.

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Just get a pool noodle. Yes, one of those goofy colorful ones that all the kids play with during the summer. Cut it in half vertically, then just cut it the right length for your frame edges.

Organize Those Spoons

We’ve all run into this scenario: You reach your hand into the silverware drawer to get a big spoon and pull out a little one. Or, vice versa. Keeping our spoons organized when we don’t have enough drawer space seems like an impossible task.

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You can use one simple life hack to fix this problem, though. Simply alternate your spoons — put the big ones in with the handles facing the bottom and the little ones in with the handles facing the top. It’s miraculously easy.

Get More From Your Christmas Tree

Have you ever been a little saddened by how short the time is during the year when you can decorate your Christmas tree? It’s barely any time at all, really, that you get to enjoy the decorations and the lights. Not surprisingly, you’re not the only one who’s been thinking about this.

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If you want to stretch a little more time out of your (artificial) Christmas tree, take a page out of Japan’s book: Decorate it for Halloween! Throw on some skeletons and pumpkin lights and you can enjoy a super-festive look (The Nightmare Before Christmas, anyone?) that’s perfect for the whole holiday season.