30 Handy, Simple Tricks & Tips for Everyday Life
Useful miscellaneous tips to make life easier
I've always meant to write down all the clever, handy tips I've learned from family and friends. None are earth-shaking; they're just easy tricks that make life simpler! In Japanese, these kinds of tips are called "Urawaza."
Please help by adding your own tips and tricks for daily life at the bottom of this page!
Mop Shoes for the Kitchen
30 Simple, Easy Tips for Everyday Life - Around the home, car and office
- To protect the spines of books -- assuming you still have any -- bookmark them by leaving them open and hanging them off the edge of a desk or table. Never place books open, face-down, on a flat surface.
- While waiting for a subway or train, look for the scuffed areas of the white or yellow line on the edge of the platform. This is where the doors are most likely to open.
- If your hair tends to tangle, use a plastic hairbrush in the shower to brush in conditioner.
- Spread less butter on toast, then eat the toast butter side down. (Depression-era tip for saving butter. Also works with sugar and other spreads.)
- Diatomaceous Earth is non-toxic and has many household uses. Sprinkle it over fresh carpet stains, let it stand overnight and vacuum it up. On a recommendation from her carpet cleaning guy, my mom uses it on her white carpets to remove pet stains and odors, and I proved last Christmas that it will pick up spilled hot cocoa. It also kills ants, silverfish and fleas, but you have to sprinkle it everywhere and it takes several days. (Ants won't cross it, at least.) Concern Diatomaceous Earth is available at some nurseries and hardware stores as an eco-friendly bug killer; there are also food-grade diatomaceous earth options (above right) that some people use to de-flea pets.
- If a pen leaks in your pocket, soak the garment in milk to remove it.
- Cut the front panel off of pretty Christmas cards and use them as a no-crush alternative to bows for gift packages you're going to ship or take on an airplane. Make sure you don't give the card back to the person who sent it, though.
- Use Japanese ceramic soup spoons for soup and cereal. They're less likely to spill. Some are flat-bottomed or notched so they won't slip into a bowl.
- Store shampoo bottles upside-down. (Nowadays some are designed that way.)
- If you live in an area that gets snow, keep a sealed plastic tub of unclumping kitty litter in the trunk. Sprinkle it around tires that get stuck in snow and ice in parking lots for excellent traction.
- Put old paper towel rolls on wire hangers to hang your good slacks. It will prevent creasing.
- Right before putting fresh corn in boiling water, add a pinch of sugar and a dash of milk to the water. They will keep the sugar from leeching out of the water and make the corn taste much better!
- Go to REI and get them to cut you a few 8-10 inch strips of brightly-colored rock climbing webbing: one ribbon per suitcase or piece of checked luggage that you use on trips. Not only does it help mark your luggage; but also, you can use the strips to tie wheeled luggage together in a daisy chain so you don't have to rent a cart. (While you're at it, buy a couple caribeaners for your backpack or rollaboard; they're handy for hooking your coat or water bottle.)
- Never pour old water down the sink: cat/food dishwater, ice cubes and water used to boil eggs can be used to water plants (let it cool first). Of course, don't reuse water that's had meat in it.
- Put rice grains in saltshakers to absorb water and keep the salt from getting stuck in the holes.
- Or put old rice in orphaned socks and tie them off. Microwave the sock for a minute to make a nice warm cuddly heating pad. (Frozen peas in a bag also work well as a cold pack for sinus headaches.)
- Stretch a large rubber band over an open house paint can. When you pull the brush out, rub it against the rubber band to remove excess paint.
- Get small solar-powered LED flashlights (I found mine at ACE hardware) and leave them in windowsills or on car dashboard. Then you will always have emergency flashlights charged up.
- Put a bathmat or doormat in front of your front-end loaded washer and dryer, so wet clothes won't go sploot on the floor and pick up dirt.
- One tablet of non-coated aspirin in a vase of water makes cut flowers last longer.
- To help stay awake on a summer road trip, fill a paper cup with ice cubes at your roadside restaurant of choice and stick them in your hair / down your collar / under your hat from time to time.
- Recycle printed office paper: cut paper into quarters, stack it, staple it or paint one edge with rubber cement to make note pads you leave near phones and computers. (Don't do this with confidential info.)
- Does your white kitchen tile or linoleum floor show dirt five seconds after you mopped it? Wear Microfiber Mop Shoes (above) while in the kitchen -- just sprinkle some water (which you'll splash anyway when washing dishes) and wipe up dirt with your feet. Again, I got mine in Ace Hardware. Betcha they're in Target, too.
- Get easy clip-on, removable panniers for your bike. Bike to the store. Remove the panniers and clip them to the inside of a grocery cart to make sure you don't buy too much to carry home!
- Open an envelope you accidentally sealed: put in it the freezer for 2 hours, then slide a knife under the flap to open it. Freezing fabric is also a way to remove chewing gum (it can then be cracked off).
- Can't remember whether you took your medication? For 2x day medications, I flip the bottle upside-down after I take it in the evening, flip it right-side up after the morning dose. For 3x day medications, I move the bottle left of the sink in the morning, behind the sink at noon, to the right after dinner. The pattern doesn't matter, as long as you're consistent: move the bottle after you take the dose, and you'll be able to look back later and see if you've taken it.
- Small soy sauce dishes on the kitchen counter make great spoon rests and teabag holders. (2-3 cups of tea per tea bag.)
- Keep a book (what's that?) and a small folding camp stool in the car in case you get somewhere that requires you to stand in line.
- Buy or or make a wooden oven rack hook to pull out and push in metal racks so you don't burn your hands trying to reach in and grab a pot between hot shelves.
- On your refrigerator, post a noticeable piece of paper with the phone numbers of your neighbors, an emergency contact number, and instructions/directions to the nearest emergency room. If someone has to call 911 for you, you want them to know which hospital to take you to! You can print it out on your computer so it looks a little less ugly, or put it on the side of the fridge, but you want people to see it.
Well, what do you know? There's actually a special Japanese word for those simple tips, tricks and secrets of daily life: "Urawaza." This book is good and has some surprising home remedies, although only some of them seem to be Japanese. Many are just simple, everyday tips like the ones on the rest of this page.
"Instructions for Life From the Everyday to the Exotic." This is actually just a fun book to thumb through and laugh at: the graphic art is wildly imaginative. It's a bit more "out there," with illustrated how-tos on everything from CPR to surviving a shark attack to getting out of a strait jacket.
Warning: don't put this in your bathroom as reading material unless you have TWO restrooms, as you may find guests "resting" for rather a long time.