Old-school Household Hacks That Stand The Test of Time For All Of UsBy Michelle Stone
Grandparents are simply the best, aren’t they? They coddle us, make sure we’re well-fed, listen to all the absurd stories we tell, slip us money even if our parents tell them not to, and simply make us feel so loved. Other things that make them so cool and lovable are their hacks. Without the Internet to turn to whenever they had a pressing concern, they had to turn to their instincts and wits. And well, let’s just say that they would win in a modern-day face-off about household hacks. From simple logic and experience, they developed genius ways to make life easier, and up to the day, only a few things could beat those solutions. We hope we can be as cool as we grow older. Anyhow, let’s dive into those genius old-school tips and tricks.
Two-Ingredient Breakfast Pancakes
Don’t have time to make a traditional pancake breakfast before work? Here’s a quick, grandma-approved recipe for busy bees. Instead of the usual flour, baking powder, milk, and eggs, just use mashed bananas and eggs for a two-ingredient pancake. Going this route not only cuts down on cooking time but also cleaning time.
What’s more, adding some protein powder into the banana pancake batter turns into an excellent post-workout snack. Drizzling honey on the finished meal elevates it further. That said, this yummy recipe is no longer exclusive to granny’s kitchen and has now become popular with lifestyle blogs, too.
Taters For Even-Toned Underarms
Many products out there promise to get rid of hyperpigmentation, be it in the bikini or underarm area. Still, it’s a bright idea to try out a natural remedy before moving on to the more potent, pricier stuff.
As it turns out, good old taters (their juice in particular) have mild bleaching properties. To take advantage of these, grate a potato and squeeze the moisture out of it. The resulting liquid is then applied onto the armpits and left to soak for ten minutes. Rinse the excess off and see how the area has become more even-toned, all naturally!
Turn Fingers Into A “Sunset Watch”
Like late afternoon runs? Then having the ability to tell how long it is before the sun sets is a convenient skill to avoid staying out too late. Used well before the time of our grandmothers, this involves turning our hands into a sort of manual sunset watch. This means treating each finger, except the thumb, as equal to 15 minutes.
Hold one hand parallel to the horizon and then put the other on top until the sun is no longer visible. The number of fingers it takes before reaching the sun is the time left before sunset. For example, four fingers mean it will get dark in about an hour.
A Large Batch Of Eggs In Minutes
Most grandmas love cooking for family, that’s for sure. And we can learn a thing or two from them about whipping up a meal for a full table of people in a short amount of time. For example, making a batch of eggs for breakfast or brunch can be done more efficiently in the oven instead of the stove.
Find a muffin tray and crack an egg in each slot. Then, bake the whole batch in the oven for 18 minutes or so (for hard yolks). For a restaurant-quality meal, the eggs can be dressed up with the addition of ham, bacon, or cheese.
Citrus-Infused Vinegar Cleaner
By now, it’s become apparent that white vinegar is quite the cleaning powerhouse of granny’s household. However, some find it hard to become a fan of the all-around ingredient because of its strong smell. The good news is that there’s a natural remedy for that issue, too.
To create a fresh-smelling household cleaner, infuse some citrus scents into a vinegar spray before putting it to work. Do this by soaking orange or lemon peels in the mixture for a couple of weeks. Strain the solids out after and get ready to have a house that smells fruitylicious!
A Tasty Way To Get Rid Of Splinters
Those who’ve had the misfortune of having a splinter under their skin know how uncomfortable and painful it can be. What’s worse is that getting the foreign object out, be it a piece of wood or glass, is an arduous task in itself. Granny knows a tasty way of solving this problem.
Just take a piece of raw bacon, cut a small portion of it, and then rub it in the affected area. Apply some adhesive bandage afterward to keep the slice of meat in place while it stays on overnight. By the time the clock signals daybreak, the splinter should already be drawn out by the bacon fat.
Ketchup On Tarnished Copper
Ketchup goes along well with almost anything—except for white dress shirts, of course. It can even be used beyond being a tangy condiment. Granny found an excellent way to put it to work when it comes to saving tarnished copper cookware.
Pans made out of soft metal can develop a layer of copper oxide over time as copper reacts to air exposure. Fortunately, it just so happens that copper oxide can be dissolved by acid and salt. These ingredients can be found in ketchup, which can be slathered on a copper-bottom pan to get rid of its tarnished look.
The Simple Trick To Better Handwriting
Learning how to write is part of any good education. However, writing in an elegant script is often something that a person needs to learn independently. This is where grandma’s hobby of penning those love letters to grandpa would come in handy.
A simple trick to better handwriting is using a rubber band to help guide the hand. Wrapping the elastic material to connect the writing hand to the pencil or pen would give one a better grip and control. This would lead to more beautiful penmanship over time with a bit of practice.
Separating Stuck Glasses With Heat
Washing dishes after every meal is already tough enough; it’s made worse when glasses decide to stick together in the sink. We’re all likely familiar with this inconvenient scenario. Some of us have probably broken some glassware trying to separate stuck pieces by hand.
Granny has a foolproof fix for this issue: a bit of heat. Take any two pieces of glass clinging to each other and heat the outer one with warm tap water. After a minute or so, the glasses should come unstuck. If they didn’t, fill the inner piece with cold tap water, and that should do it.
Stinky Garlic Fingers, Begone!
The secret to delicious food is seasoning it with flavorsome things. It’s just that those ingredients happen to have strong smells that stick to the finger long after mealtime. It almost makes it seem like a good idea to just opt for food delivery instead of dealing with garlic fingers, huh?
Don’t give up just yet! Granny’s tips are here to the rescue. To get rid of the smell of onion or garlic, use cold water for handwashing to avoid enlarging the skin’s pores and letting the scent soak in. A paste of two parts baking soda, one part salt, and a bit of water will also help.
Avoid Cracks While Boiling Eggs
For many, boiled eggs are a staple of a healthy diet. They make for a quick, protein-rich snack and fit right in with a salad. Making them isn’t as straightforward for some people, though, especially for novice cooks. Putting fresh eggs into boiling water often results in shells cracking, which leaves a mess of whites in the pot.
Grandmas have long resolved this with salt. Yes, adding a dash of the kitchen staple in the water helps avoid cracked eggs. How? Well, science says that salt increases the boiling point in the pot for better cooking. Salted water would also solidify any leaking egg whites and help seal cracks.
A Simple Trick To Protect Jars And Vases
Grandmas know the chaos of having kids running around. So, it’s no surprise that they’ve also come up with a way of protecting their fragile home décor from being knocked over during playtime. Before putting decorative roses or plants in vases and jars, give them a bit of added weight.
This can be done by pouring some sand or any other similar material into vases. That way, it becomes harder for them to be knocked off their designated place. Meanwhile, clear jars can be turned into terrariums with soil, pretty stones, and moss.
No More Smelly Kicks
In the summer, wearing sneakers without socks may feel more comfortable, but it sure leads to some sweaty situations. And with that comes the inevitable pong that shoes are bound to emit after several uses. No need to endure damp and whiffy footwear, though. Granny’s got just the solution!
It doesn’t get any simpler than sprinkling some salt inside canvas sneakers to have them smelling fresh again. Just leave the salt overnight to absorb all the moisture in there and dust the excess when it’s time to head out the door.
Perfectly Sliced Bread Hack
Baking bread at home can be mastered by anyone willing to try. Now, the art of perfectly cut slices is another thing altogether. Most know that a serrated knife is the best weapon of choice but can still end up with uneven and crumbly cuts. Granny has a solution for this dilemma, and it doesn’t require buying a gimmicky device from Amazon.
Apparently, the secret to the best bread slices is heating up the cutting knife first. This can be done by dipping it into boiling water until it warms up. The good thing about this hack is that it also works for slicing desserts like ice cream cake.
Unclogging Shower Heads
Nothing is as relaxing as taking a shower with a nice smelling gel at the end of a long day. Well, not if the showerhead is backed up with minerals and spewing water in all directions. No need to buy a replacement right away, though. A tip from granny can still save the day.
Get a plastic bag large enough to cover the entire shower head. Then, fill it with vinegar before securing the bag onto the shower pipe to soak the showerhead. Leave it on for a couple of hours before removing and running the water to wash out any vinegar residue.
The Secret To Spotless Pans And Crockery
The most challenging part of cooking is probably the clean-up afterward. A pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink is enough to discourage anyone from turning on the stove at all. And pans with tough stains only make things worse. Granny has a nifty trick for the latter, though.
An all-around cleaner, baking soda is once again our hero here. Because it’s non-abrasive, the chemical compound can eliminate stuck food and lingering smells from pans without damaging them. And here’s a bonus tip: adding some vinegar intensifies its cleaning abilities.
Making Tarnished Silver Shine Again
Got some silver heirloom pieces from mom or grandma lying around? Then, keeping them shiny and looking good for future generations is imperative. And what better way to do so than by following granny’s tried-and-tested tips? All that’s needed is some white toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a piece of cloth.
Begin by gathering the tarnished silverware or jewelry on a clean work surface. Then, squeeze on a dollop of toothpaste in areas that need attention. Gently buff them with the toothbrush being extra careful not to scratch the silver. Finish off by wiping the paste with a microfiber cloth, and voila, good as new!
Goodbye Smelly Garbage, Hello Fresh Kitchen
The garbage disposal is a handy invention to have in the kitchen. But there are times when it becomes a stinky problem, too. With all the excess food it guzzles, the waste disposal unit eventually accumulates grease and grime. This is how to keep it smelling fresh at all times.
As it turns out, citrus fruits don’t just make for tasty snacks or a good DIY hair treatment; they can also fight any odor emitting from the garbage disposal without clogging it. Just grind the peels of an orange or a lemon and let the citrus oils do the work.
Self-Watering Plant Hack
Not everyone has the money to hire a house sitter each time they need a vacation. So, many know the struggle of coming home to dried or dead house plants after a relaxing trip. This doesn’t always have to be the case. Grandmothers and plant lovers have been using the string hack to deal with this issue.
It works by taking a cotton or nylon cord and burying one end in the pot of houseplant and the other end in a bucket of water. With the string being liquid-absorbent, the setup basically creates a self-watering system for potted plants.
Squeaky Clean Blender In Ten Seconds
Blenders are a heaven-sent contraption. They can be used for everything from making smoothies to homemade baby food. It’s just that the kitchen device requires a bit of elbow grease to clean sometimes. We found a washing trick that’ll get the chore done in a matter of seconds.
After using the blender, fill the pitcher with hot water until the halfway mark. Add a bit of dishwashing liquid to the mix and turn on the blender. In about ten seconds, all the food residue should be dislodged from the pitcher’s nooks and crannies. A final rinse in the sink should take care of any stray leftovers.
Beat Beet Stains
Beets don’t really have the best reputation when it comes to taste. It also doesn’t help that using it can sometimes lead to stains that are almost impossible to get out. Fortunately, it seems like there’s no stain granny doesn’t have a solution for.
To beat beet splashes on fabric, pre-treat the affected area with lemon juice and let it soak for a couple of minutes. It helps if the stain is tamped carefully with a toothbrush. These steps are usually enough to loosen the color, so all that’s left to do is wash the area with detergent and warm water.
All-Natural, Effortless Microwave Degunker
The microwave is probably one of the most used appliances in the modern household. It can be used for everything from heating leftovers to even baking mug cakes. But with frequent use also comes the need for regular cleaning—no need to use harsh cleaners that might be dangerous to one’s health, though.
Look no further than this all-natural cleaning solution from granny. In a bowl, mix the juice of a lemon (and the fruit itself) with half a cup of water. Microwave the bowl on high for three minutes and let the steam loosen up the food gunk for a few minutes. Finally, wipe the inside of the microwave clean.
A Handy Dandy Knuckle Mnemonic
Anyone with a phone can check the calendar on the device with a few clicks. But back in the day, our grandmas had to get creative, especially remembering which months have 30 or 31 days. For that purpose, they came up with a handy dandy knuckle mnemonic.
By closing the hand into a fist, the bumps and valleys created can signify the months of the year. The first bump is January; the first valley is February, and so on. The months that fall on the knuckles have 31 days; the ones that fall on the valleys have 30 (except for February).
Edible bowls have been a staple in many restaurants for quite a while. Being convenient and tasty, it’s not hard to see why. There’s no reason we can’t make our own at home and get creative with our family dinners, though. What’s more, switching to edible bowls or edi-bowls will cut down on the dishes we have to wash.
There are many ways to go about this. Buying bread and carving out its inside portion is one method. Making bowl-shaped tortillas is another. Of course, we can always take it to the next level by using fruits like pineapples and tomatoes as food vessels.
Smelly Fridge Vs Baking Soda
Leftover pizza? Throw it in the fridge. Leftover pad Thai? It goes into the fridge, too, until it starts smelling funny. Once it does, though, the rest of the refrigerator has probably been steeped in awful odors that a simple wipe-and-clean method won’t do it anymore.
For smells that are tough to get out, granny recommends bringing out some baking soda to get the job done. Mix a solution of one part baking soda and one part water to wash the inside of the fridge. Leaving a cup of baking soda in the corner of the refrigerator would also keep bad smells at bay.
A Lemony Solution For Stained Nails
Those who often wear varnish know the struggle of seeing their nails develop a yellow stain. This condition worsens when one puts on darker or highly pigmented shades for a long time. A bit of lemon juice makes an easy task out of getting rid of these stains.
Squeeze half a lemon into a cup of warm water and then soak the nails in the solution for about five minutes before an appointment at the nail spa. The acid content of the citrus juice takes care of restoring nails’ natural color and removing excess varnish gunk.
Erase Fresh Carpet Stains With Salt
Drinking red wine around fancy furniture or carpets is a risky business. A little spill can quickly leave permanent marks that would be tough to erase or even fade. That doesn’t mean that the damage can’t be reversed, though. Just make sure to have some salt around.
Once the wine comes into contact with the carpet, the first thing to do is blot the affected area carefully. Get all the excess liquid out before pouring salt over the stain. This sucks out the remaining wine while the area dries. Once the stain is no longer visible, vacuum the salt and breathe a sigh of relief.
Two Sponges Are Better Than One
Having grown up during tougher times, many grandmas came up with creative ways to save money when it comes to keeping a household. Here’s a simple saving tip we can learn from them: two sponges are better than one for dishwashing purposes.
This means cutting up a piece of sponge into two to get double the amount of use from the item. Sounds like too much effort? The trick is to buy sponges in bigger batches and cut them to store somewhere near the sink. Once a piece has turned bad, just grab a new one and get onto washing dishes like normal.
Instant Chilled Wine, No Ice Needed
Don’t have time to chill wine before guests arrive? Here’s a simple trick to get instant cold wine in a matter of minutes—no ice needed. Just take a couple of sheets of paper towels or a dish cloth and wet it with water.
Wrap the towels around the bottle of wine that needs to be chilled and remove any excess water. Place the bottle in the freezer and wait for minutes. Once the allotted time has passed, retrieve the wine out and enjoy a couple of glasses of perfectly chilled vino with friends.
Chewing Gum Vs Peanut Butter
Many of us know the horror of having a piece of chewing gum stuck to our hair. The experience comes with a lot of stress, primarily from the thought of cutting a chunk of our locks to save the rest. That said, it’s funny that something as seemingly random as peanut butter can solve this issue in a jiffy.
See, the peanut butter’s thick and oily consistency can help fight the gum’s stickiness. Ultimately, the sandwich staple has the power to dislodge the gum right off the strands. Guess this is one more reason to stock up on jars of peanut butter!
A Salty Solution To Oil Stains
Oil stains are a pain to wash off clothes. But as always, granny has a solution for this greasy situation. It starts even before the stained clothing touches the water in the washing machine. The good news is that all that’s needed are things already found in most homes.
Create a solution out of one part salt and four parts rubbing alcohol. Rub the mixture directly onto the affected area of the clothing to work on removing the oil. This works because salt has the ability to suck out oil, allowing the garment to be free of the stain before the actual washing.
Cloud-Reading For The Day’s Weather
Not having the kind of phones we have today, our grandmas had to learn how to tell the day’s weather forecast by watching the clouds—that or waiting for the weatherman on the TV. Anyway, it can still be helpful to learn cloud-reading these days for predicting rain or sunshine.
Look up at the sky and observe the cloud formations above. If they are dense, then there’s probably a heavy shower with thunder coming along. The same can be said for the presence of wispy, thin formations. Good weather typically comes with clouds that look like small round puffs called cirrocumulus.
DIY Sofa Spray
Ever wonder why our grandmas’ sofa almost always smells nice? Well, that’s probably because they’ve figured out a way to keep the oft-used furniture clean even with the rotation of kids, pets, and guests that use it. This is all thanks to the power of a simple DIY sofa spray.
Nontoxic and mostly natural, the concoction is a mixture of white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and some essential oils. The vinegar has deodorizing properties and works to dissolve dirt that has built up in the sofa fabric. The rest of the ingredients kill germs and provide a fresh scent to the couch.
A Salt Spa For Burnt Pans
The worst part of cooking is cleaning the dishes. And it doesn’t help when burnt pans are part of the task. Luckily, granny has some tricks up her sleeve for this very problem. As with her other solutions, this one doesn’t get simpler than using some salt.
Wait for the burnt pans to cool, then fill them with a solution of warm water and up to three tablespoons of table salt. Leave the pans to soak in the salt spa and then boil the water in them for 15 minutes on the stove. Scrub the rest of the burnt area, and voila, the pans are squeaky clean again.
Instant Nail Varnish Reviver
There’s nothing as irritating as finding a nail polish that has turned into a chunky mess right before an at-home manicure. But fret not. Many women have dealt with this exact scenario, our grandmas included, and have figured out a way to get around the problem.
All it takes is a couple of drops of pure acetone, aka nail varnish remover, carefully added to the nail varnish bottle. Just make sure to add little by little to see how the liquid reacts and avoid ruining it altogether. The acetone would thin out the varnish in no time.
Baking Soda For DIY Beauty Solutions
Speaking of baking soda, here are some more uses for the pantry staple. This time, though, it’s the beauty functions we’re focusing on. Before fancy self-care products entered the scene, our grandmas had to rely on DIY solutions to solve their beauty woes.
To make a skin exfoliator, rub one part water and three parts baking soda on the face. After that, spread the stuff in a circular motion to get rid of dead skin cells. To avoid the buildup of other products, sprinkle some baking soda into a container of shampoo and wash as usual.
A Surefire Way To Smother A Grease Fire
With or without fire insurance, kitchen fires can be a scary sight to encounter. They can’t be put out the same way regular fires and quickly lead to more significant disasters. That said, it’s essential to learn from our grandmas’ experiences and find out how to smother grease fires.
For starters, ensure that the heat source has been turned off. Then, try to cover the flames using a metal pot lid or a cooking sheet until the fire has died. Another surefire way to smother a grease fire is to pour some salt or baking soda to kill it completely.
Tablecloth Stain Buster
Having company over for a party or a small family dinner often leads to unavoidable messes. The first casualty is usually the tablecloth, which takes on a beating from spilled food and drinks. The problem then is how to clean up the resulting stains before it’s time for guests to return.
To save table linens from a dirty death, add a few teaspoons of baking soda to the wash cycle. This would help in washing off grease and food pieces stuck on the fabric. For fresh stains, a sprinkle of baking soda will help soak up the spilled oil or wine before it gets the chance to set in.
Get Silverware Shining Again With Foil
Now, this next tip isn’t that exclusive to grandmas anymore, and for a good reason: it works like magic to save dirty silverware. For this cleaning hack, all that’s needed is a sheet of aluminum foil and some baking soda, which most people already have at home.
As per Apartment Therapy’s instructions, begin by pouring some hot water into a suitable dish. Mix in the baking soda and some vinegar before submerging the foil. Finally, place the silver that needs cleaning into the water bath, ensuring each piece touches the foil. Wipe the silverware clean after 30 seconds or up to a few minutes of soaking.
The Secret To Even Cake Layers
Lots of grandmas love to whip up sweet treats for their loved ones, becoming master bakers in the process. That said, we beginners have a lot of tricks to learn from them. Let’s start with a simple yet useful one: cutting cake layers evenly.
Sometimes there are not enough baking pans to bake sheets of cake. Thus, dividing one into two equal pieces is an important skill. To do so, take a string of non-minty, waxed dental floss and wrap it around the cake. Slowly pull the string to cut into the piece. Easy-peasy!
Mosquito Bites Vs Raw Potatoes
Now, this one we might have to take with a grain of salt. It’s no secret that mosquito and other bug bites can make people itch like crazy. Not to mention the diseases that typically come with these insects. As it turns out, a natural remedy for these bites is something as simple as a slice of raw potato.
Yes, the same thing we make fries and mash with can help alleviate swelling and pain. Who would’ve thought? And it’s not alone in its fight against mosquito bites. A slice of raw onion can be used in the same way.
Foolproof Coffee Stain On Mug Eraser
For many people (us included), a cup of Joe is a staple of their morning ritual. That said, we’re aware of the pesky stains that coffee can leave behind on mugs. And as good as a latte tastes with breakfast, it comes with the task of scrubbing extra hard to get the brown rings off the porcelain.
Lucky for caffeine fiends, there’s an easier way to get rid of the stains, and it doesn’t cost much money. All one needs is a box of baking soda and some warm water. Use this to form a paste inside the mug. That mixture should erase coffee residue when scrubbed.
De-Greasing Range Hood Filters
There’s nothing as satisfying as cooking in a clean kitchen. That means getting into every nook and cranny, including the range hood filters that some of us might unknowingly skip in our regular wipe downs. The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of extra time or money to de-grease.
Begin by filling the sink with hot water and mixing a cleaning concoction of baking soda and regular dish soap in it. Then take out the filters and soak them in the water for ten minutes. Give them one last scrub before washing the soap off and drying them. It doesn’t seem like a lot of effort, huh?
Cracking Eggs Minus The Shell Shards
There’s nothing that can ruin a breakfast as fast as biting into eggshell shards hidden in an otherwise moreish omelet. This is a problem many novice cooks might have as they master the art of cracking eggs cleanly and without broken pieces.
The solution is to firmly tap the eggs on a flat surface like the kitchen counter instead of bowl edges. The former would lessen the chance of broken yolks and stray eggshells making it into the receptacle. Of course, we’re sure this isn’t the only secret to why grandma’s cooking is better than any fancy restaurant’s.
Bye, Bye Iron Stains
Like any home gadget, a clothes iron needs to be cleaned from time to time if we want it to keep our wardrobe looking great. One of the most common enemies of the device is the stain that can develop on its flat side.
To get rid of such stains, take a litte salt from the kitchen and pour it into some paper towels. Fold the towel, glide the iron (in the highest setting) over it a couple of times, and say bye-bye to the stains. For tougher smudges, replace the paper towel with aluminum foil.