Here’s the thing about life hacks. Half the time, they’re the most inane bits of garbage ever. I don’t need a life hack to tell me how to evenly distribute my Tic Tacs or properly drink out of a can, because one, no one cares, and two, there’s really nothing that can be done for you if you can’t handle drinking out of vessels that were made for that purpose.
But there are some hidden gems out there that you can actually incorporate into your real human life. Take these, for example.
1. Disinfect sponges in the microwave.
If you’re broke and a majestic sight like this stack of sponges is financially out of reach, disinfect the disgusting one you already have by popping it in the microwave for a few minutes. When it comes to infectious disease, kill it with fire. (Just kidding. Please don’t let the sponge catch on fire.)
2. Remove deodorant with the spongey parts of your dry-cleaner hangers.
Deodorant stains? Gross. Those weird bits of foam that come with hangers from the dry cleaner’s? Also gross. But as it turns out, you can combine these two bits of nastiness into something that’s decidedly not gross at all! Next time you ruin your favorite shirt with deodorant because black is the only color in your closet, rub the marks away with hanger foam.
3. Remove odors from clothing with vodka.
If irony gives you your full life, refresh your liquor-ridden outfit from last night by popping some vodka in a spray bottle and dousing that nonsense. The stench of your regret will evaporate right along with it in the greatest example of poetic justice known to man.
4. Peel potatoes with boiling water.
If using a standard peeler to slowly scrape off your knuckles makes you a sad potato, peel everyone’s favorite root vegetable with water instead. Boil a pot of water, let your spuds hang out in it for a little while, and then ruin their lives with a shocking ice bath. After they’ve survived that horror, you’ll be able peel their skin off with ease.
5. Slice bread easily and evenly every time.
Instead of trying to break through the crusty top of homemade bread and crushing it in the process, flip that baby over and slice from the bottom. If you’re like me and proceed to inexplicably eat the bottom slice of bread on your sandwich faster than the top, the key is to stop being an idiot. More on that when I figure it out.
6. Let your blender clean itself.
Have you ever tried to clean out your blender only to find that you’ve added your own blood and misery to the situation? Stop maiming yourself by popping dish soap and water inside the blender, turning it on, and basking in the fact that you seriously made it through 24 years of life before figuring that out.
7. Protect your kids’ hands (and your own) from sparklers with disposable cups.
As a child, I always wondered why my fully grown adult relatives thought it’d be cool to hand sparking rods of pain to me and my siblings in the name of entertainment. By stringing sparklers through plastic cups, however, you can protect yourself and the ones you love from horror, shock, and dismay when Independence Day rolls around.
8. Add gelatin to homemade popsicles to avoid nasty messes.
Kids love popsicles. Adults love popsicles. Adults who say they don’t love popsicles should not be trusted. What no one digs about these frozen treats is that they go from zero to sticky, gross, and alarmingly pigmented in two seconds flat. If you’re a blessing to this Earth and you make your own popsicles, try adding gelatin to the mix to slow down the melting process. Click here for the full recipe.
9. Ripen your own bananas to make banana bread whenever you want.
The next time you want banana bread and find the yellow fruits staring back at you in all their unripened glory, show them who’s boss by placing them on a baking sheet and throwing them into a 300-degree oven until they’re shiny, brown, and defeated.
10. Make whipped cream in a mason jar.
If the thought of cleaning those horrible hand-mixer attachments makes you want to swear off whipped cream forever, pour some heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar into a glass jar and shake it for about three minutes. See you never, mixer.
11. Use carabiners to tie your dog’s leash.
Everyone knows that the best cafes are dog friendly, so if you find yourself knotting Fido’s leash into oblivion every time you sit down for a latte at your favorite joint, try fastening it with a carabiner instead.
12. Protect your pup’s feet from hot pavement with Vaseline.
You don’t want to walk outside barefoot on hot summer days, and neither does your dog. If the pooch is decidedly against wearing sneakers, rub the pads of their paws with Vaseline, and bring some with you if you think you’ll be wandering around for a while.
13. Use buttons to organize stud earrings when you travel.
For those of you who have also experienced the Kardashian-esque agony of losing a stud earring on vacation, this is the perfect trick. Keep them organized by popping them through button holes to make packing a breeze. Now stop crying.
14. Load up your taco like a professional person who loads up tacos.
Even though someone came out with a taco that has a flat bottom after decades of cultural agony, you will still be confronted with regular taco shells from time to time. Stabilize the bottom of it with a fork and stuff it to your heart’s content.
15. Keep beer cool by freezing water in a plastic cup.
Avoid turning your already watered-down Miller Lite into a further diluted mess by making a self-contained ice cube out of a plastic cup. Pop it in there and let it chill while you think of what else you could have purchased with the money you paid for that pitcher.
16. Never waste an ounce of your favorite sweet treat again by adding ice cream to the mix.
You spent eight dollars on that Nutella, so use every last bit of it by throwing in some ice cream when you can no longer scrape the stuff onto toast. This can also be done with peanut butter and any other spread that brings joy back into your life.
And there you have it, friends. Sixteen life hacks that you’ll actually use in 2016. Stop listening to anyone who tells you to take your sponge out of the microwave and to stop eating ice cream out of that Nutella jar. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.