Hawai‘i Parent Hacks: 13 Tips and Tricks for Your Home
Learn how to stop doors from slamming, detangle doll hair, organize LEGO and slip a duvet cover on in seconds.
From stopping doors from slamming to fixing tangled doll hair and organizing piles of LEGO, taking care of the family home is a lot of work. So, we found 13 tips and tricks to help you fix, clean and organize your house or apartment. But, while most of last week’s 22 food and cooking hacks worked out on the first try, I went through a lot of duds to round these up. See the bottom of the post for eight hacks that didn’t work for me.
What exactly is a hack? We define it as a quick trick that easily solves a problem or speeds up a process.
13 Hacks for Home
1. Put a duvet cover on easily: Wrestling our king-size duvet back into its cover usually ends with me wearing the duvet over my head and almost falling off the bed. If that sounds familiar, try the “Duvet Burrito” method. Simply turn the cover inside out, lay the duvet on top, roll the two up like a burrito, flip the end over and unroll. It was so easy I did it by myself on my first try. Watch the video and you won’t have to put off washing your duvet cover again.
2. Stop wrapping paper from unrolling: Take a toilet paper roll, slice it lengthwise and wrap it around the wrapping paper, like a cuff, to keep it together. If you have a long roll, use two pieces, one at either end. If there’s too little wrapping paper left for the cuff to hold it, take the remaining wrapping paper off the tube, roll it up and put it inside another roll.
3. Detangle doll hair: Barbie grooming sessions often end in decapitation when the head pops off under the pressure. Put a solution of half fabric softener and half water in a spray bottle, wet the hair and brush. Use a wig brush if possible. See before and after photos here. For extreme cases, do a “Downy Dunk” by putting full-strength fabric softener in a plastic bag and submerge the doll’s hair for 24 hours before washing and brushing it. See how it’s done here. If you have an American Girl Doll, make sure your doll can handle these methods.
4. Remove labels and sticker goo: Peel the sticker off the jar or bottle as best as you can, then slather the surface with peanut butter and leave it for 10 minutes. Wash with liquid soap, water and a scrubby brush or magic eraser. See it here.
5. Stop doors from slamming: With two little boys constantly slamming doors, I’m always afraid someone will lose a finger. Make at least a dozen door bumpers out of an old pool noodle. Cut a few inches off your noodle, slice it through to the center and then wrap it around the edge of your door. Hospital visit averted!
6. Vacuum hard-to-reach spots: Put a paper towel roll over the end of a vacuum hose and squish it to fit into crevices. Use this trick to catch lint that has fallen through your dryer’s lint screen and prevent a fire.
8. Give an old soap bar new life: What do you do with the slimy dregs of an old soap bar? Stick them onto a new bar. Simple but effective.
9. Clean your toothbrush holder: Instead of scrubbing to remove layers of toothpaste and hard-water build up, pop the holder in the dishwasher next time you run it.
10. Keep track of medicine doses: When you’re taking care of a sick keiki, it can be all to easy to forget exactly when they received their last dose–especially if you’re juggling a couple of ailing ones, including yourself. Use a Sharpie and write a checklist directly on the bottle with dates and times and check boxes for each dose. You could even wrap a rubber band around the bottle and the pen so they stay together.
11. Clean bathroom fixtures: A lemon and some elbow grease can take marks right off of your not-so-stainless bathroom fixtures. But, be careful if you have marble or granite counters or tiles as lemon can etch natural stone.
More Home Tips and Tricks
12. Pack smarter: We’ve heard of rolling clothes to save space and stacking bras to keep their shape, but you can also use shower caps over the soles of shoes so they don’t get your clothes or bag dirty. Tip: Save the thin, cheap shower caps you find in hotel rooms for this purpose.
13. Turn trays and racks into multipurpose organizers: Those utensil trays can be used in other areas of the house for jewelry, pens and cosmetics. Hanging shoe racks easily sort different colors of LEGO bricks, Barbie Dolls, cleaning or art supplies. Find more ideas here.
8 Hacks That Do NOT Work
1. Cleaning shower glass with a dryer sheet: Some water spots came off, but it left a filmy haze behind. I’d rather use dryer sheets as air fresheners under a car seat or at the bottom of a trash can.
2. De-wrinkling clothes with ice cubes in the dryer: The hack said to put a few ice cubes into the dryer with a wrinkly shirt for five minutes. I tried this first with an Aloha shirt and then with a regular T-shirt. Both came out with only slightly fewer wrinkles and both were wet in patches. HONOLULU Family editor Christi Young has had luck using a dampened washcloth in the dryer instead.
3. Use a can opener to open sealed plastic packaging: I tried this on a plastic-sealed pack of batteries and couldn’t get it to work at all. They also suggest using it on blister packs of pills, but I think that if it sliced through the package it would also destroy the pills. In our research, we did find a gadget specifically designed to open these containers, that is, if you can get it out of its own packaging first.
5. Clean LEGO in the washing machine: The hack recommends putting LEGO bricks in a mesh bag and washing them with detergent on a mild setting. But, the official LEGO website advises against placing LEGO in washing machines, dryers, dishwashers or microwaves.
6. Baking soda and vinegar to clear a blocked drain: While this mixture creates a bubbling, foamy reaction, it didn’t actually clear our blocked drain. It can be used to help clean out a slow drain if you chase it with boiling water.
7. Store batteries in the freezer to make them last longer: The Energizer company says condensation can actually corrode the batteries, shortening its lifespan. Energizer explains it here.
8. Marshmallows for a sore throat: Marshmallow root has anti-inflammatory properties but today’s sweet treats don’t have any of the actual root in them.
Do you have a hack that makes your cooking life easier? Send it to us by firstname.lastname@example.org, tagging us on Facebook or post it on Instagram with hashtag #HFHacks. We will share our favorites online!