1. Get water stains out of wood with mayo

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The Meredith Vieira Show / YouTube

If you’ve ever committed the cardinal sin of leaving a cup of tea on wood furniture without a coaster, you’ll know what we’re talking about. But those cloudy pale rings don’t have to haunt you forever.

The oils in mayonnaise can actually help dislodge moisture in the wood’s finish, according to Bob Vila. Scoop out a bit of the condiment onto a cloth and then apply it to the affected area.

Leave it for a few hours or overnight and add more if necessary (like if your first coat dries up), then wipe with a clean cloth. Petroleum jelly works, too.

This hack should work as long as the water stain hasn’t been there for too long. If it’s been several weeks or months, try plain white toothpaste (not gel) instead.

2. Fill in nail holes with crayon

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Today / YouTube

Moved some pictures around recently? Now's your chance to draw on the walls like a kid. Pull out a few Crayolas and remember to color within the lines — or the hole, rather.

Today recommends grabbing a crayon that mostly matches the color of your walls to fill tiny nail holes with wax. For larger holes, do the same thing, but melt the tip a bit with a lighter to help soften the wax.

Then, smooth out the surface with your fingers or hold a blow dryer about five or six inches away from the wall. (Be careful not to melt all your hard work away.)

The site of home improvement host Bob Vila — known for shows like This Old House — suggests you can also fill holes in white walls with white toothpaste or a bar of white soap.

3. Remove a stripped screw with a rubber band

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Albany County Fasteners / YouTube

A stripped screw — that is, a screw with a damaged, bored-out head — can be almost impossible to extract with just a screwdriver or drill. However, if you have any spare rubber bands lying around, CNET has an easy fix.

Place the rubber band over the screw head and push your drill or screwdriver into it, then go about removing the screw as you normally would. The non-slip rubber helps fill the gaps in the screw head so your tool can get a solid grip.

Just keep in mind that thin rubber bands won’t work; you’ll need one that’s wider than your screw so it can get a good hold.

4. Sprinkle baby powder between squeaky floor boards

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The Master's Craft / YouTube

Light sleepers know this feeling well. You’re just about to drift off to sleep when you’re startled awake by the sound of a family member trying to sneak (or squeak) into the kitchen for a midnight snack.

Before you head off to sleep tonight, consider this cheap solution to silence your noisy floorboards.

HGTV and other sites suggest sprinkling baby powder, baking soda or powdered graphite over your floorboards and sweeping it into the seams. The powder helps lubricate the boards so they don’t rub against one another.

That’s not the only cause of squeaks, so if the noise persists, you might need to call in a pro or add wooden shims beneath the floorboards to provide more support.

5. Use a hot iron to fix dents in wood

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Robert Birdsell / YouTube

A traditional iron is good for smoothing out creases in clothes and, apparently, dents in wood as well.

DIY magazine Family Handyman says to place a damp (not dripping wet) washcloth over the affected area and press a hot iron, at its highest setting, over the cloth.

Run the iron in small circles, like you would with a dress shirt, until the cloth is dry. Repeat this process until the wood has completely smoothed over.

This magic trick is pure science: When wood soaks up water or heat, the fibers swell and expand, so exposing the dent to hot water vapor should cause it to gradually rise back into place.

6. Scour away Sharpie stains with toothpaste

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Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

In case you don’t have your trusty Magic Eraser on hand, a whitening toothpaste can do a decent impression when your toddler escapes with a Sharpie.

Today suggests using baking soda toothpaste to get rid of permanent marker stains on wood furniture. (You can also add baking soda to regular toothpaste yourself; just avoid the gel kind.)

Apply the toothpaste to a dry cotton makeup remover pad and rub lightly along the grain of the wood. The baking soda will act as a gentle abrasive to lift the stain.

You may need to repeat the process a couple of times to get the stain to disappear. You can also just try a mix of baking soda and water if the toothpaste method doesn’t work.

7. Rinse bottles and vases with raw rice

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cesarvr / Shutterstock

Sometimes, a thorough rinse isn’t enough, especially for weirdly shaped bottles and vases. You’re bound to miss a spot here and there.

Raw rice grains are great for breaking up stubborn grit, according to Bob Vila. Just fill up your flagon with a handful of rice, some water and dish soap or detergent. Then give it a good, hard shake.

Kitchn says some bartenders use this trick to get rid of sticky residues from all the cocktail mixing in their tall, narrow-necked bottles — albeit with soda water instead of water and soap.

8. Remove a broken bulb with a potato

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fixitsamo / YouTube

The humble potato is known for its versatility — boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew — and it has its uses even in raw form.

CNET says “one of the oldest tricks in the book” for safely removing broken light bulbs involves a spud, a pair of safety goggles, gloves and pliers.

First, make sure the light’s switched off and extract any remaining glass with your pliers. Then slice the potato in half, firmly press a half against the socket and twist counter-clockwise to get the bulb out.

Dispose of both the broken bulb and the potato half you used afterward. The other half is fair game for some sour cream and chives.

9. Clean your iron with salt

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Miro Novak / Shutterstock

If you’ve got melted plastic or other gunk building up on the bottom of your iron, just pop into your kitchen and grab a dash of seasoning. No, really.

Sprinkle some table salt over a sheet of paper and then run a warm iron over it a few times. Once the iron’s cooled down — make sure it’s unplugged first — wipe it down with a soft cloth.

Salt is actually pretty coarse on a microscopic level. The mineral will scour any residue on your soleplate but is less likely to leave scratches than something like steel wool. You can also use a pinch of salt to clean cast iron skillets.

10. Wipe down windows with coffee filters

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Sears Home Services / YouTube

Start your day with a ray of sunshine and some caffeine in your system.

Bob Vila says this kitchen staple is cheap, tear-resistant and lint-free — ideal for window cleaning. Just spritz some glass cleaner on your windows, as you’d normally do, and then wipe them down with some coffee filters.

Large filters will be easier to work with, and you might want to use more than one to help with absorption. You could also consider cleaning your windows with a cloth or towel first and then getting rid of any lint or residue with your coffee filters.

11. Refresh your mattress with vodka

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Oleksii Bilyk / Shutterstock

If you’re stuck inside on a Saturday night, don’t despair: Repurpose your leftover liquor as a cleaning spray. Alcohol is a powerful disinfectant and kills odor-causing bacteria.

So if your mattress is starting to smell a bit musty, Today recommends vodka. The spirit has a powerful alcohol content and a minimal scent of its own.

Fill up a spray bottle and give your mattress a gentle spritz twice a year. Air out your mattress and let it dry completely before putting your sheets over it again.

You can also freshen up smelly shoes, dank closets and other unpleasant nooks and crannies in your home with this technique.

12. Test for toilet leaks with Kool-Aid

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Hometalk / YouTube

Got any Kool-Aid packs stashed away in your kitchen cupboards? The brightly colored powders will prove surprisingly useful if you suspect your toilet tank might be leaking.

A leaky toilet tank can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Thankfully, the iconic drink mix can serve as a convenient substitute for the food coloring or dye commonly used to check for leaks. Pour one or more packets into the fill tank, then wait 30 minutes to see whether the color spreads to the toilet bowl.

13. Clean toilet bowls with cola

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DoUKnow/ YouTube

Run out of toilet bowl cleaner? No problem. Empty a can of cola in there instead.

Most soft drinks contain either phosphoric acid or citric acid, which give them stain-busting properties similar to lemon juice or vinegar.

You can either pour cola directly onto toilet stains or spray the inside of the bowl and let sit for a couple hours to get rid of gross stains, CNET says. Just use a toilet brush to scrub at it before you flush.

Keep in mind that cola is not a disinfectant, just a good stain remover. A thorough cleaning would require some disinfectant solution as well.

14. Wash dishes with used tea bags

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Brainy Crafts / YouTube

Before you toss your soggy tea bag in the trash, consider using it to get rid of tough stains on your dishes.

Tea contains tannins, bitter compounds that help break down grease, says Bob Vila. Soak your dirty dishes in hot water and plenty of tea bags overnight and watch the magic happen.

Food magazine Kitchn suggests taking an old tea bag, steeping it in hot water for a while and then using it to scrub a dish directly — but not too hard, or your tea bag will tear.

15. Banish burn stains with dryer sheets

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Kayla Lashae / YouTube

Left your lasagna too long in the oven? Not only will you have to replace your meal, but you’ll also be left with a stubborn scorched dish to clean.

When soap and water don’t do the trick, Kitchn recommends dryer sheets — you know, the fragrant, papery things you stick in with the wet laundry. Soak your pots and pans with the regular hot water and dish soap and push a dryer sheet down to the bottom of each vessel.

Let it rest for about an hour, and then wash away the stains with minimal elbow grease.

Donna Smallin Kuper, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple, told TODAY that the fabric-conditioning properties of the dryer sheet might be what makes it so effective as a cleaning agent. Just remember that, since dryer sheets aren’t tested for food safety, you’ll want to give your pot a thorough second wash before cooking up your next meal.

About the Author

Serah Louis

Serah Louis

Staff Writer

Serah Louis is a staff writer with MoneyWise. She loves storytelling and research and was published in Ricepaper Magazine's 2019 anthology, Immersion: An Asian Anthology of Love, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction.

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