It’s a horrible feeling: Your brand-new shirt comes out of the dryer looking like it belongs to your Chihuahua. Is it a goner?
No! This is actually a problem you can fix—quickly. In fact, there’s a lot you can do in just 15 minutes. We picked the brains of experts for hacks that can make you happier and healthier—while keeping some money in your pocket—in less time than it takes to watch your favorite TV show. So get to it; after all, it’s not every day someone tells you it’s okay to cut corners.
Make Perfect Pasta
Using your ice-cube tray to make ice is so 2016. Turns out, this plastic appliance can also help you produce perfectly shaped ravioli in a quarter-hour. Layer a thin sheet of pasta dough over the tray’s cube spaces and press it in. Fill each pocket with meat or cheese, then top with another layer of dough. Use a paring knife to cut the ravioli, and then pop them into well-salted boiling water. Cook until they begin to float, says Julie Hartigan, a professional chef and recipe developer who founded CookingWJulie.com.
Straighten Out Your Bacon
They’re called bacon strips, not bacon curls…so why eat them all rolled up? The secret: Lose the griddle, says Hartigan. Bake them in the oven at 400° for about 15 minutes on a rack set over a cookie sheet lined with foil (to catch the grease overflow) for straight and crispy slices—with easier cleanup too!
Save Your Wipers
It starts raining and you turn on your windshield wipers, only to hear the absolutely annoying sound of them squeaking against the glass. Time to replace the blades, right? Not necessarily, says Lauren Fix, “the Car Coach.” Try this first: Saturate a paper towel with rubbing alcohol and run it along the edge of each blade. Then do the same with the windshield, to remove road debris.
Give Your Car A Mani
Minor dings and scratches are nothing to ignore—over time, they can cause rust to creep in. But because they’re not super-noticeable, it’s easy to put off getting them properly covered up at a dealership or collision shop. In the meantime, Steven Lang, an auto writer and used-car dealer, suggests keeping rust at bay by painting over the scratches with nail polish.
Try For A Better Airplane Seat
Was a middle seat the only option when you booked your flight? According to Marybeth Bond of LuxuryTripsWorldwide.com, you may not have to suffer. Check in before you get to the airport, of course, but still head to the kiosk when you arrive; if someone with a better seat gets upgraded to business class, you may be able to grab the vacancy. Use your app to check again at the gate, or ask an agent.
Don’t Forget Your Valuables
Hotel safes are great—that is, until you check out, get to the airport, and realize…noooo!!!…your passport’s still sitting in the cubbyhole. Here’s a surefire way around that. Put one of your shoes in the safe too, Bond recommends. Unless you’re some kind of barefoot marathoner, you won’t leave without it.
Always Pack This One Thing
Duct tape, as we know, can be a multipurpose lifesaver when you’re traveling. In a pinch it can fix a suitcase handle, sandal strap, pair of glasses—and nearly anything else that breaks on your journey. But you don’t need a whole roll; just wrap a foot or so around a pencil and toss it in your bag, says Bond.
Get A Strain-Free Six-Pack
In the quest for the perfect tummy, crunches are the go-to exercise. The downside is that doing them can strain your neck. But there’s an easy way to avoid that pain in the neck: Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. This simple action helps stabilize your cervical spine, says Shereen Bernaz, a yoga instructor based in New Jersey.
Refresh Your Refreshments
Bored with the same old workout water? Up your gym-time flavor game by dropping frozen berries and other fruits into your water bottle, says Bernaz. Experiment with different options: Lemon wedges and raspberries? Orange slices and blueberries? Yes! Bonus: You’ll probably drink more water.
CLOTHING & LAUNDRY HACKS
Foil Static Cling
Make instant, chemical-free fabric softener by rolling up three to six balls of aluminum foil and tossing them in the dryer with your laundry, says Leslie Reichert, “the Green Cleaning Coach.” They’ll remove wrinkles, eliminate static and even soften your clothing.
Unshrink The Shrunken
It’s happened to all of us—you throw a piece of clothing in the dryer and it comes out looking like it would fit one of Santa’s elves. First, don’t panic. Second, says Reichert, take the shrunken item—probably a wool or cotton sweater, shirt or pair of jeans—and soak it in lukewarm water mixed with a capful of baby shampoo for 10 minutes. Without rinsing, squeeze the excess water out and lay the item on a flat surface to dry. While it’s still damp, gently stretch the material back to its original form.
Waterproof Your Shoes
We know that waterproof shoes and boots are expensive. But you can keep your feet dry—and trendy—without spending a ton. Grab some beeswax, rub it on non-leather shoes, heat with a blow dryer to set, and you’re ready to take on the puddles, says Reichert.
Make Your Furniture Look Fancier
Craving a fresh look in your living room? Sometimes, small design tweaks can make all the difference. Adding a nailhead trim to your furniture will give it a layer of modern sophistication—and it’s easy to do. Just hammer some craft-store nails into a basic ottoman for an instant style enhancement, says Kimberly Kunz, owner of design firm Functional Interiors. Got an extra 15 minutes? Do the couch!
Clean Your Fan This Way
We all know what happens when we take a duster to the ceiling fan: Dirt and grime from the paddles ends up all over the furniture and rugs below. To make this chore a one-step process, simply put an old pillowcase over the fan paddle—that dust will come off inside, fully contained, says Reichert.
Banish Key Ring Injuries
Putting a key on a key ring seems like the most basic of tasks—so how does it claim so many fingernails as victims? Instead of ripping up your nails, use a staple remover. Put its teeth between the two rings, then press down and watch them separate, says Lauren Fix.
By Melanie Mannarino