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15 Handy Hints for Anyone Stuck Inside

Stuck inside? Might as well make the most of it. Here are some ways to make do with what you have and creative ideas for cleaning and organizing your living space.

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toilet paper roll small cord storageFamily Handyman

Organize Small Cords with Toilet Paper Rolls

Tangled messes of miscellaneous cords are a huge source of clutter. To keep small cords organized, try this handy hint: Fill a shoe box with as many empty toilet paper rolls that will fit vertically, then place a single small cord in each tube. It’ll keep your cords all in one place and free of tangles.

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make your own shims 1

How to Make Your Own Shims

Run out of shims? Don’t panic. Just grab the nearest piece of two-by-whatever and start making alternating angled cuts about eight inches down the length of the board. Then chop off the end of the board…There you go, a handful of perfectly reliable shims.

Next, learn how to use shims to hang your interior doors perfectly.

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HH emergency candle stick of butter and toilet paper

Make Emergency Candles

Most homes usually have a stick of butter and extra toilet paper lying around. You can make an emergency candle using just those two materials. Here’s how!

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Family Handyman

Stain Unfinished Wood with Used Coffee Grounds

No need to run out and buy a stain for your next woodworking project. Make your own with a few common household ingredients:

  • Steel wool
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vinegar.

Here’s how:

  1. Place a steel wool pad into a mason jar
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of used coffee grounds and one to two cups of vinegar.
  3. Close the container, shake the mixture and let it stew overnight.
  4. Open the container and gently mix the stain.
  5. Using gloves, remove the steel wool and apply the stain to the project.
  6. As the stain dries it will become darker, so let the stain set for 20 minutes before applying the second coat.
  7. Repeat until you get the desired color.
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HH broken iphone charger pen spring

Save Your Phone Charger

To make your otherwise fragile phone charger last for more than a couple of weeks, try out this simple hack:

  1. Remove the spring from a pen.
  2. Next, stretch one end of the spring out a bit so it can fit around the charger cable. You might need pliers for this.
  3. Wind the spring around the cable until it is completely on the charger cable.
  4. Take appropriately sized heat shrink tubing and slip it over the phone charger and spring. Use a lighter to warm the tubing until it conforms around the charger and spring.

This simple hack will will keep the cord from breaking any further or from even breaking in the first place!

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HH handy hints spaghetti noodle lighter candleFamily Handyman

Lighter Not Long Enough? No Problem

We’re sure you’re stocking up on sweet smelling candles to make your home extra cozy in the coming months. But hold off on throwing out older candles just because they are burning too low to reach the wick. Instead of burning your fingers trying to light them, light the end of a piece of uncooked spaghetti and use that to reach into those deep candles. One noodle will burn long enough to light all the candles on grandpa’s birthday cake, and you won’t need to go without your favorite scents.

Everyone enjoys saving money, especially when it comes to improving your home. So check out these 35 amazingly cheap handy hints using everyday items.

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Rice and sock heat pad

Homemade Heating Pad

If you’re stuck at home with a sore neck or back, you don’t need to go out and buy an electric heating pad. Instead, fill a sock with uncooked rice, tie the end and microwave it for two or three minutes. It’s better than a standard heating pad, as it conforms to whatever body part that needs heat. You can even put in some fragrant herbs like cinnamon or lavender to make it smell nice!

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rubber gloves rubber bandsFamily Handyman

Rubber Gloves Rubber Bands

Extend the usefulness of old, leaky rubber gloves by recycling them as rubber bands. Cut them into various lengths and widths with a sharp pair of scissors, store ’em on a nail and surprise yourself with how handy they are around the shop. They not only bind together power cords and dowels but also work well as glue clamps for repair and assembly jobs.

With a little creativity, many common household items can be transformed into something else that’s entirely different and amazing.

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coins to shim a toiletFamily Handyman

One Cent Toilet Shims

If you’re going to be home for a while, the last you thing you want is an out-of-level toilet. One of our readers had a great suggestion for leveling a toilet without needing any specialty tools:

“When leveling a toilet, I often use coins or washers as toilet shims. Coins or washers provide a firm seat and come in different thicknesses. Simply slide as many coins as necessary under the toilet until it’s completely level. Then caulk along the floor as you normally would to hide the coin toilet shims.” — Les Zell, Family Handyman reader.

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Family Handyman

Keep Your Trash Cans Cleaner

Food juices leaking from the bottom of your garbage bags into the bottom of your garbage bin can make a nasty, smelly mess in a hurry. To keep things fresh at the bottom of your garbage can and speed up food-juice cleanup, throw a few newspapers into the bottom of the can before you line it. The newspaper will absorb any spillage and is easy to remove, toss out and replace.

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HH newspaper streak free glassFamily Handyman

Get Streak-Free Glass

The more you notice them, the more streaky mirrors and glass tug on your nerves. Here’s how to get streak-free glass with a couple of items already lying around your home.

To get started, you’ll need window cleaner and newspaper. Spray window cleaner on your dirty glass and then scrub in a circular motion, using the newspaper. Switch to a vertical, and then a horizontal stroke until all the liquid has dissipated and you’re left with shiny, streak-free windows! Try this simple hack to keep your mirrors fog free.

Note: For vinyl windows, we’ve found that the newsprint leaves a mark on the white frame. Avoid rubbing the window frame with newspaper and stick to the glass.

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Cardboard Spray Booth

Trying to get some indoor spray painting projects in? Prevent paint “overspray” with this clever spray booth made from a cardboard box:

  • Cut a hole in the top of the box.
  • Cover the opening with plastic wrap and position a shop light above to illuminate your project.
  • Use coat hangers, poked through the cardboard, to hold and rotate the objects as you’re painting them.

Not only will your shop or garage be neater, but your paint projects will now be thumbprint free.

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HH broken glass cereal box

The Best Way to Handle Broken Glass

When you’re inside for an extended period of time, accidents are bound to happen. Broken glass items such as bottles, light bulbs, glassware, mirrors and windows can be a serious safety hazard if not disposed of properly. Broken glass should always be placed inside of something that will not be punctured by shards of glass. So sweep broken glass into an empty cereal box before throwing it away in a garbage bag. This prevents the glass from ripping the garbage bag and creating another hazardous mess.

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tennis ball bottle opener

Tennis Ball Bottle Opener

Can’t find your bottle opener? The rubbery interior of a tennis ball makes it perfect for gripping stubborn twist-off bottle caps or sticky jar lids. The rubber interior provides the grip strength, and the soft exterior eases the strain on your hands when bearing down on the item you’re trying to open.

To make this handy bottle and jar opener, use a utility knife to cut a tennis ball in half. For safety, stabilize the tennis ball in a vise or clamp it to a work surface while cutting so it doesn’t move around.

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Coffee bag twist tiesFamily Handyman

Make Ties Out of Coffee Bags

If you’re doing some organizing and need a zip tie in a pinch, look no further than the bag holding your favorite blend of coffee.

“Coffee bags often have heavy-duty ties to keep them airtight. The ties are handy for securing small coils of electrical cable and rope. They’re usually fastened to the bag with just a dab of glue, making them pretty easy to pull off.” — Joe Gemmill, reader.

Plus: Quick and Clever Kitchen Storage Ideas