Bounce batteries

If you want to charge your smartphone faster, put it into aeroplane mode, as this significantly reduces the battery usage.

Is a toy broken - or is the battery just dead? Drop the battery from a couple of inches above a hard surface to see if it bounces. A fresh alkaline battery will land with a thud and fall over because it contains gel which absorbs the bounce. A dead battery will give a little jump and rebound off a hard surface because the gel has turned solid.

In the lift and in a hurry? Send it to the floor you want without stopping by first pressing the 'close doors' button, keep pressing it while you push the button for your floor, then keep both buttons pushed in until the lift starts moving. (Firefighters and police love this one.)


If some joker pushes all the lift buttons, simply press each button twice to cancel the floor stop.

Leave your computer screen gleaming by wiping it with coffee filter paper - it's lint-free (meaning it doesn't give off fluff), so there will be no dust left stuck to the screen.

Stop your laptop from overheating and having to use its battery-draining fan by placing it on top of a couple of open egg boxes. This will ensure your laptop gets plenty of air flowing around it.

Tights to the rescue

If you drop a tiny object - earring, sewing needle, watch screw - on the floor and can't see it, fasten a pair of tights over your vacuum cleaner nozzle with an elastic band, then run it over the floor where you lost it. It will be sucked safely on to the tights.

Microwave a bit whiffy? Put half a lemon into a jug of water, microwave it until it boils, then switch off and leave for a couple of minutes while the steam works its magic.

Mattresses can be home to billions of bacteria - to zap them, put vodka in a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oil, spritz it across the stripped mattress and leave to dry.

Is your shower-head clogged with limescale? Fill a small plastic bag with vinegar, pull it over the shower-head, secure it with an elastic band and leave overnight.

Your kitchen sponge might be laden with bacteria - to clean it, fill it with water and microwave on full power for two minutes. Leave to cool before you remove it.

To clean a blender, simply fill it with warm water and a squirt of washing-up liquid, whizz it for a few seconds, then rinse and dry.

Blow-dry razors

Do you have left-over wrapping paper you want to keep? Cut the tube from inside a toilet roll lengthways and wrap it round the rolled-up paper to keep it in good shape until you need it.

Don't waste money buying bathroom cleaning products. Fill an old spray bottle with two-thirds vinegar and one third washing-up liquid and you'll have made your own limescale-removing cleaner.

Make sure you delete the airline's cookies (small files that websites put on your computer to store information). Photo / 123RF
Make sure you delete the airline's cookies (small files that websites put on your computer to store information). Photo / 123RF

Looking for cheap flights online? Make sure you delete the airline's cookies (small files that websites put on your computer to store information) - the website keeps a count of how many times you've visited it, spots how keen you are and ups the price.

How to delete them depends on which internet browser you use, but it can usually be done via the tools or settings menu - look for privacy settings or temporary internet files.

Get the most out of that last sliver of soap by sticking it with water to a fresh bar.

Make razors last longer by blow-drying them after each use. Eliminating any residual moisture prevents the blades from oxidising and becoming blunt.

Bottle up yolks

If your bananas ripen too fast, you can fool them into thinking they're back on the tree by wrapping their stalks in cling film - this will give them an extra three, possibly four, days.

Do you find peeling hard-boiled eggs fiddly and difficult? Put half a teaspoon of baking soda into the pan while they're cooking - it will soften the shell slightly and make peeling a breeze.

To stop water on the hob from boiling over, place a wooden spoon across the middle of the pan. This bursts the bubbles trying to escape, and stops the liquid in its tracks.

Forgotten to chill a bottle of wine? Instead of watering it down with ice, freeze grapes and use these instead. Or wrap the bottle in a wet paper towel and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes - it chills faster.

Lost your corkscrew? Avert disaster by holding the wine bottle upside down between your knees and hitting the bottom with your shoe. Gradually the cork will emerge, bit by bit.

Turn a cheap bottle of plonk into something more palatable by whizzing it in your blender for about 30 seconds - this will aerate it and allow the flavours to develop.

To hull a strawberry quickly, push a drinks straw from the tip of the strawberry up to the stem.

Extend the shelf-life of potatoes by keeping an apple with them - ripening apples give off a gas that stops potatoes from sprouting for a lot longer.

Popping baking soda in the boiling water with your eggs will soften the shell and make peeling them easy. Photo / 123RF
Popping baking soda in the boiling water with your eggs will soften the shell and make peeling them easy. Photo / 123RF

To separate an egg yolk from the white without bursting it, crack the egg into a bowl, take a clean, empty plastic bottle without its cap, squeeze it and place the mouth of the bottle on top of the yolk. Release the bottle's sides and the yolk will be sucked into it.

Velcro remotes

Do your Christmas tree lights always end up in a tangle? When the festive season's over, wrap them around a coat hanger and hang it somewhere safe until next year.

Running out of wardrobe space? Save the ring-pulls from drinks cans and slip them over the hooks of hangers. You can suspend another hanger from each ring-pull and double your cupboard capacity.

Fold all the bed linen for each bed into the matching pillowcase and store it in your laundry cupboard for easy bed-making.

Do your clothes slide off slippery coat-hangers? Wrap an elastic band around each end of your hanger and your clothes will stay exactly where they're supposed to be.

If you can never find the TV remote, attach some Velcro to the back of it and to the side of your coffee table or the arm of the sofa and you'll never lose it again!

Struggling to find the right lids to put on your saucepans because your kitchen cupboard is chaotic? Fix some sticky-backed plastic hooks on to the inside of the cupboard door and space them so the various lids can rest on the hooks.

Rolled-up towels take up much less space than folded towels.

We all have a drawer with a whole spaghetti junction of cables inside. To stop them getting tangled, store each one folded in an empty toilet roll.

Freeze jeans

Is your shirt collar bent or wrinkled? Don't bother with the hassle of an iron and ironing board - just use hair straighteners.

Can't be bothered to iron a crumpled T-shirt? Simply put it in the tumble-dryer with a few ice cubes for five minutes and the wrinkles will disappear.

If you need to dry clothes in a hurry, add a (dry) fluffy towel to your dryer's contents and remove it after 15 minutes - it will absorb moisture and speed up the drying time.

Remove greasy stains from clothes by covering them with chalk and leaving overnight. Shake off the chalk in the morning.

(Chalk's also great for marks inside shirt collars - rub the chalk around the neck, leave for ten minutes, then wash.)

Smelly trainers? Freshen them by spraying with white vinegar, then line them with coffee filter paper filled with baking soda. Tie it up with a rubber band and leave overnight.

Shrunk your favourite jumper by mistake? Soak it in lukewarm water with three tablespoons of hair conditioner, roll it between two towels to remove excess water, then gently stretch it back to its former glory.

Afraid of over-washing your favourite jeans? Place them in the freezer in a plastic bag for 24 hours. This will kill off any bacteria (but not remove stains, obviously).

Ice your carpet

Scratched wooden furniture? Rub a walnut over the marks and watch them disappear.

Dented ping-pong balls can be mended if they are put in boiling water - the hollow pops out.

To get rid of white deodorant stains, rub them with tights.

Remove water-rings on furniture by holding a hair-dryer set on maximum up to the mark. When it has gone, apply olive oil to moisturise the wood.

Clear bad sink drain smells by half-filling the sink with warm water and adding a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda. Then pull the plug, the mixture should flush out any nastiness.

Clean out and descale your coffee machine by filling up the reservoir with solution of half-vinegar, half-water. Run the coffee machine until it runs dry, by which time all the limescale and dirt should have been washed through. To avoid vinegar-tasting coffee, run through several reservoirs of plain water.

To temporarily stop a loose button from unravelling, paint the loose thread with nail varnish. This should stop it from unravelling until you can sew it back on again.

Tiny splatters of paint can be removed from clothes by gently using a safety razor.

Get rid of unsightly indentations in carpets by placing ice cubes into the dents. Leave them to melt, then vacuum the carpet afterwards to fluff it back up.

Remove chewing gum from clothes by putting the garment in the freezer for an hour. The gum should just snap off.

Snip sandpaper

To fix blunt scissors, cut shapes in coarse sandpaper - the friction will sharpen them beautifully.

When drilling into a wall, stick a Post-it note underneath and fold up the bottom to form a little tray to catch the dust.

Always hit your thumb when hammering? Use a clothes peg to hold the nail in place and hit that instead of your fingers.

Oily hands after fixing your bike or car? Take a teaspoon of sugar, add a splash of water and rub it into the oil stains.

If your rugs or doormats always slide around on hard floors, simply apply some lines of acrylic sealant to their underside, rather than splashing out on expensive non-slip strips.

Line your paint tray with tin foil before pouring in the paint and throw it away when you're done. Your paint tray will stay like new.

Instead of repeatedly washing a paint-roller to stop it drying out between applying coats, just wrap it in cling film or tightly in a plastic bag to stop the paint from drying.

Stop a sneeze

To remove a persistent splinter, wet the area around it, sprinkle with baking soda and then apply a plaster. In a day or so, peel back the plaster, and the splinter should have raised itself from the skin, making it easy to pluck out.

To stop a sneeze, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth and the urge will vanish.

Pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth should stop your sneeze - without anyone even noticing. Photo / 123RF
Pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth should stop your sneeze - without anyone even noticing. Photo / 123RF

Woken up to a spot just before a big day? Push a pin into an Ibuprofen liquid capsule, squeeze and apply the contents to your spot liberally.

A great and natural way to help unblock your nose is to sniff a jar of freshly ground horseradish. Better still, if you can manage it, eat a good spoonful - that should clear those airways!

To cure a tickly throat, don't keep coughing to relieve it. Instead, - as bizarre as it sounds - massage your earlobes with your thumb and forefinger. This stimulates the nerves that cause a small muscle in your throat to spasm, thus 'itching' the tickle.

Bury your tools

Improve your roses by burying strips of potassium-rich banana skins around the base of the plant once a month. This will feed your rose and help keep it disease-free.

Sprinkle a quarter of a cup of baking soda on the soil next to your growing tomatoes every week. It lowers the acidity, so the fruit will taste sweeter.

To stop garden tools rusting, stick them in buckets of sand, handles up. This will keep them dry and rust-free.

Sprinkle broken-up eggshells around the base of plants to stop slugs. What's more, as the shells decompose, they will release calcium - a natural fertiliser - into the soil.

Hollowed-out halves of squeezed lemons make ideal planters. Fill them with soil and pierce a small hole at the bottom for drainage. When the seeds have sprouted, you can plant the seedling, lemon and all, in the ground. As the lemon rots, it will provide valuable nutrients.

Kill weeds with a mixture of five parts of white vinegar to two parts salt and top up with boiling water. Pour over the weeds and watch them die.