Helpful Household Hints

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Erma Bombeck best describes the drudgery of household chores when she said, “My second favorite household chore is ironing.  My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”   In the age of texting, tablets and drop boxes, technology has done little to assist in the daily tasks of wiping spills, folding laundry and dusting furniture.

Cooperative Extension Community Association members have long gathered helpful hints to ease daunting chores and to make the household run smoother.  A collection of these clever tips on a variety of topics is available in the “How to Hints from Graham County” publication.  Hopefully these suggestions will help solve some of the obstacles encountered while doing household tasks.

Household tips that use vinegar:

  • To remove odor from a pan after frying fish, fill the pan with water and add vinegar and bring to a boil.
  • To remove fish odors from hands, rub with vinegar or lemon.
  • Add a few drops of vinegar to the water to keep eggshells from cracking while eggs are boiling.
  • After peeling onions with your hands, wash your hands with vinegar to remove the strong odor.
  • To remove the strong odor when cooking onions or cabbage, boil a small pot full of vinegar at the same time.
  • Add a little vinegar directly to collards when you start to cook to prevent the strong odor.
  • To make chicken or roast tenderer, add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the water while boiling.
  • To remove decals from any surface, use tepid vinegar.

Tips to use in the kitchen:

  • If a container has a “fragrance” from onions or some other food having been stored in it for several days, just wash the container in hot, udsy water, rinse and dry. Then crumple a piece of black and white newsprint into the container, seal and leave overnight. The next morning – no odor!
  • When the lid to a plastic bowl becomes warped or shrunk, put it in hot water until it becomes pliant, stretch it on the bowl, and leave until it is cold. It will then fit the bowl.
  • When cleaning the microwave, covered soiled area with two wet paper towels and turn on the microwave on for 20 seconds.  The spill can be easily wiped away.
  • A dull knife will cut cheese better than a sharp knife.
  • Prevent wax drippings from a birthday candle running into cake frosting by using small marshmallows as candleholders.
  • Chewing gum while peeling onions help to prevent tears.
  • Use a wet knife to cut a cake.
  • Use a wet knife to slice hard boiled eggs (prevents egg yolk from crumbling).
  • To make boiled eggs easier to peel, add some salt to the water before boiling, and then peel under cold water.
  • To determine if an egg is fresh without breaking the shell, immerse the egg in a pan of cool salted water. If it sinks it is fresh. If it rises, throw it away.

 Tips to use while sewing:

  • Cut your thread on a bias and the needle will be easier to thread.
  • Iron a crumpled tape measure between sheets of waxed paper. It will smooth the tape.
  • If your sewing machine needle has become dull, sharpen it by placing a piece of fine sand paper on the machine and sewing a few stitches through it.
  • Use a plastic medicine bottle to store bobbins. They stay neat and it is easy to see the color of the thread.
  • A small magnet in a sewing basket can be used to pick up needles, pins and snaps.
  • When zippers get stuck run a bar of soap up and down the tracks.
  • When cutting off buttons, slide a comb under the buttons and cut.
  • Use pins with large colored heads that don’t disappear into carpets or blend in with the flooring.
  • Sharpen your scissors by cutting sandpaper with them.
  • Make a “safe” sewing basket for your child and include zippers, empty spools and fabric scraps. This can be fascinating for a young child and your sewing basket becomes less of a temptation.
  • When hand sewing with a double thread, knot the threads separately and they will not tangle.

If you are interested in learning more tips to help with household chores or to share ideas about making daily chores easier, contact Dee Decker, Swain County Cooperative Extension agent, at (828) 488-3848.

Written By

Photo of Dee DeckerDee DeckerExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences (828) 488-3848 (Office) dee_decker@ncsu.eduSwain County, North Carolina
Updated on Jan 4, 2013
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