Quick Tricks to Make 10 Dreaded Chores Easier


Chores are a part of life that most of us just can’t avoid. But come next housecleaning day, don’t get mad—get creative. These tips will help those pesky little items on your “to do” list breeze by a little bit faster.


Dish racks never seem to have enough space—especially after a big family dinner, when there are always plenty of extra implements that just won’t fit. Here’s a simple solution from the PBS series America’s Test KitchenWhen you’ve finished washing all the dishes, place a clean oven rack over one end of your sink. Put excess cups, plates, etc. on top—all their drippage will go straight down the drain.


King Arthur might have pulled a sword from a stone, but even he'd probably have a hard time yanking an overstuffed bag out of a royal garbage bin. Why is this so difficult? It's all about suction: The tugging motion produces a stubborn vacuum. However, cutting a hole out of the bottom of your trash can will allow air to escape.


What do you do with nasty post-meal stains that cling to the plastic? Fill your container with a quarter cup of bleach, a little bit of dish soap, and plenty of water. Put the Tupperware into your microwave for about 40 seconds (or until the mixture starts bubbling). Remove the container and let it sit until the water turns lukewarm. Then, clean it out with soap and water or put it in the dishwasher.

If you don't want to use bleach, try the lemon juice method.


These indigestion-fighting tablets are a secret weapon that belongs in everyone's cabinet: You can use them to clean everything from jewelry to your toilet. Drop four tablets into the toilet bowl; wait about 20 minutes, then give the bowl a quick once-over with a brush followed by a single flushing. Finally, admire your sparkling toilet.


Pinch the garment with your right hand halfway between the right sleeve and the neck hole. Now, imagine a straight line extending from this point to the bottom of the shirt. Using the free hand, pinch said line at its halfway point. Without releasing the sleeve area, cross your left hand straight down to the bottom. Grab a piece of it, then lift the shirt and uncross your arms. You’ll find that one sleeve will still be dangling down—utilize a hard surface to fold this underneath the article of clothing. If you're having trouble visualizing, watch the video above.


It’s almost that time of year again. Getting up early to shovel the driveway is always a hassle, but clingy snow makes this chore even worse. Prevent snow from clinging to your shovel by spraying non-stick cooking oil over both sides before going out. Don't have cooking spray handy? You can also use car wax.


When our four-legged friends start shedding, not even vacuums can get all the fur out of a carpet. Tough rubber squeegees, on the other hand, are great at stripping away hard-to-reach cat or dog hair.


Whoever said “nothing is certain but death and taxes” forgot to mention dust accumulation. When this stuff builds up on your blinds, removing it can take what feels like an eternity. Fortunately, there’s a cheap way to cut down on your dusting time. Slide a clean sock over your hand and dunk it into a 50/50 water-vinegar blend. Now swipe the wet garment over each individual slat. For best results, manipulate the sock like it’s a children’s puppet while grabbing each blind.


Sponges are old hat. Next time you notice some dirt and grime inside your bathtub, chop a grapefruit in two. Liberally smother each half with kosher salt and start scrubbing (ideally, you’ll want to squeeze some of the juice out every so often). This should remove even the toughest of grime.

10. Make Your Bed—Without Getting Out of It!

Straightening sheets every morning can be pretty obnoxious. So is getting out of bed. Here's how to make the bed without even getting up: If you use a throw blanket, lean down and straighten it. If not, grab the corners of the sheet and comforter. Now stretch out your arms as far as they go. While still holding those corners, lean backwards, and pull them taut over your head. Next, sit up at a 90-degree angle and slowly lower the corners, thus creating an attractive fold. Release the corners when you’ve done so. Finally, slip out from under the sheets as gently as you can, taking care to keep the edge of that fold straight and parallel to the headboard.

Congrats! You’re now ready to face a brand new day. This calls for some coffee.

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The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter

It’s that time of year again: Temperatures outside have plummeted, while your monthly heating bill is on the rise. If you want an idea of how much heat will cost you this winter (perhaps you blocked out last year’s damage to your bank account), one reliable indicator is location.

Average energy expenses vary from state to state due to factors like weather, house size, and local gas prices. Using data from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, WalletHub calculated the average monthly utility bill totals for all 50 states plus Washington D.C. in 2017.

Source: WalletHub

The personal finance website looked at four energy costs: electricity, natural gas, car fuel, and home heating oil. After putting these components together, Connecticut was found to be the state with the highest energy costs in 2017, with an average of $380 in monthly bills, followed by Alaska with $332 and Rhode Island with $329.

That includes data from the summer and winter months. For a better picture of which state’s residents spend the most on heat, we have to look at the individual energy costs. Michigan, which ranks 33rd overall, outdoes every other state in the natural gas department with an average bill of $60 a month. Alaska is close behind with $59, followed by Rhode Island With $58.

People living in Maine prefer oil to heat their homes, spending $84 a month on the fuel source. All six New England states—Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—occupy the top six spots in this category.

So which state should you move to if you want to see your heating bill disappear? In Florida, the average household spends just $3 a month on natural gas and $0 on heating oil. In Hawaii, on average, the oil bill is $0 as well, and slightly higher for gas at $4. Of course, they make up for it when it comes time to crank up the AC: Both states break the top 10 in highest electricity costs.

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Don't Pour Alcohol on Your Bed Bugs—Try These Tips Instead

Getting bed bugs is a nightmare experience, one that’s sure to cost you oodles of time, money, and emotional distress. The bugs are painfully hard to purge from your household, and it’s getting even harder as they become more resistant to common insecticides. Unfortunately, home remedies are often no match for these parasitic insects. Dousing them with rubbing alcohol (a tip you'll often hear) won’t kill them; in fact, it might just burn your house down, as a woman trying to rid her Cincinnati apartment of bed bugs found out recently. As The Washington Post reported, the alcohol in that case was too close to the flame of a candle or some type of incense, and ignited. It wasn't an isolated incident.

In the last 10 years or so, people trying to kill bed bugs with alcohol have started several house fires across the U.S., including a different incident in Cincinnati just two weeks ago. So short of burning down your entire house and starting over, how do you get rid of them?

The short answer is: Give up on the idea of saving money and call an exterminator. According to 2014 research, plenty of DIY bed bug-killing remedies are woefully ineffective. Rubbing alcohol, in fact, only killed half of the insects sprayed by the Rutgers University researchers in that study. Researchers have found that other recommended home remedies, like moth balls, foggers, or ultrasonic bug repellers, are even less effective. And don’t even think about using “natural” type products that use essential oils as the main ingredient. They might smell nice, but they won’t help your bug problem.

But before you call in the big guns, there are a few effective, concrete steps you can take to reduce your infestation. As Rutgers bedbug specialists Changlu Wang and Richard Cooper wrote in their bed bug fact sheet, putting your belongings in plastic storage bins or garbage bags is a good place to start. Since the bugs don’t like to climb on smooth plastic, this can help contain the infestation. Just make sure to treat whatever you’re putting inside the bags or bins first by putting them through the hot laundry, steaming, heating, or freezing them.

You’ll need a mattress encasement, too. This will keep the bugs that have already infested your mattress from escaping, meaning they won’t be able to feast on you anymore and will die of starvation. Nor will any new bugs be able to get inside to nest. You’ll want to make sure it’s a scientifically tested brand, though, since not all mattress encasements are bite-proof or escape-proof for bed bugs. (Most experts recommend the Protect-a-Bed BugLock encasement, which costs about $81 for the queen-sized version.)

Next, pick up some bed bug traps. Set them up under the legs of your furniture and around the perimeter of rooms to help detect new infestations and reduce existing ones. According to Wang and Cooper, a one-bedroom apartment might need eight to 12 of these traps, while bigger apartments will require more.

You’ll want to expose all your belongings to extreme temperatures before you even think about touching them again. Putting them through the washer/dryer on its hottest setting will do the trick to kill both bugs and their eggs, but if you need to eradicate bugs lurking in items you can’t wash, you can freeze them in plastic bags (as long as your freezer gets down to 0°F). You can also kill them with a steam cleaner, especially if you need to purge them from your couch or other upholstered furniture.

If you’ve still got a large number of bugs lurking in your house, you can tackle them with a vacuum cleaner, sucking them out of seams, zippers, trim, and other furniture crevices. But you’ll want to use a stocking or some other method of protecting your vacuum from being infested itself. (See Figure 6 here.)

Some research has also found that desiccant dusts that dehydrate bugs to death, like diatomaceous earth and silica gel, can be effective at controlling bed bug infestations (silica gel in particular) when spread around the perimeters of rooms, on bed frames and couches, and on furniture legs.

As we mentioned before, you’ll probably want to consult a professional even if you do all of the above, because if you miss even one bug or egg, you'll be back to where you started. The cost of an exterminator pales in comparison to the cost of throwing out everything you own, moving homes, and then realizing you’ve brought the bed bugs with you anyway.

The bad news for anyone who’s already infested is that prevention really is key when it comes to bed bugs. So brush up on what the pests look like, make sure to check your hotel room for them when you travel, and if you spot them in your apartment, make sure to warn your neighbors.

[h/t The Washington Post]