Jars with a stuck lid are just one of the everday problems that are easy to solve – if you know how. Picture source: YouTube/marktcheck
Jars with a stuck lid are just one of the everday problems that are easy to solve – if you know how. Picture source: YouTube/marktcheck
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11 simple life hacks that will save time, effort and space

Raphael Knecht
Zurich, on 08.05.2020
Translation: Eva Francis
Your cupboards are overflowing, all the shelves are full and useless things are piling up everywhere – but you still haven’t lost hope that you might need each of these items one day? If this sounds familiar, the following life hacks might be exactly what you need.

Balloons, Lego figures, tennis balls and more: these are all things you rarely or never need. And yet, you probably have one or several of them lying around somewhere in your home. Not because you need or use them regularly, but because you think they might come in handy one day. Here are eleven hacks that turn these «useless» items into practical helpers, which solve household problems and create storage solutions.

Balloon + glass = flower vase

Have some leftover balloons from the last birthday party? Don’t inflate them for the sake of it or fill them with water in an attempt to turn them into water bombs. Cut off the top half of the neck and carefully pull the balloon over a tealight holder with a high rim or a small tumbler. Then push the neck of the balloon into the glass, creating a hole, fill it with water and place a single or several short cut flowers in the hole. Ta-dah! Your DIY flower vase is complete.

Decorative and quickly made: balloons can’t only be filled with air. Picture source: Münchner Merkur
Decorative and quickly made: balloons can’t only be filled with air. Picture source: Münchner Merkur

Open jars without strength

Gherkins, pickled silverskin onions or capers – have you ever wanted to spice up your raclette, but didn’t manage to open the jars? If you don't have a multifunctional tin opener that can even handle a stuck jar lid, there’s a simple trick. Turn the jar upside down and run it under hot water for a few seconds. The lid will open without any problem. Trust me!

How shelves create space in the kitchen cabinet

Kitchen cabinets offer more storage space thank you think – and definitely more than your plates, cups and glasses take up. But it’s tricky to max out the space in a cupboard without breaking your dishes or stacking them up into what looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There’s a simple hack to solve this problem: put small stackable shelves into your kitchen cabinets and make better use of all the storage space. Sure, you could also fit additional shelves – but many kitchens don’t come with extra shelves and having them produced is quite expensive. You also have to make sure that the cabinets ate sturdy enough to carry the additional weight.

Stackable shelves create more space in your kitchen cabinet. Picture source: Pinterest/bettde.info
Stackable shelves create more space in your kitchen cabinet. Picture source: Pinterest/bettde.info

Lego figures as cable holder

Your kids have so much Lego they don't know what to do with it? Or do you have two or three sets hidden away somewhere in case you fancy building something one day? From now on, you’ll know what to do with the Lego figures – they make great cable holders. Many charging cables fit into the hands of these toy figures. Just stick the little men or women to the wall, the cupboard or the table, pull the charging cable through their hands and your cables are tidy.

The hands of Lego figures make great cable holders. Picture source: Pinterest/youtube.com
The hands of Lego figures make great cable holders. Picture source: Pinterest/youtube.com

(No) rocky road to a stylish shoe mat

They’re mostly brown or black, made of plastic and intended to protect your floor from dirt and gravel. Yes, I’m referring to shoe mats. Rarely do they look good or go with the rest of your indoor. How to change that? Collect pretty stones, from a stream or a gravel path, for instance, and fill them into your shoe mat. This doesn’t only look good, it also helps your shoes dry faster.

The rocky shoe mat is guaranteed to be unique. Picture source: Pinterest/Input.turkcephe.tv
The rocky shoe mat is guaranteed to be unique. Picture source: Pinterest/Input.turkcephe.tv

The bin bag problem, part 1

How often have you struggled to get the bin bag out of the bucket? Bin bags aren't cheap, so many fill them to the brim in an attempt to get maximum value for money. The result? It's almost impossible to get a bin bag that's almost bursting out of the container. And it's likely to result in a mess. All you need to solve this problem is a drill: drill three or four holes into the inner container of the bin, near the bottom. Be sure to leave about one to two centimetres from the floor in case any liquids spill. These holes in the inner container – if there isn't one, drilling into the actual container will also work – make sure the bin bag slides out without any problems.

Avoid making a mess: how to solve your bin bag problem. Picture source: Pretty Handy Girl
Avoid making a mess: how to solve your bin bag problem. Picture source: Pretty Handy Girl

The bin bag problem, part 2

Alright, now you know how to get the bin bag out of the container. But what about the hours and days before that when the bag starts to slide off the edges of the container with increasing weight? Sometimes even the most sophisticated holders don't do the job. Two adhesive hooks – the ones for the bathroom, for example – solve this problem. Glue them to the outside of the bucket upside down and hang the carrying straps of the bin bag onto the hooks. This way, the bag is sure to stay in place until it's full.

Convert old newspaper racks

You have a newspaper rack or magazine rack you don’t need any more? Don’t throw it away. Turn it sideways and stick it into a corner to convert it into storage for magazines, books and newspapers as well as a shelve for a plant or other decorative items. Or hang it into the inside of a kitchen cupboard door to create extra storage space.

Bookcase, vase holder and decorative item – a newspaper rack is all in one. Picture source: Pinterest/HA
Bookcase, vase holder and decorative item – a newspaper rack is all in one. Picture source: Pinterest/HA

How to thread a needle

Even if you're not interested in needles, threads and sewing, you shouldn't skip this hack. Surely, you've heard about the problem of getting the small thread through an even smaller eye of the needle. You might be too shaky, too impatient or the thread might be frayed. How to solve this problem? Lip balm. Simply spread lip balm on one end of the thread and you're sure to thread the needle in no time.

Game, set and match

You have countless tennis balls and don't know what to do with them? Your days of imitating Roger Federer are over, your dog is too old to run after balls and all those tennis balls would take up far too much space in the bin? Cut a tennis ball open and hang it on the wall: whether as a key, letter or toothbrush holder, these yellow felt balls make handy holders.

The all-rounder called tennis ball delivers what it promises. Picture source: Pinterest/students.approvedcolleges.com
The all-rounder called tennis ball delivers what it promises. Picture source: Pinterest/students.approvedcolleges.com

The more shampoo, the better

Whether you have a bathtub or a shower cubicle, there's always a lack of space for shampoos, conditioners, body scrubs and lotions. There's a simple trick that creates a lot more storage space: hang a second shower curtain rod in your shower and use S-hooks to attach cutlery baskets, which fit all your bottles, tubes and pots. My teammate Carolin described a similar solution for herbs, washing-up liquid and other kitchen items.

Fitting a second shower curtain creates lots of storage space. Picture source: Pinterest/followpics.co
Fitting a second shower curtain creates lots of storage space. Picture source: Pinterest/followpics.co

Know of any other hacks that create space, organise things or save time? Let me know by commenting below. If you'd like to get more tips and tricks for your home, follow me by clicking on the «Follow author» button.

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Raphael Knecht
Raphael Knecht
Senior Editor, Zurich
When I'm not stuffing my face with sweets, you'll catch me running around in the gym hall. I’m a passionate floorball player and coach. On rainy days, I tinker with my homebuilt PCs, robots or other gadgets. Music is always my trusted companion. I also enjoy tackling hilly terrain on my road bike and criss-crossing the country on my cross-country skis.

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