What is your favorite household tip or technique?

I recently had an invasion of tiny flying insects and I started a thread asking for help how to get rid of them. Sure enough, you Dopers proved to be a great source of knowledge and I am especially grateful to Davidm for suggesting the winning technique of pouring a pot of boiling water down my sink drains several times per day for several days in a row to stop their breeding cycle. A neighbor suggested I add one tablespoon full of bleach to each pot just before I poured. It worked great.

It ocurred to me that it might be valuable to find other household tips, tricks and techniques and put them into a thread or organize them somehow to make a resource. I tried to search TSD for other household tips but they were somewhat difficult to find. So I decided to start this thread to ask you to post your favorite household techniques and tips so they may be of value to other people who frequent this forum. Here is a link to the thread that describes my insect infestation and the help I got:


Please feel free to post your favorite household tips and techniques here. I will post the tip that helped me get rid of my insect problem here now:

I recently suffered an infestation of tiny flying insects in my home. I had never seen these kinds of bugs before. They were about one tenth the size of an average household fly and I searched the net to try and determine exactly what kind of bugs they were. As best as I can tell, they were either gnats or fruit flies. But I doubt they were fruit flies because when one of them would land on my arm, I would try to swat it. But they were too fast. So fast, I never killed a single one until I sprayed the room with Raid and then a few minutes later, they slowed down considerably and I was then able to swat them. Fruit flies are just not that fast.

Davidm suggested I pour a pot of boiling water down my sink drains several times a day and to do that for several days in a row in order to disrupt their breeding cycle. I started doing that when a neighbor suggested I add one tablespoon full of household bleach to the water just before I poured it down the drain. That did the trick! After adding the bleach, a few days later, they were all gone. It has been almost a week now and I have not seen a single bug in the past 4 days.

Please post your favorite household tips and techniques here?

Dish detergent for removing greasy stains on anything, including oily hair.

Especially Dawn dishwashing detergent. Also mix it with hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Takes out pet vomit stains.

I’m not sure if these are household tips but they are cooking tips that I do in my household!

I no longer boil lasagna noodles before constructing the lasagna. I just layer them right from the box. I’ve never had an issue with them not cooking. Trying to handle hot, slimy noodles that would sometimes fall apart was always a pain.

Another pasta tip: I just recently started cooking pasta in the microwave instead of on the stovetop. Just put the pasta in a large microwave-safe bowl, put in enough water to cover the pasta, add 5 minutes to the stovetop cooking time and done. No more steamy kitchen from all of the boiling water and it takes a little less time because you don’t have to wait for the water to come to a boil before you put the noodles/pasta in the water.

On the OPs subject of drain flies, I had these for quite a while. I knew they were coming from the bathroom since thats where they mostly were (never found them in the kitchen).

I eventually bought this product, used it once and that was about 2 months ago. Since then I think I’ve only had 1 drain fly. I’m very happy with it.


Other household tips I like

  • buy a cheap block of melamine sponges on ebay, they’re only about ten cents each if you buy 50 or 100. They help with cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, and you can throw them out when done.

  • microfiber cloths are superior for cleaning dust (well known, but important)

  • baby wipes are superior to napkins when cleaning your face and hands. Best to use both though, wipes first and napkin second.

  • remote control outlets are nice. I use them to turn on and off air purifiers, christmas tree lights, regular lights and fans. They seem to max out at five outlets, but thats about all you need usually.


  • if you heat a bowl of water and vinegar in the microwave, it makes it easier to clean it out afterwards.

Put a piece of saran wrap over your opened ice cream to prevent getting ice crystals on it.

I’m not tall and easily forget to clean the top of things like the stacked washer/dryer. When I finally remember, it’s an unholy mess to clean up.
Now I stretch cling wrap across to cover the entire top. Carefully fold back any bits visible from below. Now when I am remembering to clean it, it’s as easy as changing the cling wrap. Genius!

Yes, vinegar is a wonderful cleaner/disinfectant and will dissolve calcium and other hard-water deposits. I bought a jug of double-strength cleaning vinegar and cleaned the:

  • microwave
  • shower head
  • dishwasher
  • kettle
  • coffee maker

Clean as you go. Much much easier to keep something clean than to let it go and try to play catch-up. I’d say this also applies to vehicles as well.

Yes they are!

I say this as a person who is on the tail end of a major infestation.

They may fly sluggish and lazy, but when I try to swat them, they have an emergency turbo mode that gets them out of harm’s way.

My approach:

  1. Immediate problems are dealt with by spraying them with a light fog of Windex while on the wing: they fall stunned to my desk and I can swat them.
  2. My wife put dishes of apple cider vinegar out, with cling wrap covering the top. She poked lots of small holes in the cling wrap with a toothpick. The fruit flies go in for a drink and never leave.
  3. Fly strips near the aforementioned apple cider vinegar dishes.
  4. When I see a large enough gathering by one of the plates that is not going in, I use my Shop Vac to suck them all up.

Vinegar is also the best, most long-lasting way to kill mold and mildew. Bleach will kill mold/mildew on surfaces, but does not penetrate into grout, drywall, etc.

This also works for regular flies and other flying insects. But houseflies are so fast you need to spray the area where they will be, not where they are now. If you see a fly sitting on the counter, spray above it so it will fly up into the fog of Windex. If you spray directly at the fly, it can often pop away before the Windex gets to that spot.

Works just as well if you put a few drops of dish washing liquid into the vinegar. It traps the flies. I do this every summer when we have a lot of fruit in the house.

Alternatively, save your saran wrap and your dish soap. Get a bottle of wine.

Drink most of the wine.

Leave a little of the wine in the bottom of the bottle, and leave the bottle open in the fruit-fly-infested area.

They can find their way into the bottle just fine. They don’t seem to be able to find their way out. Or else they’re too drunk to try.

I use acetone for removing grease spots on my T shirts left by food. Alcohol will also work I believe.

If you need to swat a flying insect, wet your hand and get it a tiny bit soapy. It won’t bounce off your hand and will be drawn like iron to a magnet.

Have a king-sized duvet? Do you dread putting the blanket in it? The burrito method will save you.

Cutting the ends off of onions, celery, and such for cooking? Rinse the ends and peels well and keep them in a bag int he freezer. When you are making broth toss all the ends into the pot and simmer on low overnight. Strain and you’ll be left with delicious vegetable broth. You’ll save yourself a ton of chopping and make incredibly good soup.

If you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.

Or seriously: Rinse your drinking glasses when done with them, before putting them into the dishwasher; prevents odors (especially milk glasses).

OR: write down your wi-fi password and put it someplace visible. Eventually you’ll buy a new device or have to reset a router, and struggle to remember the password. If it’s inside your house, there’s no privacy concern (unless your snoopy neighbor has a good telescope).

Never buy paper products.

A wide variety of launderable towels are available, that last for years. Wipe up spills, or for table napkins, facia wipes, wet hands.

Your junk mail includes a ream a year of computer paper, printed one side only

Get a bidet, or figure out how to do it sitting on the side of the tub.

You don’t even need the vinegar unless you’re trying to get rid of odors at the same time ( in which case adding lemon juice to the water works much more pleasantly). Just boil water for about 5 minutes, then let it sit for another 20 minutes before you open the microwave door, and everything will wipe clean.