The Top Useful Household Tips

Collected from AskReddit

  • Coffee grounds are magic. They are a great fertilizer, and a systemic pesticide that is non-toxic to humans and pets. Let them cool and sprinkle around your plants and windows. If you need to do a big fertilizing job in the spring, call your local Starbucks and offer to take their grounds away for a day or two.
  • If the air quality in your house sucks, you may need to run the AC less and open the windows more. Most homes with central AC have a “split system.” This cools or heats the air, but does not bring in fresh air. It just recirculates the air in your house at a different temperature.
  • Keep a small Tupperware container filled with your interior paint color. That way when you need to do periodic touch ups, you can just pull it out, stir with a brush, and fix them. Breaking out the 5-gallon bucket is usually a production.

Chemist and homeowner here:

White vinegar is a good substitute for many household cleaners (so called ‘General Purpose Cleaners’). Buy a cheap spray bottle and fill it with vinegar undiluted. It is perfect for quick clean ups around the kitchen and bathroom as it is both a disinfectant AND completely volatile (it will smell for a while but evaporate to leave no residues). It is also good at cleaning glass and hundreds of other things if you google it. It is surprisingly good at repelling pests (flies, cockroaches etc) as they seem to be very sensitive to it. Spray some vinegar into your kitchen bin(s) before you put the bin liner in it. It costs about $1/liter ! It is perfectly safe around young children.

To clean drain pipes of smells and blockages:

(Don’t try these if you have a septic tank system!)

  • To keep drains unblocked in the long run: Buy some sodium hydroxide, lye, (in bulk – say 2 or 3 kg size – it’s cheaper) at hardware stores. Use a tablespoon full each week in your drains/sinks around the house. Rinse with cold water. This should prevent all future blockages unless you are putting some crazy shit down your drains. It will also dissolve hair in your shower drain (however for a quick fix, the sulfuric acid based drain ‘unblockers’ are even better at this).
  • To remove smells from drains/sinks, first put hot water down the drain. Then, add concentrated (‘premium’) chlorine bleach carefully so that it pours into all sides of the pipe. Cover/plug and then leave for 1 hour. Rinse with hot water. Repeat until the problem goes away (it will!).

Special note to the environmentally concerned among us: Chlorine bleach and even sulfuric acid are perfectly accommodated by any modern municipal waste water treatment plant and do not directly affect the environment. A very big exception is if you have drains which flow directly to a creek or river etc, such as water runoff drains from your roof…

Your grandma probably used bi-carb soda (sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, many other names) around the place. It is very cheap and ‘eats’ odors. Like the odors in your filthy fridge.

Also, put some in your washing machine, with your filthy shoes, you filthy individual!

Hydrogen peroxide (sold often at pharmacies, but becoming harder to find?) is another multi-use substance. It has medical uses (cleaning cuts/scrapes), cleaning uses (removing strong stains), and even plant-growing uses. Learn its many uses and keep a small bottle in the fridge (it will last longer) for the right occasion. 5 to 10% concentration is usually sold. It eventually breaks down into water and oxygen gas.

The cheapest dishwashing detergent is as good as the most expensive. Antibacterial varieties seem trivial since most bacteria can’t withstand being hit with surfactants, which is essentially all that any detergent is.

Got mold? It’s hard to get rid of. (i.e, the following is a summary of a recent nightmare I’ve endured). It can take weeks to remove all visible mold and prevent it from coming back. First, solve the moisture problem; open windows more, install dehumidifiers or run aircon often, check plumbing / seals for leaks, check for entering rain water etc. Get a cheap temperature/humidity meter or two and place them around your house. I got two that are solar powered (they run off indoor lights) for $15/ea at a hardware store. The relative humidity should be <55% for as much of the time as possible but preferably lower. Then, clean away the visible mold with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner (on rough surfaces), or clean with chlorine bleach (hard surfaces, tiles etc) but this won’t KILL the mold spores. Now, kill the mold spores which are remaining by buying some distilled (‘pure’) clove oil from ebay or a health store. Put about 1/2 tablespoon of the oil into about half a cup of methylated spirits (or denatured spirits, different named in different places around the world) and stir. Dilute this to 1 liter with water and then wipe the moldy surface: WORKS AMAZING FOR MOLDY SHOWERS. Clove oil is an incredible thing! Lastly, some things are essentially ruined by mold in most cases and cannot be treated; leather and carpets are two examples. Throw them out.

Know what you are buying: Learning about the substances in your cleaners can let you compare brands and prices and save you money in the long run.

A simple example: Laundry soaker. If you are just cleaning whites, there is very little difference between what’s in brands that cost $20/kg and the cheapest at about $5/kg. (It’s more complicated if you are washing colors.) They’re all based on sodium percarbonate – which breaks down in water and especially HOT water to give hydrogen peroxide – aka ‘oxygen bleach’. This substance is a bit like vinegar in that you will find many websites advocating its use for many cleaning tasks around the home, however, I find it’s a pain in the ass because if you get any on your clothes they will be ruined (bleached). I suppose it is exceptionally environmentally friendly since it breaks down to give oxygen gas and water. The other components in laundry soaker are less important.

While we’re roughly on the topic of washing machines: front loaders don’t really require much washing powder (I’m not necessarily referring to soaking powder anymore) at all. The bulk of the powder consists of Zeolite A which mostly just changes the water hardness. Most people don’t have a water hardness problem and so don’t need to use much laundry powder. Random fact: The most common repair done on modern washing machines is replacing the control circuit boards. People use far too much washing powder – or the wrong type – causing bubbles to fill the entire machine and damage the board.

Furthermore, unless you are cleaning stains and seriously soiled clothing, you don’t need to wash on the longest wash cycles your machine has. For day to day clothes washing, even the 30 minute setting on a front loader is sufficient, and your clothes will last longer before they start to pill and fade. You’ll have saved both water and power too.

These static dusters (and all the similar products from various brands) make dusting 10,000,000x easier and despite being ‘disposable’ you can just wash them in your washing machine on the fastest cycle and then put them in a tumble dryer on low heat, they come out brand new and seemingly last forever.

Titanium razor blades also last seemingly forever without becoming blunt or causing irritation. But others on reddit will recommend double-edged safety razors. Sadly I’m not that fancy.

Buy a Kill-o-watt or similar electricity metering device that can measure power consumption of appliances, they’re about $30 or less. Learn what appliances use how much power, work out running costs, yearly costs etc. If you put some effort in, you can save alot of money by changing your habits. You can take it to another level by installing a power meter that is fitted to the mains wiring to your property which can measure your overall power consumption. 487 watts as I type this.

A $5 portable AM radio can easily find devices causing interference with your wifi in your home. For example, I had a faulty or poorly designed AC power pack that was causing so much EMI that it was disconnecting my ADSL modem some 2 meters away and causing wifi dropouts. Easily found with the AM radio and resolved by moving that equipment to another room.

Depending on where you live, you can buy brands of CFL light bulbs that come with warranties (not ‘guarantees’ – which are different and usually not binding). Look for the ones which have 2 or 3 year warranties. Keep the receipt and and packaging, so that when they burn out in <3 years you can return them to the seller or the manufacturer for new ones. Endless free light bulbs!

Allergic to dust mites? After years of suffering I solved my allergy problem by: removing carpets and getting tiles layed, using a foam pillow instead of down/feather, allergen and water proof mattress protector, microfiber quilt (cheap, replaceable, harder for mites to live in), washing bedding and towels at 95 degrees Celsius with about 1 milliliter (or about 1/2 table spoon) of eucalyptus oil in the wash (kills mites very effectively).

If you own a car or a property and you don’t have a high pressure cleaner then you are doing it wrong. Even a cheap (<$150) pressure cleaner will make your life so much easier and your car so much shinier. (As pointed out in the comments below, be careful with your cars paint and spraying too close. My pressure cleaner has a car cleaning attachment nozzle thing.

Home organization / space saving:

  • If you haven’t used it in 2 years, throw it out. If you haven’t worn it in the last 4 seasons, throw it out or donate it to charity. To arrange your clothes by how they are used in your wardrobe, always put things into the wardrobe hanging them on the same side (left or right). The clothes that accumulate on the opposite side after 1 year are the things you dont wear and can be thrown out or donated to charity.
  • No space? Small unit? Think vertically! I spent ~$2000 at Ikea and have about 4x the volume of ‘stuff’ which some of my friends have, yet my stuff occupies a quarter of the overall floorspace.
  • If you read reddit long enough, you will see the “throw out all your socks – buy all identical pairs” thing. This changed my life and cannot recommend it enough!
  • For the love of science, don’t buy anything made out of chipboard that is going to be used near water (kitchens, bathrooms): it will probably not last 10 years.
  • (more to come later?)

Heating and cooling tips (may not be applicable to you, I live in a subtropical region, 5 deg C min in winter, typically up to 35 deg C days in summer):

  • Insulation is a really good investment for your short term comfort but more importantly your long term finances
  • Heaters which directly heat air are relatively expensive to run and often not much more effective than if you just put on more clothes. If you are just heating a small area, for example your couch or study desk area, then radiant heaters with quartz halogen bulbs are a far cheaper and more effective option.
  • If you want to heat the air in winter, use a reverse cycle air conditioner. Because air conditioners are heat pumps, their overall efficiency is far greater than conventional heaters which directly heat the air using hot elements (oil heaters, fan heaters, etc).
  • For cooling, steer away from portable air conditioners. They are very inefficient by design unless they have BOTH a pipe for venting hot air and a pipe for bringing inside cooler air. Basically, the single vent designs are very inefficient because they create a negative pressure inside the home causing hot outside air to flow into the house nullifying the cooling effect of the machine.
  • Depending on your climate, solar hot water is a really good option and pays for itself quite quickly. Solar photovoltaics is good in the very long run (10 years+) if you can afford the initial outlay.
  • Saving energy by turning off standby devices is bullshit for most people most of the time. You are far more likely to save money from changing the way you heat/cool your rooms, the way you heat your hot water, and by changing the way and how often you use your larger appliances – and if you are like me – your computers.
  • Random:? I saved what I have estimated to be at least $100/year in electricity by removing the metal plate covering the compressor and heatsink at the back of my new-ish (5 year old) LG fridge and cleaning dust from the heatsink.. The compressor now runs less. Most people never consider this. Not recommended if your fridge is under warranty. This could apply to apply to the heatsinks on your air-conditioners too.

Finances and assets:

  • Review your insurance coverage every year. Over-insure the value of your contents. Create a inventory of all your possessions with photos and/or video in detail, for the events of fire and theft. Store the inventory either online or at a family/friends place. Engrave your expensive possessions.
  • Keep all receipts especially for electronic devices. Make a photocopy of the receipt since they often fade BEFORE the item’s warranty expires.
  • Store important documents in a fireproof and waterproof safe or portable safe. There are good portable types available for <$200 and are a good investment. Keep in it: your most important financial documents, receipts, insurance inventories, and storage devices with full backups of all your computer data.
  • Check the following at least once a year for cheaper deals with other companies: Car insurance (especially young drivers, where premiums rapidly change price with increasing age), house/contents insurance, health insurance, phone/internet/electricity/gas/etc suppliers, and anyone you have a debt with.
  • If you own a car or a house or have lots of cash, don’t be a douch, and get a legal will. In most countries it’s an uphill or simply impossible battle for your family members to get possession of your assets if you die and you don’t have any will. This applies to EVERYONE not just the old and frail. If your family members are just generally hopeless, then send them a document stating where your will is kept, eg by XYZ solicitors. If you just tell them in conversation they will probably not remember and finalizing your estate/assets could be slowed.* This depends somewhat on your country too.


  • Get a Residual Current Device (RCD) installed if you don’t have one. Sometimes called an Earth Leakage Detector, or similar. While in most countries they are required by law in new buildings, in many older homes they are still not common. Mine possibly saved my life once when I was being impatient plugging an appliance into a powerstrip.
  • Test your RCD every 6 months. It could save your life when you least expect it, as long as it is in working order. Very strongly recommended if you have children.
  • As above, but for smoke detectors.

I have more and will type them as I think of them.


After putting a sheet set through the laundry, store the sheets (and one pillowcase) inside the other pillowcase. You’ll never search for the matching sheet/pillowcase again.

Wash just after you finish cooking, because you are really hungry for the food you just cooked you blast through those pots and pans like a madman.Also if you live with others don’t leave stuff in the sink, it means they have to move it to wash their stuff, increasing the chance they say ‘fuck it’ and don’t wash their stuff either.

Above All, Hire a maid.Never worry about any of this shit ever again.

Bonus:ย So I heard you guys like awkward family photos and pictures of pets… Well, check this out.