Time is short for most of us these days. Packed schedules, longer working hours and less support mean that there’s not much time for homemaking. However, a tidy living space that looks great and feels peaceful can make a world of difference. So, learning a few clever homemaking hacks is a smart move for modern life. Whether you’re a stay at home dad or a housewife – or you’re just looking for some easy cheats – here are some homemaking hacks to help cut corners.
Paper = clutter, recycling, rubbish to take out and that endless search for a pen. Given the range of technological life support we have these days there’s just no need for it. Throw out the notebooks, lists on the fridge and diaries and go electronic instead. Use apps like Evernote for your lists and reminders, everything from buying milk to paying bills and attending events. Combine with Gmail for email, calendar and notes that you can coordinate.
Make your own laundry detergent
Not only do commercial detergents contain harmful chemicals but they are expensive too. Make your own at home to save time, shopping – and the planet. All you need is a soap bar (one scented with essential oils makes for a nice smell), 250ml each of washing soda and borax. Grate the soap up, mix with the washing soda and borax and then add two tablespoons for each load. The result is just as effective as any commercial product, and much cheaper too.
Keep everything fresh with cat litter
If your home is full of bad odours then can litter can be a useful tool. Banish unpleasant fragrances from smelly shoes, kitchen bins and even the fridge with cat litter. The cat litter soaks up the smells and stops them from spreading – just make sure you change it on a weekly basis. It’s a much cheaper alternative to air freshener or throwing stinky things away and buying new.
Laptop and desktop keyboards can collect all sorts of debris. The more there is, the more likely you’ll have to pay for expensive repairs at some point. Prolong the lifespan of your keyboard with Post-Its. Before you throw away an old Post-It (if you haven’t gone paperless…) run the sticky side between the keys on your keyboard and it will pick up all sorts of crumbs and fluff.
Rather than keeping drawers stuffed full of business cards, old warranties and contracts, take photos of them instead. Organise the photos on your phone or computer for fast and easy access to information when you need it.
Preserve your phone charger
There’s nothing more annoying than the predictability with which chargers break. The cable starts to twist and split and then a week later all the wires are exposed. Chargers aren’t cheap – particularly for premium brand products – so make your charger wires last as long as you can. An easy way to do this is to use the spring from an old pen – wrap around the wire to prevent the twisting that leads to splitting. You could double the length of your charger life with this simple hack.
Home made cleaning solutions
You don’t need to spend a lot on cleaning products for the home. Baking soda, lemons and kosher salt can deal with most cleaning problems. For example, clean your cutting board by rubbing first with lemon, then salt, then lemon again. The results are very effective and preferable to using harsh chemicals. Clean your oven with vinegar and baking soda – this removes even the burned on bits. Refresh sofas and carpets with baking soda and use lemons to clean up your bathroom metallics.
Make use of hooks and racks
Getting rid of disorganisation and clutter can make a big difference to how your home feels. Create a key and wallet cabinet by the front door for everything you’ll need as you leave the house. Try adding hooks to a playroom and hang individual bags for each type of toy to keep them off the floor. Organise your office space with vertical shelves for stationary, books and tech. Hang shoes from the inside of wardrobe doors to make them more accessible and better organised. Instead of shoving saucepans into cupboards, put up hooks on the kitchen wall.
Plan meals backwards
In an ideal world we plan two weeks’ worth of meals, do a single shop and then stop worrying about it. In reality, most of us shop fairly inconsistently and randomly. Planning meals backwards is a hack that means you never have to waste what you have at home. Learn recipes to use up what’s in the cupboard, from soups and salads through to cakes and bread.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley