We’ve all been there. You’re trying to cross a seemingly simple task off your to-do list but nothing seems to be working and you’re expending heaps of mental energy trying to solve it. In your frustration, you briefly become an actor in a 1990s infomercial, inevitably exclaiming, “there’s gotta be a better way!”
And you’re right! There is! And thanks to the Internet, knowledge of these countless “better ways” is now available to just about everyone. Below are ten of the most invaluable and uncomplicated life hacks, culled from the combined might of humanity’s intellect.
1. Hang pants with “The Savile Row Fold”
Hanging dress pants properly is imperative for keeping them ready for wear, not to mention wrinkle-free. The problem is that over the course of time (and after sliding hangers back and forth in your closet), pants can slip right off their hangers — leaving you with a wrinkled heap of dusty trousers at the worst possible time.
Thankfully, the legendary tailors from Savile Row in London have solved this issue forever:
2. When hanging wall decor, create paper templates
Whether you want to create a complex salon wall or just ensure your couple pieces of art are properly spaced on a wall, it’s good to get a game plan together before you start getting permanent with nails and screws. The easiest way to visualize your options? Using newspaper, craft paper, or wrapping paper, trace outlines of everything you intend to hang. Hang these templates with painters’ tape, stand back, and get an idea of what looks best where. Rearrange them as much as needed until you’ve decided on final placement. From there, just mark what goes where and get to hanging!
Next level: Measure where the hanger or wire is on the back of your frame, mark it on your paper guide and use it to know where to put your nail.
Need to fill your walls with art? Download free wall art from Primer's Free Art Printable series.
3. Use the fork, Luke (to help hang a picture)
One of the most annoying parts of hanging a picture is ensuring that the wire on the back of the frame/canvas actually catches on the nail in the wall. And surprisingly, the solution to this consistently frustrating home decor dilemma is actually in your kitchen drawer.
After hammering in the nail, hook the fork on the nail. With the prongs pointing down and the handle sticking up, the fork’s handle will angle out from the wall, providing a ramp for the hanging wire. Simply hook the wire behind the fork and slide it down until it catches the nail. With the picture now hanging securely, you can remove the fork and voila! Perfectly placed picture!
4. Breathe new life into an old watch with a new strap
If you want to inject some life into a room, you can rearrange the furniture or paint the walls. If you want to spruce up your look, you can change your hair or get new glasses. But how do you make an old watch you no longer wear pop as if it’s brand new? Well, with a new strap, of course.
This Primer piece highlighted the benefits of adding a slip through canvas NATO/Zulu watch strap to your favorite timepiece. The new strap can provide a timeless, fashionable facelift which won’t break the bank while also giving your watch the versatility to work with multiple outfits and looks. Available everywhere from Target to Amazon, there are plenty of options for colors and styles to upgrade the quintessential men’s accessory.
5. Create tape guidelines for wall-mounted items
When hanging something that requires two screws or nails (basically, everything from large picture frames to chalkboards to surge protectors), marking the holes correctly is close to impossible. Even with careful measuring, doing anything “at an exact distance along a perfectly level line” is not something that human beings can usually pull off. Enter: tape!
Using masking tape or painter’s tape on the back of the item to be hung, you can mark the exact center of each hole with a pen or thumbtack, perfectly spaced apart. Then, you can peel the tape off and stick it onto the wall where you intend to hang your item (use a level, of course). Now the marks in the tape are a perfect, level guide for your nails or screws. Once the nails/screws are in, just peel the tape off and you’re done!
6. Use garbage bags to transport hanging clothes
If you’re moving (or putting away clothes for the winter), you’re inevitably going to have to deal with the clothes hanging in your closet. If you've ever tried to move a closet's worth of clothing on hangers before, you know how impossible it is to wrangle them without losing some of the items to the floor, or getting all the hangers to line up when they get to their next spot. Quite a chore when you have a ton of clothes to move.
By sliding a large drawstring garbage bag up and around a bunch of hanging clothes and looping the drawstrings around the top, you create an instant waterproof garment bag which allows you to hang the clothes or lie them flat as needed (while also ensuring that if anything slips off its hanger during the move, it’s not going to get lost or damaged).
(You may remember that a great way to take care of your hanging collared shirts is to keep the collars flipped and the top button fastened. Make sure to do this before bagging up your shirts!)
Bonus: Garbage bags are the best option for storing and transporting clothes of any kind. Clothes won’t puncture the bag and a bag of clothes will form-fit to whichever space you put them in (piled up in your car, for example). During a move, save your suitcases and duffle bags for the heavier, more fragile things and pack your clothes in trash bags.
7. Use lemon juice to clean yellow sweat stains from white shirts
If you wear white shirts often, you know that inevitably, certain regions of that shirt are going to betray your perspiration habits in the form of yellowish stains (the collar and the armpits are usually the worst). And you probably also know that those stains don’t always come out in the wash, even with bleach.
So what’s a guy to do? Turn to nature.
A solution of equal parts warm water and lemon juice can help drastically reduce the appearance of sweat stains on white shirts. If you’re up against a deadline or don’t have access to a washing machine, you can use this solution on its own and just treat the affected area until the stain disappears. Alternatively, you can use the lemon juice mixture as a pre-treatment on an item before it goes in the laundry. Either way, the lemon juice will help in ways that even some of the most aggressive detergents cannot.
Note: only use this lemon juice tip on white shirts! The acid in lemon juice can actually have a bleach-like effect on some colored fabrics.
8. Seal the top of your travel toiletries with plastic wrap
Though most travel toiletry bottles now claim to be leak-proof, nothing is ever guaranteed. And shampoo leaking all over the inside of a suitcase is a horrible way to start (or finish) a trip. The simplest way to ensure you never ruin your clothes with errant goop is to place a square of plastic wrap over the bottle’s opening and then screw the cap on, like normal. The thin plastic wrap will allow the cap to fasten while also sealing the bottle’s opening underneath the cap.
Bonus: If you’re traveling and don’t have access to any plastic wrap, a piece from a plastic shopping bag, Ziploc bag, or garbage bag will also work perfectly.
9. Eat ice cream out of an insulated cup
Say so long to the race against the clock that is eating ice cream or frozen yogurt before it turns into soup, especially during warm weather. Insulated mugs, cups, and wine tumblers (like those made by YETI or Tervis) are obviously excellent at keeping beverages cold for a long time but they also make excellent handheld, melt-resistant ice cream bowls!
10. Use binder clips to hide cables behind side tables and desks
It doesn’t matter if you’re at work, in a home office, or working at a coffee shop, you will inevitably battle unplugged electrical cords and cables that seem determined to slip down to the floor. And while there are commercial cable holders available, it’s much easier to just grab a few binder clips from your desk (or your junk drawer, no judgment). Stick the clip on the back edge of the desk or tabletop, thread the cord through the bottom handle, pop out the top handle, and voila! That cord isn’t going anywhere unless you want it to, and its hidden out of site until you need it.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a clip large enough to clip onto your tabletop, clip it to a book, magazine, or other weighted object and place it near the edge of the table to achieve the same result.