Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


5 Things To Do with… Ice Cubes

Don’t put away that ice cube tray just yet! Now that your drink is chilled, we’ve got 5 more reasons to make sure your freezer is always fully stocked with ice.

There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool drink on the rocks—but a cup of ice cubes can do a lot more than quench your thirst. These versatile drink chillers work in a pinch to treat any number of household dilemmas, whether you’re looking to improve your gardening game or simply to polish up an at-home fix-it job. So, go on; refill that ice cube tray. While you wait for its contents to freeze, check out these five incredibly useful ways to repurpose ice cubes outside the glass.

 

1. FRESHEN UP THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Uses of Ice - Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

Photo: flickr.com via zzazazz

There’s nothing worse than a stinky garbage disposal, especially when you’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes to do. To clean the blades and remove odor-causing food particles that may have gotten stuck, place 2 cups of ice cubes and a cup of rock salt in the garbage disposal, then run the cold tap for a minute or two. Freshen further by tossing in a few lemon peels, turning the cool water back on, and running the machine.

 

2. TEND TO THIRSTY HOUSEPLANTS

Uses of Ice - Watering Orchids

Photo: fotosearch.com

If you’re worried about over-hydrating your orchid, skip the watering can and reach for an ice cube instead. This temperamental houseplant hates to stay constantly wet, which makes an ice cube the perfect solution because it melts slowly, giving the soil time to absorb the water it needs without harming the roots. Depending on the size of your orchid, two to three ice cubes (about a quarter-cup of water) per week should be enough; when one melts, place the next in its empty spot. Similarly, ice cubes can deliver H2O to hanging houseplants that are just out of reach.

 

3. REMOVE A CARPET DENT

Uses of Ice - Removing Carpet Dents

Photo: fotosearch.com

You decided to rearrange your furniture, but that improved feng shui came at a price: carpet indentations right where the sofa used to be. For a quick fix, place an ice cube in each carpet dent (or several down a line) and let it melt. After 12 hours, use a paper towel to blot up any excess water, then gently lift the carpet fibers with a fork so they’re back in place.

 

4. SMOOTH UNEVEN CAULKING

Uses of Ice - Smoothing Fresh Caulk

Photo: flickr.com via emilysnuffer

It’s not easy to lay down the perfect bead of caulk! The next time you’re re-caulking your bathtub, use an ice cube to smooth the finished line. Simply run the chunk of ice along the joint (that space between the tile and tub, now fresh with new caulk) and even out the surface as you go. The ice cube won’t stick to the caulk; rather, it will melt to fit the shape of the joint, turning into the ideal custom tool for your DIY job.

 

5. CLEAN YOUR FAVORITE VASE

Uses of Ice - Cleaning a Vase

Photo: fotosearch.com

For vases with slender necks, it can be very tough to scrub away flower residue and grime. Ice cubes make it easy: Toss a few cubes in the vase (you may have to crush them into smaller pieces to fit, depending on the size of the neck) and add 1/4 cup of salt. After that, swish the vase vigorously and watch as the ice and salt combine, forming a gentle abrasive that will quickly clean the glass.


How To: Get Rid of Slugs

Slugs can do major damage to your favorite flowers and plants overnight. To keep those creepy crawlers from devastating your garden, try any of these 5 easy solutions.

how to get rid of slugs

Photo: fotosearch.com

Even the smallest slugs play a big role in the ecosystem, feeding on decomposing matter and in turn providing protein for wild critters like raccoons and chipmunks. But however important these slimy creatures may be, that doesn’t make it any more pleasant when we find them noshing on the plants we worked so hard to grow in our gardens. If your outdoor spaces have been overrun, try one of these methods for deterring and eliminating slugs.

how to get rid of slugs - copper tape

Photo: amazon.com

1. Distract with Shiny Objects
Copper creates an unpleasant electrical shock when slugs come into contact with it, which will deter them from passing. Create a barrier around your beloved garden by surrounding it with 4- to 6-inch copper flashing, or by wrapping susceptible plants with copper tape. Not only will the slugs stay away, but you can also reuse the copper flashing for several years to come. Keep in mind that this trick will only deter the slugs—not kill existing varieties.

2. Crack Open a Cold One 
Slugs like beer as much as they like the leafy greens of your garden plants. Crack open a beer and pour it into a few margarine tubs, then distribute the containers in various places around the yard, burying them so that about an inch remains above ground. The slugs will be attracted to the scent, crawl into the tubs, and drown overnight. Dispose of the containers the next morning in your trash or compost bin.

3. Build a Sharp Barrier
A slug’s Achilles ankle is its soft body, easily irritated by sharp or dry materials. Use this to your advantage by sprinkling wood ashes, diatomaceous earth, gravel, or lava rock in a wide band around individual plants—or the entire garden—to discourage slugs, as they won’t want to crawl across the bumpy barrier. Wood ashes have the bonus benefit of adding potassium to your soil and raising the pH, so consider choosing that method as your first line of defense.

4. Construct a Fruity Trap
Next time you snack on a citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange, unpeel the rind carefully so you can keep one bowl-shaped half in tact. Poke a hole that’s large enough for a slug to fit through, and then sit the fruit upside down like a dome in your garden. The sweet scent will lure slugs in, distracting them from their usual meal: your plants. If a predator doesn’t get to them first, collect the fruit scraps the next morning and kill any live slugs by dumping them into a container of soapy water.

5. Gather a Search Party
If you’re feeling particularly vengeful, gather your salt shaker and a flashlight, and venture out at night for some real slug hunting. Sprinkle a little salt on every slug you see; it will draw the water out of it’s watery body, causing the creature to dry up. It seems gruesome, but this solution is very effective. Just be cautious when dispensing salt, as an abundance of the seasoning can harm your plants and soil.

For the most part, slugs thrive in highly moist environments. One of the best preventative measures you can take is to make sure your garden does not stay overly wet. Keep plants spaced apart so that air can circulate between them, and water early in the day so extra moisture has time to evaporate before nightfall when the slugs come out to feast.


Quick Tip: Create Instant Heirloom Furniture with Vaseline

The key to distressing any painted furniture may be hiding in your medicine cabinet. Read on for how a little petroleum jelly could help you achieve time-worn style without the thrift store hunt.

How to Distress Painted Wood - Quick Tip

Photo: fotosearch.com

If you find yourself scouring the flea markets for that perfectly imperfect piece of painted furniture that’s distressed in all the right spots, it’s no surprise. The time-worn elegance of shabby chic style is just as popular as ever. Fortunately for you, it’s no longer limited to the secondhand scene. You can add age to any piece of painted wood, be it inherited or built in your home workshop last week. So stop searching and start creating the look you love with one unexpected (and affordable) product: Vaseline.

How to Distress Painted Wood - Painting Wood Furniture

Photo: fotosearch.com

This technique works on everything from frames to dressers, and tables to doors, so don’t stress about the type of furniture to distress. Start by sanding the piece’s surface, clearing the sawdust, and applying a base color. That first coat will be the contrasting color that peaks through from under the top coat. Allow the paint to dry completely. Then spread Vaseline over the corners, beveled edges, and any other area you want to look worn using your finger and a dry cloth—wherever you apply it, the next coat of color should wipe away easily for a weathered, chippy-paint look. Vary the Vaseline thicker in some places and thinner in others for extra authenticity. When you brush a second coat of paint over the whole piece, use a towel to rub through the top layer before it dries completely, concentrating on the areas covered in Vaseline. Wipe until you’re satisfied with how much bottom layer is revealed, and let the furniture finish drying for an instantly vintage look without decades’ worth of wait.


How To: Get Rid of Dandelions

Dandelions may be a delight for the kids, but they can be a nightmare for your lawn. Get rid of these common yellow intruders by following this natural routine.

How to Get Rid of Dandelions

Photo: fotosearch.com

Though young children love dandelions for their bright yellow flowers and their irresistibly entertaining, fluffy seed heads, most lawn-tending grown-ups dread the sight of them. Dandelions are among the subset of weeds called broadleaf perennials, which are notoriously challenging to remove. Once a dandelion plant has fully established its 10-inch-long taproot, the weed will come back year after year, spreading its spawn across your lawn in perpetuity. That long root is the key to total extermination. If you want to truly rid yourself of a dandelion, you must kill or remove all of the taproot, or the unwanted sprout will come back again with a vengeance.

The quickest and least labor-intensive method of getting rid of dandelions is to spray them with a broadleaf herbicide that will kill the entire plant, not just the leaves, without harming the surrounding grass. But plenty of people would rather skip the harmful chemicals and take a more natural route. If that’s your desire, you should consider this long-term, multipronged approach to ridding your yard of dandelions.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Watering can filled with water
- Weed knife
- Natural weed killer (either commercially purchased or homemade)
- Pre-emergent herbicide

How to Get Rid of Dandelions

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Start by digging up the plants. As any plant is more easily pulled from the ground if the soil is moist, first use the watering can to dampen the soil around the dandelion, and wait a few minutes for the moisture to settle in. Then, work a weeding knife down along the the base of the dandelion in two or three places. Push the soil away from the root of the plant by wiggling the knife. Finally, grasp the base of the plant between your fingers and gently pull. If it still feels stuck, work the weeding knife around some more, and then gently pull out the entire taproot with the dandelion.

STEP 2
Any portion of the dandelion’s taproot that remains will grow into a new plant again, so you must kill whatever is left. Most natural herbicides you’ll find at the store are nonselective, meaning they will kill any plant that comes into contact with them (including your grass). Keeping that in mind, carefully apply herbicide only into the hole from which you just pulled the dandelion.

STEP 3
Having dug up the dandelion, you now have in your lawn an open spot with loose soil, which is vulnerable to other aggressive weeds. To discourage a new enemy from taking root, fill this hole as well with pre-emergent herbicide. Even varieties of natural pre-emergent herbicide are nonselective, so it won’t be worth your while to try to plant new grass in the area. Instead, hope that runners from your already-established turfgrass plants will eventually fill in the spot.

STEP 4
Finally, after battling your weeds, take the time to strengthen your lawn. A strong and healthy lawn will be less susceptible to weed invasion, because vigorous turfgrass plants don’t leave much room—or nutrients—for tricky perennial weeds like dandelions to take hold. So, for the long term, follow these standard practices for good lawn care:
• Water deeply but infrequently to encourage a strong, deep root system.
• Cut no more than a third of the length of the grass blades at any one time; this allows for good photosynthesis and keeps grass from drying out too quickly.
• Properly schedule your fertilizing based on your grass type—fall for cool-season grasses like fescues, spring for warm-season grasses like zoysia and Bermuda.

This routine for eliminating dandelions is time-intensive, but it has great appeal if you want to avoid toxic chemicals. Consider incorporating these activities into your regular lawn maintenance routine so you can regulate and deal with dandelions on a smaller scale. With a little diligence and patience, you can banish these garish troublemakers for good.


DIY Lite: Upgrade Simple String Lights on a Shoestring Budget

Enhance ordinary string lights with a festively floral makeover that will brighten your space—and mood.

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Easy String Lights

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Thoughtful lighting is key to evoking a desired ambience in nearly any space. (They don’t call it “mood lighting” for nothing.) Cords of twinkling lights—a festive decorating favorite—are particularly versatile. They’re small enough to store, powerful enough to brighten dark corners, and easy to hang both outdoors and in. Use them to dress up your porch, patio, windows, trees—you name it. For a design that radiates a little more energy than your standard set, read on to learn how to upgrade the miniature lights you probably have left over from holiday celebrations, using merely recycled plastic bottles and a little imagination.

 

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Plastic bottles
- Scissors
- Spray paint
- Utility knife
- String lights

 

STEP 1

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

First, round up your collection of recyclables for the week and pull out all the plastic bottles—any size will do.

Using a pair of scissors, cut the bottom two-thirds off from each bottle. In Steps 2 through 8, you’ll transform the end with the cap into one of a variety of flowers. (You can toss the other end back into the recycling.) We’ll show you three petal options here, but if you get creative, you can design numerous other styles.

 

STEP 2

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

For the look of a spiny succulent, cut the plastic into skinny strips, working from the fresh edge in toward the bottleneck.

 

STEP 3

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Then, when all strips have been cut, bend them outward to create a flower shape.

 

STEP 4

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To make a daisy, cut another cone-shaped bottle top into eight strips of equal width.

 

STEP 5

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Fan the strips outward, then use your scissors to trim each strip into a rounded petal shape.

 

STEP 6

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To make a bellflower, cut the bottle top into six equal strips.

 

STEP 7

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Then, cut each petal end into a teardrop-like point; don’t open up this particular bloom. Repeat Steps 2 through 7 to make as many flowers as bulbs on your string of lights (or only half, if you decide that you’d like a little extra buffer between buds).

 

STEP 8

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Lay all the cut plastic flowers and their caps out on a newspaper-covered work surface, and spray them with paint. Be sure to use a paint that will adhere to plastic. When that coat dries, you can add some details to the flowers with a targeted second coat of spray paint. For example, paint the center a different color, or add pattern to the petals’ edges in a darker hue. These flourishes will give the flowers more depth and are a whimsical nod to the authentic inspiration.

 

STEP 9

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Gather all the caps, and carefully cut a cross in the center of each, using a utility knife.

 

STEP 10

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

You should be able to push each tiny bulb through the cut section of a cap, from the top to the underside. If the plastic cap is still too hard to work with, open up the cut with the tip of a pen, and then try pressing the light through again. Put a cap on every (or every other) light bulb.

 

STEP 11

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Screw a plastic flower onto a cap, hold it out to enjoy the effect, and proceed to attach the rest of the flowers to the caps. Now, for your next celebration, be it birthday or backyard barbecue, this tropical touch you’ve fashioned for an otherwise simple strand of string lights will really amp up the energy.

 

DIY Outdoor Lighting - Completed Garland Lights

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

 

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.


How To: Remove Moss from the Roof

A layer of green moss might look cozy and rustic atop your house, but it can drastically shorten your roof's lifespan. Follow these three straightforward steps to clean off moss—and keep it from coming back.

How to Remove Moss from Roof - Wood Shingles

Photo: fotosearch.com

A green, moss-covered roof may make you think you’ve wandered into a fairy tale, complete with a quaint little woodcutter’s cottage. But, in the real world, moss is much less a fantasy than it is a nightmare. Left untreated, the clumpy greenery can cause virtually any roofing material to degrade—most commonly wood and asphalt, but also metal, clay, and concrete—and thus drastically shorten its lifespan. Moss starts as a thin green layer on and between shingles, but then it proceeds to lift those shingles up as it grows, allowing water to seep underneath. Hello, wood rot and leaks. Fortunately, removing moss is a fairly simple task that you can perform on a seasonal or as-needed basis to keep your roof weathertight and great-looking.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Ladder
- Slip-resistant shoes
- Old clothes
- Safety glasses
- Rubber gloves
- Safety rope
- Garden hose with spray nozzle
- Long-handled soft-bristle scrub brush
- Commercial cleanser or DIY solution (below)
- Pump spray bottle
- Plastic sheeting

How to Remove Moss from Roof - Beginning Stages

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Carefully place a ladder near the area of moss growth, and don slip-resistant shoes, old clothes, rubber gloves, and eye protection. (You may also want to secure yourself with a safety rope.) Hose off the area with plain water, spraying at a downward angle. Then, use a long-handled soft-bristle scrub brush to remove the moss from the roof, scrubbing from the top down to avoid lifting shingles. As you continue, rub gently—don’t scrape, scour, or pound on the roof—and work in one small section at a time to avoid ripping, cracking, or breaking the shingles.

Note: Don’t use a pressure washer on the roof. The high-powered water jets can damage shingles and remove the shingle granules that protect the roof.

STEP 2
If your moss problem requires more than just a simple scrub, there are a wide variety of commercial cleaning solutions as well as DIY options that will get the job done. Just wait for the next cloudy day before you head out to the roof with your cleanser of choice—you don’t want the solution to evaporate too quickly. Keep in mind that both commercial and homemade spray cleansers can damage sensitive plants and discolor siding, decks, or pathways, so you may want to spread plastic sheeting below your work area before you get started.

Some popular cleansers at your local hardware store or home center include Wet & Forget, a spray-on product for removing moss, mold, and mildew; Bayer 2-in-1 Moss and Algae Killer, a potassium soap of fatty acids and inert ingredients that you mix with water and then spray on; and Moss B Ware, a 99 percent zinc sulfate monohydrate powder that can be applied dry or mixed with water. Whichever you choose, follow the manufacturer’s directions for application; some cleansers should be rinsed off after use, while others specify to be left on.

You also can make your own moss remover in a large spray bottle with one of these four DIY recipes:
• 8 ounces Dawn Ultra dish soap + 2 gallons of water
• 1 pound powdered oxygen bleach + 2 gallons of water
• 1½ to 3½ cups chlorine bleach + 2 gallons of water
• 1½ to 3½ cups white distilled vinegar + 2 gallons of water
For any of these homemade options, you’ll want to wet down the roof with plain water first, then apply the cleanser and let it sit for 20 to 45 minutes. Lightly scrub with a soft-bristle brush, then rinse with water.

STEP 3
Prevent a moss problem from returning by installing strips of zinc- or copper-coated sheet metal just below the top ridge on both sides of the roof. Copper is more toxic to moss and algae, but zinc is much less expensive. You can purchase sheet metal in rolls and cut it into two- to four-inch strips. Attach the strips to the roof using roofing nails or screws with a rubber washer. You also should consider pruning any tree limbs that overhang the roof—natural sunlight is a powerful moss preventive.


Quick Tip: Use Vinegar to Give Wood a Weathered Look

Antiqued furniture can be a beautiful addition to a room, but the price tag can be much less attractive. Get this popular look for less with an inexpensive DIY stain made from two common household ingredients.

DIY Wood Stain

Photo: fotosearch.com

A weathered finish on a beloved table or chair chronicles the story of a bygone era. But while authentic antique pieces can make great investments, they aren’t always readily available—or within our price range. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to achieve this highly sought-after look on your existing furniture using nothing but two items you probably already keep in your pantry: steel wool and vinegar.

DIY Wood Stain

Photo: fotosearch.com

Start by ripping a pad of #0000-grade steel wool into smaller pieces and stuffing them into a mason jar. Next, pour in about 1½ cups of white vinegar. Let the solution sit for at least two days so the wool can dissolve in the vinegar, turning it a silvery-gray color.

While you wait for the mixture to oxidize, sand down your piece and take note of the type of wood. If it’s a light-colored wood like pine, you’ll want to pretreat it with a solution that’s high in tannins, such as tea. To do this, steep five black tea bags in a pot of boiling water for about an hour, then apply the tea to the furniture using an old paintbrush. Allow the piece to dry thoroughly before continuing.

When the vinegar-steel wool solution is ready, pour it into a large bowl, using a strainer to remove the solids. Next, apply the stain to the wood with a paintbrush. Because the piece may appear darker when it’s wet than when it’s fully dried, let it dry between coats so that you can be sure of the color before applying another layer of stain. If you notice any drip marks or want a more blended result, buff the wood with fine-grit sandpaper. Finally, seal the wood with a wax finish for a polished, aged look that’s worthy of a high-end antiques shop.


3 Fixes for a Stubborn Jar Lid

Never again let a seemingly immoveable lid derail your meal prep. With these easy solutions, you can conquer even the most tightly sealed jar.

How to Open a Stuck Jar

Photo: fotosearch.com

It’s an age-old quandary: You reach for a jar of pickles or tomato sauce but, try and try as you might, you cannot get the metal lid to budge. Besides simply seeking help from someone more muscular, are there any other surefire ways to open a stuck jar? Absolutely. You can skip the phone call to your body-building next-door neighbor, because the solution lies close at hand. In fact, in most every kitchen, there are at least three easy and effective methods of opening any stubborn jar lid. Scroll down now to learn the simple secrets.

 

GET A GRIP

How to Open a Stuck Jar - Rubber Grips

Photo: fotosearch.com

The next time you need to open a stuck jar, make rubber your ally. Indeed, virtually anything made of rubber can offer up the grip you need to overpower a tight seal. The average kitchen hides a number of rubber items in plain sight. Our favorite approach? Don a pair of rubber gloves to get a better, more persuasive hold on the jar. Alternatively, hunt around in the junk drawer for rubber bands and wrap one around the lid a few times. In a pinch, you might even use a rubber shelf liner.

 

HANDLE WITH CARE

How to Open a Stuck Jar - Duct Tape

Photo: instructables.com

With duct tape, you can open a stuck jar in just a minute or two. Here’s how the strategy works: Tear off about a foot of duct tape, then line up the bottom edge of the tape with the bottom of the lid. Next, wrap the tape three quarters of the way around the lid, and fold the remainder of the strip in half, lengthwise, forming a sort of  three quart the tape around the lid, forming a sort of makeshift handle. Finally, hold the jar in one hand and pull the “handle” with the other. Presto!

 

CLEAR THE WAY

How to Open a Stuck Jar - Warm Water

Photo: fotosearch.com

Some jars are easy enough to open the first time but quite difficult to open again—jars of honey, for instance. That’s because their sticky contents lodge between the glass jar and metal lid, effectively gluing the container shut. The trick is to bring the jar over to the kitchen sink and hold it under warm or hot water for up to 60 seconds. The water at least partially washes away whatever substance may be holding the lid in the place. From there, simply wipe off the lid and give it a firm twist.


How To: Remove Rust from Hand Tools

Wait! Don't throw away those rusty hand tools when you can restore them. Follow either of these straightforward methods to restore their shine and stop further corrosion in its tracks.

How To Remove Rust From Tools

Photo: fotosearch.com

Has it been a while since your last home improvement project? If your do-it-yourself skills are a little rusty, chances are your tools are too. Without regular use, metal tools are prone to problems. Over time, iron and steel exposed to oxygen and moisture form a chemical reaction called oxidation. The visual evidence of this reaction is the burnt orange speckling that covers your metal possessions. Eventually, too much rust will ruin your tools—giving you yet another excuse to put off those projects. Well, no more excuses! Grab those tools and get to work, because rust is removable. Here we offer two ways to quickly and easily bust that rust.

How To Remove Rust From Tools - Sandpaper

Photo: fotosearch.com

Get Physical: Scour, Scrape, and Sand
If you don’t mind using a little elbow grease, you can physically remove rust with abrasion. Choose an effective scrubbing material when dealing with light to moderate surface rust problems. Deeper rust issues may require more than just muscle, but this physical solution is a good first step.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Dish detergent
- Coarse sandpaper, scouring pad, or steel wool
- Fine sandpaper
- Kerosene (optional)
- Electric drill with wire wheel (optional)

STEP 1
Start by cleaning the rusted tools in soapy water to remove dirt and grease. Then, rinse the tools with water and dry thoroughly.

STEP 2
For light rust, scrub the surface with a scouring pad, sandpaper, or steel wool. Always start with the coarsest abrasive to remove the built-up rust and pockmarks, then switch to a finer grit to smooth out the grooves caused by the coarse grit. If you still see rust, it’s time for a more heavy-duty course of action.

STEP 3 (optional)
For more serious rust problems, coat the surface of the tools with kerosene to function as a cutting lubricant. Wait several minutes. Then, attach a wire wheel to an electric drill to buff away the stubborn rust. Finish off with fine-grain sandpaper to remove any leftover residue. If the surface rust is gone, your work is done. But if the problem persists, you may need a stronger chemical solution.

 

How To Remove Rust From Tools - Oxalic Acid

Photo: flickr.com via Josh Larios

Try Chemicals: Soak in Oxalic Acid
When you want to save yourself some energy, oxalic acid offers an effective chemical-based treatment for dissolving light to moderate rust problems. This mild acid gets right into joints and crevices to penetrate the problem areas, making it especially good at removing rust in tight spaces and hard-to-clean spots. Just pick up the inexpensive chemical at your local home improvement store to get started.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Goggles
- Rubber gloves
- Dish detergent
- Oxalic acid
- Large plastic container

STEP 1
First, clean the tools with dish detergent and water before you begin so grease and dirt won’t block the chemical process.

STEP 2
Before you pull out any chemicals, don’t forget to strap on a pair of goggles and rubber gloves for protection. Although this is a mild acid, always work in a well-ventilated area to avoid fumes. Mix three tablespoons of oxalic acid with one gallon of water in a plastic container large enough to submerge the hand tools you’ll be cleaning. Then, place the tools in the solution and make sure it covers the tools completely.

STEP 3
Soak the tools for approximately 20 minutes, or until the rust is gone. (You may need more time or less depending on the level of corrosion.) Then, rinse, dry thoroughly, and store the tools once more.

 

Additional notes: While there are a variety of different methods for removing unwanted rust, one solution tops the rest: prevention. The following tips will help you stop a rust problem before it starts.

• Remember to always dry your tools immediately after use, and even spray them with a rust inhibitor like WD-40.
• Store your tools in a clean, dry place. Dust attracts moisture, and moisture leads to rust. Yes, you need to dust your house and your toolbox too!
• Keep your toolbox moisture-free. Use silica gel packs (available at your local home improvement store) to absorb excess moisture. Or, use an old-fashioned wooden toolbox instead. The wood will absorb any excess wetness.
• Finally, for maximum protection, invest in a dehumidifier to control the climate and limit the humidity. Beyond saving your metal tools, it will keep you comfortable as you tackle your next to-do with your rust-free equipment.


Quick Tip: Use a Painting Tool for Easier Picture Hanging

Put away the pencil, the tape measure, and even the level—there’s an easier way to hang a photo picture-perfect every time. Try this tip that makes the process so simple, anyone can get the "hang" of it!

Hang a Picture with a Paint Stirrer

Photo: flickr.com via Sonny Abesamis

It’s no easy feat to master the art of hanging a picture on the wall. Between marking the hole, hammering the nail, and struggling to keep the frame level, what seems like it would be a straightforward task often turns out to be surprisingly tricky, sometimes even calling for the care and attention of two people at once. Believe it or not, you can simplify the process, dramatically so, with an inexpensive little tool you’ve never thought twice about before—a wooden paint stirrer.

Hang a Picture with a Paint Stirrer - Couple

Photo: fotosearch.com

First, drive a nail halfway through the stirrer, one or two inches up from the bottom. Move on to the next step once you’ve set the nail so that, while its head sticks out on one side, its tip sticks out on the other.

Now turn the frame over and locate the hanging hardware, be it a wire, metal ring, or sawtooth clip. Hook the hanging hardware over the protruding nail head and pick up the frame by means of the stirrer, being careful not to let the frame slide off. The frame should hang securely suspended from the nail, allowing you to place the stirrer against the wall in order to test different placements. In this way, you can easily move the frame a little to the right, up a bit, or down a smidge until you strike upon the look you want.

Once you’ve determined precisely where to locate the frame, remove it from the nail head—without shifting the nail tip. Finally, press the paint stirrer against the wall until the nail tip pokes a little hole in the drywall. That indentation marks where you need to hammer the nail. Once you’ve done so, hook the hanging hardware over the nail again, and you’re all done. Bet you never pictured it could be so easy!