Stray rubber bands, paper clips, postage stamps, pens, and pencils can make any desk drawer seem like a battle zone of warring clutter. Assign each item its own appropriately sized ziplock bag, and presto—no more desk mess. If you’re really pressed for space, use large tacks to affix each bag to a corkboard, so all your office supplies can be kept at your fingertips without wasting valuable drawer space. This trick also works for small screws, nails, nuts, or bolts that are always getting away from you in the workshop.
It always happens: You're in the middle of a painting project when something comes up that pulls you away. Don't worry about cleaning up your paint-filled roller or brush before rushing out the door. Instead, place it in a ziplock bag, squeeze out all the air, and stash it in the freezer. When you're ready to pick up where you left off, simply take the package out and let the brush thaw for about 15 minutes. Not only will this save you time with messy cleanup, it will also conserve paint, saving you a few hard-earned dollars in the long run.
Don’t waste money on pricey, store-bought scented drawer liners. Make your own disposable scented sachets by filling a ziplock bag with your favorite potpourri, dried rose petals, or lavender buds. Poke a bunch of tiny holes in the bag with a sewing needle, and place the sachet in your drawers to infuse your clothes with the lovely fresh scent.
Plug It In
Today’s wired world requires a seemingly infinite number and variety of chargers, plugs, and accessories. Keep all those cords neat and organized by coiling them carefully and securing them with binder clips or twist ties. Place them in a ziplock bag along with any related plugs or chargers, label the outside with a permanent marker—"extra cell phone charger," "USB connectors," and so on—and you’ll never be at a loss for the proper plug-in again.
If you like to save money by changing your own motor oil, you face a few tricky disposal questions, including what to do with the used oil filter when you're finished? Because many filters may still be holding up to eight ounces of oil, the most economical thing—and safest, as it's illegal to toss these in the trash in some cities—is to place the filter in a ziplock bag and bring it to a local garage, where the extra oil can be extracted and properly recycled.
Working with caulk in the bathroom can be a fairly messy project, especially when you’re trying to get straight, smooth lines. Simplify the process by using a quart-size ziplock bag as an impromptu smoothing tool. Place your hand inside the bag, and moisten the outside. Then, use the tip of your finger to smooth your line of caulk and wipe off any excess without getting your hands dirty.
If your favorite recipe cards are starting to show a little wear and tear, use a sandwich-size ziplock bag to protect them from spills and splatters. Consider storing groups of recipes, like desserts or chicken dishes, in one bag and labeling the tabs appropriately. Alternatively, use a larger size bag as a cookbook holder—not only does it protect the pages from grease and grime, it can also hold the cookbook open to the appropriate page. Or, if you’re the high-tech sort that surfs for recipes online, place your tablet or phone in a ziplock bag to protect it during cooking—the touch screen will still work through the plastic covering.
Need a block of ice for a party or to fill your cooler on a long trip? Pour water into a one- or two-gallon ziplock bag until it's about two-thirds full, and place it in the freezer to create a solid block of ice that will last longer than cubes and cut down on cleanup. Remember not to fill the bag to the top, as you need to leave room for the water to expand. Similarly, you can use this method to make a DIY reusable ice pack to soothe sprains, bruises, and whatever else may ail you.
A ziplock bag makes a great disposable piping tube for decorating cakes and cupcakes, or making specialty-shaped cookies. Fill the bag about halfway with icing or dough, and twist the top to force the sweet treat into one corner. Snip off the edge of this corner, and then pipe away using gentle, steady pressure. You also can use a ziplock bag to knead bread dough so your fingers don’t get sticky, or as a DIY funnel to cleanly transfer salt, water, rice, and more from one container to another.
Shower head running a bit slow these days? Don’t blame your water pressure; the holes are probably clogged with limescale. Clear the pipes by using a ziplock bag as a DIY descaling solution: Fill a bag about halfway with white vinegar, and place it over the entire shower head; secure with rubber bands or string. Let stand overnight, and then rinse clean for like-new results.
Sure, everyone knows you need to pack your carry-on toiletries in a quart-size ziplock bag to get through airport security, but you can also use larger versions to keep snacks, medicines, and full-size shampoos and conditioners from oozing out into your luggage. Be ultraorganized and stash a few extra bags to hold wet swimsuits, dirty clothes, or muddy sneakers on the trip back home.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!