Clever Little Tools
As any homeowner knows, no one can prepare you for the burden that comes from realizing that every creak, crack, scratch, and clog in your house is something that you and you alone will need to fix (or pay someone else to tackle). 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 more self-sufficiency, take a look at this list of clever little products that promise to help you resolve myriad problems around the house.
Nature’s Air Sponge Odor Absorber
Some problems (or their fixes) lead to odors in the home. If the smell of your new paint or recent plumbing adventure has made indoor living temporarily unbearable, try this odor-absorbing solution. It’s made of nontoxic soap-based gel and charcoal to tackle lingering foul smells naturally. Once the container is opened, the product dissipates odor molecules rather than simply masking them.
Get Nature’s AirSponge Odor Absorber (1 pound) on Amazon for $11.18
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If the screen of a door or window gets slashed or the plastic trash can springs a small leak, grab this ultra-strong reinforced Gorilla Tape. One of the best duct tapes, it is specially designed to stand up to rain and extreme temperatures and can stick to uneven surfaces indoors and out. The double-thick weave structure amps up its heft, but you still can rip this tough tape by hand.
Get Gorilla Tape (35 yards) on Amazon for $10.99
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Do you have a screw or hinge that is rusted in place? The best rust removers can restore form and function to metals inside and outside your home. Evapo-Rust can cut through rust for easy removal. This nontoxic solution works on a variety of metal objects and tools, and even antiques. Just submerge the object in the liquid-based formula to easily rid household items of rust and get on with repairs.
Get the Evapo-Rust Super Safe Rust Remover (128 ounces) on Amazon for $19.47
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ScrapeRite Plastic Razor Blades
Razor blades are among the most handy yet simple household tools. These plastic razor blades are safer than metal, and they’re perfect for scraping away paint splatters and grime. Unlike metal, they don’t rust or corrode over time and are less likely to scratch delicate surfaces like glass or tile. The set includes five double-edge blades and a holder for better gripping.
Get the ScrapeRite Plastic Razor Blades (5-pack) on Amazon for $14.99
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Mr. Grip Screw Hole Repair Kit
When a screw loosens within wood or drywall, it’s usually because the joint has been subjected to frequent movement. Whatever the cause, these stripped holes keep screws from doing what they’re supposed to do: fasten objects together. Fix a stripped screw hole with these steel mesh strips that you can cut to size and place over the hole before replacing the screws to create more traction and hold.
Get the Mr. Grip Screw Hole Repair Kit on Amazon for $4.99
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KILZ Restoration Interior Primer
The secret to a great-looking paint job is proper preparation, and that includes using a quality primer. KILZ latex primer blocks out stains from water and smoke damage and seals odors—plus it can be applied to almost any interior surface, from drywall to wood to metal.
Get KILZ Restoration Interior Primer on Amazon for $35.99
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Performix VLP Liquid Vinyl Repair
You can extend the life of your leather and vinyl surfaces with this clear, glue-like substance. When tiny tears and holes appear in car seats, motorcycle covers, canvas awnings, and more, cover the patches with a small amount of the repair liquid to mend them.
Get the Performix VLP Liquid Vinyl Repair on Amazon for $8.68
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Cabot Deck Correct
Even if you use the best deck paint or best deck stain, the surfaces can weather. Refresh a weathered deck or patio by applying an acrylic deck coating like this one from Cabot. It can fill cracks up to ¼ inch in size and lock splinters down. Use it to cover and correct problems with weathered wood or concrete surfaces in two easy-to-apply coats.
Get Cabot Deck Correct (1 gallon) at Lowe’s for $37.98
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When faced with a clogged drain, you could dump chemicals down the sink or shower in an effort to dislodge the obstruction—or you could take a natural (and effective) approach. Attach the Drain King to a garden hose and insert it into the drain to create pulsating jets of water that loosen clogs.
Get the Drain King on Amazon for $13.45
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Scotchgard Fabric Protector
If you live with kids or pets, or frequently host dinners and parties, you probably know firsthand how quickly upholstery, throw pillows, table linens, and backpacks can become stained—and how difficult it is to dislodge a spot. You might not be able to prevent spills and smudges, but you can minimize the chance that those accidents will leave a mark. A spray-on application of Scotchgard resists stains by forming a barrier that causes liquid to bead up and roll away. Because it dries clear and odorless, no one will even notice it's there.
Get a 2-pack of Scotchgard Fabric Protector on Amazon for $35.99
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Tibet Almond Stick Scratch Remover
To repair scratches on wood, the most effective and permanent approach is to sand and refinish the surface. However, if you can’t spare the time, expense, or effort of a full redo, there’s a shortcut to covering the imperfection. This scratch remover consists of a tightly rolled stick of cotton soaked in a “secret family formula” that can reduce or eliminate the appearance of scratches when applied to the area.
Get the Tibet Almond Stick Scratch Remover on Amazon for $10.20
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Citristrip Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel
Do your doors, baseboards, or window frames need a redo? Stripping away paint usually means inviting nasty smells and harsh chemicals into your home. This gel contains no methylene chloride so it’s safe to use indoors, and it has a pleasant orange scent.
Get Citristrip Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel at Amazon for $12.87
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FiberFix Repair Wrap
At 100 times stronger than duct tape, plus waterproof, this 1-inch repair tape is the quick fix you’ll reach for over and over again for repairs inside and outside your home. Just wet a strip of the material, apply it to the problem area, and let it dry for 10 minutes. Voilà—your tool, appliance, pipe, garden hose, or anything else that needed fixing is back in action.
Get the FiberFix Repair Wrap on Amazon for $17.49
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Does your laminate floor, counter, or cabinet have a crack, chip, or other imperfection? SeamFil can’t undo the damage, but it can effectively fill these imperfections and will bond permanently to the damaged area to perform as well as the original laminate. It comes in a 1-ounce tube in more than 15 colors to match the original surface as closely as possible; keep white or almond on hand for quick fixes.
Get Kampel SeamFil on Amazon for $10
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Rust-Oleum Appliance Touch-Up Paint
With a handy built-in brush, this quick-dry acrylic lacquer makes touching up scratches on your refrigerator, dishwasher, and other appliances a breeze. The white paint adheres to metal, porcelain, and enamel exterior surfaces.
Get Rust-Oleum Appliance Touch-Up Paint on Amazon for $5.47
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Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover
Ugly toilet rings are no match for this natural pumice scrubber. Easy to hold without dirtying your hands, it quickly buffs away rust or lime stains from porcelain toilets without scratching the finish. Keep one on hand for removing stains in bathtubs and sinks, too.
Get the Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover on Amazon for $11.27
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Guardsman Water Mark Remover
So that wet glass left a watermark on your coffee table. No worries, though—this reusable treated cloth wipes away marks left from water or alcohol or heat-damaged spots from wood furniture without causing further damage.
Get the Guardsman Water Mark Remover at Crate and Barrel for $4.95
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Tide To Go Stain Remover
Stains happen when you’re at home or on the go. The quicker you address tough stains, the better. These portable cleaners aren’t just perfect for the laundry room; keep a stain remover pen in your suitcase, gym bag, or desk drawer to treat and remove stains right when they happen. Just blot onto fabric and watch stains fade.
Get a 3-pack of Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover on Amazon for $6.94
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Unlike regular tape, this silicone repair tape isn’t sticky. Instead, it actually fuses to itself, allowing for quick repairs anywhere that water, heat, or pressure might be an issue. Use it on leaky pipes, electrical wiring, broken hoses, hydraulic fittings, and so much more—if it can wrap and overlap, it will stay in place.
Get Rescue Tape Self-Fusing Silicone Tape (12-ft. roll) on Amazon for $11.84
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Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
Have on hand the magic of two powerful kitchen cleaners in one: The Magic Eraser has an outer foam layer plus an inner layer of Dawn dish soap for powerful degreasing action. Just wet, squeeze, wipe, and say goodbye to kitchen messes of all types.
Get a 9-pack of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers on Amazon for $6.97
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Korky Beehive Plunger
Whether the clog is in your toilet, tub, or sink, you can’t wait for a trip to the store to buy a good plunger. This Korky telescoping plunger comes to the rescue with a flexile beehive design that fits all types of toilet drains with a strong seal. The flexible end reduces backsplash, too.
Get the Korky BeehiveMAX Universal Plunger on Amazon for $15.98.
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XLUX Soil Moisture Meter
This device promises to take some of the guesswork out of watering indoor and outdoor plants. Put a soil moisture meter to work to help determine if your plants need water. An easy-to-read display shows a number and a range (red for too dry, green for good) for quick assessment. The single probe should not harm roots when you insert the meter into a container’s soil. This handy device does not require batteries and might turn you into a green thumb yet.
Get the XLUX Soil Moisture Meter on Amazon for $12.99
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Rejuvenate Cabinet & Furniture Restorer
Scratched wood, laminate, or Formica cabinets, counters, paneling, and furniture can be restored to their former glory with one simple wipe-on application. This polymer-based liquid fills in small scratches, restores shine, and protects surfaces quickly and easily.
Get the Rejuvenate Cabinet & Furniture Restorer on Amazon for $13.99
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CalFlor Tile & Stone Repair Kit
Chipped or cracked tile, stone, slate, or polished concrete? There’s a cheaper (and faster) solution than replacing the damaged tile or countertop. A stone repair kit, containing color and formulas to match a chipped surface, gives you the ability to match almost any material. The easy-application putty dries quickly and makes the imperfection less noticeable to nearly invisible.
Get the CalFlor TileFix & Stone Repair Kit on Amazon for $22.98
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Titebond Original Wood Glue
Every home repair kit should include a durable wood glue that can be called into service for moments when a dresser drawer decides to come apart at the seam. There’s no need to clamp those furniture joints for a lengthy amount of time if you’re using this quick-setting Titebond wood glue. It offers a super-strong bond, is sandable, and cleans up with water.
Get a 2-pack of Titebond Original Wood Glue (8 ounces) on Amazon for $13.31
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Sugru Moldable Glue
Sugru starts as a moldable 3D glue that closely resembles play dough. Once cured, it transforms into flexible silicone rubber, and it bonds to ceramic, glass, metal, wood, and other common household surfaces. In other words, it’s the super-strong and flexible adhesive you’ve always wanted without the mess you’d rather not have. This pack includes several rolls of white or black, and the brand comes in other colors. Use it on countless indoor and outdoor home improvement projects.
Get an 8-pack of Sugru Mouldable Glue on Amazon for $17.99
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No fix is quick if you can’t see what you’re doing while under the kitchen sink or the car. It’s also not quick if you have to first find a light source and then try to juggle the flashlight with the other tools you’re using. Have a good hands-free, portable flashlight in your tool or junk drawer for quick access. This OLIGHT magnetic and rechargeable light comes from one of the best flashlight brands and includes a pocket clip to carry around while on a DIY job plus a magnetic tail to cast quick hands-free light on the subject.
Get the OLIGHT S2R II Flashlight on Amazon for $69.95
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Xcluder Rodent Barrier Kit
Sure, you’ve used steel wool to clean, but did you know that mice, rats, and other pests are no match for a product like Xcluder Rodent Barrier Kit? Insert the abrasive barrier into the holes and crevices of your home, and the stainless steel mesh keeps unwanted pests out. The mesh is environmentally friendly and won’t corrode over time; the kit also comes with gloves and shears for easy installation. Using this kit is much easier at keeping mice out than baiting and trapping them.
Get the Xcluder Rodent Barrier Kit on Amazon for $19.67
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Sticking and squeaking doors, windows, and drawers can inconvenience any household—or wake the napping baby. For a quick and no-mess solution, rub on the Door-Ease lubricant. The handy product works like a crayon and can be applied to metal, glass, plastic, wood, and rubber. It’s a clean alternative to grease and effectively makes your doors and windows glide easily again.
Get the AGS Door-Ease Stick Lubricant on Amazon for $7.99
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Performix Plasti Dip
Plasti Dip protects items from moisture, corrosion, weathering, abrasion, and acids. Use the speciality rubber coating on anything from tool handles to car parts, and you’ll gain a longer-lasting finish with a controlled grip. The clear coating won’t crack with extreme weather and is removable from most surfaces. To apply, dip, brush, or spray the product on the desired item, add more coats if needed, and let it dry.
Get the Performix Plasti Dip on Amazon for $4.99
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3M Small Hole Repair Kit
Talk about convenient: You can get all of your wall repair supplies in one trip—no, one single purchase—thanks to the folks at 3M. This repair kit contains everything you’ll need (except the paint) to render a hole in the wall invisible: a self-adhering 4-inch patch, spackling with built-in primer, a disposable 3-inch putty knife, and even the sanding pad to blend the compound into the wall. You could even say that they’ve made the process too efficient—how’s one to locate the leftover paint in just the 30 minutes the compound takes to dry?
Get the 3M Small Hole Repair Kit on Amazon for $11.26
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Bondo Body Repair Kit
Home repairs include auto upkeep, but don’t fret the next time you spot a ding on your car in the grocery store parking lot. Instead, go home and start an easy repair using the Bondo Body Repair Kit, a kit with a filler, cream hardener, metal body patch, and spreader. Just spread it across any indentation on your car, from nicks to scratches. By filling even the smallest imperfection, you’re sure to have a better finish on the vehicle when it comes time to repaint—which, thanks to its fast curing time, you can do in the same afternoon.
Get the Bondo Body Repair Kit on Amazon for $19.58
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MagnoGrip Magnetic Wristband
When working on a job with a number of loose fasteners, DIYers inevitably find themselves looking for, picking up, or fumbling with the spares until they’re ready to hammer or screw them in place. Until then, they’re just in the way. Free up your hands (and your, ahem, teeth) for the real work by holding onto screws and nails—and more, like drill bits and small wrenches—with the help of the MagnoGrip Magnetic Wristband.
Get the MagnoGrip Magnetic Wristband on Amazon for $14.99
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Uineko Plastic Spray Bottles
Some plants need extra humidity, which you can add with a spray on their leaves. Fill one of these spray bottles with distilled or reverse osmosis water for plants alone and set the nozzle to the finest spray. This budget pack of four bottles leaves three bottles at the ready for holding cleaning solutions for jobs big, small, or especially dirty. Always have one empty spray bottle on hand, just in case. These bottles also have an easy-squeeze ergonomic trigger to prevent hand fatigue.
Get the Uineko Plastic Spray Bottles (4-pack) on Amazon for $13.97
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Flex Shot Rubber Adhesive Sealant
A perfect bead of caulk without having to work a caulking gun? It is possible! Just press the trigger (as you might a can of whipped cream) on a Flex Shot canister, and its long nozzle with a narrow tip enables easy and accurate application wherever you need a little waterproof sealant or adhesive: around sinks, tubs, toilets, window frames, and more.
Get the Flex Shot Rubber Adhesive Sealant Caulk on Amazon for $12.88
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When you want to say goodbye to sticky surfaces but you can’t get that residue to budge, Goo Gone has got you covered. The citrus-based cleaner is safe to use on most hard surfaces, carpet, clothing, and upholstery. Whether it’s a photo frame label, other adhesive, gum, or an unknown substance, a few dabs of Goo Gone should get rid of it.
Get an 8-ounce bottle of Goo Gone on Amazon for $7.59
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A little time spent refreshing your grout can drastically improve the look of your entire bathroom, but the effects of this simple job aren’t merely aesthetic. More importantly, a grout restorer protects the lines between your tile from mold and bacteria. With Grout Pen’s choice of colors, you can stick with your current grout shade or go for something unique.
Get Rainbow Chalk Markers Waterproof Grout Pen on Amazon for $8.99
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Hyde Caulking Tools
In this two-pack from Hyde Tools, you get a caulk remover and a caulk finisher. The remover has a sharp blade to help you swiftly get rid of old silicone, latex, or acrylic caulk without damaging the surface of the surrounding wood, tile, or laminate. The finisher helps you smooth the fresh, new caulk without dirtying your fingers. With both of these tools on hand, you’ll be able to quickly get through your caulking to-do list.
Get the Hyde Caulk-Away and Caulk-Rite Set on Amazon for $6.68
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Purdy Flat Paint Brush
Why wait until a paint job begins to have a high-quality paint brush on hand? This Purdy flat brush is made with a blend of nylon and polyester bristles to handle a variety of paints and stains. The 3-inch-wide brush can cover walls in a snap, and it comes with a wax-covered package to keep the bristles in good shape. Arguably, you can save this quality brush for those quick painting touch-ups or big home decor jobs but have a budget brush on hand, too, for cleaning off workbench sawdust or sand when setting pavers in the yard.
Get the Purdy XL Swan Flat Paint Brush at Ace Hardware for $24.99
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Home Techpro Rug Grippers
Rugs really tie together a room, but not when they slip under your feet or curl at the edges. The Home Techpro Rug Grippers stick to the bottom of the rug to keep the corners flat and prevent the rug from scooting around and turning into a safety hazard. The grips are made to last and inconspicuous; the bottom side uses suction technology. The pack includes four self-adhesive square pads.
Get the Home Techpro Rug Grippers on Amazon for $12.99
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WORKPRO 12-in-1 Multi-Bit Screwdriver
When all you need to do is tighten kitchen cabinet hinges or hang a picture on the wall, you could go to your garage or shed for your cordless screwdriver and hope that the right head is attached, or you could just store this one in a handy spot. This ratcheting multi-bit screwdriver from WORKPRO is a 12-in-1 tool with hex key, Phillips head, and flat head bits in a couple of sizes each. A ball bearing locks the quick-change head in place. It’s also got an ergonomic grip and ratcheting action. This screwdriver might not work for every DIY fix, but it is convenient and versatile for a multitude of quick fixes around the house.
Get the WORKPRO 12-in-1 Multi-Bit Screwdriver on Amazon for $17.99
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Shoe Goo? Yep, it’s a heavy-duty rubber cement that holds on tight and practically never lets go. As such, intrepid DIYers have discovered a long parade of clever off-label uses for the product. But even if it only offered one application—its “sole” intended use, as it were—Shoe Goo would still provide tremendous value (especially considering its ultra-modest price tag). Buy it now and be your own cobbler the next time your boots come apart at the seams!
Get the Shoe Goo Repair Adhesive on Amazon for $5.99
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Quikrete Re-Cap Concrete Resurfacer
It’s easy to admire concrete for its lasting power, but it’s harder to love the material for its looks—especially after years and years of hard use and weather exposure. That’s where Quikrete Concrete Resurfacer comes in. Apply it directly on top of any prepared concrete driveway, walkway, or patio, and the product leaves the old surface looking (and performing) like new.
Get a 40-pound bag of Quikrete Re-Cap Concrete Resurfacer at Ace Hardware for $27.99
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Dexpan Demolition Grout
Demolishing concrete isn’t typically considered a DIY project. Why? Well, average homeowners typically don’t trust themselves with a jackhammer, and that’s a good thing. But if you’re reluctant to go through the hassle and expense of hiring a pro, try Dexpan. It does the most challenging and dangerous part of the job for you; it breaks up the concrete (or stone) safely and silently, enabling you to load the chunks into a wheelbarrow or truck bed and cart them away, once and for all.
Get Dexpan Demolition Grout at The Home Depot for $40.79
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Wedge-It Plastic Shims
The dining room chair has been wobbling, and it’s driving you mad. What do you do? Well, if you’re all out of matchbooks or sugar packets, you can head to the lumber yard and pick up a stack of wooden shims. Or you can make your own out of scrap wood. Or, if you’ve got $5 and an Amazon account, you can just buy these. Hey, there’s something to be said for convenience and for waterproof, last-forever plastic.
Get Shepherd Hardware Wedge-It Plastic Shims (6-pack) on Amazon for $5.02
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FlexiSnake Drain Weasel
Many plumbers will tell you that liquid drain cleaners don’t work. They’re not just trying to drum up business—many clogs simply can’t be cleared up by dumping chemicals down the sink. Instead of reaching for a bottle of harsh chemicals next time your drains are clogged, try the FlexiSnake Drain Weasel. The flexible end is fitted with microhooks that grab and hold onto hair that’s lodged in your pipes. Slide it down the sink, pull it up, and say goodbye to clogs.
Get the FlexiSnake Drain Weasel (5-pack) on Amazon for $18.95
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Sheffield Porcelain Touch-Up Paint
These days, you can’t get much of anything for less than $10—but you can get a brand-new look for your sink, oven range, or bathtub. At least, that’s after you repair small cracks, chips, and scratches with this trusty bottle of white porcelain paint that’s been designed especially for this purpose.
Get the Sheffield Porcelain Touch-Up Paint on Amazon for $7.99
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URPOWER Motion Sensor Lights
Where do you need a little extra light? In the closet? Inside your cabinets? Along the basement steps? Shine some light on the situation without even reaching for a switch. These stick-on motion sensor LED lights turn on automatically when they detect motion within a 7-foot radius and switch off after 15 seconds of inactivity to conserve energy.
Get the URPOWER Motion Sensor Lights (3-pack) on Amazon for $15.99
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KNIPEX Needle-Nose Pliers
Though used mostly by electricians when holding and twisting wires in confined spaces like electrical boxes, a good set of needle-nose pliers comes in handy for plenty of DIY fixes. Including wiring, of course, these are also good for bending metal fittings, holding small nuts and washers, or reaching for the tiny plumbing part you dropped while installing a faucet. They’re not the strongest pliers, but they are easy to wield and fit in tight spots. Most, like this pair from KNIPEX, also have a small cutter for snipping wire or cable ties. This versatile tool will come in handy and tuck nicely away in a convenient place.
Get the KNIPEX Needle-Nose Pliers on Amazon for $31.58
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DampRid Hanging Bag Moisture Absorbers
Few household banes are as ubiquitous and as damaging as excess moisture. High moisture content in the air can encourage mold, mildew, and rot and is bad news for paper, clothes, and textiles. To restore humidity levels to normal, check your house for leaks and cracks, repair them as needed, and consider running a dehumidifier in problem areas. For a quick shot of dehumidifying power, consider these DampRid hanging bags that can go in closets, basement storage areas, or under the bathroom sink for discreet but effective moisture protection.
Get the DampRid Hanging Bag Moisture Absorbers (3-pack) on Amazon for $13.98
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Have you ever been tempted to buy one of those products you see advertised on TV infomercials? Sure, the spokesperson swears it does everything (and more!) but can it really live up to the hype? Sometimes, yes! Click through now to see some of our favorites.