Life Hacks: 5 ways to make your day easier

Photo by Aaron Ricca.

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Toothpaste was used to clean foggy headlights. BEFORE (top): The sun-scorched plastic on a 2007 Ford Focus. AFTER: A few glops of Crest were applied to each light. After a brief but rigorous lather, wash and dry, minimal but significant improvement was made to the protective cover.

Life hacks are defined as tips, tricks or methods for doing or managing day-to-day activities or tasks.

Of the thousands of hacks for everything from food to finance floating around on the internet, The Daily Miner staff picked a few that might come in handy more often than not. We had to dig a little for some of them, but others have been around a while, lying dormant like roaches in the winter. With a little web browsing, anyone can become the MacGyver of their domain.

Cars

Use toothpaste to clean foggy headlights. Pulled from www.motoringabout.com.

The desert is notorious for drying out dashboards, windshield wipers and most importantly, plastic headlight covers. This can be a nuisance and until you can either buy new lamps or a new car, it’s best to find a way to clean the foggy plastic before safety becomes a serious issue. Not only does the damage make nighttime visibility difficult, dim headlights don’t cancel out oncoming light from the brighter halogen lamps on newer cars.

The trick is to rub toothpaste over the plastic lens cover (like waxing a car, but for headlights), rinse the paste off with water and dry.

Motoring About’s example made the headlamp look brand new. We used Crest Complete with Whitening Scope and a rag for this hack on both lights of a 2007 Ford Focus. It helped a little, but didn’t make them look anything like the car just rolled off an assembly line in Michigan.

To see more car hacks, visit http://www.motoringabout.com/26-car-hacks-that-actually-work/.

Pets

Use a rug for controlling litterbox debris. From www.vetstreet.com.

Fur is bad enough, but tiny chunks of cat litter can find their way into just about everywhere a cat ventures. The litter sticks to their paws, and they track it wherever they go. There are plenty of plastic and rubber litter mats on the market, but if you prefer a softer (and less sloppy) look, place a deep-piled bath mat in front of the litter box (under for litter boxes with omnidirectional access) to help catch the stray bits. A cat’s paws sink into the soft, deep material that catches the litter remnants, and they might even claw at it, shaking off more of the dirt.

This was tested with two Siamese cats that use the same box. Until trying this hack, newspaper was used or the mess was just swept up every day. We put a rug halfway under the litter box with enough sticking out for the cats to wipe their paws, but not enough for them to drag it across the house.

Within hours the tiny litter rocks were confined mostly to the carpet fibers and not strewn through the hallway and onto the couch.

For more pet hacks, go to http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/7-life-hacks-cat-owners-will-love.

Kitchen and Home

Put used plastic water bottles to use. Pulled from a staff member’s Flagstaff hippy days and used ever since.

Instead of trashing (or even recycling) empty plastic bottles, fill them with water and freeze them. They work great in ice chests, but can also be used to relieve sore muscles or numb the injuries from burns or insect bites. The round bottles can help soothe pain from plantar fasciitis (roll the arch or heel of your foot over the bottle).

Plus, when they melt, the water is contained and can be refrozen.

Clothes

Use a lighter to singe hanging threads.

Certain staff members learned this trick in boot camp (recruits weren’t allowed to have lighters but a chain-smoking drill instructor always did).

Also called “Irish Pennants,” the loose strings hanging from clothes can be both unsightly and annoying. Rather than pull them out (which usually only creates a more unsightly and annoying longer string), simply burn the string with a Bic lighter or match. The fabric will melt to the rest of the garment rather than continue to fall out. This trick also works for belts made of fiber and broken shoelaces.

Exercise

Use your environment as a small, personal gym. Tested and trued by Daily Miner staff.

Sitting in a chair at a desk job all day is frighteningly challenging for those who are used to being on their feet burning calories instead of storing them.

A simple walk around the block (hot or not) will get the blood flowing and help deliver that much needed mental break. The brief clarity could even help solve a difficult problem.

A set of push-ups every hour on the hour might look weird to coworkers, but will slowly build muscle tone and again, get the blood pumping. A small dumbbell (should it not be considered a safety hazard) can be used for various exercises that will break the monotony of staring at letters and digits for hours on end. Plus it’s healthier than buckets of soda or a daily donation to Philip Morris International.