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42 Time-saving Household Tips

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Time. No one's got enough of it. But forget time management courses - the best way to pinch back a bit of time is by finding quick ways to do things around the house. That's where our mums and grandmothers excelled. Yep, they may have had more time anyway... but they also knew some dead handy tips for cutting a corner or three with the housework.

Try out these 42 tips for saving time around the home. After a few weeks, you might just claw back enough time for a few hours of guilt-free indulgence in front of the telly, in the bath, with your partner... or why not all three?

Around the House

  1. Set aside one evening a week to deal with bills and correspondence. This stops them from piling up... and piling on the stress.

  2. Install some shelves near the front door, where each member of the family can store frequently-used items. This makes it easy to find things when you're going out and quick to put away when you come home.

  3. Invest in a duplicate set of cleaning products: rubber gloves, cloths and sponges. Keep one set downstairs and one upstairs (unless you live in a bungalow, of course).

  4. Stick a small button to the end of your sticky tape roll - you won't have to waste time trying to find the end each time.

  5. Tangled balls of string - how much time does that waste trying to put right? Keep balls of string in a jar, with a hole punched in the lid. Pull the end of the string through the hole and you've got a makeshift, time-saving dispenser.

  6. Fed-up of tangled extension leads in the cupboard? Coil them and then squeeze them into cardboard rolls (derders) left over from toilet paper or kitchen roll.

  7. When you're dusting, use two dusters - one in each hand. This helps you get around the room quicker.

  8. Dust venetian blinds by slipping on either a pair of cotton gloves or a clean pair of old socks and sliding your hands along each slat.

  9. Dust dried or faux flower arrangements with your hairdryer on a warm setting.

  10. Pet hairs on the furniture? Here's a quick way to get them off: wrap adhesive tape around your fingers, sticky side out, and brush your hand over the surfaces.

In The Kitchen

  1. Sticking a metal skewer through a potato will speed up the baking time in conventional ovens. (Do not use this tip for microwave ovens).

  2. Make holes in the centre of hamburgers when you're shaping the patties. This will help them cook more quickly and evenly.

  3. Cut fresh herbs like chives or parsley using a pair of scissors instead of a chopping board and a knife.

  4. If a recipe calls for finely-sliced onion, try grating the onion.

  5. If brown sugar has hardened (as it does) and you need a little in a hurry, grate off the amount you need using the fine end of the grater. (You can stop brown sugar from going hard by storing it in the freezer).

  6. If you can't get ketchup to come out of a bottle, stick a straw in all the way to the bottom then remove. Introducing air into the bottle should make the sauce flow - quicker than all that near-futile shaking.

  7. Grease your measuring cup before measuring things like honey or syrup. The syrup will slide out, leaving you with much less cleaning.

  8. Make pancake batter in a jug instead of a bowl - this lets you pour the batter neatly into the frying pan.

  9. Forgot to heat up plates before serving dinner? Stick each plate under running hot water instead of waiting for them to heat up in the oven.

  10. If you can't get lumps out of a sauce, despite the help of a blender, cheat and strain the lumps out.

  11. If you burn a cake, don't despair. Cut off the worst bits, turn the cake upside down and ice the base.

  12. Can't get a tight lid open? Slip on a rubber glove to improve your grip then try again.

  13. Store pull-ring cans of baked beans and soup upside down in your cupboards. When you open them (flip them right side up to do this, mind!), the contents should slide out easily without sticking to the bottom.

  14. Pour salt on any food spills on the hob that happen while cooking. This stops the spills from burning, which can turn into a cleaning nightmare later.

  15. Pour leftover wine into ice-cube trays and freeze. Next time a recipe calls for wine, there's no need to rush out to the shops or waste part of a decent bottle.

  16. Keep a plastic bag near the telephone when doing tasks like decorating, cooking or messy play with the kids. If the phone rings, just slip your hand inside the bag before picking up the receiver.

  17. If you wear lots of rings, keep a large safety pin near your kitchen sink for when you're doing the washing up. You can then pin your rings to your clothes each time you wash up, which means you're less likely to misplace or damage them.


  1. Pin pairs of socks together with safety pins before they go in the wash. This could save hours hunting down lost socks.

  2. Paint the threads of buttons on new clothing with clear nail varnish to keep them in place longer. If you want to make sure children's buttons stay put, sew on with dental floss.

  3. Laddered tights - how much time and money do we waste replacing these? Wet tights when new, then place them in a plastic bag in the freezer for a few hours - this will supposedly prolong their life.

  4. Sew badges on to clothes by first dabbing latex on the badge and sticking it on. Then stitch the edges in place.

  5. Raise a shine on patent leather shoes using petroleum jelly.

  6. Clean marks from wallpaper using scrunched-up, crustless white bread, or an eraser. (Remember to rub gently.)

  7. If your pile of ironing has become bone dry, chuck it in the tumble dryer with a wet towel and run on a no-heat setting.

  8. If you get interrupted while ironing a pile of clothes, put the clothes in a plastic bag in the freezer to keep them damp until later.

  9. A quick way and cheap way to deodorise smelly trainers is to sprinkle bicarbonate of soda in them. Leave overnight then shake out the bicarbonate of soda before wearing.

  10. Ironing skirts or dresses with pleats can be a nightmare. This should make the job easier, provided you've got lots of hairgrips: secure each pleat with a hairslide at the bottom. Iron all but the hem, then remove the clips and finish the job.


  1. Here's a good way to organise all those little containers in the shed. Tape an example of what's inside each tin (screws, nails, etc) to the outside so you can quickly identify what's what.

  2. Searching for the right screw? Tip the whole lot onto a piece of newspaper; after you've found the screw you need, make a funnel with the paper and pour all the screws back into their container.

  3. If you're banging in a small nail, push the nail through a thin piece of card first, then hold the card, not the nail.

  4. When painting, wrap the bristles of paintbrushes in foil or clingfilm if you have to take a break. Stops the paint drying on the bristles but saves you having to wash the brushes until you're finished for the day.

  5. And finally, a quick way to silence squeaky floorboards is to sprinkle talcum powder between them.

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