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Everyday Items We’ve Been Using Wrong The Whole Time

By Jacob Gardener - August 4, 2020

There are some things we’re so used to doing but these things deserve a second look so we can use them the way they were meant to be used. Here are the everyday items we’ve been getting wrong all along.

Saucepan Handles

Eating is something we all do every day, and there’s very little eating that doesn’t start as cooking. The upside of cooking is it inevitably leads to eating, but the downside is it inevitably leads to cleaning up afterward.

Saucepan Handles

If you’ve ever made a mess by dipping a spoon in a saucepan of food and then leaving the spoon out on the countertop, then this handy trick will be a lifesaver. Almost every saucepan has a hole in the handle, and you can use this to balance the spoon and save yourself the clean up after. Drink Cartons

Pouring yourself a glass of milk or filling up a bowl of cereal sometimes leads to accidents. There’s no use crying of spilled milk and that’s because it happens all the time. There’s something about all that liquid sloshing around that makes it harder to keep control.

Drink Cartons

Unless that is, you try this simple trick. If you pour milk from the other side of the carton there’s less milk sloshing around and it’s easier to hold it steady. It may seem weird, but give it a try and see how it works.

Wooden Hangers

There are two ways to manage your wardrobe: by throwing all your clothes in a big pile on a chair, which is not ideal, or by hanging them up in the closet. We probably don’t think too much about the kind of hangers we use, though.

Wooden Hangers

That’d be a mistake — it turns out there’s a secret behind the wooden hangers you can find. You might already have some laying around your closet, waiting to be used. Wooden hangers repel moths, so for added protection give it a go for keeping your wardrobe safe.

Takeout Containers

Those little cardboard takeout boxes that you get with Chinese food delivery are iconic. Who hasn’t had a quiet night in watching Netflix and munching Chinese straight from the box? Well, apparently there’s more than one way to do it.

Takeout Containers

Instead of scraping around inside the bottom of the box for the last of your noodles, you can unfold these containers and use them as a plate. There’s no need for using additional dishes, you can just eat from the plate that’s been provided. That makes it a lot easier and it saves on the washing up.

Car Headrests

If you’ve ever been a bored passenger waiting in a car for your driver to get it together, you might’ve played around with the headrests and discovered a strange fact: they come right off if you pull them up. It seems a bit useless. Why would you remove a headrest?

Car Headrests

There’s one particular reason why you might want to do so: if you’re ever trapped in a car, then in cases of emergency these removable headrests can be used to break a window. Be careful, and pray the day never comes that you’ll need this knowledge, but keep it in mind!

Aluminum Foil Boxes

There are little details we ignore because we’ve got so used to them, and then there are the details we miss entirely. These are the useful little tricks that are hidden in plain sight because we never think to look. One such helpful details can be found on most boxes of aluminum foil.

Aluminum Foil Boxes

On the side of the box, you’ll find a little tab that you can push in. It’s simple enough, but it holds the roll of foil in place. That makes it much easier to unroll a sheet and tear it off, solving one of the frustrations of using foil.

Soda Can Tabs

Is there anything more common than the tab of a soda can? You pull it, open the can, you drink, you forget all about it. There’s nothing special about it, there’s no little trick — or so most of us think, until we learn the use of it.

Soda Can Tabs

If you’ve ever lost your straw in a soda can, or had it fall out, you’ll be pleased to discover a use for the little hole in the tab. Slot your straw through and it holds everything in place, making it much easier to manage.

Measuring Tape Diamonds

Another little detail that’s easy to miss is on a tool we all have, but which we might not use all that often, our tape measure. Everyone’s seen a tape measure and most of us have used one, but there’s more to it than just stretching it out and counting the numbers.

Measuring Tape Diamonds

There are tiny markings on tape measures that are there to help you find the right position for wall studs. These black diamonds are known as “stud finders,” and they can help mark the center point between two studs. Fuel Gauges

Something you get used to, over time, is which side of the car your fuel tank is on. You get so used to it that you don’t think about it — that is, until you’re driving a car you don’t recognize, like a friend’s car, or a rental. The only way to figure it out is by remembering to check before you need to refuel.

Fuel Gauges

Well, there is another way! Check for the little arrow on the fuel gauge by the pump symbol. It’ll point you to the right side — the arrow indicates which side of the car has the fuel tank.

Oven Drawers

The more you cook, the more utensils and trays and pots and pans you end up needing, the more space you need to find to store it all. Plenty of people end up using the drawers in their over for just that purpose, storing whatever will fit.

Oven Drawers

There’s more to these over drawers, though — they can also be used to store food that’s been cooked if you aren’t ready to serve them immediately.

Condiment Cups

If you like ketchup or mustard or some other condiment with your fast food, you might find that the little cups they serve them in aren’t quite the right size for you. There’s hardly enough room for very much of the stuff, and it can be a hassle squeezing your food in there.

Condiment Cups

There’s a trick to this if you know how — you can flatten the cup before you pour in your condiment. That way, there’s more space for you to use, and a wider area for you to dunk your fries or chicken nuggets. Shopping Cart Loops

Not very many of us will take the time to really look at a shopping cart and wonder how it’s designed. It’s a cart — it’s got space on the inside for your groceries, it’s got wheels on the bottom to move it around, and it’s got a handle for you to push it. That’s all, right?

Shopping Cart Loops

Not quite — there’s another handy feature that many of us might miss. There are loops on shopping carts that can be used to hold your grocery bags, keep them upright if they have fragile items, or store extra if you’ve got a lot of groceries. Bananas

Okay, there has to be a mistake here — there’s no trick to eating a banana, right? It’s the simplest thing in the world to do. You grab the stem, you pull, the skin peels off, you eat it. Well, sometimes it doesn’t peel quite so easily. In fact, sometimes it can be a real pain.


There is another way — grab the bottom of the banana, and peel from there. The skin comes off much easier. That’s why monkeys do it this way, and when it comes to bananas monkeys know best.


There are things we don’t think about all that much, and then there are things we don’t want to think about all that much. In the latter category are plungers — you’d rather not have much to do with them unless it’s really necessary.


Spending a bit of time understanding your plungers can be useful, though, because different plungers are used for different problems. A flat plunger is fine for a sink, but if you need to use one on your toilet you’ll need one with a tapered end. Juice Boxes

There’s nothing better than a juice box on a hot summer’s day. Sure, if you squeeze it too hard, juice can go everywhere and leave a sticky mess — but if you’re a kid, someone else will clean that up. You don’t have to worry about it.

Juice Boxes

Unless you do. If you’re the one who has to do the cleaning, you’d rather kids didn’t make a mess with their juice boxes. That’s why it’s helpful to open up the flaps on the bottom of the juice box, to give them something to hold when they’re drinking. Highway Signs

Getting to where you need to go can have a thousand things go wrong—issues with your vehicle, with traffic, not to mention figuring out how to get there. There are a thousand and one signs on the highway that you need to pay close attention to.

Highway Signs

When you need to make an exit, there’s a helpful tip that will make things easier: if the sign for your destination is on the left, then your exit will be on the left. If it’s on the right, then your exit will be on the right. Simple! Dental Floss

There’s one thing a dentist will always tell you to do: floss. They ask us how often we do it, and no matter how convincingly we might lie about it they’ll always remind us. For something so important, though, it sure can be a pain.

Dental Floss

Here’s a trick: tie your floss in a knot. It increases the tension of the floss and makes it easier to maneuver. It also makes it less likely that you’ll lose your grip. You’ll never have to disappoint a dentist again. Plastic Cup Lid Spoons

A yogurt or a cup of fruit can be a good, healthy snack to keep you going through the day. The worst thing is when you’re really looking forward to your mid-morning snack and you realize that you forgot to bring a spoon.

Plastic Cup Lid

SpoonsLuckily, there’s a makeshift option to solve that problem. The lids on these plastic cups are usually sturdy enough for you to make a spoon. Twist the lid into the right shape and enjoy your snack. Toilet Seat Covers

Sometimes, when you’re out in the world, necessity strikes. It might not be convenient, especially when a dirty public restroom is the only option, but when you’ve gotta go you’ve gotta go.

Toilet Seat Covers

Toilet seat covers can make a big difference, but once you’ve pulled them out to use what do you do with the handle? Some people try to fit it at the back of the toilet or even rip it off entirely, but give this a try: leave the handle around the front, making it easier to flush. Tic Tacs

Keeping your breath fresh is a matter of pride for many of us. There are people who won’t go anywhere without a pack of gum or some Tic Tacs. The trouble with Tic Tacs, though, is that they’ll come spilling out when all you wanted was one or two.

Tic Tacs

It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a trick to everything — even Tic Tacs. Turn the pack upside down and use the lid as a dispenser for one Tic Tac at a time. Easy! Fabric Samples

Those little patches that come with a new set of clothes — how useful are they, really? If you ever tear your clothes, are you going to have enough fabric to cover the tear? Who even knows how to sew these days?

Fabric Samples

Well, it turns out that’s not really what it’s for. It’s a fabric sample, and you can use it to test in your washing machine or with whatever products you use for your laundry. Throw the sample through the wash and see how it fares — that way, you’ll know if it’s safe to put your new clothes through the same process. Detergent

Detergent keeps your clothes clean and fresh, but it can cause damage if you use too much of it. How can you be sure you’re getting the right balance of cleaning your laundry thoroughly, but not going overboard?


Usually, the cap of your detergent will have a marker, or there’ll be instructions on the bottle to let you know how to measure it out. That way you can be sure you’re using the right amount — no more, no less. Hair Pins

There are some things in life that seem so simple, we just pick them up on our own. Using a hair pin is one of those things. How hard can it be? So we don’t bother to learn how it’s done — we just jump right in.

Hair PinsUnfortunately, that means some of us are doing the simplest things incorrectly. When it comes to hair pins, a lot of people face the bumpy side down, but it should be the other way. Face the bumpy side up and see the difference — your hair pins will stay in much easier.

Staple Removers

There are some items with hidden details and some items with little tricks to them that can help out when you’re using them. Then there are things like staple removers, which you can use for purposes other than their main intention.

Staple RemoversRemoving your keys from your keychain can be a tricky business. When you move houses or change jobs, you’ll have to turn in your keys, and you don’t want to hurt your fingers doing it. Just grab a staple remover and pry your keychain open — simple and effective, not to mention painless.


Going overboard can sometimes be just as much of an issue as not going far enough. When it comes to keeping your teeth clean, this is definitely true. Too much toothpaste is a waste, so you should only be using as much as you need.

ToothpasteThis can be different for different toothpastes, so check the packaging, or if you really want to be sure about it then check with your dentist the next time you see them. If you’re using the right amount of toothpaste, your smile will thank you.


Keeping clean is great, and a hot shower feels amazing too — especially on a cold night or a gloomy morning. When it comes to washing your hair, it turns out there’s a trick to using shampoo as well.

ShampooGreasy hair is a nasty business, and you’ll want to keep yourself fresh. In that case, focus on your scalp — that’s where the oils that get in your hair come from, after all, so why not deal with them at the source? Mascara

When you’re doing your makeup, there’s one danger in particular that everyone wants to avoid: clumpy mascara. It can really ruin your routine and waste your products. Sadly, it’s happened to the best of us. MascaraMascara can get clumpy when it dries out, so make sure you aren’t leaving it out to dry — and try to avoid pushing air into the bottle when you’re applying it. That can dry it out as well, leading to clumpier mascara and frustration.

Heinz Ketchup

Sometimes, life is hard. You’ve had a rough day in the office, you’ve had a fight with your partner, your friends are too busy to talk it over. You just want to settle down and have a quiet night and eat a meal in peace. Then, the final straw: your ketchup won’t come out of the bottle.

Heinz KetchupIt can be tempting (and cathartic) to smack the bottom of the ketchup bottle as hard as you possibly can — but that might not be the best way to get what you want. On a Heinz ketchup bottle, the round “57” sticker is in the perfect place. Give it a few solid taps and enjoy.


An orange is a delicious snack, it’s good for you, and it’s lots of fun to eat as well. Except once you’re done, there’s juice everywhere, and you’re all sticky. There’s a better way to do it that avoids all the mess, and makes the whole experience easier too.

OrangesCut the orange on both ends, top and bottom, and then you can just pull it open. The orange will unwrap conveniently and you can use the skin to keep it all together. Very handy. Natural Peanut Butter

Natural peanut butter has a lot of advantages, and that’s why it’s become so popular — that, and it tastes delicious, of course. One of the problems can be when you put your peanut butter away, and when you come back to grab it for a snack the oil has separated.

Natural Peanut ButterGive this a try: store your peanut butter upside down. That way, rather than pooling on top, the oil is easier to mix back in and you can enjoy your peanut butter with much less hassle. Slow Cookers

A watched pot never boils, and a checked slow cooker just gets slower and slower. A slow cooker is a great way to prepare a meal with minimum effort, but you need to be patient. It’s called a slow cooker for a reason.

Slow CookersChecking your slow cooker is a great way to let all the heat out, and trapping the heat is how a slow cooker does its thing. The more heat that’s trapped, and the longer it stays trapped, the better your meal will cook. So stay patient and don’t disturb your slow cooker until it’s ready. Dishwashers

Dishwashers are a real time-saver, but you have to use them right to get the advantages. Stacking everything in the dishwasher is simple enough, but doing it right can make things a lot easier and can make sure everything gets as clean as possible.

DishwashersMake sure you don’t get anything in the way of the detergent dispenser and keep an eye on which way the spray is coming from. Face the spray towards the dirtiest items to get the best wash.

Vegetable Peelers

There’s only one way to use a vegetable peeler, but it does more than just peeling the outside of a vegetable. You can use it to peel vegetables in just about any way imaginable, which can really come in handy when you have a meal to prepare.

Vegetable PeelersTry using your vegetable peeler to slice onions. Chopping onions with a knife works well enough, but sometimes you want thinner strips and you don’t have the patience to slice everything up nice and thin. Blenders

Blenders are easy enough to use — just throw everything in there and turn it on. Let it whirl away for a few minutes and then you’ve got yourself a smoothie. Simple, right? There’s nothing more to it.

BlendersExcept there is a trick that can stop your blender from getting stuck, and make sure your smoothie is as smooth as it can be: put the liquids in first. That way, the action of the blades will pull the solid down and it distributes everything more evenly.

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