Kitchen Hacks

2 Home Hacks We Debunked, and 4 That Get The Job Done

September 29, 2016

Finding a "hack" for an annoying home or kitchen chore is, ironically, as easy as opening a browser and zipping over to Pinterest, or thumbing a magazine at the newsstand, or chatting with your holier-than-thou neighbor for just a little too long.

There's an easier way! they all sing. Some, we pocket forever as time-and-sanity-savers; others, we test and critique.

So for Easiest, Fastest, Best Week (this week!) we branched into the home, where the purported hacks run just as rampant as in the kitchen. Our editor Caroline Lange and I went on Facebook Live on Tuesday to test a few out—armed with just a photo and a quick line of instruction from the internet.

Here are the six supposed home cleaning hacks we tested and—thanks in large part to your good advice—what we found worked and didn't.


Ice cubes will fix carpet indentions

We didn't let them melt all the way, but 20 minutes after dropping off an a few ice cubes in the divots where our office's couch legs had been, there were... still indentions. Wet indentions. We wondered if a carpet with a higher pile could be fluffed up using this method, but ours is a flat weave and the crushed fibers didn't budge with assistance from the ice.

A screenshot of a Pinterest search for "carpet indentions." Photo by Pinterest

Iron salt to get the gunk off an iron

Nope. We tried ironing fine grain salt and then crunchy, chunky salt—using medium, and later very high heat—and none of the melted-on gunk budged off our iron.

Yes! Yes!

Lemon + salt will get the rust off your cutlery

Yes it will! At first, we were trying straight lemon juice—but you mentioned that we should add salt! So we did, and the little added abrasive was just the thing to wipe the rust clean. To do this at home, cut a slice of lemon, sprinkle salt on your rusty cutlery, and rub the lemon slice over it to wipe away the rust. (And then, going forward, store your utensils in a dryer place!)

Strong black tea can be used to swipe your mirrors clean

We read this hack—never before on Caroline's or my radar—on The Krazy Coupon Lady's website, which could be a wonderful website, but the tenor of the name alone made me pretty doubtful that the trick would hold up. I was wrong! Dipping a paper towel or rag in strong black tea and wiping it over a dirty mirror removed every last streak. Bathrooms everywhere rejoice.

Olive oil will get the sticky-tacky feeling off a sticker on a jar

As Jeremy Davis, one of our faithful Facebook Live viewers on that particular segment, noted, "adhesive is petroleum/oil based," which is why using water alone won't remove a sticker's gunky trace. The internet holds lots of tips for different oils that will, however: We found that tea tree oil removed the first layer of gunk after some time, while plain olive oil was even more effective (and faster) at getting the sticky-tacky layer completely clean.

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To do this yourself, rinse the sticker under water to remove the papery layer, then drop olive oil all over it and rub away with a kitchen rag. Keep rubbing! After not too much time, it will ease away.

The easiest way to clean your stainless steel fridge is with vinegar

We've seen this before—but what's a test of purported hacks without re-testing one of your own! A small pour of white vinegar on a kitchen rag will wipe away streaks on stainless steel with just one swipe. You'll want to rub it in the direction of the grain, and it only takes a number of seconds.

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Top Comment:
“It's also a good, scratchless, way to get sticker gunk off of plastic/lucite. I have successfully used the brown bag/salt trick on my iron. Maybe it depends on the type of residue or how long it's been on there?”
— Robby H.

Any other home (or kitchen) hacks you'd like us to test out for you? Share tips in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


ktr September 30, 2016
I have used peanut butter to remove stickers and residue from containers.
Kay D. September 30, 2016
I use (lemon) Pledge to clean my stainless steel appliances, and yes, I do rub with the grain.
Paula H. September 29, 2016
Stainless steel has a grain? Did I read that right?
Robby H. September 29, 2016
You don't have to use olive oil, regular vegetable oil will work as well. It's also a good, scratchless, way to get sticker gunk off of plastic/lucite.

I have successfully used the brown bag/salt trick on my iron. Maybe it depends on the type of residue or how long it's been on there?
MayB September 29, 2016
I have found that warm water (not ice cubes) on rug indentations do the trick. However, be patient -- and leave the small amount of water that is needed alone...long enough to relax the fibers. Water does not do any harm to the carpet.
Alles September 29, 2016
Use a fork on carpet indentations.
Anna D. September 29, 2016
The ice cube for carpet indentations thing only works on wool carpet, which will actually absorb the water and expand. Synthetic fibers won't absorb the water.