Home Hacks

Is This Grandma-Approved Dishwasher Hack Too Good to Be True?

And four more viral hacks from Brunch With Babs.

September 17, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Babs (aka Barbara Costello) has given a whole new meaning to doing things just like Grandma. The 72-year-old Connecticut-based grandmother and viral TikTok sensation never ceases to amaze with her humor, wisdom, and simple life tips for making everyday living easier. From advice on teething babies (the youngest of her eight grandchildren is less than one year old) to a hilarious hack that keeps the man in your life clean during a messy outdoor barbecue (hint: place a piece of Press’N seal wrap on his polo shirt for an invisible bib), Babs is always sharing savvy ideas on the engrossing social media platform.

Babs’ loyal followers are always quick to say how much she reminds them of their own Nonnas too. “Thanks for this. I miss my grandma and you remind me of her. Thank you,” wrote user bentellectstan. Here, we’re rounding up five of Babs’ most beloved viral home hacks ever.

Hack #1: Secret Detergent Hack

Babs recently shared a genius dishwasher hack to her 1.2 million followers on TikTok. She offers a solution for the inevitable problem of needing to do dishes but not having enough dishwashing detergent. “I have a sink full of dirty dishes and no dishwashing detergent! If you don’t want to do them by hand, try this,” Babs says. First, rinse your dishes in the sink and then transfer them to the dishwasher. Add three teeny-tiny drops of Dawn dish soap to the dishwasher and then fill the rest of the nook with baking soda. Set the dishwasher to the regular cleaning mode and by the end of the cycle, the dishes will be completely clean, no detergent needed. “It works!” she says.

In just a few days, the video has racked up more than half a million views and hundreds of positive comments. “No point in buying detergent now! Save tons of money I’m sure,” wrote one TikTok user. Another commented that they tried the hack in a pinch over the weekend and it worked so well. Some TikTok users were concerned that the dish soap could lead to an extra bubbly dishwasher (and a potentially messy kitchen situation), but Babs assured her followers that if a very small amount of soap is used, you should be able to clean a full load of dishes, suds free. McMullan Appliance & Mattress, a Canada-based appliance store with their own sizable TikTok following, added a word of caution that with very soft water and a bit too much soap, you’ll be in trouble.

Hack #2: Drying Dishes Hack

This isn’t the first time that Babs’ wisdom has gone totally and completely viral. She previously demonstrated how to dry still-wet dishes after they’ve been washed in the dishwasher in a TikTok video that has since gained more than 8 million views since it was posted on July 26th, 2021. “At the end of the cleaning cycle, place a terry cloth towel on the door of the dishwasher. Close the door, wait five minutes, and you won’t have to hand-dry the dishes,” she says. Home52’s Editorial Lead Arati Menon found that the towels didn’t completely dry the dishes, but did absorb some excess steam trapped in the dishwasher. She recommends trying this hack for more than five minutes in order to completely dry your load of dishes.

Hack #3: Garbage Bag Hack

More than 3 million TikTok users were mesmerized when Babs demonstrated how to prevent a garbage bag from collapsing inside the trash can. “Has this ever happened to you? You go to your garbage to throw something away and the bag has collapsed!” Leave it to Babs to come up with an inexpensive and totally innovative solution. She sticks two small Command hooks upside down on either side of a rectangular trash can. Attach the plastic pulls from the bag to the hooks and “problem solved!” The hooks keep the bag in place in the can no matter what you throw away. And the best part? You can use the hooks over and over again even as you replace the trash bags.

Hack #4: Dryer Sheet Hack

“Did your mom ever tell you ‘stop wasting money on buying dryer sheets?’” I certainly heard that from my mother and now the rest of the internet has learned it from Babs, too. But of course, our favorite internet grandmother has a solution. Wool balls! Babs adds four to five wool balls in the dryer along with her clothes, sheets, and towels instead of using disposable dryer sheets. “Your clothes will come out fluffy and lovely every time,” she explains. Plenty of followers wanted to know where to buy wool balls, and we’re one step ahead. Try our colorful assortment of Five Two Wool Dryer Balls—we think Babs would approve.

Hack #5: Protect Your Pumpkins

The official start of fall is just days away, which means that soon enough, porches will be decorated beautifully for fall with pumpkins and gourds, haystacks, witches’ brooms, and more seasonal decor. To protect your freshly picked pumpkins from being eaten by rodents, Babs recommends spraying them with hairspray. If you stock up on the pumpkins now, this viral hack, which has since gained more than 600,000 views, will keep your pumpkins untouched until Halloween (and beyond). Babs’ engaged audience also recommended trying the same method using Vaseline or Mop & Glo, both of which will add shine and keep critters away.


Best HACK ever!!!! Keep your pumpkins looking like new all season long #besthack #pumpkinhack #halloween

♬ original sound - Babs aka Nonna

Have you tried any of Babs’ viral hacks before? Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
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Sheila M. October 1, 2021
I have never dried the dishes in the dishwasher nor used the drying cycle. I just pop the door open letting the steam out, leave it partly open and the heat from the dishes does the rest. Dry in no time while I get other things done.
Patricia C. October 1, 2021
I only put dishes, silverware, and glassware in my dishwasher so only run it every 2 or 3 days ( empty nesters here). With our CA drought conditions I save on water by not putting in pots and pans that take up so much room (I have often read that these should be washed by hand). Good hack on the soap.
Charles B. September 30, 2021
I got a large thick rubber band and leave it around the outside of the top of the trash can. Then when I place a new bag in the trash can, I slip the edges under the rubber band and it works great.
Annette E. September 20, 2021
Dryer sheets should never be used. They leave a residue on clothes that cause some people to break out in a rash, particularly any place where a garment might rub-- think collar, armholes, or waistband. The residue from dryer sheets makes towels less absorbent as well.
Patricia C. October 1, 2021
Agree — and their smell turns my stomach. Wool balls are great -/ been using them for years.
Joan T. October 6, 2021
And the residue builds up on your dryer's lint screen! I saw a video where this build up will hold water, which can't be a good thing.
Kim S. September 20, 2021
On the off chance you try Babs' dish detergent hack in the dishwasher and use too much soap.... you can learn from my unfortunate experience. You've seen those sit-com episodes where there are suds everywhere, right? Reduce the suds that WILL flood your kitchen by adding hair conditioner to the dishwasher. Suds reduced, flooding under control, dishwasher will drain normally, but you'll have to wash the dishes again with the proper low-suds detergent product. I learned the hard way, but my chemist-father came to the rescue before damage was done.
dotv September 20, 2021
It's amazing how many commission affiliate links and links to your own shop you worked into this article that basically pasted together the work of that nice grandmother. Just, wow.
Gammy September 17, 2021
New to Bab's hacks, but I have used wool dryer balls ever since I first saw them. I have always despised dryer sheets, especially the heavily scented ones, and hate what they do to the absorbency of bath towels (who wants to just push the water around your body when you dry off?). The dryer balls last forever and never wear out. The Five-Two ones are beautiful enough to sit in a bowl on the dryer when not in use, too!
emily September 18, 2021
People also don't realize what a fire risk the dryer sheets are. Everyone, please avoid dryer sheets and essential oils in the dryer and clean out the lint trap every time!
Linda L. September 30, 2021
I use tennis balls
Gammy September 30, 2021
Please get yourself some of the wool dryer balls. Those tennis balls may be cheaper, but even when brand new, will off-gas chemical residues from the rubber inside them. Be safe instead.