Sawing using a clamp

Do you wish there was a way you could make common DIY tasks easier? These 10 clever tips and ideas help simplify projects and home maintenance to make light work out of everything from painting to tiling.

Restore crusty brushes

Use a fingernail brush to clean dry paint on brush bristles. Wet the paintbrush with warm, soapy water and scrub back and forth to loosen the gunk then use downward strokes to comb the paint from the bristles.

Sparkling dishwasher

Add a cup of white vinegar to your empty dishwasher and let it run a full cycle to rinse away buildup and get all parts working flawlessly. Beware, this will make the kitchen smell like a pickle jar for a couple of hours but the end result is worth it.

clean a dishwasher with white vinegar
Vinegar will clean out the clogged parts of your dishwasher

Fridge monitor

To find out if a power outage ruined frozen food while you were away, freeze a container of water before you go and rest a coin on the ice. If the coin is at the bottom when you get back, it means the power was out long enough for everything to thaw.

Read a ruler

Grime and rust buildup make metal rulers hard to read. To fix this, brush liquid paper across the engraved marks and let it dry. To get the tiny marks to show clearly, rub off dry liquid paper with fine grit abrasive paper.

put liquid paper on a ruler and then sand it to see numbers better
Rub liquid paper over an old ruler to clean it of rust

Secure a saw

To cut slippery materials like gutters, metal pipe and downpipes, clamp a 90 x 45mm piece of timber to your workbench. Pressing the material to be cut against the timber will keep it in place so you can cut with safety and precision.

Wall patch

Here’s an easier way to patch a hole in the wall. Tape a piece of wax paper over the hole and use a permanent marker to trace around the edges. Cut out the shape then tape it to the new plasterboard to use it as a cutting guide.

man patching a hole on a blue wall
Use wax paper to fix holes in the wall

Tile template

Deciding on tile colours and layouts on the basis of a few samples can be very scary since you have to live with the results for years. To get a better sense of what a wall or floor will look like before you buy anything, make colour photocopies of the samples and tape them in position. Live with the look for a week before making a decision.

Clean rims

Preserve the contents of tins of varnish and other finishes by rubbing the rim with a cotton cloth before closing. This guarantees a clean, tight seal and will make it easier to open the tin next time.

clean the rim of paint cans to prevent sticking
Remember to wipe tins of varnish before closing them so they are easy to open in future

Stick together

When you’re repairing small items like a broken earring or teacup, it can be tough to keep them clamped and still while applying the adhesive. To hold everything together during a repair, embed the parts in reusable adhesive tack like Blu Tack. The pieces will stay right where you put them so you can apply the adhesive and let it dry undisturbed.

Chalkboard label

Apply chalkboard paint to one side of a metal bin or box to create a writing surface. When you change the contents of the box just wipe off the chalk and rewrite the label. Chalkboard paint can be applied to most non-porous surfaces or you can make adhesive or magnetic labels by converting refrigerator magnets or mailing labels.

container with bungee straps and cords
Use chalkboard paint on containers to create a label