Believe it or not, in the time you spend just thinking about getting the sticky window unstuck, dusting the glass chandelier, or tamping down a curled corner of wallpaper, you could actually get the job done.
Whatever your household bugbear, chances are it's not such a beastly problem after all. With a little know-how and a few readily available materials, your 15-minute fix could begin right now.
So get up off that couch (with its sad, sagging cushions) and turn a little bit of downtime into an upgrade. Today the chandelier; tomorrow—who knows?
PROBLEM: Scuffed linoleum.
SOLUTION: Rub the spot with white toothpaste and a dry cloth or with an eraser. Or spray WD-40 on a towel and rub lightly, making sure to degrease the area afterward with liquid dishwashing soap and water.
PROBLEM: Dry cutting board.
SOLUTION: Revive your board by gently warming a bottle of pure mineral oil (available at drugstores) in a bowl of hot water, then wiping the oil onto the surface with a soft cloth. Wipe off the excess four to six hours later.
PROBLEM: Stuck sliding windows.
SOLUTION: A little silicone spray lubricant (sold at hardware stores) will grease the skids. Spray it onto a rag, then wipe along the tracks, whether they're metal, wood, or plastic.
PROBLEM: Flattened down cushions.
SOLUTION: Put them outside in the sun for a few hours, flipping them halfway through. (Be careful—leaving them out too long may fade the fabric.) The sun will help evaporate the moisture that gets into the filling over time, and the cushions should plump up nicely.
PROBLEM: Dirty decanter.
SOLUTION:Fill the decanter halfway with hot water, a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap, two tablespoons of white vinegar, and a cup of uncooked rice. Swirl the rice around for a few minutes to remove the residue, rinse with hot water, and air-dry.
PROBLEM: Tangled extension cords.
SOLUTION: Cowgirls and sailors alike know the benefits of storing ropes neatly coiled. Follow their lead and keep extension cords tangle-free and contained inside a large plastic bucket when they're not in use.
PROBLEM: Peeling wallpaper.
SOLUTION: With a knife, smear wallpaper paste onto a piece of writing paper. Rub the paper against the underside of the peeling section. Press the wallpaper against the wall. Slide the writing paper out and smooth away bubbles with a clean cloth.
PROBLEM: Worn caning.
SOLUTION:A little sagging over time is natural but reversible (insert Joan Rivers joke here). To tighten caning back up, use a sponge to wet the underside with warm water. Let dry slowly overnight. Repeat if necessary.
PROBLEM: Dusty chandelier.
SOLUTION: Allow the fixture to cool. Wear a pair of white cotton gloves—one dry, one dampened with glass cleaner. (For crystal, use one part rubbing alcohol to three parts distilled water.) Wipe each prism with the damp glove, then the dry one.
PROBLEM: Hard-to-remove decals.
SOLUTION: Spray the decals and the surrounding areas with WD-40, lifting the edges to get underneath, if possible. Let sit, then gently scrape away the decal with the edge of a credit card. Degrease the tub with liquid dishwashing soap.
PROBLEM: Hard-to-remove bulb.
SOLUTION: Press the center of a foot-long strip of duct tape onto the middle of the bulb. Fold each loose end in half so it sticks onto itself. Gripping each end between your thumb and index finger, give a counterclockwise twist to loosen the bulb.
PROBLEM: Stained tub.
SOLUTION: Combine equal amounts of cream of tartar and baking soda with enough lemon juice to make a paste. Rub the mixture into the stain with your fingers or a soft cloth. Let sit for a half hour, then rinse well with water.
The fastest solutions for things that squeak and slam.
• Squeaky door hinges:
Spray a little WD-40 onto the hinges, moving the door back and forth to work in the lubricant. Or try rubbing the hinge with petroleum jelly. If these tricks don't work, lift the hinge pins about halfway and lubricate them with three-in-one oil, using a rag to catch drips.
• Squeaky floor:
For a temporary fix, sprinkle talcum powder over the noisy area and sweep it into the cracks. Be sure to remove any traces of powder if you're ever going to refinish the floor.
• Slamming door:
Soften the slam of a door by affixing a few pieces of peel-and-stick foam weather stripping around the doorstop. Or get a wide rubber band and wrap it around the doorknobs on both sides, stretching it across the edge of the door. Don't cover the latch.
For more quick household fixes, go to www.realsimple.com/fixes