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22 Cheap Ways to Make Your Stuff Last Longer

Making your stuff last longer is a great way to get more bang for your buck, and there are dozens of ways to do that, many of which you probably already know: changing the oil in your car, putting on a fresh coat of paint, etc. But we've gathered some great tips that may be new to you, tips that will help you get the most out of your house, tools and even your clothes.

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Store Paint Cans Upside DownFamily Handyman

Store Paint Cans Upside Down

When a paint can is stored upside down, the paint creates an absolutely airtight seal, which will make your paint last longer. The obvious caveat to this tip is to make sure the lids are sealed tightly. Plus: 11 Wall Painting Shortcuts That Do More Harm Than Good
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HH Handy Hint brasso glasses get scratches outFamily Handyman

Scratch-Free Glasses

Scratched eyeglasses are a real nuisance and make it hard to see. If your glasses DON’T have antiglare or scratch coating on them, here’s how to get minor scratches out. Put a drop of Brasso on a 100 percent cotton cloth, the softer the better. Apply the product to the lenses, let it dry completely, and then polish out the scratches.

Check out these 25 Products All DIYers Should Have at the Ready for Quick-Fix Repairs.

Buy Brasso on on Amazon.

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Don't Wreck an Outdoor FaucetFamily Handyman

Don't Wreck an Outdoor Faucet

Here's why you end up replacing outdoor faucet washers that have worn out long before they should: When you turn off a frost-proof faucet, water continues to trickle out of the long pipe even after the valve is closed. When people see that water, they often assume the valve didn't close, so they crank down harder, which overcompresses the washer, greatly reducing its life. Patience is the key. Wait a second or two after closing the valve. The water should eventually stop (unless you've already destroyed the washer).

MYTH: Frost-proof faucets cannot freeze.

FACT: Leaving a hose attached throughout the winter could leave water in the line to freeze and cause the faucet to burst. Also, if the faucet slopes slightly toward the house, the long pipe will also hold water that can freeze.

Plus: Winter Preparedness: Handy Household Tips for Weathering the Winter

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HH Handy Hint reuse vacuum cleaner bag staplerFamily Handyman

Do This If You Are in a Cleaning Pinch

“In a pinch, a vacuum cleaner bag is actually reusable. The bottom end of the bag is usually folded over a few times and glued shut. To reuse a bag, unroll its end, being careful not to tear it, and then empty the contents into the trash. Refold the end and staple it back together. This hint definitely deserves a cheapskate award, but it works when you need it to.” — Travis Larson

Plus, to be safe check out these 13 Things You Should Never, Ever Vacuum.

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Loosen Band Saw BladesFamily Handyman

Loosen Band Saw Blades

Band saw blades that are always under pressure can break prematurely from metal fatigue. Extend the life of your blades by releasing the blade tension whenever your saw will sit idle for three days or longer. Some saws have a quick-release mechanism, which makes this a cinch. Otherwise, make your saw blades last longer by rotating the tensioning knob two or three complete turns.
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HH handy hints lays chips can painting roller storageFamily Handyman

An Excuse to Snack While Painting

Washing a roller cover between coats of paint is a waste of time and paint. So one of my painting necessities is a can of chips; preferably the plastic cans. Before I start painting, I eat the chips and then clean out the can. I don’t want any unintended texture on my walls! Between coats, I slip the wet roller cover in the empty chip can and pop on the lid to keep it from drying out. — Thomas Nolan.

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Protect Garden Hoses From Sun DamageFamily Handyman

Protect Garden Hoses From Sun Damage

UV light from the sun slowly destroys plastics, so if you can't keep your garden hose out of the sun, wipe it down with some Armor All or similar protectant in the spring and again midsummer. Set the hose on plastic or cardboard, spray the whole thing down and then wipe it with a rag.

Plus: Reclaim Your Garage-Organize It!

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nail polish thread locker glasses HH

Save Your Loose Pair of Glasses

Got screws that won’t stay put? Paint a thin coat of nail polish on screws to keep them from coming loose. Remove the screw, paint it with the nail polish and screw it back in. Nail polish will hold those pesky screws forever in place. The nail polish keeps it in place as it gets in all the cracks and spaces. Note: This is perfect for tiny eyeglass screws!

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Keep the Roof CleanFamily Handyman

Keep the Roof Clean

Leaves and moss can trap water and cause your roof to deteriorate prematurely. You can blow the leaves off a low-pitched roof with a leaf blower. On steeper roofs, you can pull them off with a broom on an extension pole or, better yet, use a roof rake for leaves. And it's wise to trim back all branches that are close to or touching the shingles. Chemically treat mold, then sweep it off with a soft broom. A diluted bleach solution will kill mold but could also kill the plants on the ground below, so be careful to spray just enough to soak the mold itself. Specific roof cleaners containing fungicide are also available. Installing zinc strips at the peak of the roof can help keep mold at bay. Plus: A Home Inspector Reveals the 6 Signs Your House is in Trouble
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HH clean sneakers with a toothbrush and toothpaste whiteFamily Handyman

Your Shoes Will Look New

All you need is an old toothbrush and a little toothpaste to get your old sneakers looking like new! Non-gel white toothpaste works great for cleaning white-soled sneakers (colored toothpaste may stain rather than clean sneakers). Apply toothpaste to an old toothbrush and then work the paste into the dirty spots. Leave the toothpaste on the shoes for about ten minutes, and then wipe it off with a damp towel. Repeat the process if necessary.

Toothpaste will keep your smile in great shape but it’s also pretty handy in cleaning up around the house. Check out these 50 things you never knew you could do with toothpaste.

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Cover Your ToesFamily Handyman

Cover Your Toes

Extend the life of your work boots or shoes by coating the toes with a rubbery protective shell. The product shown here is called Tuff Toe and can be found at shoe stores or online. Boot Guard is another brand. Buy Tuff Toe on Amazon. Purchase Boot Guard on Amazon. Plus: Amazing Repair Products
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HH clean windshield wipers with windexFamily Handyman

See Out of Your Windshield Better!

“When you’re behind the wheel, nothing is more crucial than good visibility. But like most other drivers, I usually procrastinate cleaning my windshield wipers or even replacing them if necessary. Windshield wipers are notorious for drying out and cracking in a short time. To help prolong their life and clean them, soak a clean white rag with your favorite glass cleaner. Wipe the rag up and down the length of your wiper blades. You’ll see the results on the rag, and you’ll see out your windshield much better in the rain.” — Jim Nobilione

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Use a Gentler Drain CleanerFamily Handyman

Use a Gentler Drain Cleaner

Frequent use of some chemical drain cleaners can soften plastic drain pipes and corrode metal ones. Go easy on your pipes by using a drain cleaner made of natural enzymes that eat away at grease, oil and soap blockages. This type of drain cleaner isn't nearly as aggressive as traditional cleaners and is best used as a preventive measure. Use it when you first notice the slow draining. Home Solv is one brand you can find online. MYTH: It's OK to pour grease down the drain while running hot water. FACT: Sure, the hot water will keep the grease from hardening, but only until it cools off farther down your drain lines. That just makes the clog harder to clear. Never pour grease down your drain! Buy Home Solv on Amazon. Plus: Best Household Cleaning Supplies & Products
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HH sharpie sharpies rubbing alcohol

Bring Dead Sharpies Back to Life

To bring your permanent marker back to life, simply remove the back from the maker. This will be different for each brand of permanent marker, for Sharpies simply remove the back nib. Next, deposit a few drops of isopropyl “rubbing” alcohol onto the felt material inside. Shake the marker a bit to ensure the rubbing alcohol is absorbed. It’s the solvent that the ink is mixed with that dries out first, making the pigment unable to flow. Once the felt absorbs the rubbing alcohol for a couple of minutes the marker will be practically good as new!

Did you accidentally draw on your dry erase board with a permanent marker? Here’s our magical handy hint to make it disappear!

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Rinse Your SpreaderFamily Handyman

Rinse Your Spreader

Chemicals from fertilizers speed up corrosion of the metal parts of your spreader, so rinse it out every time you use it. After it dries, coat all the moving parts with a light lubricant spray like WD-40. Check out these 22 incredible ways to use WD-40 around the house and pick some up on Amazon.
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cleaning shoes with vinegar and water

Get Rid of Salt Residue on Shoes

Your shoes can take a beating during the winter months. The salt used to melt ice and snow on driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, etc., can help to keep you safe from falling, but it can also leave a nasty white residue on your footwear that doesn’t look great. You can clean off the residue quickly with a simple solution that you can make at home. Fill a spray bottle with water and add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar. Shake it up a bit and spritz the mixture onto a clean paper towel. Gently wipe your shoes, and watch the salt residue disappear. Keep the spray bottle near your shoe collection, so you can clean off your shoes as the season goes.

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Lubricate Bits and BladesFamily Handyman

Lubricate Bits and Blades

Use Boelube to make your drill bits last longer. Whenever you drill multiple holes in metal, stick the bit into the lube before starting each one. It also works on metal-cutting reciprocating and band saw blades. It reduces friction, which makes the cutting edge last longer. The product number is 70200-13, and it is available from multiple online retailers. Buy it on Amazon.
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stapling carpet to sawhorses

Carpet Saddles for Sawhorses

The rough, saw-chewed top rails of most sawhorses can scratch finished wood or the painted surfaces on your projects. To provide a non-marring surface, cover the tops of your sawhorses with scraps of old carpet or rugs.

Measure the size of carpet pieces that you need to wrap around the top rails of your sawhorses. Use a straightedge and marker to draw your cut lines on the back of the carpet. Then use a sharp utility knife to cut the carpet along the lines. It may take a few passes with the knife to get through the tough woven backing. Finally, use a staple gun to secure the carpet pieces to the sides of the top rails. Now you have a padded, non-marring work surface for all of your projects!

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Vacuum Your Carpet OftenFamily Handyman

Vacuum Your Carpet Often

On carpet, dirt acts like thousands of little blades. Walking across a dirty carpet grinds sharp dirt particles against the yarn, making tiny nicks in the fibers. That dulls the sheen, which is why high-traffic areas appear duller than the rest of the carpet. Over time, grinding dirt will actually wear away the fibers themselves.

Bottom line: The less dirt in your carpet, the longer it will last. A good rule of thumb is to vacuum your carpet once a week. High-traffic areas will require more frequent vacuuming.

Plus: Carpet Care Tips to Make Your Carpet Last

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moisturized wood puttyFamily Handyman

Simple Storage Solution for Longer-Lasting Wood Putty

Wood putty is often a one-time use product for me. Before I even think about using it a second time, it’s dried out. The trick I found was to fill an empty paint can with water and store all my putty jars submerged so no air can get in. Now I can finally say that I have seen the bottom of a putty container. — Kim Boley

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Keep Batteries ChargedFamily Handyman

Keep Batteries Charged

Batteries can deteriorate and die if they go a long time without being charged. Charge the batteries for your boat, motorcycle or riding lawn mower at least once a month in the off-season. Another option is to hook them up to a battery maintainer. A battery maintainer won't damage your battery like a trickle charger would. A maintainer has smart monitoring circuitry that charges the battery only when it needs it. Remove the battery and store it indoors if you live in an area with severely cold winters. This will make your batteries last longer. MYTH: Don't store batteries on a concrete surface. FACT: According to the folks at Interstate Battery, 'Tremendous technological improvements have been made in the seals around the battery posts and vent systems, which have virtually eliminated electrolyte seepage and migration. So, it's OK to set or store your battery on concrete.'
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Long-lasting ClothesFamily Handyman

Long-lasting Clothes

Wash clothes inside out. The exterior of the fabric takes much less abuse and everything looks newer longer.

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