soap in a sockJuly 5, 2023–Soap in a sock, batteries in the dishwasher, and banana peels on burns.

These are a few of your favorite hacks, according to responses to my online request. I always regret crowd-sourcing my column, but sometimes it’s fun to let people try at home what I try to do on paper ever week. The results to this request were… well, I’ll let readers decide.

Socks make a surprising number of appearances. The “soap in a sock” idea came from Kerry. Most shade-tree mechanics are familiar with the trick of leaving a piece of Irish Spring bar soap in the glove box to discourage squirrels, mice, and other critters from gnawing on vacuum hoses. He goes a step further and hangs chunks of the “clean as a whistle” soap in a sock in his garden to discourage deer. It’s not clear whether the scent of the soap or the sock does the discouraging.

Joy said she pins her socks in pairs before doing laundry in order to keep one from escaping. This seems like a lot of extra work to me, but then there are people that fold their underwear.

Julie, mother of six, had another solution to the mismatched sock dilemma, which I embrace.

“Sandals in summer,” she wrote, “boots in winter. No sock matching necessary.”

As if kids ever really care that their socks match.

Or do as my dad did: only buy and wear black socks.

As for folding laundry, don’t.

Deana takes her sheets off the bed, washes and dries them, then puts them right back on. No time wasted folding them. This is actually common practice for those of us who’ve never owned more than one set of sheets per bed.

Bob takes the “no-fold” scenario a step further. Not only does he not fold sheets, he doesn’t make the bed. “Call me a slob,” he said, “but saving 5 minutes a day adds up to a lot over a lifetime.”

Needless to add (but he did), his wife does not agree.

Laundry makes a surprising amount of waves. Kelly saves time in her busy life by making each family member wash their own clothes–even the 5-year-old.

We stumbled on this hack early on in parenthood. It came upon us after one too many times hearing this at bedtime: “I need to have this outfit washed and ironed tonight so I can wear it to school tomorrow.”

Yes, even a 5-year-old comprehends lift lid, add detergent, press button.

Now let’s move to the kitchen, ground zero of many life hacks.

Patty insists that soaking your fresh fruits in vinegar when you get them home from the grocery store makes them last longer. Of course it will. Who wants to eat vinegary fruit?

Mary’s kitchen wisdom includes this gem: “My mother taught me whenever someone says something that really angers or irritates you, just offer them an iced tea.” So that’s why Texans are so nice.

Cindy’s mom taught her how to make “perfectly scrambled and fluffy eggs.”

“Keep a separate pan that only cooks eggs. Use the same pan and after a break-in period you’ll have perfect eggs every time!”

This also saves you the trouble of washing a pan. Add that to time saved by not making the bed or folding sheets, and you start every day 9 1/2 minutes ahead of those OCD people.

Next to soap, bananas play an underappreciated role in improving quality of life. Bridgit boils their skins to make plant food. Sam tapes them over a burn. “The peel will keep the burn moisturized and components in the banana act as a pain reliever.”

Another plant-based hack comes from Roger, who suggests using an onion rather than a steel brush to clean your BBQ grill–which also adds an extra layer of flavor.

There is a pattern of appliance redundancy, from keeping hair clips in every room in the house; reading glasses in the kitchen, bathroom, purse, car, by my chair, the bed and desk; and using two dishwashers in the kitchen, “one for dirty and one for clean.”

Another use for the dishwasher comes from Christie, who maintains you can coax extra juice out of dead batteries by running them through a wash cycle. Who first figured that out?

As for self-healing hacks, Vicks came up several times. Mike mentioned using super glue on cracks that form on your fingertips in winter. I foresee absolutely no problems with that.

One last hack involving socks I just painfully learned: Before pulling on socks that have lain on the floor overnight, shake them out first.

Will banana peels soothe scorpion bites?