22 must-know housekeeping hacks for busy parents

How to future-proof your home for family living

Architect Yvonne Haber shares how she designed one family home with a view to the future.

Handprints on every wall? Does it look like a toy store exploded in your house? Being a parent comes with its own set of cleaning challenges, but these time-saving hacks will help keep things running smoothly.

1. Always getting your single-, double- and queen-sized bedding mixed up? Can't tell your duvet covers from your sheets without unfurling the lot? After laundering, store whole sets together in pillowcases. That makes the process a lot more streamlined. 

Do you need some help around the house?
Do you need some help around the house? Photo: Stocksy

2. Anyone who has chopped onion or garlic knows the stench clings to your fingertips with intensity. The fix? Wash your hands with toothpaste. Quashes the smell in an instant!

3. Can't see inside your oven due to the thick layer of grease on the door? Try rubbing the floor, door and sides with a dishwashing tablet dipped in hot water. The trick is to use it on its edge, like you would an eraser. Work on marks – it takes quite a bit of elbow grease – then wipe them away with a damp cloth.

4. Are tiny fingers constantly putting smudges on your walls? Rub away marks with a slice of semi-stale white bread. Remove the crusts and roll it into a ball, before using as a stand-in Magic Eraser.

5. Is the plughole in the bathtub or shower getting slower and slower at draining? Squirt some Veet foam or any other depilatory cream down there to dissolve the hairs. Leave for 20 minutes then wash away.

6. Hate it when little feet traipse sand through the car and house? Take talcum powder to the beach! Simply sprinkle on hands, feet and hair – or wherever sand is stuck to the body. The powder absorbs the moisture that causes it to stick. Brush away before coming home – it'll save you hours of vacuuming! 

7. Love the smell of fresh laundry? Replicate the freshness in your house by wiping vents with a smidgen of fabric conditioner. 

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8. Don't Sharpie your Tupperware! Before you freeze your meals, write down what it is and what date you made it in lip liner.

9. Want a chemical-free way to freshen up your clothes? Deodorise your dryclean-only garments by spritzing them with diluted vodka – focusing on the collar and armpits. Saves you time, money and is good for the environment! (Make sure you perform a patch test on an inconspicuous area to make sure it's colour-fast!)

10. Save time sorting laundry by bagging each person's socks in individual delicates bags. Once the wash is up, they come out already pre-sorted! And this way, you never end up with any strays.

11. Leave shirts and T-shirts to dry on hangers. They stay crease free, maintain their shape – and you can slot them straight into your wardrobe!

12. Got tomato sauce and curry stains on your reusable plastic containers? Put a solution of washing detergent, bleach and water in them and microwave until boiling point. Allow to cool, pour out the mix and rinse.

13. Starting to see a shrink? Salvage your jumper by soaking it in warm water mixed with three tablespoons of hair conditioner for five minutes. Then lay it on a towel and carefully stretch it back to its proper size, before allowing to air dry flat.

14. Forever forgetting which key goes in which door? Colour code them with nail polish and save yourself the shuffle.

15. Defeat glitter with a lint roller or a ball of play dough!

16. Avoid sticky fingers by slotting patty pans on ice block sticks to stop them from dripping everywhere! Ditto marshmallows at the bottom of ice-cream cones.

17. Prevent those pesky garbage leaks by lining the bottom of your bin bags with newspaper. Sprinkle dry bicarb soda to absorb any smells.

18. Detect the pungent scent of cat pee whenever you enter the house? Take care of lingering odours by mixing dry tea leaves into the litter box.

19. Want a quick and easy way to remove annoying sticker residue? Peel back as much as you can, then rub the residual adhesive with peanut butter. Leave for 40 minutes before wiping away, and then polish with glass cleaner. The spread is also great for removing trodden-in gum from the sole of your shoes.

20. Guilty of opening cans and sticking the can opener right back in the drawer? Remove food particles and flakes of metal by folding a piece of wax paper a few times and clamping down on it. Give it a few twists to remove any lingering nasties and lubricate the blade.

21. Got grimy hands hammering at your keyboard? Take a Post-it note and run it between the keys. The sticky strip will collect any crumbs and dust lingering on both sides.

22. Take care of smelly shoes by sprinkling them with bicarb soda and a few drops of tea tree oil. This will naturally deodorise and absorb the moisture before next wear.

This story was first published on Domain.