There’s a scene in It’s a Wonderful Life that pretty much encapsulates the ups and downs of homeowning. It’s the loose ball cap on the stairway newel — at first, it’s endearing. But after years of wear and tear, it definitely loses its novelty.
Don’t tell George Bailey, but homeowners have been dreaming up DIY fixes for these kinds of problems for hundreds of years — most of them with common ingredients and equipment you can find in your pantry or shed.
1. Use wood putty and a sander to buff out baseboard dings.
Battered baseboards are no friend to polished home decor, but they’re unfortunately all too common in our busy world of furniture moving and active kids.
Luckily, wood putty exists. You just take a little bit of this stuff, spread it over minor scratches to even them out, and then sand it down after it’s dry.
Touch it up with a little paint and no one will be any wiser.
2. Unclog slow-draining bathroom sinks with baking soda and white vinegar.
Nobody wants to revisit yesterday’s toothpaste. But when the sinks in your bathroom are draining slow, or not at all, it can be hard to wash all the gunk away in short order.
Thankfully, this problem is fairly easy to fix, and can be corrected using safe, natural ingredients that are a lot better for the environment than your typical drain cleaner.
To start, grab a box of baking soda and a bottle of white vinegar off your shelf. Unscrew the drain cover and dump a ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Then pour a ½ cup of vinegar down after it, and let it go to town!
It will start fizzing and bubbling, just let it work its magic for a few minutes. Then turn on the tap and enjoy your primping clog-free.
3. Recaulk cracking window seals to prevent wind from driving you insane.
The wind is just like a prying coworker or neighbor: Give it the tiniest in and it will try to get inside and start nosing around. That’s why it’s so important to keep your window seals in good shape.
If you have caulking that’s cracked, don’t worry, it’s easy enough to fix. Use a utility knife to scrape out the old stuff, wipe it down with a cloth, and then reapply silicone caulking in a straight bead all around the window panes.
Lastly, smooth the caulking down and wipe any excess away. Not only will your windows look nicer, you may just save some money on your utility bills, too!
4. Conquer grimy shower grout with baking soda, water, and vinegar.
If your shower tiles are moldy or grimy, can you really be sure you’re even getting clean?
Washing your hair shouldn’t be a science experiment, but grime that’s basically baked into your tiles needs some special attention.
For an all natural solution, turn once again to our old friends vinegar and baking soda. Line the grout between the tiles with baking soda, then spritz it with a solution of one part water and one part vinegar from a spray bottle.
Give it a few minutes, then scrub it down with a wire brush.
5. Silence squeaky boards with this baby product…
Bet you didn’t know that a little common baby powder can stop creaking floorboards in their tracks. You did? Oh well. For those who didn’t know, sweep a thin layer of it across the boards.
The dust will get into the cracks and prevent the boards from rubbing together. Which means no more things going bump in the middle of the night.
6. Put runaway knobs in their place with wood glue or nail polish.
Got a drawer knob with a mind of its own?
Keep knobs from instigating their own great escape with this simple fix: Unscrew the knob and dip the end in wood glue or fingernail polish.
Let it set overnight, and then relive the glory that is opening your drawer, wobble-free.
That’s all it takes to avoid six common households. If only they had this list in Bedford Falls…
This article was written by Erin Vaughan, a blogger, gardener, and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full-time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.