The Best Cost-Saving Home Repair Hacks You Never Thought to Try

Keeping up a household can be a daunting task, especially for those who are tight on time and watchful with their wallets. While being able to hire a cleaning service or handyman on the spot would be wonderful, it’s not always the reality for every homeowner and renter out there. But don’t worry. We’re here to save the day or, at the very least, a little time and money. When it comes to the best cost-saving, at-home repair hacks, here are the ones worth testing out.

1. Restore fluff in down jackets with tennis balls

Colorful winter down jacket
Toss them in the dryer with tennis balls, and your down jackets will be good as new. |

Down jackets are an absolute staple in any camper’s closet, especially during those cool summer nights in the woods after the sun goes down. Like any piece of gear, normal wear and tear will begin to show. So maintaining your prized Patagonia possession — or whatever your brand of choice may be — is crucial.

When your down needs a little fluffing, simply toss it in the dryer with a couple of clean tennis balls. The key here, though, is making sure you’re using a low heat setting on the dryer. Additionally, be extra careful if you’re using a commercial or laundromat machine. A little time bouncing around in the dryer, and your down will be good as new.

Looking for more tips on how to wash your down gear? Check out Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line.

2. Unclog the toilet with dish soap and hot water

baby pulling toilet paper
Too much toilet paper can lead to a clogged throne. |

When you-know-what hits the fan, the plumber is probably the first person you call. He’s en route faster than you can say, “Oh, crap!” But that’s neither here nor there because now you know this mega emergency can be handled with a product you keep right next to the kitchen sink. According to Instructables, all you need to do is squirt some dish soap, or even shampoo, into the clogged toilet and chase it with a bucket of hot, but not boiling, water. Give it some time, and watch this super easy combo work its magic.

More specifically, it’s been said Dawn dish soap works best. Just look at its ad campaign. Those cute little ducks injured in oil spills are always valiantly saved, restored to good health using Dawn products. So it must be worth supporting, right? If it’s gentle enough for little ducklings, it must be gentle enough for your porcelain throne, too.

3. Use lemon to polish copper

Fresh sliced lemon
Lemons can double as cleaners — and cocktail ingredients. |

Summer means Moscow mules and mint juleps galore — well, at least for some of us. And what’s the perfect vessel for enjoying your favorite cocktails? A copper mug, of course. Although they’re certainly a top Instagram-worthy prop, these trendy mugs are no match for sticky fingerprints. But that’s no reason to leave them sitting on the shelf. To clean your copper collection, simply use a little lemon with a pinch of salt. It’s not only cheap, it’s super easy.

4. Clean plastic hair brushes and action figures in the dishwasher

Young woman brushing healthy hair in front of a mirror
Your brushes take a beating, so be sure to keep them clean. |

If you have kids, your home is probably no stranger to items like these. While cleaning out hair brushes is a given, you might not be cleaning them quite as deeply as you should. And the same goes for those action figures and any other small, plastic toys you have lying around. With all the detailed nooks and hard-to-reach crevices, achieving that spic-and-span shine can be challenging — but not for long.

Brushes and combs made of plastic handles and bristles only can go for a spin so long as you’ve pulled all hair out beforehand. And when it comes to beloved action figures, Real Simple recommends tossing them in a mesh lingerie bag; just be sure to leave Barbie (and her hair) out of it.

5. Banish fruit flies from your kitchen with apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar in a bottle
A bowl of apple cider vinegar will trap fruit flies in no time. |

A lot has been said about the almighty apple cider vinegar, but this is one claim we’re sticking to. Any farmers market fanatic knows just how much of a pain those pesky fruit flies can be. One peach left out on the counter, and suddenly your kitchen is ground zero for unwanted insects. But it’s time to put that fly swatter away because there’s a much easier, less time-consuming method.

Simply pour a sugary substance, along with some water, into a bowl. Good Housekeeping, for instance, recommends unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Cover the mixture with clear plastic wrap, and poke small holes in it. The flies won’t be able to resist. They’ll find their way in but not out. Harsh? Perhaps. Necessary? Absolutely.

6. Repair screen tears with nail polish

Nail polish colorful bottles
Just be sure to use clear nail polish when fixing a screen tear. |

When you’re facing a worn window or door screen, nail polish can come in pretty handy. Seeing as fingernail paint tends to be loaded with toxins, it’s no wonder it can stop a tear in its tracks. Nobody needs bugs getting through their screens, either. So, simply slather on a thick coat of clear nail polish to the ripping area, and give yourself a pat on the back. As HouseLogic says, it’ll build up a nice transparent barrier.

7. Fix squeaky doors with petroleum jelly

Hand holding door knob
A squeaky door is enough to drive anyone crazy. |

Sure, there are some heavy-duty solutions out there. But if you don’t need to spend extra money on a commercial-grade product, then don’t. Few things are more irritating than squeaky doors, which is why nipping them in the bud is crucial to maintaining your sanity. As Real Simple says, douse a heap of petroleum jelly onto the door’s hinges, and it should be silently swinging in no time at all.