20 Life Hacks We've Learned in Lockdown

Did you notice that during lockdown everyone seemed to pick up new skills? The lockdown gave us lots (and lots) of time to get creative with how we do things, and many of us have discovered new tips and tricks for daily tasks.

We asked the Fast Ship team what they’ve learned in lockdown that makes their lives easier and they’ve had some incredible ideas. Here are our favorite 20 life hacks.

Coronavirus Hacks

Making your Mask

Purpose-made masks have been proven to be more effective, but a homemade mask can be a great backup in a pinch. The CDC has given instructions and tips on how to sew them. All you need is cotton fabric, scissors, elastic (rubber bands are fine too), needle and thread, and a sewing machine (or skillful hands). Check the instructional video here.

Prevent Foggy Glasses

Using a mask can be annoying when wearing glasses or sunglasses as they have a tendency to fog up. There are two ways to prevent this from happening: you can either fold a tissue inside your mask to absorb the moisture and warm breath, or find a well-fitting mask so the warm air doesn’t escape. 

Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

At the beginning of the pandemic, it became almost impossible to find hand sanitizer, so we started making our own instead. It’s easier than you might think! All you need is isopropyl of 91–99 percent alcohol, aloe vera gel, and essential oils. Combine two parts of alcohol with one part of aloe vera and a few drops of your preferred essential oil. Pour into a container and there you have it: an endless supply of sanitizer.

Food-saving Tips

The Way to Grate Cheese

With restaurants and takeaways being closed, we’ve all been cooking more during lockdown so kitchen hacks are in high demand. The next time you’re making a grilled cheese sandwich or a cheesy topping for pasta, try this simple trick. Instead of positioning the triangle-shaped grater vertically, use it horizontally. This will allow you to put less effort into grating big blocks of cheese, and the grated part falls inside of the triangle so you can pour it easily into bowls. 

Preserve Fresh Vegetables

Throwing away spoiled fresh produce is frustrating but there’s a cheap and effective way to make them last longer. Line your vegetable drawer with paper towels for them to absorb the moisture from the condensation, which will keep them fresh for longer. Make sure you wash and dry the greens before storing them in the fridge, too, to avoid any extra moisture.

No Eggs, No Problem

For pancakes and cakes, eggs play an essential role in thickening and adding moisture to the mix. If you don’t eat eggs or you’ve run out, you can still achieve a seriously tasty pancake by substituting them with ripe bananas, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar. For each egg, use a quarter of a cup of mashed banana or add one teaspoon baking soda and one tablespoon vinegar. Or, use both for better, fluffier results.

Storing Nuts

Similar to vegetables, nuts tend to get soft if they are not stored correctly. To make your peanuts, cashews, almonds, and walnuts last for longer you can roast them at 350 degrees for ten minutes then store them in the freezer in small portions until you’re ready to eat them. This hack will keep your nuts edible for six months.

Cottage Cheese and Yogurt Storage

Dairy products are particularly hard to maintain for long periods. However, you can extend the life of your yogurt and cottage cheese by storing them upside down in the fridge. It might sound silly but trust us: it works.

Money-saving Home Hacks

Reuse Toilet Paper Tubes

Paper rolls are very malleable and can be useful for gardening. You can create your own biodegradable starting seed pots by making four cuts to the paper tube lengthwise and folding the sections inwards to close the tube. Likewise, you can use them to organize your desk by painting them and placing them vertically inside a box.

Natural Bin Deodoriser

Forgetting to take out the trash can leave you with a stinky situation on your hands, and when your life is happening mostly indoors, you want to keep your place smelling nice. Refresh your bin by putting lemon or lime peel in the bottom of the bag. You can also clean the borders of the bin with the juice to keep flies and other insects at bay.

Solving Tunneled Candles

Good candles can be costly and you’ll want to make them last as long as possible, so try eliminating the built-up wax on the sides of the candle with tinfoil. All you need to do is wrap the foil around the edges in a dome shape, leaving a hole in the middle for the heat to come out. Leave the candle to burn around 20 minutes and you’re good to go. See how to do it here.

File Holders for Storage

If you’re looking to de-clutter your home you don’t need to splash out on new shelves. Instead, you can repurpose cheap file holders to gain some extra space while saving money. You can use them to store canned food, veggies, toilet paper, or cleaning products. Check out this brilliant thread for inspiration.

Use Vinegar for Your Floors

Keeping your home clean is crucial to staying safe and maintaining a good environment throughout confinement. For a simple, homemade solution for deep cleaning floors, use a solution of 1:3 vinegar and water for ceramic tiles, or a gallon of water for a quarter of vinegar for porcelain. Use a microfiber cloth and toothbrush to apply the solution and your floors will sparkle.

Use a Hair Dryer to Remove Stickers

Have your kids done a little decorating of their own while they’ve been stuck at home? Don’t worry, there’s an easy way to remove stickers from walls and furniture. Put your hairdryer on its highest heat 10cm away from the sticker for one minute. Test and give it another minute if you can’t remove it easily.

A Box for the Cat

Pets have been lifesavers for many people during lockdown (they’re great for keeping spirits up). Yet, our feline friends can make it hard to concentrate while working from home when they’re constantly knocking things over and sitting on your keyboard. You can reclaim your workspace by simply putting a cardboard box next to you on your desk. Almost by default, cats choose to explore box-like shapes and tend to stay in it. Try it, it really works!

Beauty Tips and Tricks

Avocado Mask

Whether you love it or hate it in your salads, avocado is an incredible skin-nourishing fruit that promotes softness and nurtures our face with healthy fats and vitamin E. Avocado face masks are a quick-fix for dry skin and long-term wrinkle prevention and they’re very easy to make. Simply take half an avocado and one tablespoon of honey, combine, and stir it until you get a paste-like consistency. Wash it off after 15 minutes and repeat once per week.

Get Back Healthy Hair 

We’re all spending more time at home these days so it’s a great opportunity to let your hair recover from damage caused by over-styling. Try changing your towel for an old cotton t-shirt or a piece of cloth to keep hair frizz-free, and use a deep moisturizing product once a week to stimulate growth and prevent split ends. It can also be hugely beneficial to let hair dry naturally instead of blow-drying it.

Work Hacks

Master Online Meetings

With e-learning and web-based workspaces dominating our jobs and education right now, it can be worth taking time to learn a few video calling hacks. Tricks like angles, lighting, and background are important for giving a professional first impression, and knowing how to use a video platform’s modes and settings can make your calls much more professional. Find how to hack your Zoom meetings here.

Filter Spam

Are you tired of scrolling over spam emails to get to the good stuff? It’s actually super easy to classify and move most spam out of your primary inbox. You just need to create a new folder to move all emails that include words such as “Unsubscribe” or “Manage your preferences” into. Find the simple steps in this page for Outlook, or here for Gmail.  

Staying Focused

Probably the most useful hacks that came up from lockdown were the ones that help establish routines and set clear goals. For us, this is the key to making social distancing manageable. Keep your days structured with task lists that you can tick off. Putting your phone in another room is also a great trick for staying focused without getting distracted.

Check out even more life hacks, here: