For something so small and simple, a toothpick is a very handy thing to carry around. In addition to their obvious use in keeping teeth clean, they've been used by generations of cooks and bakers as a way to test the doneness of cakes, or to attach pineapple rings and maraschino cherries to baked ham. This only scratches the surface of the humble toothpick's versatility, as it also has so many surprising household uses.
1. Repair Leaky Hoses
During the summer months, your garden hose can sometimes get a lot of abuse, and -- especially when it's kinked -- can develop a leak or two along its length. This reduces the pressure on the nozzle or sprinkler and may also wastewater. For a quick fix, find the leak and insert the fine tip of a toothpick into the hole as hard as possible. Cut off the excess so the end of the toothpick is flush with the hose, then carefully dry the area and wrap it with tape. A patch won't last forever, but it will extend the life of the hose for several months until you can easily replace it.
2. Reset Those Electronics
Anyone with a social media account knows that the most commonly used technical troubleshooting advice is to "turn it off and back on," a simple yet useful advice that has spawned countless memes. If the first step doesn't work, perhaps the second most common method is to find and press your device's "reset" button.
They usually fit into small holes in the back or bottom of the device, so they can't be pushed in accidentally, and you'll need something small to reach in and press the buttons. The toothpick is just the right size, and unlike a straightened paper clip, it's less likely to tear or puncture the button's protective cover.
3. Moisture Test Your Houseplants
Indoor plants bring life, color, and freshness to any room, and some can even remove pollutants from indoor air. These are all positives, but some struggle to keep them alive and thriving. Often the problem is over or under-watering, and unless you're an experienced gardener, it's hard to tell. A good rule of thumb is to water when the soil dries to a depth of an inch or so.
To test, insert a toothpick into the soil as you would a test cake. If you can see the debris or soil or moisture when you pull it out, the soil is still intact. If the toothpick is dry, it's time to pick up the watering can.
4. Mark the End of the Tape
If you want to prove the versatility of tape, just walk to the shelf of your local hardware store and think about how many types of tape there are actually. There is a tape for almost every conceivable use, and they all seem to have one thing in common: finding the end of the roll and starting it is more work than it should actually be.
To make your life easier, make sure you have a toothpick handy when using the tape. When you're done, place a toothpick on the end of the tape and wrap the tape around it. Toothpicks keep the tape from sticking together and provide a convenient "handle" for you to grab the end.
5. Repair Peeling Screws
Nails are great for holding wood together, but screws are better. Of course, they are not perfect. Over time and use, they can loosen, and if overtightened, they can strip the wood inside the screw holes. Fixing the problem by moving the screw to a new location leaves an unsightly hole, which is sometimes obviously impossible. To get around this difficulty, grab a toothpick.
Remove the screws and slide one or more toothpicks into the holes, breaking them off so they are flush with the surface. When you screw the screw back in, its threads grip the toothpick and hold it securely.
6. Hide Nail Holes
A large hole in a wall or in a piece of wood will take some effort to fix, using some kind of filler or maybe even a patch. Smaller holes are easier to work with, usually, all you need is a toothpick. Insert the thin end of a toothpick as deep as possible into the hole, then use scissors or an edge cutter to cut it flush with the wall or plank surface. Slightly larger holes may require two or three.
For a more permanent fix, start with a drop or two of wood glue or construction adhesive on each toothpick. To complete the restoration, sand the toothpick tip flush with the surface, then paint or stain if necessary.
7. Remove Limescale from the Shower Head
Over time, minerals from the local water supply can sometimes clog the small holes in the shower head. This restricts the flow of water, and over time, it can lead to a less-than-ideal shower. To fix this, soak the shower head in a vinegar-water solution or a commercial descaling solution.
After soaking and rinsing, use the tip of a toothpick to physically remove the softened buildup (you may need to soak more than once). A toothpick is strong enough to remove limescale, but unlike metal tools, it won't damage the shower head. The same trick applies to your garden hose nozzles and sprinklers.
8. Save on Salad Dressing
Making your own salad dressing is a great way to maximize freshness and reduce additives, but when you're pressed for time, bottled salad dressing from the supermarket is more convenient. They do have one big inconvenience, though, which is that they tend to spit out more dressing than you really want. A simple toothpick is a solution to this problem. Instead of peeling off the plastic wrap for the next bottle, use a toothpick to puncture the seal in several places.
Start with a small amount, then squeeze the bottle to see how much comes out. Typically, thinner dressings require fewer holes, and thicker dressings require more holes. Once you're happy with how it flows, just cap the bottle and put it back in the refrigerator for the next use.
9. Put Those Hot Dogs on the Grill
Steaks, ribs, and burgers are delicious and flat, perfect for grilling. Hot dogs and some sausages are less popular. Because they are round, they often try to roll off the grill while cooking. This is fine for your dog, but not so much for humans.
To prevent this from happening, cross a toothpick or two through each dog or sausage. They'll stop the dog from trying to escape, and you can pull them out when you're done. The same trick works for vegetables like asparagus and helps keep slender spears from simply falling off the grill.
10. Deflate the Lid
Some of the most stubborn and annoying kitchen messes start with a boiling pot, and the resulting splatter burns badly on the cooking surface. Many pot lids now feature a small vent hole built in to help prevent this, but it's not common. If your pot lid is solid, you can use a few toothpicks to protect yourself from boiling over.
Anytime you can't give your full attention to a pot, just use a toothpick or two to support the rim of the pot's lid. This creates enough space for the steam to escape. It also works great when heating food on a plate in the microwave. You can even use this trick in reverse by propping up the lid of a still-hot pan when you put it in the freezer to speed up cooling.
Above we have introduced several applications of toothpicks in the family. If you want to buy toothpicks first, please contact us.
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