Cleaning and Cooking Tricks for Toothpicks

Embrace chores simply -- with the help of a toothpick.

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things

Mark rare, medium, and well done

Your guests want their steaks done differently at the family cookout, but how do you keep track of who gets what? Easy. Just use different-colored toothpicks to mark them as rare, medium, and well done and get ready for the accolades.

Stick through garlic clove for marinade

If you marinate foods with garlic cloves, stick a toothpick through the clove so you can remove it easily when you are ready to serve the food.

Keep pots from boiling over

Oh darn! It seems like all you have to do is turn around for one minute and the pot is boiling over, making a mess on the stovetop. Next time, just stick a toothpick, laid flat, between the lid and pot. The little space will allow enough steam to escape to prevent the pot from boiling over. This also works with a casserole dish that’s cooking in the oven.

Microwave potatoes faster

The next time you microwave a potato, stick four toothpick “legs” in one side. The suspended potato will cook much faster because the microwaves will reach the bottom as well as the top and sides.

Control your use of salad dressing

Restrict your intake of carbs and calories from salad dressing. Instead of removing the foil seal when you open the bottle, take a toothpick and punch several holes in the foil. This will help prevent overuse of the dressing and make it last longer.

Keep sausages from rolling around

When cooking sausages, insert toothpicks between pairs to make turning them over easy and keep them from rolling around in the pan. They’ll cook more evenly and only need to be turned over once.

Mark start of tape roll

Instead of wasting time trying to find the beginning of a tape roll, just wrap it around a toothpick whenever you are done using the tape, and the start of the roll will always be easy to find. No more frustration, and you can use the time you just saved to attack something else on your to-do list.

Clean cracks and crevices

To get rid of dirt, grime, and cobwebs in hard-to-reach cracks or crevices, dip an ordinary toothpick in some alcohol and run it through the affected area. Also try this to clean around the buttons of your phone.

Apply glue to sequins

If you’re working on a project that calls for gluing on sequins or buttons, squirt a little glue on a piece of paper and dip in a toothpick to apply small dabs of glue. You won’t make a mess, and you won’t waste glue.

Make sewing easier

Make sewing projects easier and complete them faster. Just use a round toothpick to push fabrics, lace, or gatherings under the pressure foot as you sew.

Touch up furniture crevices

The secret to a good paint touch-up job is to use as little paint as possible, because even if you do have the right paint, the stuff in the can may not exactly match the sun-faded or dirty paint on the furniture. The solution: Dip the end of a toothpick in the paint and use it to touch up just the crevice. Unlike a brush, the toothpick won’t apply more paint than you need, and you won’t have a brush to clean.

Repair small holes in wood

Did you drive a finish nail or brad into the wrong spot in your pine project? Don’t panic. Dip the tip of a toothpick into white or yellow glue. Stick the toothpick in the hole and break it off. Sand the toothpick flush to the surface and you will never notice the repair.

Repair a bent plant stem

If the stem of your favorite plant has folded over, it by no means dooms the plant. Straighten the stem and support it by placing a toothpick against the stem and wrapping the toothpick on with tape. Water the plant. Keep your eye on the plant — depending on how fast it grows, the stem will regain its strength and you’ll need to remove the splint so you don’t strangle the stem.

Repair a leaky garden hose

If your garden hose springs a leak, don’t go out and buy another one; just find the hole and insert a toothpick in it. Cut off the excess part of the toothpick. The water will make the wood swell, plugging up the leak every time.