10 Popular Life Hacks That Don't Actually Work


Who doesn't love a good life hack? The actual definition of the term "life hack" is "a tool or technique that makes an aspect of your life easier or more efficient." So naturally, anything that does that is going to be met with smiles and appreciative nods of the head. (See also: 20 Great Life Hack Lists)

Of course, for every life hack that changes your life in some small way, there's another that builds you up only to knock you down. These life hacks put the emphasis on hack (low quality, quick assembly, and generally useless), yet still populate the Internet. They're everywhere, spread by people who haven't tried them or who just refuse to believe anything they read could possibly be false.

Here are the top 10 life hacks I've found on the Internet that are not worth your time or energy. Seriously, you have better things to do than try (and fail) to make these work.

1. The Toilet Roll Smartphone Speaker

Why pay good money for those electronic gadgets that amplify your music so wonderfully when you have a perfectly good solution waiting for you in the bathroom? Well the reason is simple…an empty toilet roll is about as effective at amplifying sound as a slice of cheese.

There are many videos out there showing you how to make one of these. It's very simple — cut a slot in the tube, and balance it with a few pins. But it's just not worth the twenty seconds it takes to do. It sounds terrible. Yes, there are tubes that do work relatively well, such as bamboo. But empty toilet paper rolls should remain in the bathroom trashcan. Oh, and the solo cup cut in half for laptop speakers? That's awful as well. (See also: Alternative Uses for Things in Your Bathroom)

2. The Wooden Spoon to Stop a Pot Boiling Over

Go ahead. Try it. I did, last week. I read about this on the Internet, and like a man looking up the word gullible in the dictionary because he was told it wasn't in there, I gave it a shot.

It's very simple. Just place a pan of water on the stove and bring it to the boil. Then, place something in there like macaroni or potatoes, and turn the heat down slightly. Usually, if you're not watching carefully, the pot will boil over. But with this method? The pot will still boil over.

3. The Nail and Hammer Wine Opener

The party is in full swing, and you grab a bottle of wine and…disaster! There's no wine opener in the kitchen. You look everywhere, then go to the Internet for a handy life hack. And that's when you find the old "nail and hammer" trick. By tapping a nail into the cork at an angle, and then using your claw hammer to pull it out, you'll be the hero of the party. Except you'll actually be the one looking foolish as you simply show people how to pull a nail out of a cork. You'll also see a method involving five small nails that you pull in quick succession. This is also bogus. The only way to do this effectively is with a long, robust screw. Screw it in, leaving enough room to put the claw hammer underneath. Then pull up on the hammer slowly using brute strength. But a nail? That's just silly. (See also: Best Wine Openers)

4. The Cherry Tomato Slicing Trick

So apparently it's very time-consuming to cut cherry tomatoes individually. I'm not sure how many you need to be chopping in half every day to feel the need to search for a life hack, but one exists.

Allegedly, if you place 8-10 cherry tomatoes between two Tupperware lids, and push down firmly, you can slice through all of them in one go. You'll need a very sharp knife and the slicing skill of a ninja. And even then, it's pointless. If you don't do it with care and precision, you get a mess. And the time it takes to do it this way is longer than just quickly slicing them in the usual way.

5. The No-Mess Pancake Batter Bottle

These days, we're so busy that we don't have time to make pancakes and clean up the drippy mess. There is a life hack to get around this. You make up a whole bunch of pancake batter ahead of time, and then store it in empty squeezable ketchup bottles.

The problem with this is that it's actually more time-consuming to make the hack than it is to just clean up after making pancakes. It takes a lot of patience to get that batter into a ketchup bottle, and unless you get one with a wide opening, it takes a death grip to squeeze it all out. Don't bother. (See also: 15 Life Hacks to Save Time in the Morning)

6. The Toaster Sandwich Maker

If you don't have a sandwich press, don't worry. Just pop some ham and cheese between two slices of bread, turn your toaster on its side, and insert your creation. In a few minutes, you'll have a delicious cheesy treat. And melted cheese inside your toaster. And a ruined toaster.

This is wrong on so many levels. It's not only dangerous; it doesn't actually work very well. Those slots are made for one slice of bread, and you really have to jam that thing in there. If you try to avoid the cheesy drips by wrapping it all in foil, you get warm bread, not toast. So then you have to toast the bread first, before you…oh, what's the point?! Just use a frying pan like any sane person would.

7. The Easy-Release Garbage Bag

If you're struggling to get your full garbage bag out of the trashcan at home, you may be tempted to drill holes in the bottom of it. That's the life hack the Internet suggests using. Sadly, it's got some drawbacks. Yes, it does help you avoid the suction grip of a full bag. But, it also lets those nasty garbage smells emanate from the can. And if that's not enough, there's an even bigger hazard — garbage water. If you drill the holes too close to the bottom of the can, you can get nasty garbage water seepage. Personally, I'd rather struggle for a few seconds than deal with that.

8. The Crispy Pizza Crust From the Microwave

When it comes time to heat up pizza leftovers, there are two options. First, use the oven. This takes time to preheat and then bake. But it does work well. Second, use the microwave, which is fast but turns the crust into a soft, chewy mess. There is a life hack to get around this. When you heat up your pizza, do it with a small amount of water in a glass. This is supposed to keep it crusty, but when I tried it all I got was chewy soft crust and a glass of warm water. Busted. (See also: 14 Dishes You Can Make in the Microwave)

9. The Homemade Gin Recipe

I'm no fan of gin, but if you are there are life hacks all over the Internet that teach you how to make your own. Here's the problem, though: They all start with a base spirit, like vodka or…gin! Now call me crazy, but if you need to go and buy a ton of ingredients like cardamom pods, juniper berries, coriander seeds, lemongrass, liquorice root, cinnamon, and vodka, then you also have time to grab a bottle of gin. In fact, it's quicker to forget the other ingredients and go straight for the gin. A waste of time and money.

However, infused vodkas are a different story. (See also: How to Infuse Alcohol)

10. The Hair of the Dog

Quite possibly the most heavily quoted hangover cure of all time is "hair of the dog." Or, "bite the dog that bit you."

When you go out on the town and have a few too many, you wake up dehydrated, feeling queasy, with a pounding headache and the shakes. According to this life "hack," the best cure is to drink again. This is complete garbage. You may get very temporary relief from some of the symptoms, but all you are doing is delaying the inevitable. Also, don't take a bunch of pain meds before bed. You will be asleep when they are relieving pain and awake when they wear off. The best bet is to drink a lot of water during the evening, and again before bed, and eat a good meal before you start the celebrations.

Do you have some life hack failures you'd like to tell us about? What are you biggest disasters, and your greatest fails?

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Guest's picture

The Gin one is a little unfair.

Yes, if it's supposed to be some kind of money saving hack, sure, you're right that's just dumb.

However, the drink made from taking a neutral spirit (so, not starting with gin) and infusing it with other herbs and spices, with the primary flavoring being juniper berry is not gin. It's more analogous to the precursor to gin known as jenever; which is has a much different flavor profile, though uses similar herbs. The basic difference being that gins are typically distilled with their flavors, where as jenever is typically an infusion.

If the goal is to make jenever, which again is a different beast than gin, it's not a stupid crazy lifehack and not much different than the link you point to that tells you how to infuse spirit with things like skittles (which, IMO, is pretty vile).

Guest's picture

As a chef I'm telling you the tomato technique works. I don't know why you would be using an assembly line technique for an individual meal at home so I would stick with just cutting them manually. And I know it's shocking and people apparently need to be told this through the article but, yes, your knives need to be sharp in order to cut things. That's knives' whole...thing. They are sharp so they can cut. If they are no longer sharp enough to cut through a tomato its probably time to buy a new set of knives. The garbage bucket "hack" also works and you really shouldn't be putting liquids into your trash. Did nobody tell you this when you moved out on your own? Finally, the toaster sandwich hack must be for a toaster made for bagels so to judge it without using a toaster wide enough does not mean it does not work. Everything else on here IS useless and do not actually work.

My suggestion for the pancake batter is to use a ziplock bag. Fill the bag with batter, seal it, and cut a small hole in a bottom corner. Throw away the bag when done. Easy!