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Fix A Broken Umbrella With Dental Floss and 4 other Strange Fix-It-Yourself Hacks That Actually Work

Solve these irritating problems — fast.

Whenever you’re on a time crunch, it seems like everything goes wrong. For example, nothing’s more irritating than finding out your vacuum is broken or your window screen has a tear when you’re getting your house ready to entertain. Need a quick fix? Check out these expert tips for easily solving common, everyday problems so you can move on with your plans.

Repair a vacuum with your sewing kit.

Ugh. You’re giving the living room a quick vacuum, but you realize the crumbs, dirt, and dust bunnies aren’t actually going anywhere. Before you spend upwards of $200 on a nicer, newer vacuum, check for hair — the appliance’s sworn enemy. When stray strands get tangled around the rotating brush, the vacuum can lose suction. Instead of struggling to tug hair out of the bristles, grab a seam ripper from your sewing kit and run it horizontally across the tangle. The thin, sharp tool will pull out the knot easily — and your vacuum will work like new.

Revive a severed flower stem with a straw.

Nothing adds to the ambience like fresh flowers, especially in the spring. You gathered the most beautiful blooms from your garden and are arranging a centerpiece on the dinner table, when the stem on one of the flowers breaks. A quick fix: Using masking tape, attach the flower to a straw; trim it so the flower is the same length as the others, then place it in the middle of the bouquet — no one will see the straw, and the blooms will look flawless.

Patch a window screen with a dab of clear nail polish.

It’s a beautiful spring day. When you go to open your window to enjoy the breeze, you realize there’s a hole in your screen. You don’t have time to run to the hardware store for a replacement. To fix it quick, grab some clear nail polish, advises how-to expert Aaron Green of Essential Home and Garden. “Dab a small amount over the hole and use a toothpick to spread it evenly. Apply two or three coats, and the hole will be secured — plus, with the clear polish, you won’t even see it.”

Fix a missing pot knob with a wine cork.

You grab your favorite pot to start a one-pot pasta primavera, and the lid’s knob pops right off. Don’t change dinner plans just yet — instead, grab a wine cork! “Slide a screw through the hole in the lid and twist the cork on from the other side, making sure it’s tight,” says Green. “This also works for a broken knob on a cabinet.” Your pot is saved, and so is dinner. Treat yourself with a glass of wine, now that the bottle’s open, anyway.

Mend a broken umbrella with a bit of dental floss.

A sudden spring shower has arrived, so you grab your only umbrella in order to check the mail without getting soaked, but it has a malfunctioning spoke. To ensure your mail (and your hair) doesn’t getting waterlogged, reattach the spoke fast with dental floss: Simply cut a few 2 inch-long pieces of the floss, then use a sewing needle to thread the string through the fabric, tying it back to the spoke. The water-resistant floss will hold the umbrella together through the drizzles. (Click through to learn how to zipper that came off.)

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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