How to Fix Common Household Problems Fast

Anyone can tackle tasks with these goof-proof solutions.

Anyone can tackle common household problems with these goof-proof solutions.

1. Tiny holes all over your walls
TOOL: White toothpaste
FIX IT: For white walls, the solution couldn't be easier. Using your finger, smear plain paste into the holes until they're flush with the rest of the surface. Have a colorful abode? Wait until the toothpaste dries and then retouch the spots with matching paint.

2. A tired, old toilet seat
TOOLS: New seat, measuring tape
FIX IT: Measure the seat from front to back and side to side; then hit the home store to buy a new one. Unscrew the wing nuts (under the seat near the back of the commode) and ease it out. Slip your new seat into the empty holes and screw it into place.

3. Rusty stains making your sink or tub look totally tie-dyed
TOOLS: Zud cleaning powder (sold at hardware stores), light-duty abrasive sponge
FIX IT: First, dry the basin. Sprinkle Zud onto the rust. Moisten rough side of the sponge. Scrub until stains flake off in black chunks. Don't get the sponge soaking wet or it will over-dilute the Zud.

4. Dresser drawers that stick; putting up a fight every time you need a bra
TOOLS: Unscented candle or WD-40
FIX IT: For wooden drawers that aren't on a metal track, rub the flat side of a candle onto the bottom corners at the base of each drawer. Got hardware? Remove drawers and apply WD-40 to the track. Reinstall drawers.

5. Dark scuffs on walls and doors from daily wear-and-tear
TOOLS: White vinegar, water, light-duty abrasive sponge
FIX IT: Combine the white vinegar and water in a half-and-half solution; then apply with abrasive side of the sponge on all the marks. Rub softly to avoid scratching off any of the paint.

6. A sagging sofa that makes it look like Tom Cruise made a house call
TOOLS: Quarter-inch plywood sheet with a smooth side, measuring tape
FIX IT: With cushions off, measure the dimensions of the bed of your sofa (most are around 20" by 66") and order corresponding plywood from a hardware store. Then place it smooth-side up under the cushions.

7. Unsightly scratches all over your once-prized pieces of wood furniture
TOOLS: Black permanent marker or wood repair kit
FIX IT: For dark woods (chocolate and deeper), color in the scratches with a Sharpie and try not to feel guilty for drawing on furniture. Lighter finishes call for a wood repair kit (it's like a crayon that breaks off into the scratch) in a matching hue. Think you're between shades? Buy two and blend 'em.

8. Drafty openings around windows
TOOLS: Clear caulk, LAMATEK foam weatherstripping (one inch wide by half-inch thick)
FIX IT: Use the clear caulk to fill in any gaps, which usually occur where the glass separates from the casement or between the wall and the window frame. If you have a window air conditioning unit, install the weatherstripping at the top, bottom, and sides of the unit. Be sure that you stuff it in as much as possible to ensure that it's both airtight and invisible.

9. Paint in your steamy bathroom that's peeling like a three-day-old sunburn
TOOLS: Putty knife, medium-grade sand paper, paint primer that's formulated for most environments (such as Kilz), extra paint
FIX IT: Scrape off the flaking paint with the putty knife; then sand the areas until they're smooth. Apply the primer; when it's completely dry, top it with two coats of matching semigloss paint. The slick finish will help provide a protective layer against any future mildew, staining and water damage.

10. Icky grout making your kitchen or bathroom look more like a “dingy diner"
TOOLS: Grout, 2-inch-thick kitchen sponge, dish washing soap
FIX IT: Dip the sponge in soapy water and wipe down the tile to get rid of surface dirt. Let it dry. In a bucket, mix grout per the instructions provided on the bag. (Different colors and sizes are available, starting at around 1 lb.) Next, smear the new grout over the old and press it into the cracks. Wipe off any excess and let it set overnight. It's key to do this from scratch, so don't use a fix-it.

11. Leather furniture that Snowflake used as a scratching post
TOOLS: Dish soap, soft cloth, towel, fine-grade sand paper (220 or 320 grit), leather repair kit in desired shade (
FIX IT: First, sand all the scratched areas lightly to smooth out the surface. Then apply the compounds from your leather repair kit as directed. To help maintain the finish, use a leather moisturizer and apply it according to the product's instructions.

12. Mold on the ceiling that could win first prize at a science fair
TOOLS: Bleach, non-abrasive sponge
FIX IT: Mix one part bleach to nine parts water and apply to the ceiling with a sponge (make sure your nose and mouth are covered). If the mold is dark, you may have to scrub. For persistent cases of mold, repeat every two months or as needed.

Nestpert: Dale Saylor, design and renovation pro at