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Every year, Americans buy approximately 20 million hair dryers. Most of these people have one thing in mind when they make their purchase: drying their hair. But hair dryers can be used for so much more than that.
I use my hair dryer like a magic wand to make my life easier in the kitchen, bedroom, and even my office. If you want to learn how to use your hair dryer to make your life easier, too, look no further. Here are 10 things you didn’t know you can do with your hair dryer.
1. Break in your shoes
When I was growing up, it wasn’t unusual to see my brother clomping around the house in tube socks and high heels. My mother had painful bunions and paid him an hourly rate to break in her new shoes. If only she’d known about this hair dryer trick that can reshape your shoes in a fraction of the time.
First, bulk up your feet with a couple of pairs of tube socks like my brother did. Next, stuff them into those too-tight shoes. Flex your toes back and forth while warming the shoe with two minutes of air from the medium setting of your hair dryer (leave an inch or two of space between the nozzle of your hair dryer and your shoe to avoid scorching). Your shoes will be stretched and ready to wear as soon as they cool down. Make sure you only use this trick with genuine leather shoes. Vinyl shoes won’t stretch and the heat from your hair dryer could potentially damage them.
2. Unwrinkle your clothes
I’ve never been very good at ironing, so most of the time, I try to avoid it altogether by removing my clothes promptly from the dryer and giving them a good shake before I hang them up. However, there are times when I need to unwrinkle my clothes in a pinch, particularly when I’m traveling. Luckily, I’ve found it’s quick and easy to get my clothes smooth with a hair dryer. The trick is steaming the fabric first.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to hang your clothes in the bathroom while you’re showering. Keep the fan off so the room fills with plenty of steam, then give the garment a good blast of air using the hottest setting of your hair dryer (unless you’re unwrinkling a delicate textile, like silk, in that case, use the medium setting is to avoid burning your apparel). Do not let your hair dryer come into contact to with your fabric or you risk scorching your fabric. In most cases, this method smooths out wrinkles and creases within seconds without fussing with an iron or ironing board.
3. Remove crayon marks and candle wax
I don’t think there’s a toddler alive who hasn’t proudly decorated a wall with a crayon masterpiece. It’s something of a rite of passage. Parents, however, tend to prefer their walls a little less, um, colorful. If your future Banksy-in-training embellished your living room wall with a little bit of sneaky crayon street art, fear not. Crayons are made of wax, and wax melts when it gets hot.
Follow the advice of Bob Villa: Hold your hair dryer about an inch from the wall and shoot the crayon marks with hot air. This will soften the wax and make the wall easier to clean. Use a rubber spatula to scrape away as much of the melted crayon as possible before wiping the area to avoid smearing the wax around on your wall. This also works well for candle spills.
4. Remove labels, stickers, and price tags
If you repurpose glass jars or wine bottles, you probably know that the labels and price tags can be a real pain to remove. Not anymore. You can use your hair dryer to easily remove stickers, labels, and the like. Simply aim your hair dryer at the sticker and blast the hot air on the highest setting for 3-5 seconds. The label or price tag will peel off easily, since the warmed adhesive will have melted a bit.
6. Clean makeup off clothing
If you just spilled powder foundation, baby powder, or flour all over a nice black shirt, don’t panic: A quick blast of air can rid clothes of any powdery substance without rubbing it in and staining the garment. Resist the urge to wipe at the stain and instead use your hair dryer to blast the garment from both the inside and outside to remove the excess powder without making the blunder worse and smearing it all over your clothing
7. Inflate an air mattress
An air mattress is a necessity in any house. No guest room? No problem. These take up hardly any storage space, but fully inflated, they offer a comfortable sleeping space for visitors.
The downside of air mattresses? If you misplace or break your air pump, it’s useless. Enter the mighty hair dryer. You can use your hair dryer to fill your air mattress in lieu of an air pump. Just make sure you keep it on the coolest setting or you could end up melting your spare bed.
8. Clean your keyboard
I often eat lunch at my desk, and while I try not to make a mess, mess-making is something that comes naturally to me, much like basketball comes to Steph Curry or awesomeness to Beyonce. A can of compressed air is great for clearing crumbs out of keyboards, but since I work from home, I use my hair dryer to help with this, too. I just point it at my keyboard, let loose a shot of cold air, and my keyboard is free of dust, debris, and crumbs.
9. Defrost your freezer
Over time, a pesky layer of ice can form in your freeze, interfering with efficiency of your appliance, wasting energy, and encroaching on your available storage space. This is yet another time when your hair dryer can leave the bathroom and enter the kitchen: to properly defrost your freezer.
First, put down towels to protect your floors from moisture and melted ice. Next, turn off and empty the freezer. Turn on the hair dryer and start thawing: blowing warm air directly into the freezer will help accelerate the melting process. Be careful to keep the electrical cord away from the water collecting outside the freezer. You should also avoid blowing hot air on any given area for too long, to prevent warping or damaging the freezer itself.
10. Remove gum from carpet or hair
If you find gum someplace it shouldn’t be, like your hair or your carpet, it can be difficult to remove. Your best chance at removing it is to heat it up with your hair dryer. The folks at Mental Floss say this will soften the gum considerably, at which point you can scrape it away from clothing and carpet with the back of a spoon.
If the gum is stuck to your hair, blast it with hot air and remove as much of the gum as possible. Then, douse the area with oil and run a fine tooth comb or stiff bristled brush across the affected area repeatedly until all the remaining remnants work themselves loose.