From The Tips Box: Christmas Lights, Toy Packaging, Carpet Gum

Readers offer their best tips for repurposing Christmas lights year-round, clever uses for annoying toy packaging, and smart methods for getting gum and other gooey things out of your carpet.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons — maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in — the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Email it to tips at

Use a Socket Adaptor to Put LED Lights in a Lamp

Mark keeps his Christmas lights useful year-round with clever placement:

A string of LED holiday lights, combined with a cheap socket adaptor from your local home-improvement centre, can transform a lamp or overhead light into a romantic, eco-friendly light source.

A 50-bulb string uses less than 5 watts of electricity, and, especially this time of year, you can buy them for a fraction of the price of those fancy-schmansy commercial LED bulbs.

Use Compressed Air to Easily Remove Gum from Carpeting

Jerry LeNeave keeps cleaning frustration to a minimum with this easy tip:

Need to get gum or other nasty substances out of your carpet? All you need is that can of compressed air laying over by your PC. Turn the can upside down spraying out the frozen liquid goodness, once the gum (or other offending goop) is frozen solid, pull from the carpet without a gooey mess.

Warning: That liquid is extremely cold, so proceed with caution and at your own risk.

Reuse Difficult Toy Packaging as Heavy Duty Twist-Ties

Dan finds other uses for difficult toy packaging:

Obviously this is about 2 weeks late, but I thought I would share it all the same.

I love buying my kids toys. Partly because I want to play with them,but also to see their faces as they open another box of imported Chinese plastic.

The main peril I face are the 25 feet (minimum) of plastic coated cheese-wire that comes tangled around every piece of $US3 Toys R Us crap. I have yet to discover an easy way to remove the wire, but I can tell you that I now keep all of it because it makes the best ever wire-ties.

I use it on spare USB cables, power adapters, A/V cables...everything. Zip ties can be expensive and supermarket wire ties are just plain crap.

Pro Tip: DO NOT cut the wire with scissors. It seems the wire has been reinforced with some kind of generic Chinese Kryptonite. When cutting the wire to length, be sure you use wire cutters.

Fill Dishwasher Soap Immediately to Signal Dirty Dishes

SloYerRoll shares a neat way of telling whether the Dishwasher has been run or not:

When I empty the dishwasher, I fill it with soap right away. When I go to put dishes in, I instantly know if they are dirty or not. Open = Clean, Closed = Dirty.

We'll assume SloYerRoll is using dry dish detergent for this one, since we'd imagine the liquid detergent could dry out before you get to running the dishwasher.


    Where exactly do you get cans of compressed air from? I've been to local hardware stores, $2 shops, even computer repair places, and noone has them for sale.

    You can buy them from Dick Smith, Harvey norman, and a few PC stores in QLD

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