9+ Popular Life Hacks That Don't Actually Work

Here are our 9+ favorite supposed life hacks that just don't quite work.
Christopher McFadden

The internet can be a fantastic wealth of information. Of course, this is provided you are getting trustworthy and reliable information.

Some of the most popular bits of info floating around the web include so-called "life hacks". They're so popular that there are dedicated sites revolving around lifehacks, their mission? Simplifying the lives of its readers.

However, lifehacks often seem too good to be true. Yes, they get everyone's attention, but often, they don't actually work. 


What are life hacks?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary (we were surprised it is now officially part of the English lexicon too), a life hack is defined as "a usually simple and clever tip or technique for accomplishing some familiar task more easily and efficiently."

Got it? Good, let's find some that don't actually fit this definition as they are complete myths. 

What are some popular life hacks that don't actually work?

And so, without further ado here are some of our favorite popular fake life hacks from the internet. Sadly, this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.

1. Toilet paper roll speakers are rubbish actually

life hack cardboard tube speaker
Source: Tiparium/YouTube

The Hack: If you tape together a few toilet paper tubes, you can put your phone inside it for a cheap speaker system.

The Fail: If anything, the cardboard muffles the sound. Need a cheap way to redirect sound waves? Put your phone in a glass bowl. The waves will be forced upward rather than lost and dampened by cardboard and tape.

2. Longer-lasting batteries via refrigeration

life hack fridge batteries
Source: Azri/Flickr

The Hack: Want longer-lasting batteries? Simply toss them in the freezer or a fridge for a few hours. The cold will extend the batteries' lifetimes, and you'll ultimately save money.

The Fail: This supposed lifehack was so popular that Energizer had to make a statement against it. "Cold temperature storage can in fact harm batteries if condensation results in corroded contacts or label or seal damage due to extreme temperature storage," the company noted. The shelf life is best at room temperature and with minimal humidity.

3. Tennis balls can be used to open locked doors, apparently

life hacks tennis balls
Source: Vladsinger/Wikimedia Commons

The Hack: Lock your keys in your car? Push a tennis ball against the lock. This forces air into the lock and moves the pins to unlock your car.

The Fail: You know a hack is a fail if Mythbusters can't prove it's valid. The hack went viral after a stunt on YouTube, and for the last decade, people have earnestly believed it. However, no amount of force will actually trigger the lock — even if you use a tennis ball with a smaller hole for greater air pressure.

4. Charge your phone with Gatorade and an onion

lige hack onion phone charger
Source: Household Hacker/YouTube

The Hack: Phones dying in public places might be one of the most annoying modern inconveniences. If you find yourself away from the reach of a charging cable, simply take an onion. Soak that onion in some Gatorade and voila — your phone will charge once you plug it into the onion.

The Fail: This hack seems plausible, especially if you've grown up going to science fairs where students have done that timeless potato alarm clock project. However, those projects normally include zinc galvanized nails and a clean, copper penny.

Those two metals get stuck into the potato and can conduct a flow of electrons. The popular onion hack lacks those two different metals to create a galvanic cell. If you really needed this hack to work, we guess you could strip the USB connector to connect the copper and zinc?

We certainly don't recommend it.

5. Use hand sanitizer to remove permanent marker from clothes

life hacks hand sanitizer
Source: Duncan Rawlinson/Flickr

Getting a permanent marker on a favorite shirt is worrisome. But how can you get it off?

The Hack: Save the wash and rub some hand sanitizer on it. The alcohol in the sanitizer will pull the stain right out.

The Fail: No, don't bother. Keep the sanitizer. It will cause the ink to bleed further into the fabric without actually removing it and the friction from rubbing on the stain will just spread it further.

6. Refrigerating extra beers with an air conditioning unit

life hack beers
Source: tookapic/Pixabay

The Hack: If you don't have enough room in your fridge for beers, you can "cold brew on a budget." Simply use hangers or tape to hold your beer next to an air conditioning unit.

The Fail: This is an excellent way to drop more beers than you cool. Would you really want to risk losing a beer when you can just stick the bottle in the freezer for a few minutes and get the same effect?

7. DIY plastic cup laptop speakers

life hack plastic cups
Source: Demetri Dourambeis/Flickr

The Hack: By placing two halves of a plastic cup on your laptop speakers, you can amplify the sound. It's perfect for parties or movie nights.

The Fail: This one is similar to the toilet paper roll hack in that it's equally ineffective. Granted, plastic doesn't absorb sound like cardboard. However, all this hack does is bounce the sound waves back to the keyboard rather than to the user.

8. A hammer and nails can open a bottle of wine

life hack hammer and nails
Source: Adam Rosenberg/Flickr

The Hack: This hack went viral among wine aficionados. If you can't find your corkscrew (or if you're celebrating the grand opening of a hardware store), you can open a bottle of wine with a nail and a hammer.

The Fail: The nails slip out pretty easily. While successful variations of this hack swear it's about the angle of insertion, most people report a low success rate. Just buy a cheap corkscrew or forget about the bottle and get boxed wine.

9. Untangle your headphones by shaking them

life hack tangled wires
Source: Peter Kaminski/Flickr

The Hack: Tired of your headphones knotting together in a purse or a bag? All you have to do is press down on the area where the earbuds connect and shake. In a few seconds, you'll have them untangled without the frustrations of actually detangling them.

The Fail: This might be an excellent way to take out your frustrations, but you'll look like an idiot doing this in public. Not to mention you'll probably whip yourself or others with the headphone cords.

10. Uncork wine with a wire clothes hanger

life hack fails clothes hangers
Source: Kevin Doncaster/Flickr

The Hack: Wine aficionados will be appalled by this suggestion, as they always know where their corkscrew is. However, not everyone is dedicated. This lifehack suggests using the bent end of a clothes hanger to pop out the cork.

The Fail: The hangers lack both the strength and the shape of a corkscrew. At best, you'll just pull the hanger straight out. At worst, you'll throw the wine bottle across the kitchen table as a reflex and cause it to shatter.

Oh, and you'll be one wire hanger short.

And that's a wrap folks.

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