5 Quick Fixes for Commonly Jammed Items

Key stuck in the lock? There’s a simple trick to getting it loose.
Key stuck in the lock? There’s a simple trick to getting it loose.
©iStockphoto.com/Martin Vallière

Even though it takes only seconds to cause the problem -- like breaking a light bulb off in its socket or putting a key in the lock and getting it stuck -- jammed objects can take forever to get free. You can spend all day prying and still never get that stuck key out of the lock.

Don't waste any more of your precious time dealing with silly annoyances like jammed keys. We've got 5 quick ways to loosen your worst jams with tips you'd never think of in your moment of frustration. All you need is some talcum powder and a little help from your pantry and shower. First, we'll take a look at what to do if your jeans won't zip up - which, of course, will only happen when you're in a public place, so listen up!




Our favorite sweaters aren't always the most expensive ones, which means you may run into some issues getting cheaper zippers to zip up. Even the zippers on quality products get stuck from time to time -- usually when it's most embarrassing for you, such as on your jeans when you ducked in for a bathroom break on a first date, or on your jacket after you've spilled sauce all down your shirt.

The fix is easy, though: If a zipper keeps getting stuck, take a dry bar of soap and rub it up and down the zipper's teeth. If you always have a problem with the zipper of that favorite sweater of yours, keep a travel size bar of soap (the kind you can snag on a hotel stay) in your purse for emergencies.




All of your clothes are folded and organized in their drawers. They may even be color coded, but your stellar organizational skills won't matter if you can't get the drawer open.

If you have a cabinet or dresser drawer that sticks constantly, take a bar of soap and run it along the drawer's rail(s). Alternately, find a use for that old candle with the wick that's too short to light: Rubbing an old candle along the rails will also keep the drawer from sticking shut. You'll be able to pull the drawers in and out with ease -- and pat yourself on the back for being handy as well as organized.




If you have an old lock in your house, you know how frustrating it is when you put the key in the lock and nothing happens. It won't turn left or right, and you practically break the key off trying to get it back out. (Be careful, because a key broken in the lock is another issue entirely!)

Avoid this frustrating situation with a little help from your kitchen pantry. A thin coating of olive oil will help ease the movement of a key that tends to stick in the lock, making it a lot easier for you to get in and out of the house or room.




What were you thinking when you tied your shoes? There's no way you concocted a knot so complicated, but your attempt to prevent your sneakers from coming untied has somehow changed into a convoluted puzzle too difficult and tight for your fingers to work through.

There is an easy solution for such a seemingly difficult problem. A light dusting of talcum powder on a stubbornly tight knot in a shoelace or other fabric string can make it easier to loosen and untie. Just stick with the double-knot next time you lace up your sneakers -- or keep a supply of talcum powder handy!



Light Bulbs

There's an easy way for a simple light bulb-change to go wrong: You try to unscrew the burnt-out bulb, but it gets caught in the track wrong, or you accidentally pull too hard, and it breaks off in its socket. This is a really dumbfounding problem -- getting a piece of metal out of a socket with nothing to grab onto to twist it with -- much more so than a simple burned-out bulb was. Well, this is only a problem if you aren't clued in to our easy solution.

Grab a bar of soap, press it gently but firmly into the portion of the bulb remaining in the socket, and use it to unscrew the remnant. For safety's sake, you should cut the electrical power to the socket first.


Adapted from "101 Old-Time Country Household Hints," © 2008 Publications International, Ltd.