Urawaza: Japanese Household Tips and Tricks


“Urawaza” — literally “secret tips”, are neat little tips and tricks usually shared by Japanese housewives with each other to help make their lives easier and more economical. These tips involve everything from using food scraps as cleaning or beauty supplies to re-purposing torn stockings and frayed towels as food storage or garden supplies.

There are literally hundreds of them — passed on from mother-in-law to newly-wed as an oral tradition, picked up by college students via TV shows, and now viewed by foreign urawaza enthusiasts through books and through YouTube.

Here are five examples from a selection of urawaza sites:

Wipe out hairline scratches from a CD or DVD, by rubbing flouride toothpaste over the scratch, and buffing it with a smooth cloth like flannel until the scratch disappears. The toothpaste smooths out the scratches well enough for your CD or DVD drive to read the disc.

If your inkjet printer runs dry and you only have to print two or three pages at most, just take out the cartridge and heat it up with your hairdryer for two to three minutes. Put it back into its slot inside the printer while it is still warm and quickly print out your documents before the cartridge cools. The heat melts dried up ink inside the ink chambers, giving you a few more lines worth of printing before it completely gives out.

To get rid of nasty food smells from the inside of your microwave oven that wiping down with soapy water can’t remove, microwave the peel from one orange on the High setting for two minutes. The vaporized oils from the orange peel will neutralize any odors and leave the inside of your microwave smelling citrusy and fresh.

To remove faint ink stains and give your nails a nice shiny finish, buff it with the thermal paper receipt from your friendly neighborhood convenience store. The microscopic ridges on the paper will act like a nail buffer and give you shiny nails on the go.

Instead of purchasing commercial odor eaters or air fresheners for your car, stuff dried-out whole coffee beans that you can’t drink anymore into a cloth bag made from porous materials like linen or cheesecloth, and hang the bag from your car’s suit hanger hook (aka the oh shit handle). The smell of coffee will not only perfume your car interior, it will also help keep you awake during late night drives.

For more urawaza tips, check out chiebukuro-net.com (Japanese only). You can also purchase Lisa Katayama’s English-language Urawaza collection online or from your favorite brick-and-mortar store.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. kenryoku says:

    oh shit handle?


  2. lol yeah the oh shit handle — you know, that plastic handle on the inside of the roof of your car, next to the windows. that one you grab when your dad decides all of a sudden that he’s michael schumacher and careens down EDSA while you’re hanging on the plastic handle screaming “oh shit oh shit oh shit!!!” πŸ˜€


  3. Shabby says:

    Interesting! There might be some tips for emergency situations like spilled drink/s on night-outs. XD;


  4. the go-to guy for spilled wine and drinks is club soda, but yeah there might be other ones as well πŸ™‚


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