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5 key life skills you can learn from Martha Stewart

The new CNN Original Series “The Many Lives of Martha Stewart” features never-before-seen images and rich archival footage that reveals the woman behind the legendary lifestyle icon. Catch two new episodes at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, February 4.

For millions of people over many decades, Martha Stewart has been the go-to in learning how to cook, host and clean a home like a grown-up.

Her first cookbook appeared in 1982, and since then she has become the face of design brands, TV shows and advice sites.

And even with a rollercoaster time in the spotlight and a stint in prison, Stewart has remained a trusted source when it comes to important rules of thumb.

Here are five things you need to learn today from the domestic diva.

Fold a fitted sheet

You start with the best intentions, but you end with a balled-up fitted sheet tossed into a linen closet, right?

Martha Stewart has the answer.

To start, put each hand in a corner of the fitted sheet. Then use your right hand to tuck that corner inside out over the one in your left hand. Keeping the two corners in your left hand, pull the top edge straight with your right hand.

Using your right hand to secure the fold, shake out the sheet to even out the bottom.

Follow the elastic edge down with your right hand until you get to the third corner, and fold that one over to join the other two in your left hand.

Next, lay the sheet on a flat surface, where it should look like a square with the elastic forming a crescent on the inside. You can then neatly fold it into a smaller square.

Still sound complicated? Watch her in action here.

Get rid of unsightly bathtub rings

The hardest-working cleaning product you can get may already be stocked in your pantry.

Baking soda — sodium bicarbonate — is a gentle yet effective choice for so many jobs around the house, according to Stewart.

Just a damp, abrasive sponge or cloth and some baking soda can clean bathtub rings. - Image Source/Getty Images
Just a damp, abrasive sponge or cloth and some baking soda can clean bathtub rings. - Image Source/Getty Images

“I think I’ve counted over 100 uses of baking soda,” she said on her show.

Stick a box in your fridge or sprinkle some in a trash bin or diaper pail to neutralize odors, she said. And of course, you can also use the natural abrasive to remove stubborn bathtub rings.

Just put some on the coarse side of a damp sponge and gently scrub the stains on the tub.

Open a stuck jar

Living on your own means not having anyone else to take a crack at the jar that won’t open.

No need to buy fancy contraptions. Instead, get resourceful with what you already have.

Put three heavy-duty rubber bands around the lid of a tightly sealed jar, and that should help give you enough of a grip to twist it open more easily, Stewart said.

When to water outdoor plants

If you want to keep a garden or even just a couple of outdoor plants alive and thriving, time of day matters, Stewart said.

You don’t want to water in the afternoon, when all the sunlight could lead to much of the water evaporating before it gets to the plant, she said.

Morning watering is best to keep your plants thriving, Stewart said. - Everett Collection
Morning watering is best to keep your plants thriving, Stewart said. - Everett Collection

In the evening, the water may puddle and cause the roots to rot, Stewart added.

The morning is the best time for watering plants so that they have the best chance of getting just the right amount of water to grow luscious and healthy, she said.

Iron fine linens

A sprinkling of water is also a good thing for wrinkled clothing or table linens.

To iron optimally, there are just a few rules you need to follow.

First, dampen the clothing item — you can use a spray bottle if needed, Stewart said.

Then, if you are ironing fine linens, it’s important to always iron on a terrycloth towel to protect the fabric, she added. Always keep the iron moving to avoid scorching.

And lastly, use the pointed tip of the iron to get in smaller spots, like in between buttons on a shirt to achieve a crisp, sophisticated look, Stewart said.

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