Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work

Some ideas are so dumb, they’re actually genius. Let’s check out dumb ideas that, somehow, actually work.


They say the best ideas are often the simplest. But there’s a fine line between simple and stupid. In fact, some ideas are so dumb, they’re actually brilliant. Let’s check out 20 of these dumb ideas that, somehow, actually work.

20. The Big Flush

You’ve probably heard of synchronized ice skating and swimming, but what about synchronized flushing? It sounds like the next big Olympic sport, but it’s Zimbabwe’s answer to their blocked sewage pipes problem.

In 2012, the mayor of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, ordered residents to flush their toilets simultaneously for an hour twice a week to keep the pipes from becoming clogged.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work synchronized flushing

As the blockages were due to flushed matter drying out and getting stuck in shoddy pipework, the big flush would keep the pipes wet, hopefully solving the problem. Admittedly, many residents deemed it successful.

Other residents, however, felt the leaders should be looking at more permanent solutions. Indeed, city-wide clogged toilets are worth causing a stink about.

19. Mirror Mountain

The village of Viganella in Italy was built at the bottom of such a steep valley that the sun disappears behind the mountains throughout winter. That’s 3 entire months in total shadow! But in 2005, an engineer and architect visited the village and came up with an idea.

You can’t move the mountains, but what if you could reflect the sun’s rays? The village raised €100,000 to construct a 400-sq-ft mirror for just such a purpose, which now reflects the winter sun down to the valley.

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The idea was so successful that the Norwegian town of Rjukan also installed a sun mirror in 2013, to even greater effect. Rjukan used to spend 6 months in darkness but now thrives under its reflected sun. Just don’t try to use the mirror to fix your hair; you’d probably go blind.

18. Iced Shoe

Are you tired of having stanky shoes, even after washing them? Ever thought about just throwing them in the freezer? It sounds crazy, but when you freeze your shoes for a good few hours, it kills the odor-producing bacteria.

Just remember to put them in a Ziploc bag first before you throw them in. You want to get the smell out of your shoes, not give your food foot fungus.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work

17. Flamin’ Hot

When civilization inevitably collapses, you’ll probably need to kindle a fire at some point. But of all the useful relics of the civilized world, there’s a surprisingly common fire-making tool that might surprise you: Doritos.

Your stockpiles of these snacks may actually come in handy, as their high carbohydrate and oil content makes them an ideal fire-starting material with a surprisingly long burn time. But don’t be fooled by the names: Cool Ranch works just as well as Flamin’ Hot Nacho Cheese flavor.

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16. Making A Stand

If you get tired of holding your tablet upright while watching movies, this next solution is for you. All you need are a couple of clothes hangers and a lazy temperament. By threading a folding tablet case around a plastic hanger, you can hang it from your ceiling fan or bunk bed.

If you want to take it up a notch to big-brain level, carefully fold a metal hanger and live the life of a very modern DIY genius. It’s amazing what brilliance our laziness inspires. Relax smarter, not harder.


15. Cheese Floss

Do you stay up late at night, worrying about cheese and dental hygiene? Of course, you do. Luckily, there’s a solution that combines dairy snacks with flossing. It’s also weirdly satisfying to watch.

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Thanks to the razor-thinness of floss, it’s perfect for cutting foods like cake and cheese when your knives are dirty. However, only use unscented floss, unless you’re into minty cheese.

14. Anti-Knot Powder

When your shoelaces and jewelery become tangled in knots, it can be extremely frustrating. But a simple solution can be found easily in your pantry or bathroom cabinet.

By sprinkling some corn starch or talcum powder on stubborn knots, you lubricate the material with tiny particles, making it easier to untie. It sounds bizarre, but it works. A big corn-gratulations to whoever figured this one out.

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13. Three Weeks’ Notice

Reddit user ‘Stellapotamus’ should be congratulated for his amazing solution to a needlessly-overcomplicated doctor’s appointment cancellation. When the Redditor went to cancel his appointment, he was told there was a $200 charge for canceling without a week’s notice.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work doctor’s appointment cancellation

But he also realised it was free to reschedule. So, he rescheduled his appointment for three weeks’ time. Moments after doing so, he asked to cancel the appointment. The receptionist told him they needed a week’s notice to do so without the charge. Stellapotamus politely pointed out that his appointment was now in three weeks’ time.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work

The receptionist realised they’d been had, but could do nothing but accept it, saying, “Oh. Okay. Sure." With a polite "thank you", Stellapotamus ended the encounter and smugly went about his day. That poor receptionist never stood a chance.

12. Stop Right There

If you ever find yourself waiting for a while at a bus stop in Germany that seems suspiciously devoid of busses, you may well be at a fake bus stop. Especially in Düsseldorf, the first place to bring in the bizarre practice. But why?

German nursing homes have started using this tactic to keep Alzheimer’s patients from wandering off. While the patients’ short-term memory slowly disintegrates, certain long-term memories remain, like remembering the purpose of a bus stop. Patients occasionally escape, and flock to the bus stop, assuming it will take them home.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work fake bus stops

Of course, the bus stops – while provided by the cities’ transport networks – aren’t actually connected to any transport lines. When the staff notices the patients out there, waiting for hours with little concept of time, they know exactly what’s happened.

The staff brings them back in, telling patients that the bus is late and will come later. Once they get back to the home, they forget they left in the first place.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work

11. Percussive Maintenance

When the Apple III computer was released in 1980, it came with a number of flaws including overheating, which caused the integrated chips to expand and become dislodged. Steve Jobs refused to add noisy vents to the design, so Apple proposed another solution.

In a technical bulletin, they instructed problem-encountering owners to “lift the machine 3 inches and drop it in order to reseat the chips on the logic board”.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work

It worked, and the whole story seems to suggest that your old man hitting the TV to fix the signal wasn’t just an act of idiotic frustration. Man-on-machine violence – fixing electronics since 1980.

10. Off The Hook

For Jasper Lawrence, allergies were a problem his entire life. So when he heard about Dr. David P. Strachan’s “Hygiene hypothesis”, he was convinced the answer to his problem was parasites.

The theory, based on studies into the impressive immunity of primitive tribes around the world, suggested that parasites and bacteria help maintain the internal balance of our bodies. So, Jasper made a trip to Cameroon and infected himself with 50 hookworms.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work hookworms immunity

At the end of the 8-week incubation period, he realised that his symptoms had declined significantly. Hookworms are thought to regulate inflammation in the host’s body, which reduces the extreme effects of allergies. But the question is: would you turn your body into a medicinal worm farm?

9. The Syphilis Solution

In the early 1900s, Austrian physician and psychiatrist, Julius Wagner-Jauregg, experimented with an unusual treatment for syphilis. At that time, syphilis was a common disease that often proved deadly over time, with no proper pharmaceutical cure. However, it was understood that, in many cases, high fevers could cure the disease.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work syphilis malariotherapy

So, Wagner-Jauregg developed malariatherapy; intentionally infecting syphilis patients with malaria, to induce a fever and kill off the disease. Since medication to treat malaria was available, it was considered an acceptable risk. This technique was used from 1917 to the 1940s, and even earned Wagner-Jauregga Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1927.

8. Night Witches

Between 1942 and 1945, the members of a night bomber division of the Soviet air force made up of only female pilots garnered a fearsome reputation as the terrors of the skies. Given the nickname “Night Witches”, the group used Polikarpov U-2 biplanes to drop bombs on German targets.

Brujas de la Noche
Sergey G, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The planes were small and slow, only holding 2 bombs at a time, and were easy to shoot down if detected. So, the Night Witches came up with a solution. When the pilot was nearing her target, she would cut the engine off mid-air.

The plane would glide down almost silently, and before the enemy even knew they were there, they would restart engines and drop their bombs. Sounds like a dangerous plan, but they were highly successful; and if it works, it works!

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work

7. The Man For The Job

When two dolphins at an aquarium in Fushun, China were found to have swallowed plastic shards, veterinarians were unable to remove them. So, they turned to someone truly unexpected, and yet, totally obvious: Mongolian herdsman, Bao Xishun.

He is the Guinness World Records’ tallest man, standing at 7 feet, and 8.95 inches. Bao used his 42-inch-long arms to reach down and extract the shards from the dolphins’ stomachs, successfully. Now that’s a good use of human resources!

Bao XiShun saves Dolphins

6. Galactic DIY

When an electrical unit malfunctioned on the International Space Station in 2012, onboard astronauts Sunita Williams and AkihidoHoshide needed to replace it. But when they tried to attach the unit to the spacecraft, they were unable to, as metal shavings had gathered inside the connecting bolts.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work International Space Station toothbrush metal filings

After a gruelling 4 hours with no luck, it was time to remove their rocket scientist hats and don their handyman ones. Thinking on their feet, they fastened a toothbrush to a metal pole and started scrubbing away the metal filings.

After another 4 hours, they were finally able to attach the new unit. And just like that, a $3 toothbrush saved a $100 billion Space Station.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work

5. Adaptive Technology

If you ever find yourself stuck without an HDMI adapter, with no other way of connecting your device to the TV, don’t panic! Your entertainment needs aren’t as doomed as they seem.

Simply follow the lead of the genius who hooked his camcorder up to the TV and aimed it at his tablet, which was streaming the big game. There’s no doubt about it: this guy is living in the future.

Dumb Ideas Solutions That Actually Work Adaptive Technology hooked camcorder up to the TV

4. Fires Suck

Sometimes, there’s a fine line between a genius idea and grounds for divorce. I’ll let you decide which category this guy falls under, though I’m voting genius. By depriving a flame of oxygen and pulling the fuel into a vacuum chamber, you can put out a fire using a hoover!

Extreme Dyson Test By Photonicinduction

It goes without saying, though, you should probably pick an extinguisher over a Dyson if your house is up in smoke. But, funnily enough, this method is actually proposed for use by astronauts, so it might be genius after all. Your significant other probably won’t think so, though.

3. Safe or Soaked

When the Longxiang Bus Company in the Hunan province received numerous passenger complaints about their drivers’ unsafe, erratic driving, they came up with a solution.

Next to the drivers, they hung large bowls of water, intended to deter the drivers from making sudden stops or sharp turns, on the threat of a jolly good soaking.

Dumb Ideas Solutions That Actually Work bus bowl of water

The bowls were expected to remain full when drivers finish their shifts. To keep drivers from refilling the bowls, they installed CCTV. Seeing as they failed to take sharp stops caused by other dangerous drivers into consideration, the company’s idea doesn’t really hold water.

2. Counter Camouflage

Thanks to their amazing camouflage abilities, having a pet chameleon can easily turn into a near-impossible game of hide and seek. Luckily, Redditor ‘impenetrablefog’ came up with a solution: tying a balloon to your chameleon. Mr. Chameleon, however, doesn’t look too pleased by his floating companion.


1. Tough on Stains

Household cleaning products are great and all, but can any help when your pesky roommate leaves his radioactive material strewn about the place? Surprisingly, yes.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work Household cleaning product radioactive waste

When a huge nuclear site in northern Scotland was being decommissioned, moving the plutonium-stained steel equipment presented a serious hazard to workers. The equipment needed to be decontaminated, but the standard cleaning agents slowed down the process, taking too long to dry.

Dumb Ideas & Solutions That Actually Work Household cleaning product radioactive waste

After a worker mentioned seeing an advert where household cleaner ‘Cillit Bang’ stripped dirt off a coin, they half-seriously suggested giving it a try. It turned out to be extremely effective for the plutonium stains and proved to significantly reduce the cost of the project.

If you were amazed at these dumb ideas & solutions that actually work, you might want to read part 2 of this series and this article about historic ideas so dumb that they turned out to be smart . Thanks for reading!

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