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6 life hacks the internet just taught us. Yes, you’ve been doing it wrong

From free drinks at Panera, to historical hangover cures, to using coffee grounds to repel mosquitos—here’s the way.


Ramon Ramirez


In the information age, every week is an opportunity to discover you’ve been doing wrong this whole time. At this point, we have a tags page because viral life hacks online are so prevalent. They usually come to us via viral TiKToks that our reporters have to then fact-check.

From free drinks at Panera, to historical but under-the-radar hangover cures, to using coffee grounds to repel mosquitos—every mundane life task lowkey has a cheat code.

Here are 6 life hacks that internet recently taught us. Some of them are backed by science and research, some are just good common sense.

How to always get a free drink at Panera

Woman talking(l+r), Panera Bread(c)
Ken Wolter/Shutterstock @mkmsharp/Tiktok (Licensed)

According to TikToker @mkmsharp, a self-proclaimed “redbull luvr” and Panera free drink finesser, the core of her technique for free drinks from the hospital-cafeteria-tasting food chain is confidence.

After several of her free Unlimited Sip Club memberships expired, she began another method. @mkmsharp says she walks into a Panera location, asks for a large cup, and simply pours her own beverages.

She has even devised a rejoinder for employees who ask her to pay, so that she can save some face and make it look like they were in the wrong for assuming she didn’t want to pay.

“Just like everybody else, I would walk up and I’d grab a cup and I’d go get whatever the f*ck I wanted,” she says, before noting that since the Panera Charged Lemonade controversy began, the company started putting their cups behind the coutner. “And now they took that option away. Now, I just walk up very confidently say, ‘Hi, can I just have like the large cup and…’ They always give it to me.”

@mkmsharp says she’s also found a way to play it cool so Panera workers don’t suspect that she’s trying to scam them. “If it ever fails and they’re like, ‘Yeah, you actually have to pay for it.’ I’m just gonna be like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I was trying to do like can I… I just want a large drink.’” —Jack Alban

How to sober up fast

Expert says there is a new secret trick to sobering up fast
@prairiepaul/TikTok Cagkan/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

TikTok user and Canadian lawyer Paul Doroshenko (@prairiepaul) says that hyperventilating may be the key to lowering one’s BAC. As evidence, he cites a 2020 paper published in Scientific Reports, which is under the umbrella of the journal Nature, that found that exhalation plays a part in removing alcohol from the body.

“So we know that alcohol eliminates from the body at a fairly linear rate. And it’s eliminated by your liver…Basically, you pee it out,” Doroshenko explains. “But what about breathing? I mean, we know that you have a breath tester, and some alcohol is going out of your breath, and the breath tester tests the alcohol concentration in your breath and gives you a projected blood alcohol concentration. That means you are exhaling alcohol.”

The study, he says, took that theory and expounded upon it. To do this, the scientists took five individuals and monitored the elimination rate of ethanol in proportion to their blood levels. First, they observed the elimination rate of alcohol with a normal pace of breathing; then, they measured the elimination rate during isocapnic hyperpnea, which typically involves taking many deep breaths over and over again.

“What they found was really remarkable,” details Doroshenko. “It resulted in a clearance rate three times as great as the baseline. So instead of it being a linear projected elimination, it was a rapid elimination. You could eliminate quite a bit of alcohol in a very short period of time.” —Braden Bjella

How to lowkey make an iced macchiato at 7-Eleven

In Body Image

“POV: getting iced coffee from 7/11 like I’m in a convenience store in Korea,” @breadandfranki recently wrote in a text overlay on the video. The beginning of the clip starts with Franki filling their cup up with ice. They then grab a caramel-flavored coffee creamer and begin pouring it into the Big Gulp cup, and then another, and then another, and then another.

“Making a macchiato,” she writes in an overlay as she continues to fill the cup up until it’s about 75% filled with ice and creamer.

Next up: caramel syrup and espresso. She grabs the bottle and puts two pumps of the sweetener into the cup. Then, she grabs a paper cup, places it under a fresh coffee machine, and selects the double espresso option. The machine then begins to grind up the beans and shoot out coffee into her cup from the dual dispenser. In the next frame, she takes the paper cup of espresso and then dumps it into the ice and cream concoction. —J.A.

How to correctly apply perfume

Woman talking (three split)
@soswagkenny/Tiktok (Licensed)

In a viral TikTok, Kennedy (@soswagkenny), a former perfume salesperson, explains how to actually apply your perfume and why this is the best way to get a long-lasting scent throughout the day.

“You want to hit at least three contact points, and I mean, that’s just if you want the scent to stick,” Kennedy says.

She starts by applying her perfume on her wrists (which Sweeney also did), but unlike Sweeney, she doesn’t rub the scent between her wrists.

“You’re not gonna rub it in because that eradicates the base note. So you’re just gonna let it dry down,” Kennedy explains.

She also says you can apply it behind your ears, the middle of the chest, the stomach, the back of the knees, or the insides of your arms. These are all heat points and that warmth will help release the scent as the day (or night) goes on.

One major no-no Kennedy points out is spraying perfume on your clothes.

“The reason why perfume smells so good on the individual and smells different on everybody is because it mixes with your skin’s pH and your skin chemistry. So when you spray it on your clothes it’s gonna smell worse,” Kennedy says. —Stacy Fernandez

How to use Folger’s coffee to get rid of mosquitos

Man talking(l+r), Folgers Coffee(c)
Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock @ceithgriffith/Tiktok (Licensed)

With summer comes warmer weather, beach trips, and bugs. Pests are reportedly most active this time of year. A TikToker shared a repellent for unwanted critters—specifically mosquitoes. To keep them 15 feet away from you, all it takes is Folgers coffee grounds and a lighter.

TikTok user Ceith Griffith (@ceithgriffith) often shares random tips and tricks with his 1.7 million followers. In a video, he demonstrates how to repel mosquitoes. It has 6.5 million views.

“So, if you take coffee, it can be any brand,” he says, while showing that he is using Folgers coffee. “Just take one tablespoon of the coffee and place in any area.”

He dumps the coffee grounds on the ground and takes out a lighter.

“Then, take a lighter, and just light it, and let it burn,” he says, lighting the coffee.

According to Griffith, this is an effective repellent. “This is gonna get rid of every mosquito within 15 feet,” he declares.

According to Mr. Mister’s Mosiquto Control, ground coffee is a natural repellent against mosquitoes. “They work by masking the scents that attract mosquitoes, making it harder for them to find targets,” per Mr. Mister’s Mosiquto Control. —Melody Heald

How to prevent a hangover

Woman talking with shot glass(three split)
@itssjessc/Tiktok (Licensed)

The Ancient Greeks called Olive Oil “liquid gold,” and it’s not just because they liked to drizzle it on food. There were numerous usage scenarios they found for the substance. Science Direct wrote: “Ancient peoples used olive oil not just for consumption and cooking, but also as perfume, anointment for the dead, soap, and lights. In ancient Greece, athletes ritually rubbed it all over their bodies. It has been the fountain of great wealth and power, anointing the noblest of heads throughout history.”

And according to music producer Benny Blanco, if you take a shot of olive oil before a night of drinking, hangovers can very well become a thing of the past.

It’s this advice that a TikToker named Jess (@itssjessc) decided to put to the test. She uploaded a video with a caption questioning if extra virgin olive oil could be a useful tool in helping to prevent hangovers: “What am I listening to Benny Blanco?”

So how well did the shot work? Did it work at all?

Jess did provide an update in a separate TikTok, stating that she believed the shot of olive oil did a decent job of minimizing the effects of her hangover, but it wasn’t a cure-all like some folks would like to believe. —J.A.

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