document updated 2 months ago, on May 15, 2024

Heavy-duty alternatives for everyday household products

It helps to have some heavy-duty alternatives to common household items on-hand for infrequent use.

paper towels ⇒ blue shop towels

They're a little thicker and much more impermeable compared to standard paper towels. I tend to use them for cleaning up cat hork (or worse, cat poop), because they make it easier to wipe up those things without getting anything on your hands. They also seem more absorbent for things like oil or cleaning chemical spills.

You can get them from a local hardware store or auto-parts store.

Ziploc freezer bags ⇒ 6 mil reclosable plastic bags

Most consumer-grade reclosable plastic bags are 2 mil thick or less, but it's not hard to locate 6+ mil bags online. They can contain heavy nails without being damaged, they can be reused for months, and they let you see their contents.

Uline, McMaster-Carr, and Office Depot have large selections, but you can find them on Amazon and other places too.

Sharpie ⇒ Sharpie Pro ⇒ paint pens

Some permanent markers are designed for use on a construction job-site, such as Sharpie Pro and Milwaukee Inkzall. They have more durable tips, allowing them to write on brick or concrete, and their ink can write on wet, oily, and dusty surfaces. You can buy them at your local home center.

(Sharpie also makes Sharpie Extreme, which is recommended for plastic, glass, and wood)

Another step up from that are paint pens, which are markers that contain actual paint, either oil-based or acrylic (AKA "water-based"). Compared to Sharpies, paint pens tend to be more opaque, even more durable, and can be applied to a wider variety of surfaces. They're available at your local arts or crafts store.

And if that's not enough, people have been freehand painting signs for hundreds of years, using paintbrushes.

Post-it Notes ⇒ Post-it Full Stick Notes ⇒ Post-it Extreme Notes

Post-it Full Stick notes have adhesive that cover 95% of the back of the note. Having ~4x the adhesive really helps them stay put!

Post-it Extreme Notes are designed more for a construction job-site. Their paper is waterproof, and their adhesive is so strong that they suggest only using it on wood/brick/etc and never adhering it to paper, because it might damage the paper when removing the note. It can be hard to find a pen/marker that can write on the plasticy paper, but the Sharpie Extreme (mentioned above) work well.

Twist ties ⇒ 16 gauge aluminum wire

Standard twist ties have a wire that's around 27 gauge.

Techies have long used the strands inside of Cat5 cable. The interiors are copper instead of steel though. Cat5e uses 24-26 gauge wire, and Cat6 uses 22-26 gauge wire.

You can buy single-wire insulated copper wire in fairly thick gauge. But again, it's copper.

The best upgrade, IMHO, is aluminum wire. It's thicker than steel for the same strength, and so doesn't necessarily need the plastic coating. Try something between 18 gauge and 12 gauge.