People Share Things They Just Realized They’ve Been Doing Wrong Their Whole Lives

Sometimes you learn something later in life that makes something you’ve been doing, some minor chore or task, a thousand times easier. Like when you realize unloading silverware from the dishwasher is just so much easier when someone points out you can lift out the tray. Or you might learn that you’re not actually tying your shoes properly, and that’s why they keep coming untied all the time. Or you might one day notice that the lyrics to the Toto song do not go, “I missed the train down in Africa.

It might be slightly embarrassing to find out you’ve been doing something the hard (or wrong) way for most of your life, but hey, at least you’ve got the consolation of finally doing it right! So, in that spirit, here are 30 Redditors who ‘fessed up about what they’d been doing wrong, and the moment they learned to do it right. Praise be!

1. Well, what do you know!

I owned a light blue colored microwave for about three years that a family member gave me for a housewarming gift. Thought it was cool; never saw a blue microwave before. One night, a buddy asked why I never took the blue plastic wrap off my microwave, then proceeded to peel it off for me.Damn; that bitch is silver. Still miss my blue microwave sometimes though…


2. Skim is not the only milk.

My family only ever purchased skim milk growing up. I hated skim milk but it was so ingrained in me that skim was the only option. I made it through college/my 20’s still buying skim milk. Then one day when I was 29, I went to the grocery store and had an epiphany: I could just BUY whole milk. It was an option that had always been there but never even occurred to me.


3. Soften that dirt right outta there.

After moving to a new city I went to the laundromat and the Korean lady working was yelling at me about something I couldn’t understand. After some pantomime it became clear that she was upset I was putting in the wrong detergent but it was the same kind I have been using for 8 years (since moving away to college and behind). Turns out I’ve been washing my clothes with only fabric softener for nearly a decade. They always smelled good so I never really thought about it. Not my proudest moment.


Note: if you yourself have done this, here’s a quick tip, courtesy of a Redditor:

Wash them in vinegar and they should get some life back.


4. For skin so clean you can eat off it.

I did almost the opposite, I used to shop at the this cheap little Mexican market under my apartment in East LA. One day I went down to buy a bar of this Mexican soap that was always super cheap. I mentioned to my gf something about the soap being so cheap and the cashier, in broken english told me that I was bathing with laundry detergent. I’ll never forget her trying so hard to not laugh at me but honestly it was pretty funny.


5. Mmmmm.

My family always had a cup next to the bathroom sink in case you needed to rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth or maybe get a quick drink of water inthe middle of the night. My grandma had the same cup at her house. I used it for years whenever I was thirsty. One day she saw me doing this and said, “Don’t use that cup. Thats where grandma puts her teeth.”


6. Paper, sweet paper.

When I was a kid, I was told that the paper that came on cupcakes/muffins was edible.

I would spend a decade eating them like this (paper and all), until a friend pointed it out.


7. Oh, that’s what that’s for!

Travel frequently for work and only just noticed that most laptop bags have a strap to place over a rolling suitcase handle.


8. That’s jazz, baby!

I taught myself how to play clarinet.

Six months later someone told me that I’d been playing with the mouthpiece upside down.


9. Who needs a tea bag when you’ve got all that ink?

I used to fill the kettle by the spout… my parents have always done it this way, I thought the center part was mainly for decoration, but not functional. I don’t know why I never questioned this.

One day I bought a new tea kettle and my husband was like wtf what is inside this, and with great ease, opened the center to pull out a manual with instructions and what not.

I was drinking dirty paper water for like 2 weeks.


10. Inexcusable.

I used to pull my pants down all the way at the urinal.


11. The perfumed inferno.

Found out I was lighting incense wrong. Boyfriend and I got a bunch to add to our collection of nice smells and we would light them and they would just start a little inferno. Convinced we were buying cheap, garbage incense we stopped using them. I proceed to buy a different brand in a hope those would work. I test light and same thing it just goes up in an inferno. Roommate informs us you are supposed to blow them out once they catch. Oops.


12. This is actually awesome. Better not to know the truth.

I didn’t find out that I was supposed to punch out for lunch until my third job. And even then it was because a coworker mentioned it in passing that they were clocking out for lunch.


13. It’s like a brand new car!

I owned a car with swivel headlights and it was very nice to have that. Discovered three years in that I had never turned on the swivel feature.


14. To be fair, you don’t want it snowing in your car.

Oh man, I thought the AC button in my car (snowflake) was defrost so I never used it in summer. Fuck did I feel dumb. 2 years.


15. “Tastes like burning.”

I always thought eggplant tasted “itchy”, like itchy was a flavor, like sour or salty. Fed some to my baby and his face turned red wherever the eggplant touched, and I realized we’re both just allergic to eggplant. And itchy isn’t a flavor.


16. Just turn that sucker.

For years I would struggle to take the cap off new deodorant (the one under the lid). It always is so stuck down onto the deodorant stick.

I had an “ah-ha” moment a year or so ago that I could simply crank the deodorant stick up until the cap could easily be removed.

I’m 34. It took me until age 34 to realize this.


17. Peanut butter is only green in Ireland.

Not cause I’ve been doing something wrong my entire life but saw it wrong. I’m colorblind and my entire life I thought peanut butter was green until I turned 19. And when I found out it was brown my mind was blown. It took so long because no one really talks about the color of things like that.


18. Hot dish, comin’ through.

Living in a foreign country where I was actively learning the language. Social cues go a long way when learning a language on the spot. That being said, someone once said a phrase to me while serving a hot dish, which I assumed as meaning “excuse me”. After going through crowds and lines, replicating the same phrase in an attempt to be respectful of those around me, I abruptly found out that the phrase actually meant “enjoy”. Hindsight, completely makes sense. The odd looks I would get by saying “enjoy” while squeezing past people all of a sudden made sense…


19. Why not just shove the whole box up there?

My mom refused to show me how to use a tampon because she thought I should stick to pads because they were “safer”. This was back when googling how to do things wasn’t an option, and I was the first in my friend group to get my period and a little sheepish about it.

So basically I was shoving that sucker up there with the entire applicator for like 2 years, wondering why tampons didn’t seem to work that well for me.


20. At least the waitstaff probably loved her.

when i first got a debit card and would go out to eat at restaurants with my friends, i would leave a cash tip on the table. when i got the receipt to put how much i was payingi would write down how much money i left on the table. for at least 6 months i gave double tips to every waitress i had…


21. Important dryer safety PSA:

That you do, in fact, need to disassemble your laundry drier and clean the lint out from underneath the drum once per year.
I’m 31 and never knew this, no one ever said anything, never saw anyone do this. Crappiest thing is that my parents also learned this the hard way and never bothered to give me a tip when I bought my first drier.

Luckily, the wife and I discovered the lint buildup when changing the rollers. I said to my parents “wow it really builds up in there!” and they were like “oh yea you need to do that like once a year”.



22. She must really hate that state.

My mom has been pronouncing Massachusetts “Massa Two Shits” for years and no one corrected her because they thought she just had strong feelings about Massachusetts.


23. At least he figured it out at age 6.

My name is Ryan.
It took me until I was in 1st grade to realize my name wasn’t in the alphabet.

My mom had told me my name was in the alphabet, and I felt so lucky. She obviously meant the letters to spell my name were in the alphabet.

But nope. It took that long to realize the alphabet didn’t go “W, X, Ryan Z….


24. Some people have a lot to learn about toilet seats.

Not me, but this happened at a dinner party I was at a few years ago.
Everyone at the table was in their mid to late 20s. For whatever reason, we were talking about a very similar topic; embarrassing stuff that you didn’t realise until you were an unreasonably old age.
One guy brought up how he grew up with 4 sisters, and since he was a little kid they always told him that he had to leave the toilet seat down.

Being a little kid, he assumed girls cared so much about the toilet seat being down because toilet seats were for girls. So he stopped using toilet seats, and would sit on the rim of the toilet every time he had to take a dump. He didn’t realise until he was about 10 that toilet seats were for everyone to use.
We all had a good laugh about this. Except for one guy, who was dead quiet and whose face had gone red as a beet.
No one had ever brought this up to him before and he, too, had thought toilet seats were for girls. At 27.


25. That…doesn’t even make sense.

Pronouncing hybrid as “High Bird”. My husband repeated it to me in a Snuffaluffagus voice and I swear I had a Ratatouille food critic flashback to every time in my life I said it wrong. I was 33.


26. The correct way to eat Chinese food is wearing a bathrobe and standing over a sink.

I was dating an Asian woman some years ago, and when we got Chinese takeout, she completely unfolded the box and laid it flat like a plate.
She said that was by design, and for the life of her could never understand why her friends always scooped it out onto another plate when the box was the plate.

I now do this all the time and it weirds people out.


27. Not so dumb after all!

I used to think just reading the material was how everyone studied, so thats how I did it too. I never quite understood why my grades were so low, id be like “I read the page, idk what happened!” until I saw my friend making flow charts and summaries and I was like “we dont have to do that you know” and he was like “nah, im just studying”. It blew my mind how much better my grades got.


28. It’s important for parents to be specific.

I didn’t realise I had to brush the BACK of my teeth as well as the front (I was a dumb kid – I blame toothpaste adverts) unto I was 15. Had 9 filings and a root canal.


29. Four years…

Well… This was a few years ago. I was the director of IT for a very large company. I was given a new cellphone and told to setup my voicemail.

I don’t know that when I recorded my name it would be played to whomever I leave a voice mail for.

Well the name I recorded was, “Dooder84 Corporate IT Godddd!!!”

I worked there for 4 years until someone in the hallway referred to me as the “corporate IT GoD!”

I was so embarrassed…..


30. Baby’s all grown up now!

My mom never tried to teach me how to wipe my ass, just decided at some point to start ignoring me when I called her when I was finished. I had never seen anyone else wipe their ass before, so for years I wiped my own ass by bending over all the way, with my head near my feet (you know, the thing you do when someone else wipes your ass for you). Eventually I saw someone on TV doing it while just sitting down normally. Game changer.


h/t: Reddit

Jessie Dean Altman

Dean Altman is a writer living in NYC.