It’s a Pardilla family fable: I was born with manos de trapo, or rag hands, and began (accidentally) breaking things as soon as my tactile senses started tingling. In the early years, an occasional broken plate could be excused as the collateral damage of having a toddler. But to my parents’ great frustration, the mishaps didn’t stop as I got older. Vases became victims. Objets d’art got obliterated. Ever since, I’ve left a glass graveyard in my wake.
While I don’t drop things as much as I used to, I still have an Urkel-like clumsiness, toppling items from tables and wincing as I listen for a crash. There’s a row of cups in the kitchen I hardly ever touch because I’ve knocked one over and had glass shards rain down on me.
But recently, I stumbled upon a fix. I learned about Clear Museum Gel — made by prepper (or, officially, disaster-supply) company Ready America — through TikTok. Branded as a “clear and invisible temporary adhesive,” it’s meant to secure collectibles, china, and other breakable items so they won’t budge, whether in the presence of a klutz like myself or during an actual emergency (it’s categorized as an “earthquake fastener,” alongside the brand’s popular QuakeHold putty). I didn’t bookmark the first video I saw it in because the product seemed like something out of a 3 a.m. infomercial, an opening act for the Slap Chop. But it made enough of an impression that when my beloved citrus vase took a tumble (I’m happy to report it was a near-miss with no damage), I decided to spend the $14 on a jar of the crystalline goo.
The gel is designed to secure breakable objects — including ceramic sculptures, glass trinket trays, and the occasional odd curio — to whatever flat surface they’re sitting on. It has a texture reminiscent of Play-Doh (and doubles as a satisfying plaything when you’re bored). But once applied, it’s as if the item has been stuck into place with Gorilla Glue. Even if I try to mimic an earthquake by vigorously shaking the dresser, desk, or bookcase an object is sitting on, the gel ensures the item remains unshakable, as if it’s found a loophole in the laws of gravity.
It’s also very easy to use: Take a small scoop out of the jar; form it into little balls, which you’ll stick onto the bottom of the object you want to secure; then press the item down gently on a flat surface, giving the gel at least 30 minutes to set. This seems like sorcery, but Ready America credits the “bond” between gel and surface for keeping everything in place. (Perhaps that’s why the gel is also popular on the organizing side of TikTok, where people use it to keep drawer dividers from sliding around.)
Best of all, it doesn’t make any sort of sticky mess. A little twist of any object will release it from a shelf, and a gentle pull is all it takes to take the gel off the bottom of the item. The motion is similar to stretching a Command strip to remove it from a wall. Any leftover dots of gel can be plucked off with your fingers, leaving no trace of adhesive whatsoever (unlike, say, an extra-sticky T.J. Maxx tag). I repeat this process weekly as a part of my dusting routine, and it has never let me down. Plus, since the gel is reusable, I can return every last bit to the jar, and even the most deformed blobs meld back in — mine looks as though I haven’t made a dent in the four-fluid-ounce supply.
Now, if you were to try to lift up a random object of mine, you probably couldn’t — and thanks to the gel’s near invisibility, you probably wouldn’t be able to figure out why. I’ve gelled all I can, baby-proofing everything from myself. And I no longer worry about pulling off an acrobatic stunt to catch things before they fall, because I know my treasures are safe.
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