Four Reasons to Rotate

by Roxie Olmstead


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Thrift is in. Tips from America's top penny-pinchers are found in newsletters such as The Dollar Stretcher, available for frugal-minded families. None of the tips can compare with the frugality of this household hint, which appeared in an 1891 newspaper: "Even the broken tacks are helpful in this utilitarian age. They are excellent for cleaning bottles." Today's use of terms like frugal-minded and penny-pinchers tells it like it is. They have replaced Nineteenth Century words like utilitarian. Today, it is popular to be a penny-pincher.

On this wave of popularity, let me suggest rotation as a way to extend wear, prevent waste, diminish fading, keep freshness and have fun. I don't mean rotation's definition of spinning around. Instead, I mean "alternate serially."

The first time my newly-wed daughter returned home for a visit, she noticed me rotating the sofa cushions as I vacuumed. She asked, "What are you doing?" I explained the rotation process and my reason for it. She thought it was a good idea. I told her it was no accident that my over-stuffed furniture lasts longer than most.

There are a number of things that need rotating for various reasons. Consider the following:

1. To Extend Wear and/or Cause Even Wear

Mattresses - When a husband and wife sleep together, weight is not distributed evenly on the mattress. As a rule, the man outweighs his wife. Even a person sleeping alone tends to favor one side of the bed. Some sit on the edge of the bed to put on their shoes, etc. Mattresses need rotating every few months for even wear on the springs. They should not only be flipped over sideways, but also top and bottom reversed.

Pillows Two pillows are often placed on the bed for looks when only one is actually used. In that case, alternate them every time bed linens are changed. Sofa pillows can be rotated, too.

Overstuffed Furniture Most sofa and chair cushions are reversible and can be turned over for even wear. Three-cushion sofas have some cushions used more than others are used. When someone enters the room, they sit on the first cushion or the one that gives them the best view of the TV. Numbering them one, two and three, you need to regularly move number two into number one's position, number three into number two's position, and number one into number three's position. This way, they get even wear.

Pads on Dining or Kitchen Chairs - Use the same process as for overstuffed furniture.

Carpet Furniture should be rearranged at regular intervals to re-route carpet traffic to keep from wearing a path. Dust breaks down carpet fiber. When vacuuming, alternate the direction you run the sweeper to lift the nap differently and keep the carpet cleaner. This will extend the life of your carpet.

Kitchen Flatware It is common to have service for eight or more for a family of four to six. Flatware is usually kept in a divided tray and the top pieces are used repeatedly. It takes only a moment to move the top six or so to the bottom and use the others for a while. This will give them all even wear and prevent some outshining the others.

2. To Prevent Waste

Canned Goods - Place the latest purchase at the back of the shelf and use older stock first. This will prevent cans from eventually rusting.

Flour When purchased, do not place it on top of the old flour on hand. Use every bit in the canister first. Wash and dry the canister before re-filling. This will prevent flour from getting old and getting bugs.

3. To Diminish Fading and Keep Freshness

All Linens - If you don't rotate these, you end up with a few faded and worn and the others, though they look new, grow stale on the shelves or in drawers. By rotating them, they fade evenly and are always fresh.

Window Panels and Drapes The sun is a factor in fading. All curtains can not be rotated; for example, ruffled tie-backs that have a definite right and left cannot be rotated. However, many panels and drapes can be rotated. The easiest way is to embroider small numbers on the wrong side of a hem. Then rotate the placement of them each time they are laundered or dry cleaned.

Underwear and Socks - Alternate to keep fresh smelling.

4. For Pleasure

Young children tire of their toys quickly. When they go to bed on Christmas Eve, pack all their toys in boxes and store. Keep out only those for which they have a special attachment, such as a teddy bear, a doll, or a favorite car. They'll be so excited over the new toys Santa brings that they'll never miss the old ones. About every three months, pack up the toys again and get out those stored. It will be like Christmas all over again. Plan to make the rotation when you know you're going to have a busy day. The newness will keep the children occupied.

Take the Next Step:

  • In your home, start rotation as a way to extend wear, prevent waste, diminish fading, keep freshness and have fun. What a great tool to add to your penny pinching arsenal!
  • Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter. This free html newsletter will provide ways to survive in this challenging economy. Each issue features nine articles to help you stretch your dollar!

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