Readers' Tips

Building a Business Casual Wardrobe

Try to stick with three solid, neutral colors for slacks, skirts, etc. Black and navy blue slacks and five nice looking tops will see you through one work week. Then build up to ten tops. Two weeks of different tops are all you really need with black or navy blue slacks to start.
Janice (via Facebook)

editor's note: For more on building a business casual wardrobe, please click here.

Before You Checkout

Look for online coupons when buying from anywhere. I had to buy a new mattress from a well-known mattress company. I found one reduced by $200. I did not like the cost of $79.99 for shipping. I looked online by just putting in my browser “Coupons” for this particular store. There was a web coupon for free delivery and another one for 10% off of a purchase. I saved $110 on top of the fact that this mattress was already $200 off. It only takes a few seconds to do a search, and there are no coupons to cut either.

Removing Sweat Stains and Odors

My mother taught me how to remove sweat stains and odor when I was a teenager, and it still works. When taking off the garment, sprinkle or rub white vinegar into the armpit area. The acid from the vinegar seems to remove stains and odor from the garment. Then wash the garment as usual.
C. P.

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on removing sweat stains and odors

Sending Them Off to College

I want to make a suggestion to parents who have students who will be going off to college for the first time. Avoid the lure of over-spending for your college freshman who will be living on campus next year.

Make a list of items your child will need and use while living on campus. Spend the entire summer shopping at garage sales in order to save money on the things that the student needs and/or wants next year. Finally, only purchase the items that you were unable to find throughout the summer at a retail store. College items in retail stores tend to go on sale just before the student leaves for college.

I did this for my child who will be a senior next year, and I saved a ton of money. Remember that kids will break stuff, give it away, or never use some items that they thought they would need. Happy shopping!
Wanda R.

Sandwiches for Singles

I’m single, and I don't a use a whole loaf of bread before it goes bad. So I use soft flour tortillas to make sandwiches. I use a small electric grill to cook them on. I make all kinds of sandwiches, and I use whatever kind of sauce and cheese I have on hand. There are endless possibilities. This works great for my brown bag lunches. After warming them for 30 seconds in the microwave, they can't be beat!

Kitchen Aid

A great way to recycle/reuse the plastic cups that come with cough syrup, etc. is to utilize them for baking and cooking. A majority of the cups have measurements listed on the side, so instead of having to wash and re-wash the teaspoons and tablespoons while baking/cooking, use these lids for the variety of measurements needed in a recipe. This saves time and keeps me more organized!
Mary Jo in Oregon

Softer Line Dried Jeans

I've just discovered a cheaper way to dry heavy blue jeans and towels without the usual stiffness of line drying. After removing them from the washing machine, I hang them on a clothesline. When they are dry, they go into the dryer with the "Air Fluff" setting for a few minutes. When they come out, they're dry and softer than with air-drying alone.

Why I Use Cloth Napkins

I started using cloth napkins, not out of frugality, but because I like the texture of 100% double-ply cotton fabric napkins. But, it is a frugal choice as well. When my first child was born, I made about a dozen napkins in "kid prints." I liked them so much that I've subsequently made about three dozen more! We use them every day. (I wash them in the same load as dishtowels and kitchen washcloths.)

It takes around ten minutes to stitch up one napkin. I construct the napkins by cutting squares of fabric. (15" squares work fine.) Then, I put two squares together and stitch up three sides. Turn. Press, folding under the last raw edge. Topstitch all four sides.

These napkins last a long, long time. The ones I made eight years ago are still in use, and I haven't noticed any frayed edges.

We've had fun with creative designs, too. We've got napkins I made from all kinds of fabric (or fabric scraps).

Carpet Care Secrets

One thing I have learned about carpet care is to not use detergents when cleaning. The residue left behind attracts dirt. The best way to clean your carpet is to use a 20% solution of vinegar in water. We rent those carpet cleaning machines (at least once per year) but just use vinegar and water. This also takes care of pet odors.

Another thing to remember is if you are spot cleaning, never scrub the carpet. Scrubbing causes stains to get trapped in the fibers. Just add some water to the stain and blot with a white towel. Keep adding water (or water and vinegar) and blot until the white towel comes away clean.

Additional TDS Resource: More on carpet care

Cleaning Concrete Sidewalks and Driveways

When concrete turns dark and stained, the blackness can be power-washed but an option that's worked for me is using a bleach and water mixture. Allow 24 to 48 hours before you will see your results. Sunshine helps give you better results, too.

You may have to test the mixture to see what strength works for your surface. We ended up doing our driveway using a mixture of approximately one quart of bleach to five gallons of water in a bucket.

You can pour and use a broom to spread it so the concrete is covered evenly or use a large watering can to pour the mixture evenly on the surface being cleaned. We repeated this mixture until the entire surface was covered and soaked in bleach water. There will be areas that will need to be repeated, but most of the area should look nearly new.

Do not rinse the bleach mixture off the surface. Let it dry in place. We also make an effort keep the mixture on the driveway or steps so it does not go in the yard or on plants.
Joyce in NC

Sun Tea Warning

I would try to use some sort of glass containers to make sun/summer tea. Those plastic bottles that soda and water come in should not be heated up in the sun. It leaches chemicals into the tea. If concerned about fighting cancer as suggested in your green tea use, then I believe you are defeating the purpose by making it in these plastic containers. It is much safer to use glass in the microwave or in the sun.

editor's note: C. is responding to a suggestion about making sun tea in an earlier issue.

Why Buy Burritos?

My daughter loves those frozen meat/bean/cheese burritos that are sold in the supermarket. I noticed that they seemed to be mostly tortilla with little filling, and they were expensive.

Now, I buy whole wheat tortillas and generously fill them with mashed black beans, brown rice, shredded cheeses, browned ground turkey or beef, salsa, etc. I then fold the ends and put them in an inexpensive sandwich bag and freeze them. There is more filling in my homemade version than in the store-bought burritos, and I control the quality. The preparation and assembly take about an hour to make enough to last several weeks. They can be heated in the microwave in one minute and 45 seconds or brown bagged in the morning and ready to eat by lunchtime.

No Hose? No Problem!

Have an area where your hose doesn't reach? Place a bucket or other container that is large enough to catch rainwater as close to that area as you can. Disguise the container by painting it, lowering the bucket into the ground, or by planting flowers around the container. Keep a plastic tumbler in the bucket for watering the surrounding plants.

Bugs on Your Car

We live in Florida and have a hard time with Love Bugs. My husband has experimented with many cleaners and has found that if he uses a mixture of window cleaner and dish washing liquid, the bugs come off with little effort and no damage to the paint.
Laura in Florida

Additional TDS Resource: More on removing bugs from your car

Cleaning Grill Racks

Got dirty grill racks? This works like magic for cleaning the racks or even stove top burner plates. Use rubber gloves and place racks in a garbage bag with two cups of ammonia, a little water, and some good grease cutting soap like Dawn. Let it sit as long as you can or overnight for best results. Do it outside due to the fumes. Close the bag and squeeze out as much air as you can, so everything is saturated. Keep items in one layer and do not use too much ammonia. Rinse the items off and scrub if necessary, but they usually wipe clean. You can also hose the items off outside.
Judy M. in NY

Garden Shoe Savers

To save your shoes, whenever you go blueberry picking or work in the garden, put grocery bags over your shoes and tie it together at the top or use elastics to secure. When done, just take off the bags and throw them away. Your shoes will stay clean. It's so easy and time-saving, and there's no need to change shoes.
Helen C.

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