Readers' Tips

Cheaper Organic Baby Bedding

Check There are many stay-at-home moms that have little home businesses and some of them sell baby things. There are lots of people who prefer organic things on Etsy.
P (via Facebook)

editor's note: For more on organic baby bedding, please click here.

Hard to Move Kitchen Chairs

I recently waxed my kitchen floor, but it made the kitchen chairs difficult to slide out from under the table. I remembered seeing cloth "pillows" that attached to the bottom of chairs.

I had no idea how to make or buy them, but as I walked through the thrift store recently, I saw newborn infant socks. They were extremely inexpensive, so I bought enough to cover my chair legs.

When I got home, I put them on the chair legs and then used rubber bands to hold them up. Then I folded the cuff of the sock over the top to cover up the bands. They look cute and cost me next to nothing, and now my chairs slide out from under the table easily and don't scratch the floor. These were a lot cheaper than what I remember the "pillows" being.

Reducing the Cost of Dry Cleaning

I love to pick up silk, cashmere, and wool sweaters at a deep discount at thrift stores. To help defray the cost of dry cleaning, I have four strategies. First, I always wear some kind of t-shirt underneath to keep perspiration from the fabric. I can usually stretch a sweater to three or four uses this way.

Second, I've found that the "do-it-yourself" dry cleaning kits that can be purchased at the supermarket do a great job for light cleaning. The kit usually contains three treatments that will clean three to four sweaters.

Third, I hand-wash my cashmere items with no problem. This has helped reduce my dry cleaning bill dramatically. Sometimes, I have to take my beautiful garment in to get dry cleaned. In this case, I purchase my local entertainment book that has 50% off dry-cleaning coupons in it. Using all these strategies, I'm able to wear my luxurious sweaters all winter long without being left out in the cold with a huge dry cleaning bill.

Additional TDS Resource: More on reducing the cost of dry cleaning

Helping Birds Nest

I have a suggestion about bird nesting materials. Save an old mesh onion bags, and when you brush your dog or cat, save the shed fur, put it in the onion bag, and hang it out in your yard for the birds to use for their nests. It costs nothing and provides natural nesting materials for the birds and some cheap entertainment for you.

Loves Her Shop-Vac

My husband and I moved into a "fixer-upper." When it came time to vacuum the carpets, my vacuum wouldn't do a thing, so we purchased a shop-vac.

It does such a great job on carpets, especially since we splurged and got the carpet attachment. I have never seen a normal vacuum (even an expensive one) do this kind of work. Plus, it picks up large things like glass or nails without a problem at all.

I don't think that I will ever go back to using a normal vacuum cleaner! The price is so low and the only real cost is to change the filter. I can wash the filter out and use it many times. I have used one for a full year with no problems. Plus, it picks up wet spills. It has really been great for me.

Great Shelf Liners

When I moved into a new house, there were big scraps of vinyl left over from kitchen and bathroom floors. I needed shelf liners and decided to cut the vinyl to fit the shelves.

The vinyl pieces are easy to clean in the sink and keep the shelves in pristine condition. After nearly 20 years, they are still as good as new.

Homemade Cheese Spread

Do you have bits and pieces of cheese taking up room in your fridge? Turn them into homemade cheese spread for sandwiches or dip. Grate, grind, or shred a pound or so of cheese. Hard cheeses work best. To that, add a cup of mayonnaise or half of a cup of mayo and half of a cup of sour cream. Spike it with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and some hot sauce. Use anywhere from a few dashes to a couple of teaspoons of the hot sauce. Mix it very well and then let it sit overnight in the fridge.

You can eat it with vegetables or use it in sandwiches. Use it just like you'd use store-bought cheese spread.

The Substitution Strategy

When a store is out of a sale item, instead of asking for a rain check, ask if they will make a substitution. Often, they will substitute the next size up or a similar brand for the same price.

Container Tomatoes

I live in a condo that has a small balcony. I discovered that larger seed companies, such as Burpee®, have "bush-style" tomato plants listed in their catalogs that thrive in a container without having to be supported by stakes and ties. The first year I purchased a packet from Burpee® that was a bush-style cherry tomato. (Yikes! It was $1.95 plus another $1.50 for shipping for one small packet that contained ten seeds!) I was unable to find these in local stores, so I did order from their catalog.

I planted all ten seeds, kept the best two plants for myself, and then gave away the remaining eight plants to neighbors and family. At the end of the season, I dried out a "fresh batch" of seeds for use in the next growing season. I have done this for four years now, and I am spoiled by the privilege of going out onto my balcony and picking a handful of cherry tomatoes each night to enjoy with my dinner.
Teri W. from MA

Additional TDS Resource: More on container gardening

Clothing Stains

To remove stubborn stains from clothing, including blood, use a mechanic's hand cleaner such as Goop® or Gojo®. Apply the hand cleaner over the stain and wash as usual. This does a terrific job.

Onion Storage

To keep onions fresh for a long period of time, take a pair of pantyhose and cut each leg top off and place onions in one at a time, tying a knot above each onion as you fill the nylon. You can hang this string of onions in a cool dry place. When you need an onion, simply take scissors and snip the bottom one off. Onions keep for an unbelievable length of time since they are not touching each other.
Terri M.

Natural Skin Care

I have another use for Vitamin E capsules. They work on pimples, too. A pharmacist gave me a few of these capsules many years ago, and they really do work! As soon as I feel a pimple starting, I open a capsule and put some on it. By morning, the pimple usually comes to a head. There is no need to spend all that money on expensive medicines that dry out your skin!

Professional Cleaning Advice

My best friend has a cleaning business and she gave me a tip that works for her. For cleaning tubs/showers, use shampoo! I tried this and it works wonders. Those rings around the tub are "gone instantly." Think about it. If it cuts oil and dirt from your hair, why wouldn't it cut the body oils that are left in your tub? Also, I have not found anything that cleans glass shower doors like shampoo. Just be careful not to leave any on the floor. Wouldn't want to cause any falls.

Baby Shower Games

Have each guest bring a baby picture of themselves to the shower and set them out on a table. Later in the party have the guests guess the picture that belongs to each person. This is great for getting to know each other!

Write down parts of old nursery rhymes or children's songs and see how many of your guests can remember the ending to the rhyme/song.
Deb T.

Additional TDS Resource: More great baby shower games

Handy, Microwave Safe Containers

I have read in a few places that you should no longer put plastic containers or bags in the microwave. I bought a few dozen canning jars that hold a pint and have a wide mouth opening. Then I ordered from Amazon enough of the white plastic screw on lids to match.

These glass jars have been around for years and are food safe, and without the lid, they are microwave safe. The ones with the wide mouth have straighter sides without the bottleneck and are freezer safe. Now, I can make soups and casseroles for the freezer. They are pint size that we can grab for work lunches and feel safe heating in the microwave at work. I just remove the plastic lid. They also make quart size for the freezer for saving four-cup servings of rice dishes, casseroles, pastas, and soups.
Ally (via iPod)

Protect Your ID

My tip is regarding protecting your identity when making online purchases. Whenever I want to buy something online, I never use my credit card. I go to Rite Aid or Wal-Mart and buy a Visa gift card for the amount I need and use that online. Some gift cards want you to register them by calling and giving your zip code first before you can use them online or at gas stations, so be aware of this. Visa is one of them. Then if some hacker hacks the site after I'm done and steals that "credit card" number, all they get is NOTHING!

editor's note: Some people also use a rechargeable debit card and keep a very low balance in the account.

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