Readers' Tips

Starting a Green Cleaning Business

Check in at the front desk of your local allergist's office and see if they will let you post a business card on their bulletin board, if they have one, or on the front window. Also, post at the offices of rheumatologists and pediatricians, health food stores, and on Craigslist.

editor's note: For more on starting a green cleaning business, please click here.

Eyelash Combs

Starting to get lint, hair, and makeup clumped in your eye lash comb? Don't break the bristles and don't throw it away! Get an old toothbrush, lay the eyelash comb on the countertop, and "brush" the gunk out. This works perfectly!
Serena in Lone Oak, TX

Natural Ant Control

Want to get rid of ants economically and without endangering your pets and children? Try an equal mix of sugar and borax. While borax has some toxicity and shouldn't be ingested, it is less toxic than commercial ant killer, and you don't spray it around the house. The sugar is to attract the ants to the borax, so you put the mixture in a container with a tight fitting lid and secure it. Place holes around the sides towards the base that are large enough for the ants to go in.

This method doesn't kill the ants, and it takes a little bit of time to work. The borax renders the ants infertile. I have found that it is more long lasting than the sprays and powders. In the beginning, you may need to reapply every year or two. It only takes a small amount of borax, so you will have lots of borax left over to use as a laundry booster.

Additional TDS Resource: More on how to safely control ants

Grad Gift

I am sure everyone knows someone who is graduating at the end of the month. So if anyone is looking for a nice idea for a gift without spending a lot of money, here is an idea. I got one of these for my graduation and I still have it hanging up.

My aunt and uncle took the announcement I had sent out about my graduation and purchased one of those frames for multiple pictures. They cut the announcement into pieces and put the different parts in the frame with some nice paper backing it. Then they put some pictures of me as a little girl in the frame and left one spot blank for my graduation picture. It's really a great gift and only cost the price of the frame.

Just Enough Dish Soap

I've found an easy way to keep from using too much liquid dish soap while hand washing dishes. I put the liquid soap in a soap dispenser. Four or five squirts are enough to do a lot of dishes and a large bottle of dish soap seems to last forever.

Easy Mosquito Repellent

I have a wonderful tip to keep those pesky mosquitoes away from you when you're outdoors. Try dryer sheets.

Simply take a dryer sheet and rub over the exposed skin and clothing to keep those buggers at bay.

When you go to the beach or outdoor event, pack several in a resealable bag. This makes for light packing and easy access. Plus, you'll have a nice fresh scent about you.

Give it a try. I was skeptical until I tried it. Several friends tried it last weekend. We were amazed.

Dishwasher Detergent

For a frugal and very environmentally friendly alternative to corrosive automatic dishwasher soap, mix together equal parts washing soda (NOT baking soda) and borax. Store it dry in a tightly covered container and use it as you would regular powdered dishwasher detergent. It cleans and disinfects just as well, and contains no harmful phosphates. You should be able to find both in the laundry aisle of your supermarket.

Mini Garden Shed

I have a nice sized veggie garden, and I was tired of lugging my tools and gloves out each time I wanted to work in it, so I had my husband put our old mailbox on the fence to hold these items. This keeps them from getting wet or rusty. I can also put my cell phone in it while I work and don't have to worry about dropping it in the dirt.

Cleaning Grout

My husband is a ceramic tile setter. He says that the best thing to clean grout with is vinegar. Just put it on, scrub, and then rinse with water. It cleans better than any household cleaner. It's very cheap. As an added bonus, it isn't toxic.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning grout

Hairball Remedy

I am a vet technician. A cheap method for hairballs is using petroleum jelly. Place a teaspoon of petroleum jelly on the front legs. Press it into the fur, so the animal has to lick it off and can't shake it off. If you look at the ingredients of hairball laxatives, the majority of the product is petroleum jelly with some flavoring.

Calculate the CPW

What's the CPW? Test the value of a garment by using the "Cost Per Wearing" test. Am I going to get a lot of use out of it? When averaged out against the number of times I'm likely to wear it, does it still represent good value? I shudder to think how many high CPWs are hanging in my closet from times before I applied this. However, sometimes a high price is actually a good value, and the CPW test is a good way to make you think about it.
Brenda S.

Condiment Stock-Up Time

With BBQ season fast approaching, I find the next few months provide the best opportunity to stock up on condiments for the fall and winter. I find ketchup, mustard, relishes, pickles and often salad dressings are usually at the best prices. Just remember to check the expiration dates.
Sharon W. in BC Canada

Keeping Cologne

I just purchased two new bottles of cologne at Kohl's (on sale and with a 30% off coupon and a $10 off coupon as well). It was still pretty pricey, but I am happy to say that I was able to use the bottles these replaced to the very last drop.

I used to throw away cologne before it was all used up because it started to smell "off." Now I keep my bottles in a large opaque canister (I think it was originally from a set of kitchen canisters) because this protects them from their biggest enemies, which are heat, air, and light. Admittedly, perfumes look lovely on a mirrored tray, but if you want to use every last drop, try my suggestion. It works!
Nancy in Santee

Dealing With Dog Hair

The doggie hair problem can certainly be overwhelming at times, but having your pet in the house with his family is well worth the extra work. A good deal of my two grown son's favorite childhood memories involve adventures with the family dogs. They have priceless, happy, silly, carefree memories. Try to remember that while you are sweeping, brushing, etc.!

Here's a suggestion from the "mom" of three inside, long-haired dogs. Comb their hair, as often as possible, with a pet rake, comb, or slicker brush. Use the one that works best for your animal's coat. As far as I know, you cannot comb them too much! As a dear friend once said to me, "You comb your hair every day, don't you?" Hopefully, your kids will want to get in on the action.

Also, there are food supplements that are quite effective in controlling shedding troubles. Brewer's yeast and Lipiderm are my two favorites. Aside from these suggestions, nothing picks up dog hair off of cloth as well as a damp, terry cloth hand towel. I, sometimes, do this quickly over the furniture if company is coming and I want to be sure there is little evidence of dogs. Some folks just don't understand.

Additional TDS Resource: More on removing dog hair from furniture

The Shade Solution

We recently added room darkening shades to our curtain-less bedroom windows, behind the mini blinds already there. It is proving to make a big difference in keeping the room cooler when the late afternoon sun hits the side and front of the house where the bedroom is located. It also keeps our two dogs that sleep in the room from rising with the sun since the room is much darker in the morning with the dual window treatment.

While the shades can be opened to let the light in, we still have the mini blinds for a bit of privacy and to control the amount and direction of the light. This was a more economical, lower maintenance solution than buying room darkening or black out drapes.
Lorraine in NH

The Cold Turkey Conundrum

When I was first trying to overcome my shopping addiction, I started going to dollar stores once a week and allowing myself to spend $5 or $10 on anything I wanted. I really came to look forward to these mini-shopping sprees and didn't feel as compelled to buy non-essentials from more expensive merchants.

Over the years, I've whittled down my shopping to just the necessities, and I seldom feel the urge to splurge. If spending fever does strike, I head for a dollar store and give myself a little slack on the cheap. Sometimes I'll load up my cart but go through everything before checkout and eliminate whatever I can live without. It's an ongoing struggle, but this technique has saved me many dollars and much stress.

The same strategy is working for me now as I've embarked on losing weight. I count my calories very carefully but designate one day a week to eat whatever I want. For that 24 hours, I may go to decadent restaurants and succumb to "forbidden" foods like freshly baked cookies. I don't gorge myself past the point of fullness, but I savor each bite and make sure my cravings are fully satisfied. This gives me something to anticipate and an escape valve for frustration. I have a feeling that as I become accustomed to healthier eating, I may eat better on "cheat" days as well, but even if I gobble down everything in sight, my restraint on the other days is paying off in the form of pounds lost.

Discipline is great, but humans are happier when we get to bend the rules sometimes and take pleasure in things we know we shouldn't. Maybe that self-improvement task you've been trying to tackle would go more smoothly with a little leniency. Take it easy, keep making positive adjustments, and forgive yourself when you fail.

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