Readers' Tips

Removing Food Stains from Clothing

I just pour dish liquid directly on stains and then scratch it into the fabric with my nail. I let it sit in washer until ready to wash, and the stains disappear.
Carol (via Facebook)

editor's note: Visit here for more on removing food stains from clothing.

Crafting Supplies

Jewelry making is expensive, so I save money by waiting until big ticket items go on sale and then using coupons for them. I also shop online at sites that offer free shipping and frequent sales. I look up ideas, tips, and techniques online and tell friends and family members what I need before buying anything. I've been blessed with bags of jewelry that's no longer worn (for parts) from several friends, a tack hammer for riveting from my dad, a huge spool of copper wire from my brother, and a set of metal alphabet stamps from my husband. I also keep my eyes open at flea markets, garage sales, and discount store jewelry counters. You never know what you'll find!
Betty W. in Bowling Green, OH

Additional TDS Resource: More on frugal crafts

Hazy Drinking Glasses

To remove film on glasses, there are two inexpensive things that will work. These will not remove "etching" but will remove film. The first is a glass of vinegar placed in the wash load along with the glasses. Fill the glass with the vinegar and set in the dishwasher, so the liquid stays in the glass. Run the load as you normally do. The film should be much better if not completely off. The second solution is to fill the detergent cup with Tang and run the cycle with that instead of detergent. I was told about both solutions by a dishwasher repairman who noticed the film on my glasses.
Joan G.

Additional TDS Resource: More on removing film from glasses

Accumulating Emergency Supplies

In your emergency supplies, you might want to include nail clippers. Ear plugs would be helpful if sleeping in a shelter full of people. Also include scissors or some kind of pocket knife, hand sanitizer, floss and toothbrushes, skin lotion, and sun protection. Also, a five-gallon bucket with a tight lid works great as a potty with a trash bag as a liner and don't forget toilet paper.
Sandra W.

Additional TDS Resource: More on stocking up for an emergency

Pantry Storage

Here's my best storage tip. I've never been able to buy those fancy kitchen pantry cabinets that pull out, exposing all the canned goods. However, I did find extra walls in my laundry room to use and made myself wall hugging storage shelves.

I used 3" or 4" wood that is about 1" or 3/4" thick. I made a 4' x 8' frame, screwed a piece of panel on the back, and spaced the shelves across only about 6" to 9" high. I didn't even cut my own pieces of wood. I had it done at the hardware center, but I did use a power drill for my screws, because you need plenty for strength to run screws through the panel on the back along the shelves. It took me a couple of hours to put three giant shelves together.

I painted them white for aesthetics and nailed them on all my hidden, useless walls in my laundry room. They stretch from the floor to the ceiling. They store tons of groceries (only one or two cans deep). I never "lose" anything. They also take up very little space because they are so narrow.

When I go to other people's houses and see all their canned goods shoved into dark cabinets, I'm so happy for my big open shelves that I never have to hunt through to find the can that I want.
Lee from Tampa FL

Natural Furniture Polish

I use beeswax to polish my furniture. I let the beeswax set for about two hours before wiping it up. It leaves a nice shine and a sealant. I do this three to four times every year. My furniture looks as new as the day I purchased it.
Thomas G. (via Facebook)

Leftovers and Pasta Salad

I buy bulk vegetable pasta in five-pound bags. I cook five to six cups in boiling water for ten minutes. Then I drain the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, I steam leftover fresh vegetables in the microwave on high for about six minutes (slightly covered with 1/4-inch of water added so they steam). If using baby carrots, I test to see if they are done by putting a fork through them. Broccoli works great, too. I also add leftover cheese, chicken, or even a can of tuna for some extra protein. Then I toss the ingredients in a large bowl with some creamy salad dressing. It's terrific served hot or as a cold pasta salad.

Mixing leftovers with some pasta is a great way to use them up. And since bags of pasta are inexpensive, it's also a cost-effective meal!

Tired of Expensive Razor Blades?

Want to make your razor blades (and disposable razors) last longer? Dry them off! Blot them with a towel. Like most any other metal, when exposed to moisture and air, razor blades begin to rust. This is a microscopic sized rust that forms on the edge of the blade, making it duller. You can't see it with your eyes, but you can feel it with your chin! Also, for a closer shave, wait until after your shower or bath when your beard is already softened.

Tight Storage Space?

The best way to double (or triple) your kitchen storage space is to use the "dead space" that's already there. In the kitchen, I've added cup hooks to the undersides of the cabinets and those handy, expandable shelves to give myself two surfaces instead of one. All of my dish and pantry storage is double-decker. Another kitchen space saver is to buy drinking glasses that stack. Drawer dividers organize utensils most efficiently. If you have a broom closet somewhere (even if it isn't in the kitchen), consider adding shelves to it to make pantry storage. I keep overflow canned goods and staples in a plastic bin in my basement.

A similar concept works in the bedroom closet. Double shelf space with expandable shelves. If your shelves are very deep, look into installing sliding drawers that you can pull out to gain access to the stuff way in back. If folded clothes storage is more important to you than hanging storage, buy the fabric "shelves" available almost anywhere. They work great for sweaters and other things that take up a lot of room. Shoes can be stored on one of those hanging racks available for the back of the bedroom door. Alternately, shoes (or even off-season clothing) might fit in a chest at the foot of the bed. Under-bed storage is also ideal for those purposes. Removing non-seasonal clothes to a basement or storage locker can instantly give you 50% more space!

Additional TDS Resource: More on small home storage solutions

Simple Holiday Decor

I live alone and I am not interested in putting up a Christmas tree, because it means hauling all the stuff down from the attic and putting it away again. Recently I began covering all of the art on the walls in my house with colorful Christmas gift paper and ribbons and bows. It makes the house look very festive, and it's easy to do and undo, as I just used a little tape and staples.

I also did the same thing with holiday fabric. Most fabric stores are fully stocked with holiday designs. Often I get great deals on end of roll pieces. I used staples for fastening the corners together, and I "wrapped" the resulting "packages" a little off center with ribbons and bows, so the hanger was left free.

I will keep each piece of fabric and the ribbon and bow in a labeled zipper plastic bag. Next year they will be ready to use again. I did not wash the fabric before using it, as I didn't want it to lose its crisp appearance.

Adopting a Pet

We got our beautiful German Shepherd from the local animal control for an adoption fee! She had been turned in as a "stray" and was emaciated from having nursed pups and the lack of care. We had her spayed at the Humane Society. Worm medicine came from the local farm and home center. With some high quality food, she slowly and steadily returned to good health. Please consider your local animal impound when it comes time to adopt a pet.

Additional TDS Resource: More on adopting a pet

Anyone for Chocolate?

Here are some basic chocolate and candy facts:

  • Per the manufacturers, candy and chocolates have a shelf life of 6-12 months.

  • Freezing enhances the flavor of chocolate.

  • The white on chocolate is natural. It is simply cocoa butter that has separated from the chocolate and does not mean that the chocolate is old.

The days following Halloween are the perfect time to stock up for your holiday candy needs. Last year, I purchased bags of Hershey Kisses and candy bars and put them straight into the freezer to avoid temptation. Over the next two months, I melt the chocolates down to use in my holiday desserts. Halloween lollipops can be melted down into "stained glass" cookies. I make all kinds of Christmas cookies, toffee bars, and truffles. There are some fantastic recipes on the web. I then give these incredible cookies out to friends and co-workers as Christmas gifts (in tins purchased the year before on clearance!).

Grill Cleanup

Many people use indoor grills. I found a great tip. When you are finished cooking on your grill, pull out the plug, thoroughly wet three pieces of paper towel, and fold the paper towels into a three-ply thickness. Put the wet paper towels on the grill and close the top. While you are eating your meal, the moisture and residual heat is loosening the stuck on bits of food and your cleanup will be a snap.

Easy Contact Paper Removal

I recently found a very old cupboard at a flea market. The top was covered with old contact paper, and removing it seemed impossible. Then I took my blow dryer and warmed the contact paper. It peeled right off. It left a residue, which was easily removed with rubbing alcohol.

After painting it, I am very pleased with the final result. I saved a lot of intensive labor. Try it. It really works!

Winter Waterproofing

Here's a tip that I've been using for years. Instead of buying a tiny can of waterproofing spray for shoes at a shoe store, go to your local superstore and buy a can of waterproofing spray. You can find it with the camping supplies as it is sold for waterproofing tents, hats, and gloves. It says right on the can that it can be used on shoes and boots!

You can get a spray bottle of it that is nearly three times as large as the little can that they try to sell you in shoe stores. After putting on a couple coats as they suggest, the tiny can is nearly gone, but the large can purchased at your local superstore will do multiple pairs of shoes/boots.

I've used it on everything from suede shoes to my leather jacket! (You should always do a test in a spot of the shoe that is less noticeable before spraying the entire shoe.) Almost any waterproofing spray will darken the shoe slightly. However, after the spray dries, I've never experienced a noticeable difference.

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