Readers' Tips

Selling Crafts

There are many craft fairs you can go to where you pay a set fee to rent a table and you can exhibit your goods and sell them. They are often held at schools or community centers on the weekends. You can actually call a local school and ask them if they know when the next one will be held there. Then while you are at one, ask one of the other vendors if they know when others will be held in the area. Also, when the weather is nice, you can rent a table at your local flea market or tag sale. There are usually a very high number of people that frequent these places on the weekends. You can also visit an antique store and pick up one of the free antique news magazines. These often have ads in them for craft fairs, flea markets, etc. Don't forget your local consignment shops!

editor's note: Visit here for more on selling crafts.

Color Catcher® Surprise

While washing a very dirty baseball uniform, I had forgotten to remove a used Color Catcher® from the machine. Upon completion of that load, I found it to be the same color as the red clay ground into the uniform. The uniform looked like new. So now, when I have heavy dirt and grass-stained clothes of like color, I just throw in a Color Catcher®. They even take on the color of grass stains. It's amazing, and I'm a believer!
Mary H.

Family Halloween Costume

Here's a fun idea that my family did a few years ago. We were Christmas presents!

For each kid, get a box of the appropriate size, cut off the bottom, cut a hole in the top that is big enough to put his/her head through, and cut comfortable armholes in the sides or front. Then cover the box with Christmas wrapping paper, and neatly cut the paper around the holes. Add a stick-on bow or ribbon on his head. We used our Christmas stockings for goody bags.

Dad was a Christmas tree. We made him a silly star hat out of foil. We wrapped and safety-pinned a green sheet around him and pinned garland and ornaments to the sheet. As a warning, do not use breakable ornaments!

It was a fun group costume that got a lot of compliments. Best of all, it cost us nothing. We used stuff that we already had on hand.

Additional TDS Resource: More family Halloween costume ideas.

Avoiding Toilet Bowl Cleaners

I had a dog that loved to drink from the toilets, so I never used toilet cleaners. I had a plumber in and mentioned that to him. He said that was good as the toilet bowl cleaners eat up the mechanisms in the toilet, requiring replacement. I have never been happy with plumbers (expensive), but I do respect their advice!
Barbara K.

Cleaning Your Sofa

Our sofa was in need of cleaning, especially due to body oil from our black lab that rubs and lies against it. It was recommended to me to sprinkle the area with cornstarch to absorb the oil before attempting to use a cleaner, wait a few hours, and then vacuum it up. I slipped a clean sport sock, terry side out, over my hand and used it like a powder puff to apply the cornstarch. Then I wiped it around gently to get it into the nap. What a difference! I went ahead and used the cornstarch on the rest of the couch and saw a difference there as well. Now it's ready for its final cleaning to remove the rest of the soil and stains.
Lorraine in NH

Shop Here First

If I need an item, the first place I shop is my Facebook groups. I belong to some area town groups. I have requested things like jewelry crimp beads, a dehydrator, audio books, a charger for my tablet, etc. I have sold furniture, traded quart for pint canning jars, and arranged to buy 50 pounds of potatoes this fall. This service is free, and I have about an 85% success rate. I can't beat a deal like that.

Big Holiday Gatherings?

With lots of guests coming for the holidays, I needed a few more glass serving dishes with lids. The cheapest large dish I found was $39 at Wal-Mart. Instead, I checked at a couple of thrift stores and scored a new dish and lid for $4.50 with the original tag still on and three smaller dishes for a total cost of $10! Now my holiday table will look elegant and all my serving pieces will match.

Refill. Don't Replace.

This tip is about the toilet bowl cleaner/fresheners that hook inside of the toilet bowl. Once the liquid is all used up, just refill it with toilet bowl cleaner. You can use it over and over again, and it cleans and deodorizes the bowl each time you flush.

Eliminating Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are the worst! We had them seven years ago, and it was an expensive, disruptive, and psychologically damaging ordeal.

If you cannot afford to replace your mattress, you can get an airtight mattress cover that will seal the bed bugs in. Bed bugs can live months and months (over a year!) without eating, so you will have to leave the cover on permanently.

As for your other bedding, bed bugs can be killed by high heat. After you wash your bedding, put it in the dryer on high for at least 20 minutes. Make sure you do this with all of your clothing as well and then put the clothing in bags until you have the infestation controlled. Bed bugs love to travel and might be hanging out elsewhere in your house.

Finally, you will need to get an exterminator. If you rent, your landlord may pay for it. It's better to do this right the first time than risk them coming back.

The cheapest way to deal with bed bugs is to keep from getting them in the first place. Also, don't be ashamed. Bed bugs are making a huge comeback in the US and getting them is no indication of your level of cleanliness.
Kara G.

Additional TDS Resource: More on how to eliminate bed bugs

Free Pantyhose Protector

Pantyhose that are frozen before wearing for the first time last much longer. It does something to the nylon.

Nasty Stainless Steel Pans

A way to get stains, burns, sticky hardened food, or oil out of stainless steel pans is to add about a quarter cup of baking soda to water in the pan and bring to a boil. Then simmer for a few minutes. The residue will wipe out easily.

Halloween Costume Idea

The coolest family Halloween costume idea I've seen was a family of stick people. They were dressed in black sweat suits and hats with glow sticks attached to the front and back (down arms and legs) of the people, so when they walked, all you could see was the glow sticks.

Freezing Fresh Veggies

I have two freezers full of organic vegetables that I have grown myself. Many veggies can be frozen with no special preparation, such as tomatoes, peppers, peas, and even green leafy veggies. Just put them in a bag and into the freezer. Some, such as carrots, corn and brassicas, require blanching, which is very easy. I save $6,000 yearly growing my own food and have enough to share with my adult children.

Additional TDS Resource: More on using a freezer effectively

Natural Facial Scrub

Here is a great way to save money on facial scrubs! Just take one cup of granulated sugar and mix well with a 1/2 cup of pure virgin olive oil. Simply wash your face to remove all makeup first, then apply the mixture using soft circular motions, and finish it with a warm water rinse. The sugar acts as a gentle exfoliant, while the olive oil penetrates your skin leaving it moisturized and supple. Department store facial scrubs can cost over $40! Why spend that kind of money when you can achieve the same results at home yourself for only around $5!
Lisa J.

Eliminating Gasoline Odors

About a year ago, my husband thought his dad put the cap on the gas can and was driving around when it spilled. After many useless remedies, we finally resorted to putting clay kitty litter over the area of the gas spill. After a day, we vacuumed it and covered it with the litter again. I think we did this two or three times with great results. There was no more gas odor. Be careful not to allow any moisture near the cat litter or it could turn into "mud" on your carpet, and be sure to clean with a vacuum with very strong suction to get all the litter out.

Additional TDS Resource: More on removing gasoline smells

Add to Your Compost

I use a paper shredder, but instead of tossing my shredded paper into the garbage can, I toss it into my composter. It balances out the kitchen scraps, helps save the landfill, decomposes fast, and helps to keep the compost smelling clean.

Grow Your Own Pumpkin

We usually buy a small pumpkin for our grandson that he decorates himself. However, when we clean out the inside, we usually leave some pumpkin seeds on the bottom. When Halloween is over, we add dirt, and he can watch his pumpkin grow more pumpkins. This is a great idea for teaching kids about seeds, agriculture, etc. We used this in our homeschool last year, and it went over really well.

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