Readers' Tips

Eliminating Bedbugs

You can call a pest control company and have them attempt to chemically remove them. However, this sometimes does not work. The one thing that does work is having your house heated up so hot that they die. A pest control company can provide this service as well. You can call your local health department and see what they offer or suggest. My aunt had bedbugs, and according to her, the health department came out and got rid of them. I'm not sure about that, but it's worth a try. Be careful about having others in your home right now since they could get the bugs on them and take them home.

editor's note: Visit here for more on eliminating bedbugs.

Just as Clean

We had bought some very pricey OxiClean™ after the local TV news department did a test on it and found that it pretty much works as advertised on the infomercials.

While reading the ingredients, we found that it contains the same cleaner as the cheap dry bleach we had been using for our colored wash. We tried using it as an "all purpose" cleaner and stain remover and found that it works just the same for a fraction of the price.

Using Your Freezer

Over the years, I have found that I use the foods that I store more effectively by doing a freezer inventory about every three months. I keep it with my price book, so I can refer to it as I am planning upcoming meals or a shopping trip. It works out great when I need to come up with something different for the main meal. I just consult my inventory for ideas. If I have room, I also store my flour in the freezer and stock up around the holidays when the price is lower. I never have to worry about bugs in it that way. When I do my inventory, I note the location by shelf of each item, so when I want to use it, I don't have to guess where the item might be. If pressed for time, I inventory a couple of shelves at a time and complete the rest later. This works for me, and I rarely have to throw out items past their shelf life.

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on how to get the most from your freezer

We also have a number of articles on creating a price book. Find one here and another here.

New Clothing Care

When you get a new dark or bright garment, try this tip. Add a half of a cup of salt to a bucket of cold water. Stir to dissolve. Place your garment in the solution for 20 to 30 minutes and then wash. This will set the color.
Gail in Houston

Special Valentine's Note

For a cheap but delightful Valentine gift to your loved one, put a message in an empty pop bottle. Write a poem or just a simple "I Love You." Wrap it in paper with a big red bow.
Marlene in Spanaway, WA

Additional TDS Resource: More Valentine's ideas in TDS library

Snowy Day Project

I just cleaned my kitchen cabinets. I threw out or donated the things I no longer needed or used. Pots, frying pans, and lids were all cleaned and stored properly.

Then I went through my pantry. Soups, rice, and pasta that I bought on sale were all put into my weekly menu until I used them up and needed more.

I made a list of my newly found supplies and put it with my grocery shopping list. I'll use the stuff I have first.
Grannie Annie in Suffern, NY

Those Plastic Kitchen Containers

I save and reuse many plastic containers, such as the ones from Chinese take-out orders, for storage. Many of them look the same but vary slightly in size. With a permanent marker, I mark each container top and bottom with a number or letter. This makes it easy to match the corresponding bottoms with the tops when I need to use one.

Additional TDS Resource: More on storing and finding plastic containers

Spa at Home

Like most women, I love my spa treatments. When I got married, I had to trim my expenses, so manicures, pedicures, and waxing had to be curbed. I purchased a salon quality wax machine included in a "startup" kit for about $65 at a beauty supply warehouse and that was five years ago. I haven't even had to replenish any of the supplies that came with my wax kit, save the muslin and wood sticks that cost somewhere around $1-$2 total. I go to my stylist to "reshape" my brows every so often, but it's terribly easy to do my own waxing within the boundaries of shape she gives me. The salon I went to charged $10-$15 per visit for waxing, so this saves a ton of money over time.
Shiahna L.

How to Store Potatoes

I am of Irish descent and potatoes were a way of life for us growing up. Here is what I've learned about storing potatoes and my potatoes last a long time. First, take care in selecting potatoes at the store. Make sure that there is no moisture. Check the eyes for beginning sprouts. And make sure that there are absolutely no soft or damaged spots. Also, make sure there is no green tint as that means too much sun exposure, which produces a harmful substance that can be toxic.

Always take the potatoes out of the plastic bag. Plastic keeps moisture in, which promotes mold. If possible, I keep them on a shelf in a cool dark place with a tiny amount of space between each potato. Therefore, if one starts to go bad, it doesn't spoil the others. If space is at a minimum, then a wire basket will do. It allows circulation of air. A basement or cellar is best if the temperature stays a consistent 55 degrees.

Never store near or beside onions, as they have significant moisture. Potatoes need to be stored in a dry atmosphere. Now, bake, stuff, mash, fry or scallop and enjoy your potatoes anytime!

Additional TDS Resource: More on storing potatoes

Plant Pots

Torn pantyhose? Don't throw them out! Instead, use them for the bottom of planters. They'll allow water to drain but hold in the dirt. They won't rot or get moldy.
Rena C.

My 'At Home' Thermos

I now use my thermos for coffee at home. The coffee stays hot, and I can sip for an hour as I work from home or do house chores. This is much better than reheating the coffee in the microwave, which makes the coffee taste bitter after repeated heating.

Insider Beauty Secret

I asked my hairdresser to recommend a shampoo that removes build-up from hair. Even though he sells an expensive line of hair care products, he told me not to spend a lot on a shampoo designed to do that.

Instead, he suggested that I go to the grocery store and buy a box of baking soda. He told me to put some shampoo in my hand and add some baking soda. Mix the two together in my palm, and then shampoo my hair as usual. After rinsing, he told me to use conditioner.

Well, I tried it, and it works great! It left my hair looking shiny and soft. So, for just a few dollars, I gave myself a salon-style look for less. Of course, I use a generic knock-off of a leading brand shampoo and conditioner.

Additional TDS Resource: More articles on beautiful hair

From Doggie Bag to...

On this cold winter day, I decided to check out my freezer for soup ingredients. I found a leftover sweet and sour chicken dish from a restaurant I went to recently.

I realized the dish actually looked like the perfect combination of cooked carrots, leeks, spinach, onion, chicken and brown rice. I filled a pot with enough water to cover the frozen block of Chinese food and added a bouillon cube. Twenty minutes later, I had a delicious, hearty soup!

It was a wonderful reinvention that tasted even better than the original dish, and it cost nothing more than a bouillon cube!

Eliminating Urine Odors

My husband found a way to get rid of urine odors in carpet. First, he sprinkled baking soda on the affected area and left it to absorb overnight. The next day, he vacuumed up the first batch of soda and then poured another dry batch on the carpet. Using a wet cloth, he rubbed the creamy wet mixture into the area. Then, he rinsed the mixture with clean water. He vacuumed well when it was dry. My own nose could no longer detect the smell, but more importantly, my cats did not detect the smell either. Before doing this, they were always visiting the smell, regardless of what we had used to attempt to clean it. They rolled in it, which concerned me. I thought they might eventually add their own, but they did not!

Additional TDS Resource: More on removing urine odors

Cooking Secret

When cooking with onions or garlic, I quickly get rid of the stink on my hands by rubbing my hands with leftover coffee grinds and then pouring a little mouthwash on my hands. This also works well when cooking with fish, etc.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Even with double-pane windows, the inside glass is cold when temperatures are low. I use sheets of foam core board (used for school posters, etc.) purchased for $1 each at a dollar store to cover the lower part of my windows at night. I also cut a piece of thicker insulation board to fit in my fireplace opening because the damper doesn't close tightly. Self-sealing plastic like that used to insulate windows from the inside can also be used, but this blocks the cold better. Insulation board can also be used for larger windows. Then I remove them during the day when the sun is shining.
Susan S.

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