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Tuesday, November 18 , 2014

Suede Scuff Fix

Suede shoes and boots are soft and cozy, but they can get scuffed pretty easily, even the waterproof kind. If you have a minor scuff or a patch of grass stains on your suede (or soft leather) boots, here's what to do...

Dip a clean, dry cloth or soft sponge in glycerin, and gently rub it onto the shoe or boot until the scuffs or grass stains disappear. It will leave a dark patch. After rubbing with glycerin, scrunch up a coffee filter to buff the scuffed area, then let your suede item sit for an hour or so to dry completely. If you have a hard time finding liquid glycerin at your local pharmacy, you can use glycerin suppositories. Just cut one in half, and rub on the scuff. If your suede is not waterproof, be sure to test a tiny, inconspicuous spot first (such as a hidden part of the tongue or under a belt buckle). If the glycerin leaves a water ring after sitting for an hour, do not use. We've never had that happen. It usually works like a charm, especially on dark suede.

More shoe and boot care...

 

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Monday, November 17 , 2014

Sticky-Floor Solutions

Did you just discover a spot of sticky gunk on your vinyl or linoleum floor? It could be accumulated food grease or dirt, wax buildup (if you still wax your floor) or an old label that was never removed. Don't pull out the sharp scrapers yet! Here are three floor-preserving ways to get rid of the gunk...

If it's a greasy-sticky patch from a food or oil spill, pour cola on the stain and let it stay there for one hour. Then wipe it off— both the soda and the stain. (Legend has it that Coca-Cola works best due to its acidic content, so you might want to try the “real thing” first.) Don't let it sit for more than an hour because soda can stain some vinyl floors if it dries. (If you’re not sure if your floor has a protective coating, you might want to test some cola on a patch of unseen vinyl before using it to clean the grease.)

If you think the sticky spot is from a sticker, use our favorite pantry floor cleaner— white vinegar. Just pour straight vinegar directly on the spot, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Wipe away with hot water and a damp cloth. The stickiness will wipe away with the greatest of ease! (You can also use vinegar on sticky food spills, but we think the cola works best when grease is involved.)

If your vinyl or linoleum floor is sticky from wax buildup, take club soda and pour it on a small section of the floor. Scrub it in with a brush, and give it a few minutes as you start the process on the next small section, then go back to the first section and wipe it off.

More cleaning tricks...

 

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Friday, November 14 , 2014

Cloudy Glassware

If you use a dishwasher, place a dishwasher-safe bowl on the bottom rack of your empty dishwasher and fill it with a cup of white vinegar. Place the cloudy glasses on the top rack, and run a full cycle without detergent. This will clean both your dishwasher and your cloudy glasses! We've also found that using gel dishwasher detergent can leave a film on glasses. Try using powdered detergent only, and use a little less than the recommended amount.

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Thursday, November 13 , 2014

Emergency Laundry Detergent Substitute

You thought you had enough laundry soap to get you to the end of the week, but you made a gross miscalculation. Here's what to do...

In an emergency, when you must do a wash and you don't have any laundry detergent (or baking soda), use shampoo...that is, if you have shampoo. About one-third cup will do a full load.

In case you were wondering, dishwashing liquid is not a good substitute for laundry detergent. Washing machines and dishwashing soaps both vary in strength...just a small squirt could create enough suds to float the Titanic! (OK, that was an exaggeration.)

More help with your laundry...

 

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Monday, November 10 , 2014

Get Your Sweater Back into Shape

A reader asks, “Do you have any tips for shrinking a wool sweater that is too big without felting* it?” Well, we're not sure about sizing a LARGE down to a MEDIUM, but we can help when the parts get stretched out, such as when a turtleneck looks more like a hippo neck. When this happens, it's easy to shrink a sweater's stretched-out neck, cuffs and waist back into shape. Here's what to do...

Dunk the sweater in a sink filled with hot water. Shake off as much water as possible (without stretching it further!), then blot the sweater with a clean, dry towel. Once the sweater is no longer dripping wet, reshape to the size you want and dry the stretched-out part(s) with a blow-dryer set on hot. The localized heating will bring those parts of your sweater back into line!

Caution: Do not touch a wet sweater with a plugged-in dryer. And some hair dryers get very hot, so move the dryer constantly (back and forth, as a salon stylist would) to keep from burning your sweater.

*Felting is the process that mats together animal fibers (such as wool) until they resemble felt. This usually occurs from a regular hot-water wash. This is not a good thing if you want a sweater to maintain its basic shape (since felting often shrinks material significantly) and the wool to retain its integrity.

More help with your clothes...

 

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Friday, November 07 , 2014

Nontoxic Toilet Cleaners

Stains on your toilet interior can come from mineral deposits, bacteria or organisms in your water (yuck!). Wherever they come from, they are not a pretty sight! Here are three ways to get a stain-free toilet without a harsh bleach treatment.

Toss a few Alka-Seltzer or denture-cleansing tablets into the toilet bowl. Once the fizzing stops, scrub the stains with a brush and flush.

If you have some Kool-Aid fruit juice powder (or Crystal Light...or Tang—any drink mix that contains citric acid), sprinkle one-third cup of the powder in the bowl. Leave it there for a few hours, then scrub with a brush and flush.

If the stains are too tough for even Tang or denture cleanser, empty a few vitamin C capsules, or mash vitamin C tablets into a powder and drop it in the bowl. Let it stay that way for a few hours. Then scrub with a brush and flush.

More help with household stains...

 

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Monday, November 03 , 2014

No More Stiff Jeans

An immigrant grocer named Levi Strauss designed a pair of coveralls out of canvas. His target market—the miners in San Francisco during the 1850s. Those men were tired of their trousers wearing out and welcomed a pair of sturdy pants. Strauss eventually switched from canvas to denim. While denim is softer than canvas, it can still be stiff (especially that stored-away jean jacket you’d like to resurrect). Here's how to soften your denim and make it more comfortable.

Soften stiff jeans by tossing them in the washing machine with your usual detergent plus one-half cup of table or rock salt. You may need to double rinse them. Turn them inside out, and dry them on low for five minutes only. Then hang your jeans to prevent shrinkage and puckering. If you don't have a clothesline, throw them over a shower rod or attach each leg to a clothes hanger. Try to use the dryer as infrequently as possible since it can cause shrinkage and fading.

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Sunday, November 02 , 2014

NO WIRE HANGERS EVER

The smartest way to recycle wire hangers. Watch now.

Did you just iron your beautiful silk blouse or linen jacket and have no padded hangers to spare? Don't despair! Take a cardboard tube (from a roll of paper towels, plastic wrap, foil or gift wrap), and cut a slit all the way across lengthwise. Cut the tube in half or in sections (depending on how big your tube is) to fit the sides of whatever hanger you have available (we always have plenty of wire hangers around). Slip the slit tube sections on the hanger, and hang any just-ironed linen or delicate article of clothing that’s likely to crease. All you have to do is remember to save those empty cardboard tubes! You can also use bubble wrap. Just wrap around the wire ends and cut to fit. Tape to keep it in place and voila, free padded hanger!

Here's a bonus tip for scarves: Roll silk scarves around one of those empty cardboard tubes. This is a great way to keep your favorite fashion scarves wrinkle-free when traveling.


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Wednesday, October 29 , 2014

Panty Hose Trick to Dry Sweaters

If you don't use a drying rack for your wet sweaters, then consider the ol' panty hose trick to avoid shoulder pupkees. (That's our family's word for those stretched-out, epaulet-type of shoulder bumps that result from hanging wet—and sometimes dry—sweaters on hangers.) Here’s what to do...

Take a pair of clean panty hose, and thread the legs through each arm of the sweater starting from inside the sweater at the armpits— one leg in one arm, and the other leg in the other arm.

Bring the waist of the panty hose up through the sweater’s neck. If you use a clothesline, attach clothespins to the waist and each of the two feet. If you want to use a hanger or a hook, tie the two panty hose feet together, forming a loop, and then put it on the hanger or hook—the panty hose waist will stretch inside the sweater. Just make sure you have enough height for your sweater to hang. This method puts no stress on the shoulders.

If your sweater is big and heavy—even more so when it's wet—it's better to dry it flat. When you spread it out on a drying rack or table, cut a brown paper bag down the seams, crinkle it and stuff it into the torso of the sweater, using more brown paper as needed. The paper stuffing will speed up the drying process.

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Saturday, October 25 , 2014

Wear This Before Things Get Messy

Maybe you're finishing up a last-minute painting touch-up or you're starting your Thanksgiving food prep and you need a quick, low-maintenance cover-up. Here's what to use...

It's easy to make a homemade apron that’s a “cut” above the rest! Just take a big plastic trash bag, and cut out about 12 to 15 inches along the center of the sealed edge (this is where your head goes through). On the side edges near the head hole, cut a few inches to make holes for your arms to go through. Pull the bag over your head, insert your arms and voila! Bring on the messiest messes!

More clever household swaps...

 

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