Wednesday, July 23 , 2014

Clean Marker, Crayon or Pen Off Your Wall

If you have a budding artist in your home who has recently expressed himself or herself on your painted walls, here's what to do...

Note: Whichever tip you try, test it on a small, inconspicuous spot of wall first to make sure your particular paint can handle the treatment. Then...

To clean crayon marks: A baby wipe or ammonia-based window cleaner should remove most crayon marks without removing the paint. Be sure to wipe the area completely dry after using one of these cleaners.

To clean magic marker spots: Put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton puff, and wipe the marker spots. The marker should come off, and the paint or wallpaper should stay on.

To remove ballpoint pen marks: Spritz any type of hairspray on the pen mark, then blot it with a clean, soft rag.

Long-term solution: Purchase a huge paper roll at an office- or art-supply store, and plaster the walls of your playroom (or what serves as a playroom) with it. Hand your graffiti-artists-in-residence their weapons of choice, and let them knock themselves out. Who knows? If anything, you can sell the results on eBay. Bravissimo!

More quick tricks to clean your home…


Friday, July 18 , 2014

Counter Stain Remover

How many times has the purple or red ink from a stamped-on price stayed on your countertop? It does not have to be there forever. Here's what to do...

Rub off the ink with rubbing alcohol or the inside of a piece of lemon rind. Then wipe with a damp cloth or sponge. If the alcohol or the lemon doesn't do it, try nail-polish remover.

If you have any hesitation about using alcohol or nail-polish remover on the surface of your counter, test a tiny can't-be-seen-area first.

More help with stains...


Friday, July 11 , 2014

Protect Your Hands While Gardening

There's nothing like a relaxing afternoon in the garden. But hot weather makes you sweat, and moist hands blister easily. Then there's the occasional scratch or bug bite that can really make you uncomfortable. Here's what to do...

When your hands get sweaty from working with a shovel, hoe or pruner, rub your palms with some soil to help keep them dry and blister-free.

Soothe the sting and stop infection: It's not unusual to get a scrape...a scratch...a nick...a gash...or an insect bite while working outside. However, you don't want to run into your house to tend to every little abrasion. The answer is to keep a small spray bottle of full-strength white vinegar and a few adhesive bandages in your garden tote. Spritz the minor wound with the vinegar—which will help prevent it from becoming infected—then cover the boo-boo with a bandage until you go indoors and can clean and dress it properly.

Bonus sweet secret to help your hands: After gardening, add one teaspoon of sugar to your soapy lather, and wash your hands with it. The sugar acts as an abrasive to clean away grass and garden stains.

More help in the garden...


Thursday, July 10 , 2014

The Secret to Spotless Crystal

We'd like to help you care for your crystal—the fancy tumblers and stemware and serving pieces you take out only for company and on special occasions. That ice bucket wedding gift, that beautiful vase that's heavy as heck...

To clean these irreplaceable treasures, fill a basin or sink with three parts hot water to one part white vinegar. Dip a nonabrasive sponge or cloth into the solution and gently clean the item...or dunk the whole piece into the mix, whatever's easiest. Once all the crystal is clean, rinse each piece with water and dry with a lint-free cloth. Your best bet in terms of lint-free is a linen towel or a cloth made of least 25% linen.

No-more-broken-glass tip: Crystal can be scary to clean because you don't want to drop it and chip, crack or break it.

Here's what to do: When you wash delicate crystal (or any glassware that's difficult to handle), line the sink with a very fluffy towel or a thick rubber mat in case a precarious piece slips out of your hands. Keep your basin of washing solution to the side, and gently wash and rinse the item over the towel or mat, which will protect your treasure even when wet. Now you can relax!

More help with housework...


Monday, July 07 , 2014

Bug-Splat and Bird-Doo Remover

Don't you love summer road trips? They would be even better without the bug splats and bird doo on the windshield. Here's what to do...

If you get bugs or bird doo splattered on your windshield, mix one tablespoon of liquid dish detergent with two cups of warm water and pour it across the top of the windshield. Then take a plastic-mesh onion (or potato) bag or a shower sponge (the kind with the plastic weave), and give the splats a going over. You can start with just wiping, then scrub harder if you need to. Finish the job by wiping the windshield with a clean cloth.

Alternative method: Panty hose have a nice, nonabrasive scrubby surface and might even work better than those mesh bags depending on your exact splat. Never throw out old pantyhose!

More help with travel...


Tuesday, July 01 , 2014

Put Your Brillo in the Freezer

You are washing a grimy pot or a greasy baking sheet, wishing for a steel wool pad, but you hate the rusty mess and spiky metal splinters it makes. Struggle no more! You may freely purchase steel wool. Here's what to do to keep the pad from rusting...

After using a steel wood pad, if there's still some scrub left in it, place it in a little plastic bag and store it in the freezer. It will stay rust-free. When you're ready to use it again, put it under warm water and it will thaw in seconds.

To avoid getting metal splinters, wear rubber gloves when you use steel wool. If you don't have gloves, you can protect your fingers by cupping the steel wool pad in the rind of a lemon, orange or grapefruit.

More help for your home...


Monday, June 30 , 2014

This Fruit Shines Your Silver

You've just uncovered your mom’s tea set stored long ago, and it's completely covered with tarnish. Go to your fruit bowl for help. Here's what to do...

After you eat a banana, cut off the hard ends of the peel and discard. Purée the rest of the peel in a blender or a food processor. Then, using a soft cloth, rub the silver with the puréed peel. Wipe, rinse and buff dry with a clean, soft cloth. You'll be able to see your happy face reflected in the silver now—and with no icky fumes from chemical cleaners.

You can also keep the peel whole and massage the silver with the inside part of the skin—this works well enough on spots of tarnish. For tough jobs, stick to the purée. Either way, be sure to rinse and buff the silver well with a soft cloth.

More help with your home...


Tuesday, June 17 , 2014

Smelly Garbage Can Fix

"Take out the garbage!" How often do you hear or say those words in your household? Why is it such a hateful chore? Because no one wants to go near that smelly garbage bin! Here's what we do...

Empty the bin of any loose bits of food or peels, and dump in one-half cup of ammonia, one tablespoon of liquid dish detergent and two cups of hot water (careful not to splash yourself). Swish it all around vigorously. We normally don't like to use ammonia or bleach because of the harsh fumes, but ammonia is an excellent disinfectant for the garbage can, and it usually cleans off any garbage ooze and yuck without having to scrub the interior. If you don't want to use ammonia, use one-half cup of white vinegar instead.

Note: Never combine vinegar with ammonia or bleach of any kind. This combination creates a toxic gas that's harmful. You should also never combine ammonia and bleach together—that creates toxic chloramine vapors, which can cause respiratory damage (yikes!).

Rinse the bin well, and wipe or air dry. Then sprinkle a thin layer of borax powder (available at grocery stores or department stores such as Target or Walmart) on the bottom of the can. Doing this should inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold and will also prevent the dreaded reeking garbage can. Resprinkle the borax about once a month, and use the cleaning mix every six months—or if you've had a leak or spill and the garbage smell has come back.

Bonus tip for easier trash cleanup: Put several liners in the garbage can at once. When the can is full, take out the trash in the top liner, leaving the liner underneath all ready to go!

More household help...


Monday, June 09 , 2014

How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

Are you having a "bad hare day"? What a drag it is to see your chard or cabbage coming up, only to be chomped on by bunnies (or other critters)! Here's what to do...

To stop rabbits from enjoying a salad in your garden, wet down the leaves of your vegetable plants and sprinkle ground cayenne pepper on them. Repeat after every rain shower...and remember to wash your produce well before eating (but you were going to do that anyway).

To protect your seedlings, sprinkle baby powder on them. Rabbits hate the smell of talcum powder. Or sprinkle human hair all around where your plants are just coming up. Remember to ask your beautician to save the clippings when you (or a family member) get a trim.

More ways to a great garden...


Friday, May 30 , 2014

No More Wire Hangers!

Did you just iron your beautiful silk blouse or linen jacket or some special clothing item and then have no padded hangers to spare? Don't despair! Here's what to do...

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!

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

More help with laundry...