Wednesday, April 15 , 2015

Mystery-Stain Remover

It's hard to tell where some carpet stains came from. It could be an old soda spill hidden by furniture or dirt from winters past. If you've just done some rearranging and need an all-purpose mystery-stain cleaner, here's what to do…

Combine one-quarter cup of laundry detergent (the kind with color-safe bleach is best, even the cheap stuff) with one-quarter cup of white vinegar and one cup of warm water. Depending on the size of the stain, dribble a little bit at a time until completely covered, then gently work in with a clean sponge. Blot up as much wetness as possible with a dry towel, and let air dry completely. (Of course, test on an inconspicuous spot first.)

More help with stains…


Tuesday, March 24 , 2015

Remove Scratches from Your Glass Tabletop

A glass tabletop on an iron or marble frame looks stunning in any setting, but it's a magnet for scratches. Here’s what to do to make your glass table clear again.

To remove light scratches from a glass tabletop, sprinkle with baking soda, squeeze out small dabs of white toothpaste to match whatever size your scratch is and rub it into the baking soda with your finger in circles. Be sure to get the entire scratch with your circular movements. Wipe with a towel dampened with water, then dry. If this starts to help, repeat.

For deeper scratches: Buy a windshield-scratch repair kit at an auto-parts store. The kit contains resin that will fill the cracks.

Thanks to Good Housekeeping for the above tip.

More homemade fix-its…


Thursday, March 19 , 2015

Stop Toilet Overflow in Seconds

Have you ever pushed your luck and flushed too many times to try to undo an obvious clog in the old commode? Here's what to do to prevent an inevitable overflow.

If, after you flush, the water is rising dangerously high, quickly turn on the cold water in the sink as well as in the bathtub or shower.

The cold water coming through the pipes will cause a vacuum that will suction the water in the toilet down the drain.

Commit this tip to memory. It's a great thing to know, especially when you go to somebody else's home…except they might think that you're making yourself a little too much at home when they hear the shower running.

More bathroom fix-its…


Monday, March 02 , 2015

Quick Dryer Fix

Dryers are so full of hot air. And all this energy eventually disappears out a vent while your clothes take a long beating. Here's a trick to cut drying time considerably…

Toss in a dry hand towel with each dryer load. The dry towel will absorb moisture from the wash, then dry quickly and continue to absorb more water.

Is your dryer sluggish? You probably know not to cram it with too many items. But an average load of clothes or towels should be dry by the end of one cycle. If they're not, you could have an airflow problem. Read this before you buy a new dryer.

More help with laundry…


Thursday, February 19 , 2015

What Color Did I Paint That Room?

It's time to paint your bedroom or guest room or wherever, and you've discovered the best color ever. Here's a way to guarantee you'll remember that specific shade for future repaints.

Record all your painting info under the light-switch cover. After you paint but before you put the light-switch cover back in place, make a note on the wall of the brand and exact paint color you're using. Also include the amount of paint it took to do the entire room. Replace the cover, and your painting record is there for keeps.

More about home decorating…


Monday, February 09 , 2015

You’re Cleaning Your Mirror Wrong

Did you know that spraying window cleaner on a mirror is one of the worst things you can do to clean it (especially an antique one in a fancy frame)? Here's what to do instead…

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water in a bowl. Scrunch up a piece of noncolored newspaper, and dip it in the mixture. Shake off the excess, and wipe the mirror with the moistened newspaper. Then buff the mirror dry with a soft cloth, paper towel or dry newspaper. (It's best to wear rubber gloves to keep the newsprint off your hands.)

Caution: Never spray water—or any liquid (especially window cleaner)—on a mirror. When moisture seeps into the edges and back of the mirror, the silvering can “spoil,” causing dark spots. Seeping liquid also can corrode any kind of metal or brass framing.

More easy ways to clean…


Tuesday, December 09 , 2014

Watch This Easy Way to Clean Venetian Blinds

This is how to clean window blinds (easily).

Venetian blinds or any kind of slatted shades can be a real pain to dust! Cover your hands with either heavy cotton socks or cotton gardening gloves, then run your hands over the slats to dust them. Your fingers will be protected if your blinds are the sharp metal kind. To keep your blinds cleaner longer, give them a once-over with a fabric-softener sheet. The antistatic agent in the dryer sheet helps repel dust.

Monday, December 08 , 2014

Tame Your Junk Drawer

Now is a good time to clean up and cull through your clutter. Cleaning out a big storage drawer is usually something to put off till tomorrow, unless you have a system that's somewhat fun. Here's what to do…

To organize a drawer in the most efficient manner, have a plastic trash bag and three shoe boxes (or larger boxes, depending on the size of your drawer) at your side. Now you're ready to dig in.

• Put anything you want to throw away in the trash bag.

• Place anything you want to store elsewhere into the first box.

• Stash anything worth giving to charity in the second box.

• Save any candidates for a garage sale in the third box.

Now keep everything that’s left in the drawer—hopefully it's hardly anything at all! Oh, and if you have a few items that fall under the “I-don’t-know” category, we find this phrase quite helpful: When in doubt, throw it out! Plan your trips to the dump, the storage facility and your favorite charity. And start designing your garage sale signs for the spring.

Motivation to declutter: Think of cleaning out drawers or closets as going shopping. How often have you found something while cleaning out a storage space and happily said, So that's where I put that!

Thanks to Baking Soda, Banana Peels, Baby Oil…and Beyond (Reader’s Digest and Bottom Line Books) for help with this tip. (To purchase Baking Soda, Banana Peels, Baby Oil…and Beyond, call Bottom Line Books customer service at 800-678-5835.)

More help with clutter…


Wednesday, November 05 , 2014

Keep Curtains Crisp and Wrinkle-Free

Washing sheer curtain panels is such a daunting task—you don't want them to lose their stiff crispness. But they do get soiled and dingy. So here's what you do...

After you launder as usual (follow label instructions), soak the curtains—one panel at a time—in a basin or sink filled with at least one cup of Epsom salts (available at drugstores) and about a gallon of cool water.  Let each panel soak for about five minutes, and then hang them up to drip dry. (Do not wring, or they will wrinkle! Make sure you have something underneath them, like some old towels, to catch the drips.) They should dry crisp and wrinkle-free.

More easy ways to clean...


Monday, October 13 , 2014

6 Fixes for Scratched Furniture

Thrift shops and Craigslist can be frugal outlets for furniture...but sometimes the wood looks a bit beat up. If it's just a few scratches that are holding you back from a great piece of used furniture, here's what to do...

You don't have to be a woodworking expert to fix up old furniture.

On dark wood, fill in a scratch or nick with a paste of instant coffee grounds (two to three tablespoons mixed with one or two drops of water). Use a cotton swab to apply.

Cover up a scratch on varnished wood by using an appropriately colored eyebrow pencil, shoe polish or crayon. You can also try rubbing a pecan, walnut, Brazil nut or peanut into the scratch.

On mahogany, a little iodine will hide most minor scratches. Apply with a clean cloth or a cotton swab.

More help for your furniture...