Monday, February 16, 2009

Tips That Have Gotten Me Through The Years!

I totally understand that this is A LOT to read....I wrote this YEARS ago on my other blog....and I'm in the process of putting them here. The tips save money and time and frustration! Plus the home made cleaners are better for our environment....going GREEN is easy!

When you buy frozen veggies in bulk, as I do, there's an easy way to store them in the freezer. (This one got me 'published' in Heloise Hints in the Houston Chronicle back in 1997) When you first open the bag, cut off a strip about 1/4 wide. Use the veggies you need, then use the strip to make a tie for the bag. The next time you need your veggies, cut off another strip and use it.

To keep your car or truck smelling fresh, hide dryer sheets under the seats! It lasts for a very long time and your vehicle always smells great! 

To keep your kitties from jumping to the tops of your entertainment center, china cabinets or armoires - keep sheets of aluminum foil on the tops. When the kittie jumps up there, she will be scared off by the noise and this will teach them not to go up there! (Also-train your kitties not to get in the mini blinds or in places they shouldn't by zapping them with a water gun! We keep one in the living room and one in the master bedroom.)

To recycle old crayons. Don't throw away those little broken pieces that you think you can't use! Get an old muffin pan and put the cupcake liners in the pan. Take all the paper off the crayons and divide them up to each space in the pan. Put your oven on 400 degrees and place the muffin pan in. Now, depending on where you live determines how long you leave the pan in. Just keep checking it. In the end, when they are all melted, you not have little round pieces of crayons. You can mix them up and have marbled style or keep the same colors in the spaces in the pan. My girls love these and they can help too!

Here's a collection of my favorite natural cleaning formulas, concoctions
and witches brews. MOST are safe and nontoxic, with a few exceptions which are clearly noted.
Use the ingredients listed below when making your own alternative cleaners, most are
inexpensive and you probably already have many of them in your kitchen cupboards. All
can be found at your local supermarket, natural food store or drugstore.
Used individually or combined, these cleaners are safe, effective and cost-efficient.

BAKING SODA (sodium bicarbonate): An all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner. Cleans, deodorizes, removes stains and softens fabrics.

BORAX (sodium borate): A natural mineral that kills mold and bacteria. An alternative to bleach, it deodorizes, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap. Please note safety precautions at the bottom of this page.


CORNSTARCH: Starches clothes, absorbs oil and grease

HERBS and ESSENTIAL OILS: For disinfecting and fragrance

LEMON JUICE: Cuts through grease and removes perspiration and other stains from clothing.A bleach alternative.

SALT (sodium chloride): An abrasive

TOOTHPASTE A mild abrasive

VINEGAR (acetic acid): Cuts grease, removes stains and is an excellent water softener.

WASHING SODA (sodium carbonate): Cleans clothes, softens water, cuts grease and disinfects. Increases the cleaning power of soap.
· To save time and money, make your cleaners in advance and buy the ingredients in bulk for cost savings and to avoid excess packaging.. · Make large batches of the recipes and store them in reusable airtight plastic containers and spray bottles. Using a pretty spray bottle or container makes cleaning days more fun and pleasant. · Label all of your ingredients and keep them out of reach of children. While most of these all natural cleaners are not poisonous, some can be harmful or even fatal if swallowed by children or pets. See specific safety precautions at the bottom of this page. · Add your favorite essential oils or herbs to any of these formulas for fragrance

Air Fresheners/Deodorizers:
1) Place cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice or other favorite scented spice in a pot of water , simmer for 1-2 hours
2) Put a few slices of leftover orange or lemon rinds in a pot of water, simmer for 1-2 hours
3) Place baking soda in an open container of your choice. Good for closets, refrigerators and other small enclosed spaces
4) 2-3 slices of white bread absorbs refrigerator odors
5) Place lemon slices in an open bowl in the kitchen
6) Lemon and baking soda spray:
Dissolve baking soda in 2 cups hot water, add lemon juice, pour into spray bottle, spray into air as air freshener
7) Place unscented kitty litter placed in bowls to absorb room odors
8) Vinegar in a cup or bowl rids rooms of odors
9) Charcoal placed in a bowl rids rooms of odors
10) Simply light a match for a few moments or burn a candle (scented or unscented). The flame from either will "eat-up" bad smelling gases in the air
11) Pour vanilla extract into a shallow dish and set in an out of the way place
12) Spin-Fresh Bathroom Deodorizer
Add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to the inside of the cardboard toilet tissue roll. With each turn, fragrance is released into the room.

All Purpose Cleaners:
1) Vinegar and Salt. Mix together for a good surface cleaner.
2) Baking Soda. Dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water for a general cleaner.
3) Baking soda on a damp sponge. Baking soda cleans and deodorizes all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
4) Use liquid castile soap and baking soda or Borax in different ratios. Use a little soap and soda/borax with lots of water on floors, walls and counters. Use more soap, soda/Borax for tubs sinks, cat boxes, anything that can be well rinsed.
5) For a general, all-purpose cleaner, try a paste made from baking soda and water or mix salt and water with a little vinegar.
6) 3 tbsp. vinegar, 1/2 tsp. washing soda, 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil based liquid soap, 2 cups hot water. Mix ingredients in spray bottle or bucket. Apply and wipe clean.

Disinfectants: 1) Regular cleaning with plain soap and hot water will kill some bacteria.
2) Borax has long been recognized for its disinfectant and deodorizing properties. Mix 1/2 cup Borax into 1 gallon hot water or undiluted vinegar and clean with this solution.
3) Mix a half-cup of borax with 1 gallon hot water. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or lavender. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and cool. Or add essential fragrant oils instead of fresh herbs. Store in a plastic spray bottle.
4) 2 tablespoons borax, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 cups hot water. Combine the borax and lemon juice with the water in a spray bottle. Use as you would any commercial all-purpose cleaner.
5) Isopropyl Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant. Sponge on and allow todry. Use in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves.

Glass Cleaners:Windows and Mirrors:
1) Use undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle or
2) Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle or
3) 1/2 lemon juice and 2 cups water in a spray bottle or
4) 1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil based soap (such as Murphy's Oil Soap)
5) Mix 1/2 cup cornstarch with 2 quarts warm water. Apply with sponge then wipe with absorbent cloth or towel. Do not wash windows or glass when sun is on them or if they are warm. This causes the solution to dry too quickly creating unwanted streaks.
6) No-Streak Glass Cleaner: 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 quart warm water
Mix the ingredients and apply with a sponge or pour into spray bottle and spray on. Wipe dry with crumpled newspaper, buff to a shine. (Use crumpled newspaper instead of paper towels for lint-free results.
7) Rubbing alcohol is effective in place of glass cleaner.

Scouring Powders:1) Use a non-chlorine scouring powder such as Bon Ami
2) Baking Soda or Dry Table Salt. These are mild abrasives and can be used as an alternative to chlorine scouring powders. Simply put either baking soda or salt on a sponge or the surface, scour and rinse.

Non-Abrasive Soft Scrubber:
1/4 cup borax
Vegetable-oil based liquid soap (such as Murphys Oil Soap)
1/2 teaspoon lemon oil
In a bowl, mix the borax with enough soap to form a creamy paste. Add lemon oil and blend well. Scoop a small amount of the mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, then rinse well.

Bathroom Cleaners:
Toilet Bowl Cleaners:
1) Baking Soda and Vinegar: Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, then squirt with vinegar and scour with a toilet brush. Cleans and deodorizes.
2) Borax and Lemon Juice. For removing a stubborn stain, like toilet bowl ring, mix enough borax and lemon juice into a paste cover the ring. Flush toilet to wet the sides, then rub on paste. Let sit for 2 hours and scrub thoroughly. For less stubborn toilet bowl rings, sprinkle baking soda around the rim and scrub with a toilet brush.
3)1 cup borax, 1/2 cup white vinegar. Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
4) Denture tablets are an excellent substitute for toilet cleaner. Drop two tablets into the bowl and clean as you would with toilet cleaner.
5) Liquid castile soap and baking soda or Borax, scrub with a toilet brush.

Drain Cleaner:
For slow drains, use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and clog-free.
1/2 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
1 gallon boiling water
1/2 a used lemon
Pour baking soda down drain/disposal, followed by vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water.

Tub And Tile Cleaners:
1) Baking Soda. Sprinkle baking soda like you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly.
2) Vinegar and Baking Soda. To remove film buildup on bathtubs, apply vinegar full-strength to a sponge and wipe. Next, use baking soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
3) Vinegar. Vinegar removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn't leave a film. Use 1/4 cup (or more) vinegar to 1 gallon water.
4) Baking Soda. To clean grout, put 3 cups baking soda into a medium-sized bowl and add 1 cup warm water. Mix into a smooth paste and scrub into grout with a sponge or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dispose of leftover paste when finished.
5) Rub the area to be cleaned with half a lemon dipped in borax. Rinse well, and dry with soft cloth.

Porcelain Cleaner:
Cream of Tartar. To clean porcelain surfaces, rub with cream of tartar sprinkled on a damp cloth.

Plumbing Fixtures:
1) To clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel fixtures, dissolve 2 tbsp baking soda in 1 qt of water. Wipe on fixtures then rinse.
2) Vinegar and Paper Towels. Hard lime deposits around faucets can be softened for easy removal by covering the deposits with vinegar-soaked paper towels. Leave the paper towels on for about one hour before cleaning. Leaves chrome clean and shiny.

Shower Heads:
1) Metal Shower Heads:
To remove deposits which may be clogging your metal shower head, combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and one quart water. Then completely submerge the shower head and boil 15 minutes.
2) Plastic Shower Heads:
Combine 1 pint white vinegar and 1 pint hot water. Completely submerge the shower head and soak for about one hour.

Rust Stain and Hard Water Deposit Remover:
Apply full-strength vinegar or lemon juice and let stand until spot disappears, rinse. Repeat if necessary.

Mildew Remover:
Dissolve half-cup vinegar with half-cup borax in warm water.

Lime Deposits:
White vinegar

Kitchen Cleaners:
Oven Cleaners:
1) The first step is prevention. Put a sheet of aluminum foil on the floor of the oven, underneath but not touching the heating element.
2) Clean up the spill as soon as it occurs.
3) While the oven is still warm, sprinkle salt or baking soda on the spill. If the spill is completely dry, wet the spill lightly before sprinkling on salt. When the oven cools, scrape away the spill and wash the area clean.
4) Baking soda, water; salt; vegetable oil-based liquid soap. Sprinkle water on oven bottom. Cover with baking soda. Let sit overnight. Wipe off and apply liquid soap with scouring pad. Rinse.
5) Retard grease buildup in your oven by dampening your cleaning rag in vinegar and water before wiping out your oven.
6) Sprinkle/spray water followed by a layer of baking soda. Rub gently with a very fine steel wool pad for tough spots. Wipe off scum with dry paper towels or sponge. Rinse well and wipe dry.
7) 2 tablespoons vegetable oil-based liquid soap, 2 tablespoons borax: Mix the soap and borax in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with hot water and shake well. Spray on oven and leave for 20 minutes. Scrub off.
8) LAST RESORT ONLY: Fill a small glass bowl with 1/2 cup full-strength ammonia, place in oven and close. Let stand overnight, then wipe loosened dirt with paper towels or newspapers. If necessary, rub surfaces with an abrasive, such as fine steel wool, then wash with warm soapy water and rinse. Repeat process if necessary. Provide plenty of fresh air and wear gloves.

1) To clean exterior and interior walls, dissolve 2 tbs. baking soda in 1 qt warm water and wipe all surfaces. For stubborn spots, rub with baking soda paste. Be sure to rinse with a clean, wet cloth. (This works well on other enamel-finished appliances as well.)
2) To clean interior fixtures, such as vegetable bins and shelves, wash in hot soapy water, rinse well and dry.

Counter Tops/Kitchen Surfaces:

Fragrant Kitchen Rinse
Use any of the following essential oils, alone or in a combination pleasing to you. Add 4 drops of oil to each pint of water. Pour into a spray bottle, store away cool dark place. Use as a final rinse after cleaning kitchen surfaces.

Pots and Pans:
1) Burned, and crusted on foods; Soak or boil a solution of 2 tbs. baking soda per qt of water in each pan. Let stand until particles are loosened, then wash as usual. Use a mild or moderate abrasive if necessary.
2) To clean a greasy pan easily, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of baking soda to the water in which it is soaking.

Copper pan cleaner:
Sprinkle surface of pans with coarse salt. Rub salt into stains with the cut half of a fresh lemon.

No-Stick Cookware:
To remove stains from non-stick surfaces, pour a solution of 1 cup water, 2 tbs. baking soda into a pan, simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Do not allow mixture to boil or to boil over the side of the pan. Wash in hot soapy water, rinse and dry. Apply a light coating of cooking oil.

Baking Dishes - Enamel, Ceramic or Glass:
Soak in hot soapy water, then scour with salt or baking soda and rinse thoroughly.

1) Use liquid or powdered soap instead of detergents - which are petroleum-based. In dishwashers, use equal parts borax and washing soda.
2) Use Baking soda and liquid soap

Drinking Glasses:
1) Occasionally soak drinking glasses in a solution of vinegar and water to really get them clean. Makes them sparkle!
2) When a quick dip for crystal glassware is needed, prepare a solution of baking soda in tepid-cool water (l level teaspoon to a quart) and brush with a soft toothbrush. Very good for glass coffee makers and thermos jugs too.

Spot-free Dishwasher Rinse:
Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your automatic dishwasher. Wash dishes as usual.

Coffee/Tea Stains:
To remove coffee stains from cups or counters, rub with baking soda paste.

Drain Opener and Garbage Disposal Cleaner:
For slow drains, use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and clog-free.
1/2 to 1 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
1 gallon boiling water
1/2 a used lemon
Pour baking soda down drain/disposal, followed by vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water.

Garbage Disposal:
To eliminate garbage disposal odors and clean and sharpen blades, grind ice and used lemon and/or orange rinds until pulverized.

Kitchen Safety: Fire
1) Emergency fire extinguisher: if a greasy pan catches on fire, turn the heat off and try to cover the pan. Sprinkle powdered baking soda over the fire. (Fill a large coffee can with baking soda and keep it near the stove.
2) An oven fire is easily extinguished by closing the door after shutting off the heat.)

Carpets/Upholstery:1) A great non-toxic carpet stain remover is club soda. Soak spot immediately with soda and blot until the stain is gone.
2) Pet Urine on Carpets: Dab area with toweling to absorb as much as possible, wash spot with liquid dish detergent, and rinse with 1/2 cup vinegar diluted in 1 qt warm water. Lay towels or paper towels over the spot and weight down to absorb excess moisture. Let stand 4 to 6 hours, then remove toweling, brush up nap and allow to dry completely. Use an electric fan to speed drying.
3) Red wine stains can be removed from carpet by rubbing baking soda in and vacuuming.
4) Sprinkle cornstarch onto carpet, vacuum.
5) To remove grease spots from carpets, first sop up the liquid with a sponge, then rub a liberal amount of baking soda into the spot. Let it absorb overnight. Next day, remove the excess and vacuum the area.
6) To remove grease spots from carpets, first absorb excess with a sponge, then rub a liberal amount of corn starch into the spot. Let sit overnight, then vacuum.
7) Dry cornstarch sprinkled on rug and vacuumed.

8) Carpet Fresher
4 cups baking soda or cornstarch
35 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
30 drops Lavender essential oil
25 drops Rosewood essential oil
or any combination of your favorite essentail oils
Measure 4 cups of baking soda into a bowl, add essential oils. Break up any clumps that form, stir until well mixed. Before vacuuming sprinkle powder from a shaker type can or jar. Let it sit on the carpet for about 15 minutes then vacuum.

9) Herbal Carpet Freshener
1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup lavender flowers
Crush the lavender flowers to release their scent. Mix well with baking soda and sprinkle liberally on carpets. Vacuum after 30 minutes.

10) Sprinkle baking soda on carpets before vacuuming for a natural rug deodorizer

Furniture Polish and Scratch Covers:1) This polish should to be made fresh each time you use it. 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon water
Extract the juice from the lemon. Mix with oil and water.
Apply a thin coat on your wood surface and let sit for five minutes. Use a soft cloth to buff to a deep shine.
2) Use 3 parts light mineral oil and 1 part olive oil and a drop of lemon juice.
3) Use a little olive or lemon oil and some beeswax.
4) Hide wood scratches by rubbing with the meat of a walnut.
5) Use a soft cloth and wipe with a bit of mayonnaise.
6) Rub furniture with a cloth dipped in cool tea.
7) Mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Apply mixture to furniture with a soft cloth and wipe it dry.
8) 1/8 cup linseed oil, 1/8 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice. Mix ingredients, using soft cloth, rub into wood.
9) To remove water stains on wood furniture, dab white toothpaste onto stain. Allow the paste to dry and then gently buff off with a soft cloth.

Floor Cleaners:1) A pencil eraser removes heel marks from a floor.
2) For greasy, no-wax floors: 1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup washing soda
1 tablespoon vegetable oil-based liquid soap
2 gallons hot water
Combine all ingredients, stirring well to dissolve the washing soda. Mop as usual.

Metal Cleaners:Silver:
1) Use toothpaste instead of toxic silver cleaner to clean and brighten even your best silver. Use an old soft bristled toothbrush and warm water.
2) Rub with a paste of baking soda and water.
3) To magnetize tarnish away, soak silver in salted water in an aluminum container; then wipe clean.
4) Soak in boiling water, baking soda, salt, and a piece of aluminum foil.
5) When a quick dip for silverware is needed, prepare a solution of baking soda in tepid-cool water (l level teaspoon to a quart) and
brush with a soft toothbrush.
1) Mix equal parts salt and flour with a little vinegar, then rub.
1) Rub with undiluted vinegar.
1) Rub with lemon juice and salt, or hot vinegar and salt.
Stainless Steel:
1) Rub with a paste of baking soda and water.

Automotive Cleaners and Care:Windshield Wiper Frost Free Fluid
Mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and coat the car windows with this
solution. This vinegar and water combination will keep windshields ice and frost-free.

Car Soap
1/4 cup vegetable oil based liquid soap, and hot water. Mix in pail. Wash your car on the lawn instead of your driveway to reduce runoff to the street or storm sewer.

Car Wax
1 cup linseed oil, 4 tbsp. caranuba wax (available at automotive stores), 2 tbsp. beeswax, and 1/2 cup vinegar. Put ingredients in top half of a double boiler or saucepan. Heat slowly until wax has melted. Stir, and pour into a heat resistant container. After wax has solidified, rub it on the car with a lint-free cloth. Saturate a corner of a cotton rag with vinegar and polish the wax to a deep shine.

Miscellaneous Cleaners:Candles/Wax:
Sponge with a piece of cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Decals/Gummed Labels/Price Tag Remover:
Use vinegar. To remove non-slip appliques and strips from bathtubs, saturate a cloth or sponge and squeeze hot vinegar over decals. Vinegar also removes stick-on hooks from painted walls. Saturate a cloth or sponge with vinegar and squeeze the liquid behind the hook so that the vinegar comes in contact with the adhesive. In addition, vinegar can be used to remove price labels and other decals from glass, wood, and china. Paint the label or decal with several coats of white vinegar. Give the vinegar time to soak in and after several minutes the decal can be rubbed off. (NOTE: Use these methods only on washable surfaces and washable paint)

Grease Cutters:
1) Use lemon juice, vinegar, or sprinkle with borax and scrub with scrub brush.
2) 1/2 tsp. washing soda, 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil-based liquid soap, 3 tbsp. vinegar, and 2 cups hot water. Mix in spray bottle, spray and scrub, wipe clean.

Paint Brushes:
Soften hard paintbrushes in hot vinegar for a few minutes. Then wash paintbrush in soap and warm water and let dry.

Rust Remover:
1) To remove rust from tin-ware, rub with a peeled potato dipped in a mild abrasive such as baking soda or salt.
2) Aluminum Foil. Briskly scrub rust spots on car bumpers with a piece of crumpled aluminum foil, shiny side up.

Shoe Polish/Care/Deodorizer:
1) Cold Pressed Nut Oil, Olive Oil, Walnut Oil, or Beeswax: Apply oil/wax to leather then buff with a chamois cloth to a shine.
2) Lemon Juice. Good for black or tan leather shoes. Follow by buffing with a soft cloth.
3) Vinegar; Remove water stains on leather by rubbing with a cloth dipped in a vinegar and water solution.
4) Petroleum Jelly. A dab of petroleum jelly rubbed into patent leather gives a glistening shine and prevents cracking in the winter.
5) Vinegar. To shine patent leather, moisten a soft cloth with white vinegar and wipe clean all patent leather articles. The color of the leather may be slightly changed.
6) Art-Gum Eraser and Sandpaper or Emery Board.
Dirt marks on suede can be rubbed out with an art-gum eraser. Then buff very lightly an emery board.
7) Add a shine by polishing it with the inside of a banana peel, then buff.

Shoe/Sneaker Deodorizer
6 Tbsp Cornstarch
3 Tbsp Baking Soda
20 drops Rosemary essential oil
20 drops Tea Tree essential oil
5 drops Lemon essential oil
5 drops Clove essential oil
Mix all, then put 1-2 Tablespoon in each shoe/sneaker and rub it in. Allow the powder to sit in the shoe overnight.

Stain and Spot Removers:
1) Concrete Grease Spot Remover: To remove grease from concrete flooring sprinkle dry cement over grease. Allow it to absorb the grease, then sweep up.
2) Ink Stains: Use a non-aerosol hair spray to remove ink stains.

Tar Remover:
Food grade linseed oil. Wet rag with linseed oil and rub hard

Vinyl Cleaner:
1 tsp. to 1/4 cup washing soda, and 1 cup boiling water. Dissolve the washing soda in the boiling water. Apply with sponge, wipe off with a damp cloth.

Wallpaper Cleaner:
1) Roll up a piece of white bread and use it to "erase" marks on wallpaper

Insects/Rodents:Fleas and Ticks
Wash pets with castile soap and water, dry thoroughly, apply an herbal rinse made by adding 1/2 cup fresh or dried rosemary to a quart of boiling water (steep for 20 minutes, strain and cool. Spray or sponge onto pets hair, massage into skin. Let air dry, do NOT towel dry as this removes the residue of the rosemary.

1) Mix equal parts boric acid with flour , sprinkle around cracks and crevices or
2) Mix equal parts boric acid with sugar, sprinkle around cracks and crevices or
3) Mix equal parts boric acid with corn meal, sprinkle around cracks and crevices or
4) Diatomaceous earth (pure silica): sprinkle around flours, cracks and crevices or
5) Cucumber peels: set out on counter tops overnight to repel roaches or
6) Mix Borax with a little brown sugar and flour and sprinkle behind appliances, under sink, and in corners. Cockroaches carry the mixture back to their nests or
7) Heloise's Famous Roach Recipe: 1/4 cup shortening
1/8 cup sugar
8 oz. boric acid
1/2 cup flour
Ample water to form a dough

Mix all, form small balls of dough and set out in open plastic sandwich bags (to retain moisture longer, when hardened, replace with new dough) CAUTION: Boric Acid and borax can be toxic to small children and pets, keep well out of their reach and inform other household members of the whereabouts and purpose of the borax and boric acid dough and/or powders. Always refer to safety precautions on the package.

Shoo-Fly Potpourri
2 cups lavender flowers
1 cup rosemary
1 cup southernwood
1/2 cup spearmint
1/2 cup santolina
1/4 cup pennyroyal
1/4 cup tansy
1/4 cup mugwort
1/4 cup cedarwood chips
10 yellow tulips
3 Tbsp orris root

Use cedar chips, shredded newspapers, lavender flowers...moths don't like the smell.

1) Buy a "Have-a-Heart" mouse trap, catch the little guys alive and unharmed and set them free far from your or anyones else's home
2) Keep a cat/cats to deter mice from even thinking about taking up residence
3) Keep things clean! No food left out for the little guys to eat. Food, after all, is why they entered your home to begin with. They are not there to disgust you or make your life miserable, they just want something to eat! Don't oblige them.

CAUTION: Boric Acid and borax can be toxic to children and pets, keep well out of their reach and inform other household members of the whereabouts and purpose of the borax and boric acid dough and/or powders. Ammonia should also be used with caution. Always refer to safety information and precautions on the package.
Bathroom Cleaning Tips :
For a quick and inexpensive toilet surface cleanup, keep a box of no-name brand baby wipes in the bathroom. A few quick wipes with these disposables and into the trash they go!
To clean really bad stubborn stains inside your toilet bowl, use a pumice stone. You know, the ones that we even use to buff the tough skin off of our heels! But make sure you use a separate one for yout toilet-duh! Put on a dishwashing glove and go to town scrubbing those stains out of your toilet!
Here are two good uses for Alka Seltzer when cleaning. First one is to take two tablets and drop them in the toilet wait about a minute and flush. This will leave your toilet sparkling. The next is to use it to clean your china, the citric acid and the bubbling action cleans china spotless.
To make chrome surfaces shine, scrub with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. It leaves a great shine and it dries very fast.
You can clean brass by using a commercial brass cleaner, but that takes money and know how. You can take a lemon cut in half, then dipped in salt. Or, you can make your own brass cleaner with a paste of equal parts vinegar, flour and salt. Buff with mineral oil. Be careful when using harsh cleaners as they will leave a film on brass. If you are using a cleaner on brass for the first time, be sure to try it on a hidden area first.
Keep an extra toothbrush in the bathroom to use for cleaning those awkward places, like behind the faucets.
When your mirror becomes dull from hairspray build-up, and trust me mine does. Remember, I'm in Texas where the saying is, "The Higher The Hair, The Closer To Heaven!" So an easy way to clean that mirror is to wipe it with rubbing alcohol or ammonia.(Use a coffee filter or tissue paper - no lint left behind!)
To cut down on clutter in your bathroom, and add a decorative touch, use an old wine rack for a towel rack. Roll up the towels and place them in bottle spots for a simple and creative holder.
You can remove lime and other mineral deposits by using a commercial cleaner that contains organic acids, designed specifically for this purpose. YUCK! For a homemade version, try making a paste of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide or cream of tartar and white vinegar. Scrub the paste lightly into the stain and allow to dry. Rinse thoroughly and buff dry.
To prevent those hard-to-remove rust rings that get on sinks and counters from metal shaving cream cans, apply a thin coat of nail polish on the bottom of the can. This will protect your counters and prevent a lot of scrubbing for you. I use this one on the shaving cans at our bayhouse, where everything rusts very easily!
If you have a clogged drain in your sink, you can clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka-Seltzer tablets down the drain followed with a cup of white vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then run the hot water. Your drain should be running freely once again.
To clean your curling iron, use a mixture of vinegar, salt and lemon juice.
To clean the scratches off eye glasses, use a non-gel toothpaste. Rub on your glasses with a soft cloth and then wash off. Works great.
Household Cleaning Tips :
Keeping windows streak free and shiny - use rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle instead of store bought window cleaner. It dries very fast and streak free. Also, use plain white tissue paper (the kind in the gift wrapping section of the store) instead of papertowels. You can also use coffee filters. The tissue paper and coffee filters leave no lint behind. You can clean your windows, glass shelves, mirrors, television screen with this method too! (I learned this trick when I worked at The Limited back in 1989!)

This is no ordinary vinegar wash. By adding liquid soap, it helps break down the wax build up left behind by commercial cleaners to a streak free shine!
Make a great all-purpose window cleaner by combining 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Combine in a spray bottle. Shake to blend.
To get ink stains out of your dryer, rubbing alcohol tends to work best if you saturate a rag with it and wipe the inside of the dryer. Keep changing rags until no more comes off. Then dry a couple of old towels to make sure nothing comes off on fabrics. You can also remove ink stains from your clothes dryer by placing 2 cups of bleach in a bucket, then filling the bucket halfway with water. Take some old towels and soak up the liquid in the bucket. You don`t want the towels to be dripping wet, just very damp. Put them in the dryer to remove the ink and run an entire cycle. Repeat if necessary. When you feel you have removed the ink well, place an old dry towel in the dryer to make sure that you removed all of the ink.
To wash latex paint from brushes, wash in warm soapy water, and rinse until water is clear. Run a comb or fork throughout the bristles. If you are going to use the brushes the next day, leave the soap in the brush, it holds the bristles together. Rinse the soap out just before use.

For a more efficient way to clean paint brushes, put them in a plastic bag and pour in the brush cleaner. Close the bag and work the cleaner into the brush with your fingers. You´ll also use less solvent this way.
To remove the stains on your wallpaper, try scrubbing with baking soda. Baking soda will not harm the wallpaper, and is very effective at removing stains. If the stains are not coming off, try using a solution made from half rubbing alcohol and half water; or, 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water; or, 1 cup bleach in one gallon of water. Wet the surface with the solution, then rinse thoroughly. Or, the newest technology uses peroxide and detergents to penetrate soiled areas. Be sure to try the solution in a hidden area first, to test for colorfastness.
You can remove ink from wallpaper by using either hairspray or lemon juice. Spray the area well then wipe with a clean cloth. You may need to use several applications. Remember to always test in a non-visible area first to be sure that this does not harm your wallpaper. You would be surprised at how much hair spray works for other things beside hair!
To stop a run in your pantyhose, try spraying some hairspray on it. It works rather well if you don't have any fingernail polish.
To remove an alcohol-based marker stain, spray the area with non-oily hair spray or rubbing alcohol.

If the marker is oil based, apply a little lighter fluid (BE CAREFULL : as this is highly flammable).

If the marker is water-based, use dishwashing liquid mixed with color-safe bleach or prewash spray. Spray lightly, rub gently, then dry.
To remove crayon marks from walls, sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth then rub gently. The baking soda should be gentle enough for most wall coverings, including paint and wallpaper.
To clean baked-on food from a cooking pan, put a dryer sheet in the pan, fill with water, let sit overnight then sponge clean. The anti-static agents apparently weaken the bond between the food and the pan while the fabric agents soften the baked-on food. Or try dipping a piece of raw potato in baking soda and using it to scrub your pan clean. I know it sounds very strange - but it has worked before!
If you have tea or coffee stains on your countertop, simply mix up a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the mark. Leave for 15 minutes then rinse off.
Coffee makers should be cleaned regularly (about once a month) because dried coffee stuck in the workings can ruin the taste of even the best blend. Instead of using store bought cleaners - run a solution of half white vinegar and half water through the coffee maker to dissolve scale. The heated solution may have to be run through the unit one or more times if buildup is heavy. Thoroughly rinse all parts of the unit. Run plain cold water through a cycle to remove all traces. If you still have your owner's manual, check it as well for instructions specific to your model.
To clean oven or refrigerator shelves, put them in the tub with hot water and detergent overnight. Everything will wipe right off in the morning. Be sure that you have a cover over your tub drain so that any particles do not go down the drain to cause a clog.
To clean burnt or scorched pans, sprinkle pans liberally with baking soda, adding just enough water to moisten. Let stand for several hours. You can generally lift the burned portions right out of the pans.
To take chewing gum off clothes, place the item of clothing in a plastic bag, then freeze it for about an hour. Take the clothing out of the freezer, then bend the fabric across the stain to crack the gum. Chip off the pieces with a dull knife. If that doesn´t work, let the gum return to room temperature then dampen a cloth with dry-cleaning solution, lighter fluid, salad oil or peanut butter and rub on the gum, then work it off with a dull knife.Then just wash as usual.
You should be able to remove a White Out stain by using paint thinner or isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Be sure to test on the item in a non-visible area before using.
To remove crayon stains that have been melted onto clothing in the dryer, place the stained surface down on pad of paper towels, spray with WD-40, let stand a few minutes, turn fabric over and spray the other side. Apply liquid dishwashing detergent and work into the stained area, replacing towelling as it absorbs the stain. Wash in hottest water possible with laundry detergent and bleach for about 12 minutes (use heavy soiled setting if there is no minute timer on your machine) and rinse in warm water. Special Note:Heat sets stains so clean the drum of your dryer to remove any remaining wax residue by spraying a soft cloth with WD-40, and wiping the drum or using the above mentioned tip for this very thing.)
A goodway to remove the ink stains on leather items is by using either hair spray or Armor All. Just spray the stain, then wipe it with a soft cloth. To be sure that this will not effect the dyes in your leather, be sure to try this in a non-visible area first.
To keep your windows free of frost when the mercury drops, add 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol or antifreeze to 1 quart of water and apply to the outside of your windows. You could also apply glycerin to a soft cloth and rub over the insides of your windows.
For routine dusting, try using a small foam paintbrush sprayed with dusting spray to reach in between the slats. The kids can get into that one and help! Or, spray a pair of cotton gloves with dusting spray, then, wearing the gloves, run your fingers between the slats. You can also try holding a fabric softener sheet around your finger and wiping between each slat. Fabric softener sheets are anti-static and pick up dust. But, the most thorough way of cleaning mini-blinds is to take them off of the window and wash them in the bathtub using a mild detergent, warm water and a sponge. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry (over the tub, since they will drip). Weather permitting, this is also a good job to do outside using a hose, then hanging the blinds on a clothesline to dry. That's how my daddie does it. If the blinds are large, you will need to close the blinds and wash using a sponge and soapy water, then close the blinds in the opposite direction to reach the other side.
To freshen a room with out thinking - just turn on your ceiling fan! Attach dryer sheets to the top of the fan blades with double stick tape. When you turn on your fan, the fresh smell gets tossed around the room!
To remove tape from your windows, you should be able to simply scrape with a razorblade, but if it isn´t coming off, try saturating with salad oil or even baby oil before you begin scraping. When it is all off, the rubbing alcohol will remove any of the remainder oil.
To remove the residue left on your window from tape, try using either WD-40 on the glue, or a product called Goof Off. I love Goof Off! Either of these should do the job. Mayonnaise is also supposed to work.
Small scratches in your windows can be removed by rubbing non-gel toothpaste into them. Work in the direction of the scratches (deeper ones require more pressure), then wipe with a dry towel and use glass cleaner.
Cooking tips and shortcuts :

  • To store tomato paste by the teaspoon - take a sheet of wax paper and place drops of teaspoon sized portions of tomato paste on the paper. Freeze and then take them off one by one and store in zip lock freezer bags.
  • To store home made or even canned veggie, beef or chicken stock - Pour into an ice tray and freeze. Then remove and store in freezer with zipper freezer bags.
  • After you roast meat or poultry, chill the drippings in the refrigerator. Once cooled, the fat will rise to the top and harden; you can remove it easily and save the stock to use in stews, sauces and soups.
  • Buy only the leanest ground beef, pork and turkey (no more than 15 percent fat). After browning, put ground meat into a strainer or colander lined with paper towels. Allow fat to drain out. Ground meat is generally higher in fat than nonground meat.
  • When figuring serving sizes, remember that meat loses about 25 percent of its weight during cooking. For example, 4 ounces of raw meat will be about 3 ounces cooked.
  • To make gravy without fat, blend a tbsp of cornstarch with a cup of room-temperature broth by shaking the two together in a tightly lidded jar. Then heat the rest of the broth in a saucepan and add the blended liquid. Simmer until thickened.
  • Make a habit of skinning chickens before cooking and removing all visible fat below the skin. The skin will be easier to remove if you use paper towels or a clean cloth to take hold of it. You can even have the chicken under running water in the sink over a stariner. The running water is cleaning the chicken and making it easier to remove the fat and the strainer is catching the fat.
  • Be certain to scrub the cutting surface and utensils well with hot sudsy water after preparing poultry for cooking.
  • Fresh fish should be cooked for ten minutes per inch of thickness. Add five minutes if it is wrapped in foil. Frozen fish requires twenty minutes per inch of thickness, plus ten minutes if it is wrapped in foil. Cooking time may vary, depending on the cooking method used, but fish is done when the flesh is opaque and it flakes easily.
  • Prepare scrambled eggs or omelettes so that only one egg yolk per portion is used. Add a few extra egg whites to the mixing bowl to make more generous servings.
  • To remove oils or salty liquids, drain canned salmon, tuna. Then add water to the can and drain again to rinse. This really gets that yucky juice out of the tuna and salmon!
  • Seal natural juice into foods by wrapping them in foil before cooking. Or try wrapping foods in edible pouches made of steamed lettuce or cabbage leaves.
  • Cook vegetables just long enough to make them tender crisp. Overcooked vegetables lose both flavor and important nutrients.
  • Clean mushrooms as you use them by wiping them with a damp cloth. A quick rinse in cold water is fine, but never soak them or they will get soggy. Mushroom soak up allot of water even when they are cooking.
  • Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers or wash hands thoroughly after handling. Skin, especially around the eyes, is very sensitive to the oil from peppers.
  • Cut down on cholesterol by using more vegetables and less poultry or meats in soups, stews and casseroles. Finely chopped vegetables are great for stretching ground poultry or meat, too.
  • Cut down on fat in creamy salad dressing by mixing it with plain lowfat yogurt. Substitute the yogurt in the powdered packaged dressing mix. My kids love to eat carrots and Ranch salad dressing - this helps cut down on the fat and calories - and they don't know the difference!
  • Sweeten plain low fat or nonfat yogurt with pureed fruit or applesauce instead of buying prepared fruit yogurt.
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