Household Hints

Air Fresheners...
Mix a cup of rubbing alcohol and 10-15 drops of essential oil. Pour in a spray bottle and enjoy your homemade air freshener.

When stick-on air fresheners lose their odor, remove the plastic top. Soak the felt in boiling hot water for several seconds. Place it on a paper towel to absorb most of the water. Replace the felt and lid. Or just run them under hot water briefly. They last and last and last if you do this every couple days.

Attach a stick-on air freshener in your favorite scent to the top of one of the blades on your ceiling fan. Turn on the fan (use the low setting so as not to dislodge the freshener) to circulate the fragrance throughout the room.

Place a drop of scented oil on a cotton ball, and add it to your vacuum-cleaner bag.

Ants...
For a nontoxic ant repellent, drip lemon juice into floor boards, window sills, cracks in the walls, or any other place where ants appear.

Submitted by Ron Henslee, Missouri ~
We saw a lot of ants in the cupboard and investigated. They were drawn by some sugar that was spilled there. Laying close by was an Alka Seltzer. Yes... dead ants too. They must have died after eating it. Worth a try. It works here in Missouri!

Ashtrays...
This works for all except crystal or glass ashtrays. Coat the surface with your favorite furniture polish. The protective coating will allow buildup to rinse out.

Bathmats...
Instead of throwing away old towels, cut out the best parts and stitch them together to make a bath mat.

Blankets...
When space is tight, store blankets by laying them out smoothly between the mattress and springs of a bed.

Before storing blankets for the summer, wash them and add 2 cups of mothballs to the rinse water.

Brass...
Coat freshly-polished brass with wood finishing oil, such as tung oil. It makes the shine last three times as long. When you are ready to clean the brass again, remove the oil by wiping the surface with a little paint thinner on a soft, cotton cloth. You are now ready to polish and re-oil the brass.

Brooms...
A new straw broom will last longer if you soak it in hot, heavily salted water before you use it for the first time.

Candles...
To remove candle wax from upholstery or carpet: After wax hardens, scrape up excess with a dull knife. Place a white paper towel over the remaining wax. Place a warm iron over the paper towel and press gently. Repeat until all the wax is transferred to the paper towel. If the wax was colored and leaves a stain, pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a rag; gently dab the stain. Mix one teaspoon of a neutral detergent (a mild detergent containing no alkalines or bleaches) with a cup of lukewarm water. Blot.

To mend a candle that has broken, hold the two pieces under very hot water to melt the wax, then press the two parts together.

Save the stubs of candles in a coffee can. Melt all the scraps together. Insert a wick to make a new candle.

Use a piece of raw spaghetti to light candles. This prevents burned fingers.

To keep candles looking new, rub a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol over the stems.

Store candles in the freezer. They will burn longer and drip less.

Carpets...
To repair damage from cigarette burns, cut undamaged threads from the corner of the carpet or an inconspicuous place. Glue them into the burn hole. Cover with paper towels and a book to dry for 24 hours.

To remove indentations caused by furniture rearrangement, apply moisture from a steam iron and brush the nap of the carpet.

Cassette Tapes...
A speck of clear nail polish will splice cassette tapes.

Cement Floors...
To prevent painted cement floors from peeling, before you paint them again, pour a bottle of white vinegar in a bucket and "paint" your floors with it first. After the vinegar dries, apply a coat of paint. This will work on most metal surfaces, also.

Chrome...
To polish chrome, take a small sheet of aluminum foil and turn the shiniest side out. Dampen the chrome with water and polish with the foil. The foil will turn black, but your chrome will shine.

Cockroaches/Silverfish...
An effective pesticide is to use a 50-50 mixture of boric acid and sugar every night for about 10 days. Sprinkle on wiped-dry sinks, drain boards, tubs, showers, around pipes, and behind baseboards. CAUTION: Keep children and pets away.

A one-pound can of boric acid compound can effectively keep a house cockroach-free for one year. It will not kill roaches as rapidly as some pesticides, but it has by far the longest lasting effect. Sprinkle it in cracks, crevices, under sinks and in other dark places.

Copper...
Submitted by Bubbles from Robin Hood Country (England)
To clean copper-bottom saucepans, smother the surface with tomato sauce, leave for a little while, rub stubborn areas and rinse.

Curtains...
Restore the body to limp Dacron curtains by soaking them in one gallon of water mixed with one cup Epsom salts, then rinse.

Make good looking curtains from bed sheets, either plain or fancy.

Dishwasher...
Try a tablespoon of vinegar in the dishwasher rinse - it's a lot cheaper than the commercial rinse aids.

Run 1/8 cup citric acid crystals through a dishwasher cycle to get rid of any brown spot build up.

Save energy by turning off the heat dry, and poppinh open the dishwasher to let the dishes air dry at the end of the wash and final rinse cycle.

Drains...
For clogged drains, pour in equal amounts of baking soda and salt. Follow that with a pot of boiling water, and flush with cold water to keep them open.

Drawers...
If drawers stick, rub a bar of ordinary hand soap across the runners to make them glide smoothly.

Dusting...
Wear old cotton gloves to dust with instead of carrying a rag around.

If you can't shake your dust mop outside, shake it inside a large paper bag.

Dustpans...
Wax them and the dirt will slide right out.

Faucets...
To polish, place a dab or two of toothpaste on a wet sponge and rub the faucets and handles briskly, then rinse them with clear water.

Fireplace...
Before cleaning ashes out, mist the ashes with a spray bottle filled with water. This prevents the ashes from flying all over.

To clean a glass fireplace screen, wait until the morning after the fire. Dampen a paper towel with water, dip it in the cold ashes, and rub the glass with it. Wipe the glass with a clean paper towel or old newspaper. Toss used towels or newspaper into the fireplace to kindle the next fire.

Throw a few lemon peels into the winter fire to give your house a fresh, citrus fragrance.

Throw old candle stubs into your fire kindling and use them as starters.

Flashlights...
Store your flashlight in the refrigerator to make batteries last longer.

Furniture...
To remove water stains from wood furniture, blot and rub with a soft cloth if it is a fresh stain. Otherwise, rub in well a mixture of mayonnaise and cigarette ashes. Let it stand a little while before removing.

Hand Wipes...
Make your own by putting three capsful of baby shampoo into a spray bottle full of water. It works well and costs a lot less.

Hangers...
To make sturdy hangers for heavy items, tape two or three wire hangers together.

Humidifier...
To prevent lime deposits from building up, drop an old copper scouring pad into the water container.

Add a couple tablespoons of common bleach to your humidifier twice a week. The bleach will clean off slime and scale, kill bacteria, and make parts last longer. You can add a couple drops of fragrance to scent the bleach, if desired.

Eliminate musty odor by pouring three or four capsful of bottled lemon juice into the water.

Iron...
To clean the bottom of the iron, sprinkle salt on the ironing board and iron back and forth.

Jewelry...
Use a plastic ice cube tray to hold earrings.

Knick-Knacks...
Collect them in a dishpan and wash them in a little liquid detergent and water. Rinse, then blow dry with a hair dryer.

Leather...
To remove alcohol stains, clean the leather with saddle soap. Then apply a scuff-type liquid shoe polish, trying to match the color. Test a small spot first.

Lights...
To locate light switches in the dark, put a dot of luminous paint on tape and stick to the switches.

Linoleum...
If you have kept some of the scraps, it is easy to repair the small holes. Just throw a small piece into your blender. Mix the dust with a little clear shellac or white glue. Fill the hole with the mixture.

Lint...
To remove from upholstery, use an old, clean nylon stocking.

Mice...
Keep a pet hamster in a cage. They and mice are natural enemies. The wild rodents will not come around when they smell a hamster.

Moths...
For a natural substitute for moth balls, use dried lemon peels as a deterrent.

Painting...
To keep a paint tray like new, insert it inside a plastic bag. Pour the paint into the try. When you're finished painting, pour the remaining paint back into the bucket (or an old jar if there's just a little bit left.

Glue a paper plate to the bottom of the paint can. The plate should be an inch or two wider all around than the can so it can catch drips. This saves you the trouble of moving newspapers around under the can.

When using an oil-based paint, keep a bottle of nail polish remover handy. Clean up spatters by dabbing with remover on a cotton ball.

Pewter...
Clean old pewter by using a mild kitchen scouring powder moistened with olive oil. For a very stubborn stain, dip very fine steel wool (.0000) in water or kerosene and rub gently. Rinse with soap and water.

Plastic Bags...
Before discarding plastic bags, tie them up in knots to ensure that animals or children cannot entangle themselves.

Potpourri...
Stuff old socks with potpourri, tie them and hang them in closets for a wonderful smell.

Save glass jars with the lids. Punch holes in the lids. Fill the jars with potpourri and screw the lids on.

Rust Stains...
Cover the rust stain with lemon juice followed by salt. Let it dry for an hour, preferably in the sun. Rinse and wash.

Saw Blades...
To make sawing easier, rub a little kerosene on the blade of your hand saw. It will act as a lubricant.

Scratches...
To cover scratches on dark wood furniture, make a thick paste of instant coffee and a little water. Rub it into the nicks and scratches.

Screws...
To help screws screw in more easily, push them into a bar of hand soap before inserting.

If screws become loose and is no longer holding firm, saturate a cotton ball with Elmer's glue. Push the entire cotton ball into the hole. Allow dry at least 24 hours and reinsert the screw gently with a screw driver.

To prevent screws from coming loose, put a drop or two of clear nail polish into the hole before you finish tightening the screw.

Security...
Find an old standard or oversized hardcover book. Cut out about a 6-inch x 4" hole in the pages, leaving facing pages front and back. Hide whatever you want in the book, and put it back on the bookshelf.

Shelf liner...
Leave a 1-inch square of backing on each corner of Con-tact paper. The paper will lie flat, and it will be easier to remove when you want to change it.

Shoes...
If you're at the office and discover that your shoes need a shine. Rub in a bit of hand cream and buff with a tissue.

Shower Doors...
To clean glass shower doors, wipe them clean with any furniture polish that has lemon oil. If the film is extremely heavy, use a steel wool pad soaked in dishwashing liquid to make the glass sparkle.

Shower Heads...
To clean mineral deposits, boil the shower head once a month in a mild solution of white vinegar and water.

Shower Stalls...
To remove heavy shower stall film rub lightly with a plain piece of dry fine steel wool (not the soap-filled variety). Try a patch first to be sure it isn't scratching the tile. If it is, you should use a finer piece of steel wool. As you scour the tile, you will see the scum coming right off. Wash down after the job is completed.

Silver Polish...
Use the inside skin of a banana.

When using silver polish, add a few drops of ammonia.

If silver polish dries out, add some warm water and stir until creamy. It will work like new.

Use a pipe cleaner dipped in silver polish to remove tarnish from between silver fork tines.

Sinks...
To clean a stainless steel sink, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Leave it on the stains for about 3 hours. Buff the entire sink in the paste with a damp cloth, then rinse.

Use a sponge soaked with vinegar to give stainless steel sinks a shine.

Remove water spots from stainless steel sinks by wiping the sink with a couple of drops of cooking oil on a paper towel.

Rats and Mice...
Exterminate by setting out shallow pans of non-diet cola. The rodents love the sugary liquid, drink it greedily and within a few days they will die. They evidently cannot burp, so the carbonation bloats their bodies and kills them. It's an inexpensive solution and is safe to use around pets and farm animals.

Snow Shovels...
Spray nonstick vegetable spray on the snow shovel and the snow will slide off it easily.

Soap Dish...
Use a sponge (and it's washable).

Stains...
To remove stains from polyester clothing, rub in a little white toothpaste, then rinse the garment.

To remove stains from wooden furniture, rub toothpaste into the stain, then wipe it off.

Sterling Silver...
After cleaning and drying thoroughly, wrap sterling silver in foil, then in a tea towel. Store in a cardboard box. This will keep it sparkling.

Storage...
Use a strong glue to glue small jars to the insides of cabinet doors. Then use the jars to store whatever small items you like. Screw the lid on after filling.

To store magazines, cut down a detergent box.

Studs...
To find studs in the wall, start from the corner and tap lightly with a hammer. The wall will sound hollow between studs. Most studs are placed 16 to 24 inches apart. When one is located, the rest are easy to find.

Swimming Pools...
To avoid slips on the ladder, apply adhesive-backed rubber flowers made for bathtubs.

Throw Rugs...
To prevent them from bunching up, put double-edged masking tape on the corners of the under-surface of the rugs.

Toilet Bowl...
To remove stains, use regular laundry bleach. If stains are above the water level, soak paper towels in the bleach and plaster them over the stain.

Tool Boxes...
To keep rust out, slip a piece of charcoal or chalk or a moth ball into the toolbox.

Tools...
Clean tools with a little steel wool to remove any rust that may be on them. Then coat them with a thin layer of petroleum jelly. They will never rust again.

Utensils...
Drop used fabric-softener paper into the sink with utensils caked with baked-on food. Fill with water and let sit for one hour.

Vases...
Clean vases with narrow necks by dampening the inside of the base with water and adding toilet bowl cleaner. Let stand for 10 minutes and stains will disappear.

Vinyl Tiles...
For loose vinyl tiles, place a slightly damp cloth over the loose tile. Set iron on "hot" and "iron" the loose tile. The tile adhesive will soon soften. Remove the cloth, lay a dry rag over the tile, and set a pile of heavy books on the tile for about 3 hours.

Wallpaper...
If a small area is coming loose, apply a think coating of rubber cement to both the back of the paper and to the wall surface.

Wicker Furniture...
Clean wicker furniture by spraying dusting or furniture polish onto an inexpensive paintbrush. It gets to all the hard-to-reach dust specks, and it takes a lot less time.

Windows...
Small holes can be repaired by using a little clear nail polish to seal the hole. It will be almost invisible.

>> Household Hints Index


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