Tips and Tricks
Save time and money with these helpful tips and tricks!
Updated: Wednesday, July 14, 2004.
Accessories - Cleaning:
Restore weathered leather - Remove salt stains from leather shoes with white vinegar. Apply a small amount of vinegar to a cotton ball, dab onto the stain, then polish as usual. The vinegar neutralizes the salt and won't damage the leather.source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Renew suede instantly - Found a stain on your suede bag or coat? Before dropping big bucks to get it professionally cleaned, try using a nail file to gently buff the soiled area. It'll perk up flattened fibers and restore suede to its original condition. source: First For Women magazine 3/17/03.
Keep your diamonds sparkling - Soak diamonds in rubbing alcohol for 30 minutes, brush with a toothbrush, then rinse in warm water. The alcohol disintegrates grease without harming the gems. (Colored stones should be washed with a mild cleanser.) source: First for Women magazine 1/05/04.
Add sparkle to everyday gems - Fill a glass with warm water, drop in your costume jewelry, then plop in a denture tablet. As the tablet fizzes, the effervescing solution lifts dirt and grime, making your faux baubles glitter like Tiffany's finest. (Jewelers warn that denture cleansers may damage precious metals, so save this tip for the inexpensive stuff.) source: First for Women magazine 5/31/04.
Accessories - Eyewear:
Slide-proof your specs - Place a dab of clear nail polish on the threads of your eyeglass screws, then tighten immediately with a screwdriver. When the polish dries it acts as an invisible glue. Glasses stay put where you need them, and you don't have to waste time nudging them. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
Accessories - Jewelry:
Untangle a necklace - Loosen a knotted chain by laying it on wax paper and pouring a few drops of oil on it. Move the chain around so it's thoroughly coated, then use two needles to undo the knot. - source First for Women magazine 7/8/02.
Pair up earrings - Sick of pawing through your jewelry box to find a missing earring? Use spare buttons! Simply thread earrings through button holes to keep them together and easy to find. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Give stuck rings the slip - Simply soak your finger in a mixture of 1 Tbs. salt and 1 cup warm water for about five minutes. The salt solution draws water out of tissues to reduce puffiness, so rings slide off without a struggle. source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
Accessories - Pantyhose:
Help stockings resist runs - To make hose last longer, give them a quick spritz of hair spray after you've pulled them on. It strengthens fibers without stiffening and makes hose less prone to snags and runs. - source: First for Women magazine 1/13/03.
Give static the slip - To stop stocking static, grab a wire hanger by the hook (make sure your hand covers any jagged ends that might snag) and rub the metal along your pantyhose. The wire conducts electricity away from the fabric. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Ward off pantyhose snags - For run-free nylons, store them in sandwich bags. Label each bag before tossing it into a drawer. This also will eliminate rummaging for the right-color pair, so you always step out magnificently matched. source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
Outsmart panty-hose runs - Save old panty hose and stash them in your manicure kit. After filing your nails, run the hose over the tips. The delicate fibers will catch on rough edges, so you can smooth them right away. And since a perfect manicure helps prevent last-minute wardrobe woes, like a snagged sweater, blouse or brand-new pair of hose, you'll start every day without a hitch. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
Accessories - Shoes:
Keep shoes sparkling with white vinegar - If you come in from the cold to find your shoes streaked with lines of white sidewalk salt, rub them away with a distilled vinegar solution. Stir equal parts vinegar and water together and douse stains on shoes before they fry. The vinegar will dissolve the salt so it does not crystallize into the leather or fabric. And it gets rid of that funky foot. source: First for Women magazine 1/13/03.
Loosen up new shoes - Take the pain out of breaking in new leather footwear with rubbing alcohol. Pour alcohol on a cotton ball and dab it on areas that pinch inside the shoe. Rubbing alcohol makes leather more pliable, so the shoe can conform more easily to the shape of your foot. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Give stubborn knots the slip - Sprinkle shoelaces with talcum powder to untangle a tricky knot. The powder works its way between the shoelace fibers, lubricating and loosening the locked-up laces for easier untying. - source: First For Women magazine 3/17/03.
Fix a fray, stop a fall - Keep your kid's shoelace from fraying after it loses that little plastic tip - called an aglet - by wrapping a small piece of transparent tape tightly around the end and coating it with clear nail polish. It will seal the end to stop unraveling. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
Beauty - Face:
Bye-bye, puffy eyes - Need to depuff in a pinch? Place two metal spoons in the freezer for 10 minutes, then gold the convex sides against your eyelids for 2 minutes. The cold constricts blood vessels so swelling disappears. source: First for Women magazine 1/13/03.
Get rid of the redness - To even out blotchy skin, smooth on milk of magnesia before applying makeup. Let sit for 10 minutes, then gently rinse away. The whitish cast it leaves behind camouflages ruddiness and leaves you with a smooth, powderlike canvas. source: First for Women magazine 1/13/03
De-puff your peepers - Make undereye puffiness go poof by holding an ice cube against the roof of your mouth with your tongue. The ice chills your face from the inside out, reducing sinus swelling. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Make you skin glow - Why squander precious morning minutes on skin care? Wash and moisturize your face at bedtime and all you'll need to get glowing in the A.M. is a splash of cool water. It reactivates the cream's moisturizing properties and boosts circulation. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
De-puff tired eyes - Store your favorite eye cream in the fridge to revitalize the morning after a party. Just apply a light layer under and around your eyes first thing. The cold constricts pores to tighten loose, tired skin and triggers a nervous-system response that gives you an instant lift that will make you look ready to take on the world. source: First for Women magazine 1/05/04.
Shrink pores with tea - "I make my own skin toner by brewing two bags of green tea in 2 cups of water, then putting the cooled tea in a mister and storing it in the refrigerator. The tea's astringent properties help reduce puffiness and redness, and the cool spray has a firming effect on my face that doesn't dry my skin like commercial toners. It's the best morning pick-me-up since coffee!" Stephanie Schwedler, Los Angeles source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
30 seconds to gorgeous skin - Soak a washcloth in hot water, wring it out and drape it over your face for 30 seconds. Remove, then cleanse your skin as usual and rinse with cool water. The steam helps cleanser dissolve the deepest clogs by opening pores, then the cool water seals them again, leaving you with a clear complexion that will wow the world. source: First for Women magazine 5/10/04.
Turn back the clock with bananas - Rather than ditch that overripe banana, cut it in half and mash in a small bowl. Wash your face and apply the pulp all over. Leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water. The potassium in the banana moisturizes, while its rich stores of antioxidant vitamin A ward off crease-causing free radicals, keeping your face soft, smooth and radiant. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Beauty - Hair:
Shiny, healthy hair - Give your hair a healthy glow with an avocado conditioner. Mash an avocado, then massage the pulp into clean, wet hair. Let set for 5 minutes; rinse. The fruit oils penetrate your hair, bringing out its luster and highlights. source: First for Women magazine 5/14/01.
Fight frizz - When curls look more crazy than corkscrew, don't fuss with tons of product. Just work a dime-size amount of hand lotion between your palms, then distribute throughout dry hair. The lotion's oils coat your hair strands to seal in moisture and lock out frizz. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
Add volume to your hair - Get a salon lift - without the styling - by gathering dry hair into a loose bun at the crown and securing with an elastic band. Lightly spritz with hair spray; let dry. Flip head over, slide off elastic, give a few shakes and... viola! source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
Stop staticky hair - Tame wild hair by lightly running a fabric-softener sheet over strands immediately after styling. This counteracts the winter static that causes flyaways, plus leaves locks smelling great! And studies prove a good hair day boosts mood, confidence and performance. source: First for Women Magazine 2/16/04
The lathering trick for healthy locks - Outsmart flakes by alternating dandruff shampoos every week. Most OTC products lose their potency as skin cells grow immune to the active ingredients' chemical actions. But shifting between different formulas, such as Head & Shoulders, Selson Blue and Denorex, won't give cells time to become unresponsive. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
Hide telltale gray roots (in 10 seconds!) - No time for a touch-up? Here's an instant fix for redheads and brunettes. Choose a mascara that closely matches your hair color and apply it to visible roots along the hairline. A quick blast from a blow-dryer sets the mascara so you get a fast shot of confidence until you have a chance to color. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
Your shiniest hair ever! - Flip your head over and massage shampoo into your scalp from neck to crown for a minute when washing your locks. Massaging your head while it's upside down boosts circulation to follicles, ensuring maximum growth and a lustrous mane - a proven confidence booster and surprising secret of success. source: First for Women magazine 5/10/04.
Home remedy for dull hair - No need to splurge on a fancy clarifying shampoo. Just stir baking soda into 1/4 cup water until it forms a thin paste. Smooth it on wet strands, comb through, then rinse and shampoo as usual. Baking soda neutralizes acids to strip away buildup and damaging chlorine, so you can keep using your regular shampoo and still have shiny, manageable hair that'll wow the world. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Beauty - Hair Removal:
Get a longer-lasting shave - Stay smooth longer by exfoliating with a loofah before you shave. You'll shed the top layer of skin and remove oil and perspiration for a closer shave that lets you skip a few days between de-fuzzing. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
Bye-bye razor burn! - Rub a thin layer of conditioner on your legs in the shower, let sit three minutes, then shave. The steam reacts with glycerin and other oil extracts in the conditioner to moisturize skin and soften leg hair, so your blade glides easily. That means razor burn is history - and you emerge with beautiful, bare-able legs. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Instant eye lift - Before you tweeze, use a brow brush or a clean mascara wand to direct eyebrows straight up, then use your manicure scissors to trim the hairs that extend above the arch. Next, brush brows down and trim below the arch. Finally, tweeze as usual. The result: Perfect brows that lift your features and spotlight your special beauty. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Beauty - Hands:
Dodge dishpan hands - Keep a box of baking soda underneath your sink and throw a tablespoon into the soapy water ever time you do the dishes. It adds grease-fighting oomph to the detergent and leaves your hands super-soft. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Sweeten hands with toothpaste - To get rid of lingering seafood smells on your hands, wash them with a small squirt of toothpaste (as much as you use to brush your teeth.) The properties that freshen your breath also lift odors from your skin. - source: First For Women magazine 3/17/03.
Odor remover - Can’t get the smell of freshly peeled garlic off your hands? Just touch something made out of stainless steel - the scent will disappear in an instant! source: Woman’s World magazine 4/29/03.
Keep hands beautiful - Lift stubborn fruit or food-coloring stains from your hands with a dab of white vinegar. Saturate a cotton ball or clean washcloth with vinegar and gently rub to get rid of the residue. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
Beauty - Make-up
Quick smudge cleanup - To erase mascara goofs in a flash, dot a tiny amount of facial moisturizer onto the mistake then use a clean, dry cotton swab to whisk it away. The moisturizer's emollients will help break down makeup pigments and allow the cotton swab to glide over - not tug at - the fragile skin under your eyes. source: First for Women magazine 1/13/03.
Fuller lashes in a flash - Lightly dust your lashes (keep your eyes closed) with loose powder before applying your mascara. The makeup clings to the powder, making your lashes look thicker. Bonus: It helps prevent smudges. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Get a flawless face - When applying foundation, always use your fingertips. Not only is it easier and faster than using a sponge, but warm hands activate the cream's moisturizing properties and help the product blend seamlessly into skin. You'll also cut down on the amount of foundation you use since sponges absorb twice as much as you really need. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
On-the-go makeup fixer - Remove mascara smudges with a lip balm that doesn't contain camphor (like ChapStick). Rub your finger over the tip of the tube and apply to smears, then wipe off with a tissue. The oils in lip balm gently cleanse the delicate under-eye area, helping you arrive at that interview or event bright-eyed and ready to conquer anything. source: First for Women magazine 1/05/04.
Get more life from your lipstick - Always use a brush to apply lip color - even from a tube. Color goes farther when you stroke rather than swipe it on. And you can control the application with more precision. Plus, you'll access about a third more lipstick at the bottom of the tube! source: First for Women Magazine 2/16/04
Boost charisma in a blink - Sweep a coat of mascara on the tops of your eyelashes, then finish with a coat to the undersides. This trick helps lashes stay lush and curled, maximizing your magnetism. source: First for Women magazine 2/16/04.
The secret to your prettiest eyes - Rub a drop of moisturizer onto the tip of your eyeliner pencil once a week. It softens the solid end just enough so color glides on smoothly. The result: perfectly framed peepers that bring your beauty into focus. source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
Perfect eyes every time - "Since my powder eye shadow always creases and disappears, I mix it with a tiny bit of petroleum jelly before applying. The shadow goes on smoothly and stays in place all day. Plus, the petroleum jelly keeps my skin soft." Heather Nelson, Winston-Salem, NC source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
No more lipstick smudges! - Run an ice cube over your lips after applying your lipstick. The ice sets the color and prevents it from bleeding or melting in the summer heat, ensuring a lasting smile that will make everyone's day. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Beauty - Mouth:
Brighten your smile - To whiten teeth, change your lip color. If teeth have a gray tinge, wear a warm hue like bronze or copper. For yellow teeth, try a blue-based shade like red or wine. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
Banish bad breath with a crunch - If that Caesar salad you ate for lunch has left your breath ultra-garlicky, munch on an apple. The crisp, fibrous flesh gently scrubs teeth as you chew, while the pectin neutralizes food odors. Your mouth will feel fresh and clean, giving you the self-assurance to flash that winning smile. source: First for Women magazine 2/16/04.
Beauty - Nails:
Dry nails instantly - Dry nail polish with a spritz of nonstick cooking spray. The antistick oil seals in the polish and provides a protective coating to prevent dings and smudges while your nails dry. source: First for Women magazine 12/2/02.
Longer-lasting home manicure - The five-second second secret to polish that won't chip or peel is something you may overlook but your manicurist never does: It's dipping a cotton ball or swab into nail polish remover then going over each nail to whisk away dirt and oils - prime culprits that prevent enamel from sticking properly. source: First for Women magazine 1/13/03
Save your manicure - Beat the bubbles that pop up when you polish your nails without starting over from scratch. Dip the pad of your opposite index finger into polish remover and smooth over the bubbled nail. The remover will redistribute the color and even out the polish. Finish it off with a second coat. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
10 seconds to nicer nails - Sweep a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover over bare nails before you paint them, advises nail technician Narita Rose. The acetone in the remover lifts nail oils that keep lacquer from adhering and cause it to flake. source: First for Women magazine 2/16/04.
No more yellow nails! - Grab an old toothbrush, dab on some whitening toothpaste and use it to scrub your fingernails. The same abrading and bleaching properties that lift food, coffee and nicotine stains from tooth enamel also work on nails, removing the yellow cast left by dark polishes so your hands look fresh and young. source: First for Women magazine 5/10/04.
Beauty - Skin:
Look younger with apple juice - Pour a cup of apple juice into your bath for a rejuvenating soak. The malic acid in apples is a natural alpha hydroxy that sloughs off dead skin cells. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Smooth skin with roses - A Valentine's Day rose can do double duty as a sweet-smelling face mask. Mix six fresh rose petals, 6 oz. plain yogurt and 2 tsp. talcum powder. (Although the petals won't dissolve, mixing will release their oils.) Smooth the mask onto your face for 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Rose oil smooths skin, and talc absorbs pore-cloggers. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Look younger with honey (Belgium) - For firm skin, combine 1 raw egg (to tone and tighten) with 1 tsp. each honey and almond oil (to seal in moisture). Apply to face and let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse. source: First for Women magazine 4/28/03.
Softer skin in a flash - "I've used olive oil since I was a teenager to make my skin beautiful and supple. For a moisturizing treat, I warm up a few tablespoons of the oil and rub it on my face and neck, leave it on for five minutes, then rinse with cool water. Afterward my skin feels silky smooth." Judy Ann Robertson, Nancy, Kentucky. source: First for Women magazine 5/31/04.
Beauty - Tricks:
Look better in photos - Next time someone asks you to say cheese, try this face-slimming trick: Before the shutter clicks, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and lift your chin to define your jaw and lengthen your neck. - source: First for Women magazine 1/13/03.
The secret to looking bright-eyed (when you're dog tired!) - Mix a dab of matte gold powder eye shadow with your regular concealer in your palm, then pat onto under-eye circles. The yellow-based blend counteracts the bluish hue that makes fair and medium skin appear fatigued, so you'll look perky (and pretty) no matter how little sleep you got the night before! source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Cleaning - Automobile:
A better car trash "bag" - "To keep bits of trash, like gas receipts and gum wrappers, from littering my car, I throw them into an empty tissue box. The opening is small, so the litter stays put. Then when it's full, I just toss it out and replace it." Dorothy Lehman, Abilene, KS. source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
No more car mess! - "To keep the inside of my car from getting cluttered. I bought a cheap over-the-door plastic shoe holder and hung it on the back of the passenger seat. Its compartments are perfect for storing everything from maps to CDs and my son's toys." Jennifer Buckley, Houston, TX. source: First for Women magazine 5/31/04.
Cleaning - Bathroom:
Make your bathroom shine - Use commercial windshield cleaner on windows, mirrors, shower doors and other glass bathroom fixtures that are prone to spotting or streaking. It leaves a clear coating that makes water drain off the glass and helps surfaces resist stains and dirt. - source: First for Women magazine 7/8/02.
Say so long, mildew! - Before you put up a new plastic shower liner, soak it in a tub of warm water mixed with a cup of salt for a half hour - and don't rinse before hanging. The salt acts as a drying agent, preventing the humid conditions that breed mold and mildew. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Fog-proof bathroom windows - Want a clean and clear bathroom mirror after showering? Squirt a small dab of shaving cream onto a paper towel, rub it over the glass, then wipe with a dry cloth. The cream leaves an invisible film, making it difficult for water beads to stick and giving you a fog-free mirror for weeks. - source: First For Women magazine 3/17/03.
Cleaning - General:
Nature's air purifiers - For better air quality, keep some tulips in your home. Scientists have found that the flowers remove hazardous substances, like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, from the air through their own biological processes. source: First for Women magazine 5/14/01.
Remove water rings - The guests may have gone home, but they left their calling card - water rings on your beautiful furniture. Remove these unsightly offenders with mayonnaise. Rub a little mayo on the stain with your fingertips and allow to sit over-night. In the morning, buff with a soft, dry cloth. Good as new! source: First for Women magazine 12/2/02.
Wipe off sticker residue - To remove labels, price tags and other stickers from glass jars and gifts, apply a dab of furniture polish to the area with a dry cloth, then rub. The lubricating formula loosens the glue and can be easily rinsed off with warm water. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Capture those dust bunnies - Tired of chasing those dust bunnies after you sweep? Simply dampen your dustpan with a spritz of water or a wet paper towel before you use it. The dust sticks to the pan instead of flying back into the air. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Spray-clean window screens - Forget elbow grease - clean window screens between seasons with foaming bathroom cleanser. The soapy bubbles stick to the surface, so it's easier and more effective way to clean. Just spray on and let sit for five minutes, then rinse with the garden hose.source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Breathe in energy - For cleaner-smelling air, pour 3 tsp. of lemon juice into your dehumidifier’s water basin. The juice kills any lingering bacteria and releases a fresh, citrusy scent. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Remove sticker residue sans rubbing - Spread a dollop of peanut butter over the stubborn sticker, let it sit for about one minute and peel. The peanut oil dissolves the adhesive so the label comes right off. source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
Unclog spray nozzles - When aerosol cans get clogged, dip the nozzle in rubbing alcohol, wait one minute, then rinse under hot water. Alcohol cuts through built-up gunk so you can spray freely in no time without wasting a single squirt. source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
Wash plush pals safely - To launder a precious stuffed animal, slip it into one leg of an old pair of panty hose and toss it in the washer on the gentle cycle. The hose helps the furry friend hold its shape cleaning after cleaning. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
Quick and simple mud remover - Got freshly tracked-in mud on your carpet? Just sprinkle the area with cornstarch, let it dry for about 20 minutes and vacuum. Cornstarch absorbs the mucky mess, turning it into an easy-to-pick-up powder that won't leave telltale spots behind. source: First for Women magazine 5/31/04.
Line shelves with ease - Place shelf paper in the freezer for a half hour before using. The cold keeps the paper firm so it rolls on smoothly, preventing bumps and bubbles from forming. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Cleaning - Kitchen:
Rub out food stains - If your cutting board is now the color of tomatoes, slice a lemon in half, squeeze it over the stains and rub in with peel. Let sit for 20 minutes, then rinse. Not only will it be clean, it'll smell great! - source: First for Women magazine 7/8/02.
Baking trick - Have rust marks on your baking pans that just won't come off? Pour some cola into them and let soak overnight. Your pans will be rust-free by morning! - source: Woman's World magazine 1/21/03.
Blend the mess away - Here's an easy way to wash your blender without disassembling it. Fill it halfway with warm water, add a drop of dishwashing liquid and switch it on for 30 seconds. Pour the sudsy solution out and rinse well with cold water. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Clean your microwave in minutes - Dissolve microwave splatters with steam. Add a cup of water to a microwave-safe bowl, place in the oven and heat on high for two to three minutes, or until the water boils. Carefully remove the bowl, then wipe the interior with a damp cloth. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Keep you counters sparkling - Place oil, vinegar and other drip-prone condiment bottles in clear plastic sandwich bags and secure at the bottom with a rubber band. Drips end up in the bag, giving you a non-greasy gripping surface and eliminating sticky rings on shelves. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Erase marker stains instantly - When you've let your little one do his coloring on the kitchen floor and his artistic abilities spread beyond paper, use a quick spritz of hair spray to get rid of the offending spots. Simply coat the area with an alcohol-based spray (like Aqua Net or White Rain), then wipe up the stain. - source: First For Women magazine 3/17/03.
Shine your copper pots for pennies: - Rub your rosy-colored pans and utensils with Worcestershire sauce, let stand for 15 minutes and rinse. Acids in the sauce break down grease and verdigris, while the sauce's thickness makes it easy to spread. - source: First For Women magazine 3/17/03.
“Self-cleaning” Pots - If stubborn food is stuck to the inside of your pot or pan, fill it with water and a little dish soap. Bring it to a boil on top of the stove, then let it cool. The mess will wipe clean like magic! source: Woman’s World magazine 4/29/03.
Brighten white appliances without painting - Eliminate yellowing by making your own bleaching solution. Add 1/2 cup bleach and 1/4 cup baking soda to 4 cups warm water. Dip a cloth in the liquid and wipe appliances Leave on for 10 minutes, then buff with a dry soft cloth to restore sparkle and shine. source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
Pop-in-place shelf liners - Instead of struggling with cumbersome shelf paper, line cupboards with inexpensive peel-and-stick linoleum floor tiles (about 50 cents per square foot). Just cut them to size (the 12-inch squares require minimal measuring), peel off the backing and set in place - no muss and much less fuss. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
Keep your fridge top grime-free - Rather than climb, stretch and strain to clean the dirt from the top of your refrigerator, cover the area with a piece of plastic wrap. Then simply replace it with a fresh sheet once a month. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
Scrubless oven cleaner - Pour a cup of ammonia into a heat-safe bowl and let it sit in the oven overnight. In the morning, remove the bowl, leave the door open, turn on the fan to disperse fumes, then wipe down oven walls with a wet sponge or paper towel - no scrubbing required. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
So long, stuck forks! - Place mesh dish scrubbers at the bottom of your dishwasher's utensil basket to create cushioning that prevents silverware from slipping through the slits. source: First for Women magazine 5/31/04.
Salt away germs - To remove food particles and prevent bacteria growth on a wooden cutting board, sprinkle on a layer of table salt and let sit overnight. Then scrub with a dishcloth and rinse. Salt draws out grease and acts as an abrasive to scour out grime. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Cleaning - Laundry:
Blacker blacks - Have your black cotton clothes faded from repeated washings? Add two cups of strong coffee during your washer's rinse cycle to bring their intensity back. source: First for Women Magazine 1/21/02
Vanquish sweat stains with distilled vinegar - To get rid of those pesky underarm stains, spray white vinegar on the discolored area and then launder as usual. The acid in the vinegar helps break down the body oils that cause fabric stains. source: First for Women magazine 12/2/02
Say so long to lint - For a fast way to collect and remove lint and hair from your dark winter skirts and slacks, dampen your palms and rub them over the surface. The moisture helps particles clump together and makes them easier to remove. source: First for Women magazine 1/13/03.
Chalk out ring around the collar - Get rid of those oily rings that appear around shirt collars by rubbing them with white chalk before laundering. Chalk absorbs the oils from the fabric, so stains wash out easily. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Seal in bright colors - Laundering a bright new shirt for the first time? Add a tablespoon of salt to the wash before you throw it in. The salt seals pigment into the fibers, so colors won't run or bleed. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Salt away wine stains - To lift out offending wine spots, sprinkle salt on them, then pour a little seltzer over the area. Rub gently to make a paste and let sit for 10 minutes, or until dry. Then brush the paste off with a clean soft cloth and launder as usual. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Fabric softener substitute - If you run out of fabric softener, don't drop everything for a run to the store. Simply squirt a few drops of hair conditioner on a washcloth and toss it in with your load. Your clothes will be just as soft and fragrant. source: First for Women magazine 2/24/03.
Whisk away grease with soda - Empty one can of light-colored soda, like 7 up, into a washing machine while it's filling, then toss in greasy clothes. Add detergent and run through a regular wash cycle. The soda's citric acid breaks down oils so they washout of fabrics and down the drain. - source: First For Women magazine 3/17/03.
Make softener last longer - Don't spend a fortune on fabric softener sheets. Simply pour 2 oz. liquid softener into a 16 oz. spray bottle and fill it with water. After placing wet clothes in the dryer, squirt them a couple of times with the mixture. You'll get the same soft results, and the bottle will last 10 times longer than a box of sheets. - source: First For Women magazine 3/17/03.
Freshen fine washables for less - Instead of spending big bucks on detergents for delicates, handwash them in 1/2 cup baking soda mixed in 1/2 cup warm water. The baking soda deodorizes without harming fragile fibers, so clothes come out fresh and clean. source: First for Women Magazine 2/16/04
The little secret to all-day bliss - Spray a washcloth or unscented fabric softener sheet with your favorite perfume and toss it in the dryer with your clothes. The heat diffuses the fragrance molecules, which are absorbed by your clothes and subtly released throughout the day. You'll smell sweet, plus sniffing your favorite scent will give you a confidence boost that puts you at the top of your game. source: First for Women magazine 3/29/04.
Lift food stains in a pinch - Cover a stubborn food stain with a dollop of hand lotion, gently rub it into the area for 30 seconds, then toss the garment into the washer. Most lotions contain glycerin, a solvent that breaks down food molecules so stains lift easily without damaging delicate fabrics. source: First for Women magazine 5/31/04.
Give stubborn stains the slip - No need to buy stain remover when you can lift spots from clothes with liquid dish detergent. Pour on just enough to cove the spot and scrub gently for 30 seconds using an old soft-bristled toothbrush. Then wash as usual. The grease-cutting ingredients that get dishes sparkling make fabrics look like new. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
A drip-dry rack that won't collapse - Once your little wanderer outgrows the need for a safety gate, give it new life in the laundry room. Lean it against a wall and hang delicates that can't go in the dryer. Then simply tuck away. source: First for Women magazine 6/21/04.
Cleaning - Odours
Swap vanilla for baking soda - Make food odors vanish when you douse a cotton ball with vanilla extract (mmm, smells so sweet) and tuck it into a cold corner of the fridge. This alternate approach takes up no space, gets rid of even the peskiest garlic and onion smells and will give you an aromatherapy mood boost every time you open the refrigerator door on Thanksgiving Day. source: First for Women magazine 12/2/02.
Sop up broccoli smells - Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage are so good for you, but they sure can stink up your kitchen! Ease up on the odors by adding a chunk of bread to the pot of cooking water. It will absorb the volatile mustard oil compound, which is what causes the distinctive smell. source: First for Women magazine 12/2/02.
Freshen your fridge for less - Save on baking soda when you let three little charcoal briquettes deodorize your fridge. They absorb odor just as effectively for about a month. But don't throw them away after 30 days - toss them back into the bag because they're still grill-worthy. source: First for Women magazine 6/30/03.
Freshen party clothes - pronto - Don't spend money at the dry cleaner; get rid of smoky odors by hanging clothes over a tub half-filled with hot water and 3 cups white vinegar for a half hour. The vinegar-scented steam permeates fabric, neutralizing odors so clothes smell fresh. source: First for Women magazine 3/8/04.
Freshen your home for pennies - Instead of spending money on gimmicky air fresheners, take some film canisters, poke a few holes in the lids with a large sewing needle, fill with baking soda and place one in a corner of each room in your house. (Old salt shakers also will do the trick.) Replace once a month. The baking soda absorbs odors so your home always smells fresh and clean for a lot less. source: First for Women magazine 5/31/04.
Cleaning - Time Savers:
Trip saver - To save time when cleaning the house, put a large basket at the foot of the stairs. As you find items that need to go upstairs, drop them in the basket. When you're done cleaning downstairs, just grab the basket as you head to the next floor. source: First for Women magazine 1/21/02.
Cut your cleaning time - When cleaning the house, hang a plastic grocery bag on the doorknob of each room so you can toss trash as you go. Then when you're done, gather the filled bags and pitch them all at once. source: First for Women magazine 5/31/04.
To be organized