Monday, August 20, 2012

The Critical Mom's Guide: Nine Household Hints

Here are tips for a stain-free, relaxed home:

(1) A mix of baking soda and plain white vinegar cleans many things.  Why pay more on expensive cleaners when you can do it all for less?  You mix both for scrubbing bathrooms; you can pour a few handfuls of baking soda into a toilet, leave it there, and scrub.  Added fun for a bored child:  fill a mug halfway with baking soda.  Tell the child to close his or her eyes, then open them to "watch the volcano erupt!"  Then add the vinegar--about the same amount, though less may be plenty.  Try it out beforehand to get the desired effect. P.S. Baking soda is a good substitute for toothpaste.  Mixed with water in a paste, it soothes mosquito bites.  Whenever my children have an itchy rash, irritated skin or are recovering from chicken pox, I put a few handfuls of baking soda in a bath.  Or use uncooked oatmeal instead.  But don't clean with the oatmeal!

(2) Stains:  the first rule is that no matter what they are, keep 'em wet.  Red wine, coffee, jelly, jam:  put the whole stained item in a bowl or sink to soak, or pour water over the carpet.   After this it gets complicated. 
 Red wine:  pour lots of salt over the wet--keep it wet, in fact, run water through it for a while!--stain and pour on more water or club soda.  Let it soak a few minutes.  Then use dish soap and water plus elbow grease.
Coffee: Again:  water, water, water.  Then dishwashing liquid and scrub-er-ooo.  Then vinegar and water.  Launder as usual. 
Wax, esp. candle wax:  put waxy item in freezer.  Later, scrape off wax. 
Silly putty on clothing or sweater:  hand sanitizer.  
Ballpoint-pen ink: rubbing alcohol.

(3) Laundering tips:  Add olive oil to the final rinse of woolen blankets to keep them soft and fluffy. Adding eucalyptus oil to the final rinse will also deter fish moths. Stains on white garments:  one part chlorox, three parts water, well mixed.  Let item soak for 15 minutes to half an hour.

(4) Natural insect repellents that double as aromatherapy:  Put several drops of 100% lavender or peppermint essential oil on a cool light bulb.  Use citronella too, if you like, or rose geranium, or cedar oil.  But the first two are best for moths, mosquitoes, and bed bugs.   You can also douse cotton balls with essential oils and tuck them under sofas and behind refrigerators.

(5) If you like coffee strong enough to walk on but don't want bitterness, save your eggshells, rinse them, and add to your freshly-ground beans in a French press.  Voila!

(6) To keep flour and rice free of weevils and most bugs: bay leaves.  Rub or crush them a bit and add to the most airtight container you can find. 

(7) To keep brown sugar from turning into a stiff-as-a-brick block: add a slice or two of bread and keep in airtight plastic container or bag in freezer. 

(8) To keep salt from sticking together in a humid climate:  add grains of uncooked rice to the salt shaker.
(9) To keep Parmesan cheese from becoming dry, wrap it in a wet paper towel and
store in an airtight container.

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