Category Archives: Helpful Household Tips

Alternative Uses for White Vinegar

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Pretty much everyone know that white vinegar has long been used in cooking and canning recipes, but white vinegar has many other uses around the house while replacing many toxic chemicals. Here are just a few ideas:

Pour 1 Cup vinegar and 1 Cup baking soda into your toilet, let sit for at least 30 minutes. Swish with toilet brush and flush. Not only will this clean the toilet, but refreshes it, as well!

Fill your dishwasher’s rinse aid reservoir with vinegar. Your dishes will sparkle and shine. Environmentally friendly and much more economical than harsh chemical additives!

When washing your car, use a rag soaked in vinegar to clean your windshield washer blades. The vinegar will cut right through the road grime and any other built up on the blades making them much more effective when wiping your windows!

Quickly and easily clean and deodorize your kitchen cutting board by wiping it down with white vinegar. It will remove odors and bacteria at the same time!

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If you notice that a bathroom or kitchen drain is draining slowly, before reaching for that bottle of chemical drain opener, try this instead: pour ½ Cup baking soda down the drain follow immediately by 1 Cup white vinegar. After a couple of minutes, pour at least 4 Cups of boiling water down the drain. Depending on the build-up or clog, this process may need to be repeated for maximum benefit.

Remove water ring marks left by wet glasses on wood furniture by mixing equal parts white vinegar with olive oil. Apply the mixture to the mark with a soft cloth while moving with the wood grain. Use another clean, soft cloth to bring up the shine.

Do you have soot build up on the front of your fireplace? You can easily remove that by wiping down the brick or stone with a damp cloth dipped in a mixture of 1 Cup white vinegar and with 1 gallon (3.7 liters) of warm water. This method also works well to clean and brighten brick or stone floors and patios.

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Have you ever had a candle drip or melt onto a piece of wood furniture? Here is what you do: To remove the melted wax, soften it by using a blow-dryer on its hottest setting.  Blot up as much as you can with paper towels. Remove whatever is still left by rubbing with a cloth soaked in a solution made of equal parts white vinegar and water. Wipe clean with a soft, absorbent cloth.

To clean chrome and stainless steel fixtures around your home, apply a light misting of undiluted white vinegar from a recycled spray bottle. Buff with a soft cloth to bring out the brightness.

Clean and freshen your microwave by placing a small glass bowl or measuring cup filled with ¼ Cup of white vinegar mixed with 1 Cup of water inside. Microwave the mixture for five minutes on the highest setting. Once the bowl cools, dip a cloth or sponge into the liquid and use it to wipe away stains and splatters on the interior.

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I do hope that you found these tips helpful and practical! Do you have a favorite alternative uses for white vinegar? If so, I would love to hear about them. Please feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Helpful Household Tip – 30 Uses for Borax

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Borax is a versatile product used as a laundry booster and a common ingredient in homemade, nontoxic cleaning products. It can also be used as a pesticide, preservative and so much more. Borax is generally considered low in toxicity, but you should always take care when using any chemical or product. Give these Borax-based tips a try, and you can eliminate many costly, as well as toxic, chemicals from your home!

Borax is most commonly found sold under the brand name of 20 Mule Team and can be found in the laundry detergent aisle of pretty much any store that sells laundry detergent. I have had no problem finding borax at my local grocery store or my local Walmart.

All Purpose Cleaner
Make your own homemade cleaner by mixing 2 tablespoons borax with 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle. This is a great solution for cleaning the stovetop, cleaning outside of the refrigerator, wiping down cabinets, etc.

Baby Clothes and Cloth Diapers
Add borax to the wash cycle, along with your detergent, when washing baby’s laundry. It will help the laundry detergent clean soiled clothes much more thoroughly. It will keep the whites brighter while disinfecting the clothing. It is GREAT for eliminating urine and feces odors!

Cat Litter Deodorizer
Minimize odor in your cat’s litter box by mixing a few tablespoons of borax in with the litter.

Carpet Cleaning
Use a 1/2 cup of Borax per gallon of water in carpet steam cleaning machines.

Cleaning Cookware
Borax is a mild and gentle cleaner for porcelain and aluminum cookware. Sprinkle on pots and pans and rub with a damp dishcloth. Rinse thoroughly.

Clean Hairbrushes and Combs
Mix a quarter cup borax and a tablespoon of a grease cutting dishwashing liquid (like Dawn) in a basin of warm water. Swish brushes in the sudsy water, let soak, rinse, and let dry.

Flea Killer
Sprinkle borax on pet bedding, carpets, and other areas where you suspect that fleas may be hatching. Borax releases boric acid, which is a poison.
NOTE: VERY high doses would need to be ingested to be harmful to pets or people.

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Freshen Up Linens
Remove mildew and mustiness from linens by soaking them in 2 cups of borax mixed with 2 quarts of water. Let the linens sit for a few hours, then rinse clean.

Fruit Trees
Sprinkle 1 cup of borax around a full-sized apple tree, or just a couple of tablespoons around a young tree, every 3-4 years. By doing this, you will be adding the trace mineral, boron, to the soil. Boron is needed for good cell wall growth of the fruit, as well as promotes seed development.

Garbage Can Deodorizer
Deodorize your garbage can by filling it with borax and water. Let it soak then rinse it out. Sprinkle some borax in the bottom once it’s clean. This will keep the bugs away and absorb any odor causing moisture.

Garbage Disposal Cleaner
Clean and sanitize your garbage disposal by putting 3 tablespoons of borax down the drain. Let it sit for an hour and flush it with warm water.

Humidifiers
Help keep humidifiers free of odor by dissolve one tablespoon of borax per gallon of water and add it to the unit while not in use. Be sure to rinse out this solution before refilling your humidifier with pure water prior to use.

Improve Homemade Candle Wicks
When making your own candles, treat the wicks by soaking them in a solution of salt and borax to help reduce ash and eliminate smoke problems.

Laundry Booster
Borax is great for adding to the wash cycle because it can whiten your whites, soften hard water, remove soap residue from your clothing, neutralize any laundry odors, disinfect clothing, as well as increase the stain-removal ability of your detergent.

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Mice Deterrent
Sprinkle borax on the floor along the walls where mice like to run. The mice don’t like getting the borax on their feet, so they are less likely to return to that area of the house.

Mold Inhibitor
Make a thick borax and water paste. Smear the paste on the moldy area. Let it set until dry, overnight or longer. Sweep up the powder, and rinse off the rest.

Outdoor Furniture Cleaner
Mix 1 teaspoon dish detergent, 1 teaspoon borax and 1 quart warm water in a spray bottle and use to clean outdoor furniture.

Pest Deterrent
Keep roaches, water bugs, and ants away by sprinkling a combination of equal parts all-natural borax and sugar along baseboards, in drawers and cabinets. Also, put some under the refrigerator, the stove, and the sink. Replace with a fresh batch every 6 to 8 weeks, or if the mix gets wet. Since this is not a harsh chemical, it most likely will take at least a couple of weeks of use before you will notice a drop in insect activity.

Preserving Flowers
Fresh-cut flowers of many varieties may be permanently preserved. Borax removes moisture from blossoms and leaves, thereby preventing the wilting which would normally result. Two different mixtures (by weight) are recommended: two parts 20 Borax and one part dry white sand, or one part Borax and two parts corn meal.

Refrigerator Cleaning
Spilled food can be washed away with a sponge or soft cloth using a solution of 1 quart warm water and 1 tablespoon of borax. Rinse with cold water. This will help to deodorize the refrigerator, as well!

Remove Odors from a Mattresses
Remove urine odor from a mattress. Lightly wet the mattress and rub in borax with a damp cloth. Let dry, then vacuum up the remaining residue.

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Remove Rust
Make a paste by mixing 1 cup of Borax with 2 cups of warm water plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Use the paste on old pots and pans that are rusted. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse and then just scrub the rust away. You can use it to remove rust from anything metal such as appliances and patio furniture. If you find that the rust is a bit stubborn, apply a second coating and allow it to sit for another 15 to 20 minutes before cleaning off with clear water and a scrubbing sponge.

Remove Sticky Residue
Mix together borax and water in a 2-to-1 ratio. Rub on to get rid of sticky, gooey, gummy adhesive residue.

Shine China
Make your dull china sparkle like new again by soaking it in a sink full of warm water with a ½ cup of dissolved borax. Rinse well and wash a second time as usual.

Shower, Tub & Tile Cleaner
Sprinkle on a damp sponge or soft cloth and use as you would a powdered cleanser. This can even be used on fiberglass surfaces without scratching. Rinse thoroughly.

Sink Cleaner
Remove rust stains from stainless steel or porcelain sinks with a paste or 1 cup borax and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Using a sponge or cloth, rub the stain with the paste. Rinse with warm water.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl at night before you go to bed. The next morning, clean out the toilet bowl with a brush. The borax will loosen all the grime buildup.
NOTE: If you have pets that might drink the water from the toilet bowl, be sure to put the lid down after you put in the borax!

Unclog Drains
Pour ½ cup of borax into the drain followed by 2 cups of boiling water. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with clear water for a few minutes to flush it out. No more need for chemical laden drain openers!

Violin String Saver
If you play the violin, or any instrument that uses a bow, when the hairs get gummed with rosin, instead of having it rehaired, dampen a toothbrush, dip it in borax, and scrub the bow hair in small sections. Try not to get the soap on the wood. Wipe clean and then re-rosin.

Weed Killer
Dissolve 10 ounces of borax in 4 ounces of warm water. Once the borax is well dissolved, add 2 1/2 gallons of water and mix thoroughly. This amount should treat a 1000 square feet. Adjust the recipe as needed. Do NOT use in the garden or near plants that you do not want to kill. Use mixture immediately! Do NOT store any unused portion! Please, safely discard any unused portion.

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Helpful Household Tip – Silica Gel Packets

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15 Alternative Uses for Silica Packets

In this day and age of disposability, there are many common items that are routinely discarded that could easily be put to other uses. One of these items is the common silica gel packet. You know, those tiny little packets labeled “Do Not Eat” found packaged in a variety of things – from shoes to electronic gadgets to vitamins and dietary supplements.

These little packets contain silica gel. Silica is a desiccant, which means that it absorbs and holds water vapor extracted from the air. Silica gel can absorb about 40% of its weight in moisture. This makes it an excellent choice for removing moisture from items and keeping things dry.  Here are some alternative uses for those packets, instead of automatically ending up in the trash.

Keep your car windshield from fogging up. Place several packages of silica gel on your dashboard, along the bottom of your windshield to prevent condensation from building up and fogging up your windshield from the inside. This can save you valuable time by not having to wait for your windows to defrost when you are in a hurry on a cool or humid day! Be sure NOT to cover your defrosting vents, though. With enough packets placed around the inside of your car, you may never have to worry with fogged up windows again!

Protect your underwater camera. If you have ever noticed the condensation that can accumulate on the lens, you can prevent that by storing your camera in a case with a couple of silica gel packets. The silica gel will absorb the excess moisture and prevent the accumulation of moisture, thus eliminating the fogged lens issue and saving your valuable equipment!

Extend the life of your manual shave razors. After use, rinse the razor thoroughly with plain water, blot dry, store in a plastic container with a snap lid along with a several silica gel packets. The packets will absorb the moisture and prevent oxidation, thus preventing dulling of the blade and extending its usefulness.

Dry out a wet phone. If you drop your cellphone or smartphone into water, remove from the water immediately and dry off as much water as possible. Remove the battery and memory card from the phone. Place the phone, battery and memory card in a plastic container with a snap lid, along with several silica packets. Leave for at least 12 hours. This is a much better solution than trying to use rice to dry your phone.

Save those old photographs. Keep a few packets of silica gel in your box of photos and the silica will prevent the photos from sticking to one another.

Clear up double pane windows. If you notice a build-up of condensation between the panes of glass, place a few packets of silica gel along the window sill. After a short while, you will notice the condensation is dissipating and will eventually be gone completely. The length of time it will take for this to work will be dependent of how much condensation is present, as well as the ambient humidity levels and temperature.

Keep dry pet food “Just Opened” fresh. If you have ever noticed that your dry pet food seems to get soggy and lose its crunch, you can prevent this by storing the pet food in a plastic container with a snap close lid. Tape a few silica gel packets to the underside of the container’s lid. This tip not only works for pet food, but it works equally as well with people foods such as cereal, chips, crackers, cookies, etc. Additionally, you can place a couple of the silica gel packets in the cabinet, cupboard or drawer where you store your spices to help reduce moisture and preserve the freshness of your spices.

Preserve freshly harvested seeds. If you are a gardener and harvest seeds to keep for next year’s planting, keeping those seeds from molding is very important. Store the seeds in an airtight container and add a packet or two of silica gel to prevent mold.

Keep tools rust free. Place packets of silica gel inside the drawers of your toolbox to prevent oxidation and keep your tools rust free.

Freshen smelly items. Placing a few silica gel packets in your gym bag or locker can reduce dampness and eliminate odor causing bacteria. These packets work the same way in gym shoes or other shoes in need of some refreshing.

Keep your makeup dry. Most ladies apply their makeup at the bathroom sink. At some point, it is inevitable that a few drops of water may get splashed into your makeup bag. Not removing this water may allow bacteria and mold to grow, which can ruin expensive makeup. Keep a packet or two of silica gel in your makeup bag and they will eliminate any small drops of water that may find their way into your bag. For larger splashes or spills, it is best to remove the contents, pat all contents dry, and let everything thoroughly air dry before replacing in the bag.

Keep a memento of a special occasion. Silica gel is a well-known way of quickly drying out flowers. Place the flowers into a plastic bag or air tight container with several packets of silica gel. This tip works best with a single flowers or a small group of flowers, like a corsage, preferably with those types of flowers that naturally feel dryer and have low moisture content. Flowers with high moisture content or a large bunch of flowers will probably mold before becoming sufficiently dried.

Protect your silver flatware and serving pieces. Tarnish is a chemical reaction between the silver and various chemicals found in the air. This is a form of oxidation. Humidity hastens the process and results in your silver pieces turning from being shiny to being black. Keep silica gel packets in with your silver to absorb any moisture in the air while being stored.

Remove musty smells from old books. While some people love the way old books smell, many other people do not. The musty smell comes from the pages being exposed to the humidity in the air. To freshen up the book, place it in an air tight container or zip top bag with several silica packets and seal it. The silica will absorb the dampness and the musty odor. The length of time it will take to freshen up the book will depend on the age of the book and the amount of humidity it has been exposed to. Keep in mind that you probably will not be able to totally rid the book of the musty smell, but you can greatly reduce the scent of it.

Damp swimming suits. If you are away form home and go swimming, there is always the issue of what to do with your wet suit for the trip home. If you can, air-dry the suit as much as possible. If time does not allow for air drying, squeeze out as much water as possible. Wrap the suit tightly in a towel and blot out as much water as possible. Place the damp suit in a plastic bag along with several silica gel packets. The packets will not be able to absorb enough moisture to actually dry the suit, but they should be able to hold the moisture in the plastic bag and away from your other dry belongings.

Now that you have all of these wonderful alternative uses for the silica gel packets, what should you do with them once they have done their job of removing moisture and no longer feel dry? You should be able to feel the difference between dry silica gel packets and damp ones. Once they have absorbed moisture and feel damp, you can simply dry them out to be re-used once again!

The most economical way to dry them out is to place them in a single layer in a box or on a plate and set them outside in the sunlight for a day or two, depending on how sunny it is and how much moisture the packets have absorbed. You will know if it has been long enough if the packets feel dry, like they did to begin with.

A faster method for drying the packets would be to put them in your microwave. Place one or two packets at a time on a small microwave safe glass plate and cover them with a small microwave safe glass bowl. Microwave the packets for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Let cool completely and then feel the packets. If they feel dry, you are done. If not, turn the packets over and microwave for another 30 seconds. You do not want to over-dry the silica.

CAUTION: Silica gel gets very hot during the drying process. Do not attempt to handle silica gel, or the container, until it has cooled to a safe temperature. It is not recommended to move hot silica gel. If you must move it while it is hot, use a hot pad. Be aware that glass may shatter if it is of the wrong type, is too thin, or is unevenly heated. Do not overheat the gel. If you overheat the gel you may ruin it, and it will take longer and longer to re-dry the gel. It is better to under-heat it, than overheat it. It is better to re-dry small batches than large batches.

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Silica gel packets come in varying sizes, depending on the amount of silica gel contains within the packet. Very small packets generally contain about 1 gram of silica gel. These small packets are usually found in things like, dietary supplements, vitamins and pain relievers. Larger packets can contain as much as 10 or more grams per packet. Most silica gel packets that you may find in a handbag or in a box with a pair of shoes are most likely closer to the 10 grams weight. Naturally, the larger the amount of silica gel that is present in any given area, the faster the moisture can be removed, as well as the larger the volume of moisture that can be removed.

As you can see, there are many alternative uses for silica gel packets. If you don’t want to wait until you have collected enough of these packets on your own to try out some of these tips, that’s ok.  You can purchase silica gel packets very inexpensively on Amazon.

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30 Packets of High Quality Silica Gel, 10 Grams Each

Helpful Household Tip – Baking Soda

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Baking soda – that plain, white substance nearly ever household has in the cupboard. Other than an occasional ingredient needed for some recipes, who hasn’t heard of using baking soda in the refrigerator or freezer to help remove odors. Perhaps you have even used baking soda as a mild abrasive for cleaning purposes or even seen it as an ingredient in your toothpaste or laundry detergent.

Personally, I prefer using baking soda in place of many chemical laden cleansers and over the counter treatments for a variety of personal ailments and conditions. I feel that there are way too many chemicals all around us every day. No wonder so many people have multitudes of allergies, cancers and other serious and other serious on-going ailments these days. I think it is time to step back and say NO to all of these man-made chemicals which really do little more than make the manufacturers money!! As far as my home goes, I am actively trying to get back to more natural and earth-friendly products.

So, back to the topic at hand. Exactly what IS baking soda? Baking soda it is a chemical compound with the formula of NaHCO3.  It is known by several names such as bread soda, cooking soda, sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, bicarb soda, bicarbonate of soda or simply bicarb. It is a white, powdery substance with a slightly salty, alkaline taste.

Now that you know what baking soda is, what all can you do with it, besides use it for baking? Well, baking soda actually has many uses. It doesn’t matter what brand you use, they are all the same, so go for the best deal you can get!

Here is a list of several uses for baking soda that you may not know about, or perhaps have forgotten about:

Absorbs Odors –
*place a small box or bowl in the refrigerator or freeze to absorb food odors, replace once a month,
*to help freshen a room, sprinkle onto carpeting and allow to sit for 15 minutes to an hour or more (depending on the level of odor), then vacuum. As an added bonus, this method will also refreshed the vacuum cleaner,
*sprinkle into the cat litter box to help eliminate urine and feces odors,
*sprinkle into lunch boxes, shoes, the kitchen trash can, sink drain, garbage disposal, closets, pet beds and bedding, and auto carpeting to freshen and help eliminate stale odors.

As a Cleaner –
*use as a mild scrubbing abrasive on counter tops, stove tops, sinks, bathtubs, tile, linoleum, fiberglass shower walls and doors, shower curtain,
*add 1 cup to wash cycle to help detergent clean your clothes better,
*helps brighten, removes stains and freshen linens, baby clothes and cloth diapers,
*use to wash your car, the gentle abrasive helps to clean off road dirt and grime without hurting the wax finish,
*clean brushes and combs with a squirt of shampoo then soak in a bowl or sink of warm water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, then rinse and air dry,
*mix with water to make a paste and use to scrub away stains on glass dishes, it is even safe enough to use on Grandma’s fine china,
*add to dishwater when hand washing dishes to help cut grease and eliminate oily film, use as a soak and a non-scratching abrasive to help clean pots and pans with baked on foods,
*a small amount dissolved in water and applied with a damp sponge or dish rag quickly cleans and deodorizes the microwave. Be sure to rinse well!
*polish sterling silver flatware and silver plated serving pieces by making a paste with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, polish with sponge or damp cloth, rinse well, pat dry,
*wash coffee mugs and coffee makers in a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water to remove stains and eliminate bitter tastes. Tougher stains may require soaking overnight,
*sprinkle onto the bottom of the oven and spray or sprinkle with water to dampen, let sit overnight, the next day scrub, scoop, sweep or vacuum the baking soda and grime out, finish with a wipe down with a clean, damp sponge.

As a Soak
*mix 3 tablespoons in a sink full of water to remove dirt, waxes and other residue from fruits and vegetables,
*soaking your feet in 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a foot tub filled with warn water will help relief aches & tiredness, as well as deodorizes smelly feet,
*soak retainers, mouthpieces and dentures in two teaspoons baking soda dissolved in a small bowl of warm water to clean, freshen and remove odors.
*mix 1/2 to 1 cup into a warm bath to help detoxify the body, as ell as helps to relieve pain from hemorrhoids, vaginal yeast infection, anal fissure, and other discomforts in the genital or buttock area, soothes irritated skin, relieves itching and reduces burning sensation.
NOTE: to avoid any type of complications, pregnant women, as well as people high blood pressure and/or heart problems MUST consult their doctor before using baking soda in the bath!

Fire Extinguisher – it is an excellent resource in snuffing out minor grease or electrical kitchen fires. When baking soda is heated, it gives off carbon dioxide, which helps to smother the flames.

First Aid
*make a paste with a bit of water to soothe and stop the itch of insect bites, poison ivy and other mild skin irritations
*make a paste with white vinegar, once the fizzing has stopped, apply to stings from bees, wasps and hornets to relieve the pain draw out the poisons,
*make a paste with apple cider vinegar or honey to apply to minor burns, sunburns, or wind burns,
*for removing a splinter mix 1 tablespoon into a small glass of water, then soak the affected area twice a day, most splinters will come out on their own,
*ease indigestion and heartburn by drinking a mixture of ½ teaspoon dissolved in a glass of water, repeat as needed every two hours.
NOTE: consult with your physician before using internally if you are taking any dietary supplements, prescription drugs or on a low salt diet!

For Your Body
*make a paste with a bit of water to use as an effective facial and body scrub/exfoliant plus it works wonders for helping to clear up acne,
*pat under the arms for a chemical free, natural deodorant,
*dip  a wet toothbrush into some baking sods to use as a natural toothpaste which will clean and whiten your teeth, freshens your mouth, too,
*use as a hand cleanser to remove strong odors such as onion and garlic, then use your regular hand soap and wash as usual,
*to your shampoo add a teaspoon, or up to a handful, blend well – it will soften the water to more easily remove any styling product build-up in your hair and leave your hair feeling  soft and smooth.

There are still many other uses of baking soda that I did not include here. As you can see, there are many uses of this versatile, natural powder. Do you have any favorite uses of baking soda that you would like to add? Please, feel free to comment and share!

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