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Some people buy a different cleanser for every room and/or various surfaces of the home. You can save money by making your own general-purpose cleanser that can be used on windows, mirrors, appliances, and more. Simply add an ⅛ cup of ammonia to  1 gallon of warm water and stir. Be sure to wear protective gloves and NEVER add bleach, which can turn the mixture into something deadly, especially indoors. Seriously—you’ll have trouble breathing and might pass out before you know it.


If you forgot to clean your barbecue racks last summer, soak them for an hour or two in a plastic tub or bathtub/shower stall in hot water with ¼ cup of dishwasher detergent and ¼ cup of vinegar. Then rinse them off with lemon juice or vinegar. If they still have hard-to-remove, stubborn food residue, ball up some tin foil and rub the racks with it.


Hard-water deposits can clog up the tiny holes in shower heads and can keep them from flowing properly. Unscrew the offending shower head and soak it for an hour in a tub of vinegar. If you’d rather not take it down, fill a ziplock bag with vinegar, wrap it around (and submerge) the shower head, and tie it in place for an hour. Have a toothpick handy if you still need to poke the holes clear.


If you usually wash your dishes by hand, save on dish soap by making a solution of water and liquid dish soap in a ratio between  5 to 1 and 10 to 1 in a spray bottle. Make a similar mixture of water and hand soap in a pump bottle for washing your hands.


Instead of buying cleanser specifically for the bathroom (tub, shower enclosure, toilet, sink, tile, etc), fill a spray bottle with 3 cups hot water, ½ cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon dish soap, and 1 tablespoon borax. Definitely use this instead of abrasive powders on fiberglas tubs and showers, which can dull the finish.


The word is out that many people serving in the military use unsweetened instant drink mix to polish brass items and accents. Pour a packet into a bowl and stir in 1¼ tablespoons of water. Dip a dry cloth into the mixture and rub the brass item with in until it gleams. Rinse it with water and then wipe it dry.


Tea and coffee stains can be scrubbed out after soaking the stained cup inside and out, as necessary, in a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar. Add salt if the stains are persistent. From now on, don’t forget to add a splash of water into your tea- or coffee cup if you don’t plan to wash it right away.


If you cleaned your bike and the spokes still look dull, shine them up by balling up some tinfoil and running it up and down the spokes. Dip the foil ball in vinegar to make the task go smoothly.


If your underarms don’t respond well to spring/summer close shaves, rub lotion to soothe your itchy skin before putting on deodorant.


If you have spotted ants in your kitchen, look around and try to figure out what’s attracting them—you might have to move items like sugar, pastas, cereal, flour, etc into airtight containers. Wipe down your counters, table(s), and other surfaces (including the floor) with full-strength white vinegar, which will remove the scent that ants leave behind for other ants. Follow up with a cool-water rinse. Place things that repel ants with their odors, such as cinnamon, black pepper, red chili powder, and bay leaves at point(s) of entry.


If your kitchen or bathroom drain has been sluggish lately, grab a pot with a strong handle (or handles), fill it with water, and put it on the stove to boil. Carefully carry it to the sink or tub and slowly pour half the boiling water down the drain. Let it work for a minute or two and then pour in the rest. Once a week, pour a handful of baking soda down the drain, followed by boiling water, in order to keep the drain running freely.


If your dog has left his or her scent behind on a favorite upholstered chair, try sprinkling a generous amount of baking soda all over it (the chair, that is). If you can keep the dog off it, let it sit overnight and then run a vacuum over the chair the next morning.


Save your large coffee cans for those times you’ll be using a ladder outside without any help. Place each “foot” of the ladder in a coffee can so the ladder won’t sink in the dirt and cause you to lose your balance and fall.


If you have rough, superdry elbows and feet, rub them well with salad dressing (not mayonnaise) right before bathing/showering. The dry skin should roll right off and your skin will be much smoother after your bath or shower.


When cleaning out a room usually (or formerly) occupied by a smoker, wring out a large cloth or towel in a solution of water and vinegar and hang it up in the middle of the room for an hour or two to absorb the smoky odor. 


If your dog or cat is letting you know that their dry food is getting boring, sprinkle some chicken or beef broth over the food when you serve it. Your pet should show renewed interest! (You can buy a 32-ounce carton of broth for under $2.)

Do you have any handy hints for the winter season? Share them with us!

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