Read these 70 Household Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Thrifty tips and hundreds of other topics.
Put your candles in the freezer for an hour before lighting them. Cold candles last longer, and they drip less.
If you have hardened paint brushes: simmer them in boiling vinegar and wash in hot soapy water.
Mix 1 part laundry detergent, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, and 1 part water in a spray bottle. Spray stains and rub material together or scrub with a soft brush if needed.
Rub petroleum jelly over leather shoes and wipe off excess with a towel.
You can seal any plastic bag by placing a piece of aluminum foil over the end to be sealed and running a hot iron over the foil. Make sure you have foil on both sides of the plastic to be sealed so it doesn't stick to the ironing surface. No expensive sealing gadget required.
Save your rainwater for your garden by using a rain-barrel (or use a plastic trash can). Use the collected water for plants, flowers, vegetables and washing your car or truck.
To make your own carpet deodorizer combine 3/4 cup baking soda, 2 tbsp corn starch, and 1/4 cup scented talcum powder. Sprinkle on dry carpet, let stand 5 to 15 minutes, then vacuum.
Using one part white vinegar to four parts hot water, pour the mixture on a carpet stain. Take several white paper towels folding them over each other and lay them over the area, then press with a hot iron. (You will want to work on small areas at a time -- at least no bigger than your paper towels.) The vinegar and heat will lift the dye out of the carpet and into the paper towel. Your paper towels will turn the color of the dye you are lifting out so you can SEE it working. Keep pouring the cleaner on the areas and change your towels when soiled. Just keep this process up until your paper towels are no longer turning color. This method works for Kool Aid & other impossible to get rid of stains.
You can dilute your dish detergent and still get the same results. This is especially helpful if you have others helping you wash the dishes, and they aren't as thrifty-minded as yourself.
Why buy expensive cleaning products when you can get the same results using ingredients you already have at home? For a cheap way to remove mildew, dilute 3/4 cup chlorine bleach in 1 gal of water. Apply to tile and grout and scrub; wipe shower stall and curtain; rinse thoroughly.
You can get free bark mulch from your sanitation or public works departments, which recycles yard cuttings and organic debris. Also, companies that clear limbs around power lines often make wood chips and give them away rather than paying for disposal. Get the number from your utility bill or call a local tree trimmer.
Plant shrubs and trees so that they will shade your house during summer months. Doing this will help you to not use your fans and air conditioning as much, hence saving on your electric bill.
You can make your own version of daily shower cleaners. In a 32 oz. spray bottle, pour in 8 oz. of rubbing alcohol, then top it off w/water. After each shower, spray the walls and shower curtain. You won't have to rinse.
Keep your drains clean by putting 4 tablespoons of baking powder in them each week. Flush the baking soda down with hot water.
Draw the shades or blinds to block the thermal heat of the sun through your windows. This will help keep you cooler, so you won't need to use your fan or air conditioner, which will save you money on your electric bill.
To remove soap scum without buying a special cleaning product, apply baking soda dry or as a thick paste, rub vigorously with a wet sponge, then rinse.
It is possible to clean the VCR and save a trip to the repair shop. Unplug the VCR. Using a screwdriver, unscrew the screws and remove the cover from the top of your VCR. Use a can of "Compressed Air" to clean the dust out of the corners and take some rubbing alcohol and swab around the VCR heads, crevices that look dusty or anywhere gunk has built up. Replace cover.
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Make your own sour cream by blending together 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1/4 cup skim milk and 1 tsp. vinegar.
Use 10% less of everything, from detergents to electricity! Use less laundry and dishwashing detergent, less shampoo and toothpaste, turn down your hot water heater 10% and adjust your thermostat by 10%. You can even extend the 10% rule to food. Serve smaller portions. Most of us could stand to lose a few pounds, anyway.
To remove chewing gum from clothing freeze or cover the gum with ice. Then crack or scrape it off. This should save the clothing material so that you don't ruin it.
The easiest way to clean your shower curtains is to wash them in the washing machine using cold water. You can wash the shower curtain with other clothing, but make sure that they are similar colors, that you don't use bleach, and that you use cold water. DO NOT DRY IN THE DRYER. Hang them back up to let them air dry in the shower.
If weekend projects have you banging your head against the wall, take a break and visit handymanwire.com. Whether you're removing wallpaper or cleaning the carpet, this site's trained volunteer consultants are happy to lend a hand. Visit the extensive FAQ page or consult the Articles Index for a host of how-to guides. Still at a loss? Expert forums tackle even the most obscure do-it-yourself dilemmas head on.
Most electric companies will provide a free energy conservation home evaluation, if you ask them. They will tour your home to tell you what you are doing right, and what you should change - as well as how much money it could save you. Remember, it's free!
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All you need to do is enter your e-mail address, and they will send you these great tips in your mailbox!!!
Save plastic yogurt cups, take-out Chinese food soup containers, old plastic ice cream tubs, etc. and use them instead of purchasing expensive containers from the store. These containers work perfectly well in the freezer, fridge and basically anywhere you would use a storage container.
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When purchasing appliances, ask for dented or scratched items that are usually discounted. Also ask for specials such as free delivery. This will save you a few bucks on a major purchase.
Having an answering machine may seem old-fashioned compared to voice mail, but it will save you money in the long run. It will cost more for the initial purchase of an answering machine, but when you add it all up, it will save you money. Also, listening to your messages from a machine instead of through voice mail, will save you minutes used on your phone bill. Double the savings!
To get to the last drop of an item, turn it upside down, and leave it there for a while - do this with shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, lotions, etc. Don't have time to wait? Use a new bottle a little bit, put a funnel in it, tip the other bottle upside down, leave it for a while, and then it should all go from the old bottle to the new bottle. Waste not, want not!
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Keep both a disposable and a non-disposable razor in your shower. You can just use the disposable one for under your arms and the non-disposable one for your legs. This way, you still get the smooth legs that you want, and you don't have to change the more expensive refill as quickly.
Here's an economical recipe for marinade sauce. When you open a can of pineapple, save the juice. Add soy sauce, and seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic, etc.), and you have a great marinade sauce. Vary the flavor by adding a dab of preserves or adding other saved liquids.
Why pay for a completed item when you can purchase the materials at a fraction of the cost and do it yourself? It's always cheaper to provide your own labor rather than pay for someone else to do it. If you find yourself facing a bit of a challenge, ask around to see if anyone you know has experience, or research tips and advice on the web.
If you have an old metal box fan, you should fix it up and use it in place of the air conditioner. Some of the old metal box fans can cool an entire room by themselves. If you don't have one, look around to see if you can find one. These are much better than the newer plastic fans. Using a fan instead of an air conditioner will help you save on your electric bill.
To remove deposits caused by flowers and water, rub with salt. For hard to reach areas, put a strong salt solution in the vase and shake, then wash the vase with soap and water.
Paint is cheaper than wallpaper. Use paint effects such as sponge painting, rag rolling, and stenciling to add pattern and interest to your walls.
Need to remove some wallpaper, but you don't want to rent a steamer or spend the money on a professional solution? It will come off with lots of warm water. However, to make the job easier, mix a little fabric softener in with the water. Rip off the outer layer of the wallpaper, and then spray the wall with the solution. Wait a few minutes, and then wipe away the paper with plenty of damp towels.
Free Weatherization Assistance Program enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Check out the Department of Energy Assistance's website to get more information about this program, and to see if your family qualifies. http://www.eren.doe.gov/buildings/weatherization_assistance/
When using an air conditioner, be sure to shut it off when you are going to be away for more than a couple of hours. This way your will conserve elecetricity, and save on your electric bill.
Window, celing and whole-house fans use less electricity than central air conditioners, therefore, lowering your electric bill. It's also better for most people's health to have fans going and getting the fresh air from outside, than it is to breathe the air conditioned air.
Household leaks account for 13% of all home water usage. A single dripping faucet can waste up to 2700 gallons a year. Toilet leaks are part of this percentage as well. To see if your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If the color seeps into the bowl, then you have a leak.
Teach your kids to keep doors closed, lights off, and other ways of conserving heat.
Learn to do your own maintenance and repairs on your house instead paying someone else to do them. There are plenty of books out there on how to. If you're not that handy, see if your local vocational school or college does this type of work and see if they would do it - still cheaper than a regular contractor.
Studies have shown that an average-sized pool can lose 1000 gallons of water a month to evaporation. So, cover your pool when it's not in use to help cut the loss by about 90%.
Make a list of jobs you can do in 15 minutes or less. These jobs can be single chores or a portion of a larger job. The idea of doing this is that you're more likely to find yourself with an extra 15 minutes than an extra day or even a couple of hours. When you do have a bit of time, get out your list and choose a job. You'll make steady progress this way and feel good about getting a start on some of the projects that seem overwhelming to you.
The next time that you go shopping, you may want to check the prices of what your shampoo and conditioner costs versus a two-in-one shampoo conditioner. Depending on the brands, you might be able to save some money buying the two-in-one. You can also save time in the shower, as an added benefit, which will cut down on your hot water costs and your water bill.
For an inexpensive children's comforter, keep your eye out for cute kids sleeping bags on sale or clearance. Trim the zipper with scissors, open it up and it fits a twin bed perfectly!
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A full freezer uses less electricity than an empty one.
Don't replace your shower curtain or use expensive chemicals to clean it. Soak your shower curtains in water and baking soda to clean them.
You can make shoes last longer by having them re-heeled instead of buying a brand new pair.
Check with stores to find out if they have leftover scrap materials you can buy (or better yet, have for free). Lumber, plexiglass, photo mats, leather, canvas, paper, etc. The possibilities are endless. Any place that produces a product also produced leftovers but because they don't think of them as useful, you might not find out about them unless you ask.
Free Weatherization Assistance Programs enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient
If there are places where sunlight falls onto your hardwood floors each day, you may want to cover the area with a rug or hang curtains at the window. Repeated exposure to intense sunlight can dull the finish on your hardwood floor.
Replacing or repairing a hardwood floor can be very expensive, not to mention a real hassle. This is an easy test to find out if you need to refinish the floor to prevent major damage. Pour a tablespoon of water onto the floor. If your floor is properly sealed, the water will bead up immediately. If it soaks in after a few minutes, the floor is beginning to wear. If it soaks in immediately, you probably need to repair or replace the floor.
Dryer lint makes great kindling for starting fires. Another plus is that you won't be paying to throw away the dryer lint.
For homeschoolers, purchasing a scanner can be one of the thriftiest things you can buy. The money saved on purchasing workbooks alone make it worth its weight in gold. You can then scan those pages from library books or the neighbors books, that you need to save. A low cost flatbed scanner can often be had for under $50.00 with rebates.
Make your own free recipe cards at the Grandma George website. www.grandmageorge.com/free/recipe/recipe.html
Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time. If it is the hot water faucet not only are you losing water but losing energy as well.
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Candle-lit dinners do more than make for a romantic meal, they also help you save on your electric bill!
To get the maximum use out of your towels, sheets and other linens, be sure and rotate them. Doing this will extend their life, because fibers become weaker with each washing.
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Go to www.Lowes.com/SignMeUp to subscribe to their bi-monthly publiscation, full of great ideas for your home.
At www.repairclinic.com you can access troubleshooting and repair information for many common household appliances, from refrigerators to washing machines. The site's "PartDetective" feature can help you determine which spare part is needed for repairs - and helps you order it.
Cut water bill costs by as much as 20% - while saving up to 200 gallons of water - per month by storing it in gallon jugs in the refrigerator instead of running the tap each time you need cold water.
Ask your utility company to return the deposit you made when you first moved into your home or apartment. After a year or so of on-time payments, most utilities will refund such deposits - usually with interest.