Strollers, Rust Stains, Green ‘Dawn’ and … Soilove UPDATE!

Children learn by asking questions. Students learn by asking questions. New recruits learn by asking questions. I learn by asking questions! It is the simplest and most effective way to learn.

Brilliant thinkers (aka EC readers) never stop asking questions because they know that this is the best way to learning practical ways to improve their lives.

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Dear Mary: I’ve been looking to buy the inexpensive The First Years Ignite Stroller you so highly recommend, only to discover that it has been discontinued. Any suggestions on a replacement model that you can also recommend? Janet

Dear Janet: While The First Years Co. is no longer in business, as I write I see that Amazon has a few of this terrific stroller left in inventory. If you are unable to grab one of them, an excellent alternative is the Summer Infant 2015 3D Lite Convenience Stroller—priced at about half the current price of the Ignites. I like Summer Infant 2015 3D Lite Convenience Stroller a lot because it folds up so easily, it’s lightweight and quite comfy for the little ones. This stroller is very close  to the Ignite in every way and it’s getting lots of great reviews!

Teaching Readers ‘How to Fish’ and Get Rid of Pet Odors, Too

Dear Readers: Yesterday I opened my mailbox to find 1) a letter from Jenn, asking me to send her my new an improved recipe for homemade laundry detergent (she’d clipped it from her newspaper, but now she couldn’t find it,  2) a message from Chuck asking me to send him the coupon code to get 10% off Nok-Out odor eliminator, and a frantic request from Beverly who is battling ants in her kitchen and kicking herself around the block that she didn’t save the column on non-toxic ways to get rid of household pests.

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Every day I get requests to repeat tips, resources and information from past posts and columns.  And I don’t give these people the answers they’re looking for. Instead, I direct them to EverydayCheapskate.comthe repository for my columns and posts where all of the information they need is available including links to all of the resources, information and websites using the easy-to-use search function. There’s also a contact form that lets anyone send a message straight to my inbox.

 The site is free. And while it’s not required, if you subscribe, you’ll hear from me from time to time. I send out bonuses, updated information and follow-ups to folks who have subscribed at EverydayCheapskate.com.  

Using Regular Detergent in a High-Efficiency Washer is Risky Business

If you’ve ever wondered what’s the difference between regular laundry detergents and those designated as “High Efficiency” or HE, if they’re interchangeable and if you could possibly make your own to cut the cost, you are not the only one! Those are questions that frequently show up in my mailbox. 16788336_m

Dear Mary:  First, thank you for your column, I love it! I just inherited several bottles of regular laundry detergent. I have an HE front-loader washer. Is there a way to use or modify regular laundry detergent for HE use? Christin

Dear Christin: Standard washing machines that use traditional laundry detergent (the type of detergent you’ve inherited) use up to 23 gallons of water per load. Full-sized energy efficient top-loaders like my beloved LG High-Efficiency Top Load Washer (which I loved and gifted it to my son when we moved into a tiny apartment—another long and lovely story for another time), use about 13 gallons of water per load (a savings of more than 3,000 gallons of water per year!) operate much differently than a standard machine. This is one of the reasons that HE detergent is quite different than the standard type of detergent.

So, can you use standard detergent in your HE machine? I must advise you that your owner manual is not likely to support such an idea, potentially putting your warranty at risk. That being said, I will admit that I did use standard detergent from time to time in my LG top-loader that required HE detergent. But I used MUCH less per load because it uses so much less water.

Too much detergent will clog up the machine because the amount of water it uses is not sufficient to rinse it out. That build up can cause the machine to malfunction and to eventually create an offensive odor.

When I say “less” I mean a lot less. Like one-fourth the amount you might  normally use. I measured it in tablespoons, not capfuls. And I diluted it in a large container of water before pouring it into the machine.

Would I do that again? Yes, but not on a regular basis. I want you and all of my readers to know that to do so would be, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, taking a potential risk should the machine require service under its warranty.

Given the potential harm you could do to your machine, you might want to consider re-gifting the detergent to friends, family or a shelter in your area that uses traditional washers. Then make a big batch of my new and improved liquid homemade HE detergent (read on to learn more about that). That way others win and you win, too. Hope that helps. And thanks for loving EC.

Dear Mary: I made up the laundry soap recipe that you published back in 2012. It seems like there is way too much Fels-Naptha soap for the recipe. I bought a similar jar of laundry soap mixture at the local Farmer’s Market and the vender did not have nearly as much soap in it. It did quite well in my HE washer. I just want to make sure there wasn’t a misprint in your article.

I look forward to your articles each time they are in my local newspaper. Thank you for your diligence and pithy advice. Cheryle

Dear Cheryle: The recipe for powdered laundry detergent you refer to (1 cup grated Fels-Naptha soap, 1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda and 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax) is correct. It may seem like a lot of Fels-Naptha but keep in mind, you use only 2 tablespoons of the final product per washer load.

This recipe is suitable to be used in any clothes washer including those designated “high efficiency” or HE, as this detergent does not create suds. You would want to use a bit more in a standard washing machine, however.

Since that column ran more than three years ago, I’ve discovered what I believe is a much improved  recipe for homemade liquid laundry detergent; one that does not require Fels-Naptha soap (somewhat difficult to find these days plus all that grating!) and is also HE compliant. I find it performs better, too.

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Questions About Shrimp Sauce, Cloudy Glassware and Tire Inflators

Dear Mary: Recently you gave us some fantastic recipes to make our own sauces at home (It’s All About That Sauce!) But you missed one! How about the Shrimp Sauce that only Japanese restaurants seem to have. Got a recipe for that? Matthew

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Dear Matthew: You’ve put me through my paces since receiving your message. And I have good news! I found it—Shrimp Sauce just about as close as you can get at home. When you try this, let me know how it rates as compared to the sauce in your favorite restaurant.

Shrimp Sauce

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic juice
  • 4 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Place all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together. Allow to sit in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

A Startling Red-Hot Alert Made My Day

Some days I sit down to write this column and the words pour from my mind through my fingers and onto the keyboard. Other times, like right now, all systems go blank—one big expansive, frustrating void.

Just as I was about to run outdoors and bang my head on my new stone wall, I got that little ding letting me know I had mail—this time from Nancy.

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Dear Mary: I’m interested in signing up for LifeLock. Do you feel it would be better to take the LifeLock Ultimate Plus (the most expensive) or the LifeLock Advantage plan and why? Thank you for your help. Nancy

That’s when I remembered that I wanted to tell you what happened to me a few days ago. (Oh, this is so good!)

Due to the fact that we have just recently relocated from big city life in Southern California to laid back country life in Northern Colorado (we do have a stone wall), my husband and I needed to open a bank account in our new village (not a city or a town … we live in a village!).

The bank employee handed us a keypad and asked us to input our Social Security numbers into the bank’s system. That’s it. Nothing else. In about two seconds flat, she had on her computer screen all of our personal information including banking history, all previous addresses and phone numbers for the past 40 years. That was a sad confirmation for me that personal privacy has become a thing of the past. To tell you the truth, it was creepy.

How to Clean Steam Irons and Granite Countertops—Cheap and Easy!

These days its nearly certain that there’s a pricey product available to clean just about anything. But why spend the money when you can make your own homemade products that perform just as well (maybe better!) from ingredients you may have already in your cupboards and pantry? I’m talking cheaper, faster and quite possibly better!

Dear Mary: What is the best and most effective way to clean a steam iron? Bev

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Dear Bev: You need to clean both the inside and the sole plate of a steam iron regularly to keep it in tip-top condition. Before you proceed with my cleaning suggestions, make sure you read the owner manual that came with our iron to make sure there are no instructions or cautions that might preclude the following.

INSIDE: To remove build-up from the inside of the iron, which over time can really clog things up, pour equal amount of white vinegar and water into the iron’s water chamber up to the maximum fill line. Turn the iron on to “steam” setting and iron a soft clean cloth to clean out the steam ports.

When Driving a Lemon is Easier Than Getting Rid of It

Dear Mary: We have an aging car that is a lemon. We are keeping it going with bailing wire until we can afford a different car. When that time comes, besides our temptation to shove it over a cliff, what should we do with our lemon? In good conscience I cannot even donate it to a charity. Sue Ellen

Dear Sue Ellen: If you feel it is not drivable when that time comes, about your only option would be to sell it for salvage. Check with a local auto dismantling yard. Depending on the make and model, they may decide to “part it out,” which might make the car slightly more valuable to them than it is to you. In that case, they will probably accept the complete car. If you sell it for only the scrap metal, you will likely have to remove the engine, tires, radiator and other vital parts ahead of time, delivering just the metal. Just don’t expect to get much money from the deal. You may discover that it’s easier to drive a lemon than to get rid of one!

In the meantime as you wait out this car’s useful life, you might enjoy knowing how another reader lives happily with an old car.

How to Get Sparkle in a Vase, Cheap Into Pest Control and Piddle Out of Carpet

Dear Mary: I have a beautiful crystal vase that over the years has acquired a build-up of residue that I cannot remove. Do you have a suggestion on how to remove it? Pat

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Dear Pat: That build-up is likely calcium, lime and other minerals from years of standing water. You may need to experiment a bit, but I’m sure you can return that vase to its sparkling beauty. Here are two simple and completely harmless methods:

Method 1: Start by filling the vase with white vinegar to cover past the murky area. If the vase is large, you can use a mixture of vinegar and water. Allow the vinegar to sit for a couple of hours. Swish the liquid around to see how much of the film has been loosened. If the film layer is thick and not coming loose, add a 1/4 cup of uncooked rice. Cover and shake the container. The rice will “scrub” to loosen the tough layers. Use the bottle brush to remove any remaining film from the interior of the vase. Empty the vase and wash with mild soap. Dry completely.

Method 2: Fill the vase with water and drop in one or two denture tablets, depending on the vase size. Allow to sit and work overnight. In the morning agitate the container gently to ensure all of the deposits and mineral build up has come loose. Empty the vase and wash with mild soap and water. Rinse well and dry it completely.