Secretly, I feel like a genius when I discover a secondary use for this or that—in case I run out of this, but have plenty of that. Like using a paper coffee filter to wash a glass top or mirror when I’m in a pinch for paper towels. Or using a paper towel to create a coffee filter when I discover at the worst moment that we’re out of filters! You’re going to feel like a genius, too, once you read today’s tips from ingenious readers about ways that they save time and money every day.
“OPEN FIRST” BOX. As a military family, whenever the movers arrived to move us to the next assignment, I always had one box I marked “Open First.” In it were bed sheets, towels, soap, coffee maker and toaster. No matter how late we arrived at our new home, we didn’t have to spend another night in a hotel. We could make our beds, get cleaned up and start the next day with coffee and toast, without having to open multiple boxes looking for stuff. Cindy, Ontario, Canada
SAFE LOCK SPRAY. So as not to damage your locks for the long term, use only a graphite based spray to keep your locks from sticking in all weather conditions. We use Lock-Ease brand, after finding that many other brands can cause damage at greater cost! Kathie, South Carolina
DOGGIE BAGS. My husband and I love to host dinner parties for our family and friends. I like to send leftovers home with our guests in repurposed gift bags (from birthday parties, etc). The bags add a bit of charm and are much more tidy and pleasant looking than a plastic grocery bag. Maggie, Ohio
SHOUT IT OFF. Even after trying oven cleaner, stove door cleaner and other products, we could not get rid of the crud on the glass front of our wood stove. Finally, we found the solution! We place newspapers on the floor under the open doors and spray full-strength Shout Triple Acting laundry stain remover on the glass. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a single edge razor blade, scrape the black off the glass. Spray again lightly and wipe with a paper towel. Works like a charm! Lyle, email
BREAKFAST RICE. Leftover cooked rice serves as a wonderful hot cereal. Steam the rice with a little bit of water, and then serve with milk, chopped nuts and raisins or some other dried fruit. My children love it and frequently ask for breakfast rice. Gigi, California
VACUUM CORD SAVES TIME. I save a lot of time vacuuming my large home since purchasing a 50 foot extension cord that I keep coiled up in an attractive wicker basket. Now I can vacuum almost the entire house without retracing my steps or taking time to unplug and replug my vacuum cleaner. Linda, Michigan