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How to Clean a Bathtub Anti-Slip Bottom

If you have a bathtub with a slip-resistant bottom that no matter what you use to clean it, it still looks dingy, grungy and downright grimy, today I have really good news and at least one sure-fire solution that will bring even an older tub bottom back to clean, like new!

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990, all bathtubs must be manufactured with some type of anti-slip bottom. Kohler porcelain tubs come with its patented Safeguard Slip-Resistant Surface, which has a very distinctive look and seems to be the most prone to this ugly problem.

The problem is not only with Kohler tubs but with any manufacturer who etches the tub’s bottom to provide the non-slip feature. That causes the oil from your feet to start staining the tub’s bottom, then for some it’s like these stains get embedded and locked in forever.

I’ve heard from many readers who have tried everything they can think of to remove these stains, without success. In fact, all of those efforts seem to do just the opposite, eventually making the problem even worse.

Keep Your Cool in the Heat of Summer

As I write, it’s the first day of summer and a scorcher here in Northern Colorado—103F. But, it’s a dry heat—only 10% humidity.

I know, you’re laughing, as if 103 dry is any more tolerable than a more humid 103. Actually, it is—or so the weather experts tell us.

Now that the summer heat is bearing down on cities across the U.S., millions of window-mounted air conditioners are getting a real work out. Chris Hall, president of  RepairClinic.com, says his company is ready for the seasonal spike in questions from consumers who are wondering why their A/C unit isn’t working properly. In many instances, he says, consumers can rectify the problem themselves–if they have the right advice.

No More Bad Hair Days

A recent post in which I wailed and whined about my very bad hair day started it. You may recall how I mentioned volumizing, styling techniques and a great can of hairspray. That brought an avalanche of desperate queries, suggesting to me that perhaps I’m not the only one dealing with an occasional bad hair day!

Which volumizer? Hairspray? What? Where?!

Not long after we visited the world of shampoos and conditioners. That stirred up lots more questions and very specific ones as in exactly which products?

So today, I’ve decided to tell. Exactly. Specifically. And trust me when I say that  I’ve tested many—none of which are sponsored, all of which I buy myself.

(From time to time I see these products at stores like Walgreens, King Soopers, Target, Walmart, but never all of them at the same time in the same place—except on Amazon. I am convinced that overall, Amazon consistently has the best prices.)

1. SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER. Currently, I’m using  Tigi Bed Head Moisture Maniac Shampoo and Conditioner because I got them on a terrific sale. My hair is dry, I live in a dry climate, my hair is (surprise!) color-treated and both are very gentle. These bottles are huge and since I get at least 4 days out of a hairstyle, they will last me a very long time. About $30 for both.

The Wonders of Epsom Salt

I can recall vividly—and count on one hand—the migraine headaches I’ve had in my life, all of them before age ten. Once I turned double digits, I outgrew them. Until a couple of months ago.

With no warning at all, there I was back to my 8-year-old self, flat on my back with a raging migraine. Why now, after all these years?

In reading up on the latest findings on what causes migraine headaches, I discovered how important magnesium is to overall health. Turns out that an estimated 80 percent of the U.S. population suffer from magnesium deficiency causing all kinds of health issues—one of them being migraine headaches. But  here’s the problem with that: magnesium supplements are not necessarily the answer because magnesium is not easily absorbed through our digestive tracts.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned that common, ordinary Epsom salt is one of the richest sources of magnesium, which just happens to be easily absorbed through the skin—by soaking in it. In a nice warm bath!

You can be sure that Epsom salt soaks are now part of my routine to boost my magnesium and hopefully avoid migraines in the future.

Epsom salt, also known as hydrated magnesium sulfate (not to be confused with table salt, which is not at all the same thing) is plentiful, inexpensive and available at drugstores and supermarkets everywhere. And it has dozens of other practical uses and health benefits, too.

Best Inexpensive: Skin Care Products

How shocked was I? Speechless, but somehow I gathered enough strength to respond, “There’s no way!” Even so, I did a quick search only to discover it was no typo at all. 111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Cream 1.7 oz. retails for $1,095.

All I can say is at that price, it better contain a miracle. Seriously. It almost makes Le Lift Firming Anti-Wrinkle Cream by Chanel 1.75 oz., $152 and Lancome’s Hydra Zen Neurocalm Soothing Recharging Night Cream 1.7 oz., $70 look cheap!

Okay, back to reality: High-quality and effective skincare should not be considered a luxury available only to the wealthy. If you are diligent, you can find high quality, reasonably priced skin care products that are equal, if not superior to their department store cousins—right in your drugstore or discount department store.

Cleanser. Cetaphil makes is an excellent line of affordable skin care products. For example, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is less than $10 for 8 oz. ($19 in a 2-pack) 

Take the Sag Out of That Closet Rod and Other Useful Tips

Whether it’s a sagging closet rod, kale down the garbage disposal or premium fuel in the gas tank, EC readers are always anxious to share their best tips, tricks and ideas for ways to save time and  money—and avoid potential headaches!

SAG NO MORE. To fix a sagging clothes closet rod, buy a length of 1/2-inch galvanized pipe and a length of 3/4″ thin-wall PVC (plastic, polyvinyl chloride) piping, both the same length as t rod. You can get these at your local home improvement center such as Home Depot or Lowes. Remove the existing sagging rod. Now slip the pipe inside the PVC to create a new rod and slide this into the existing rod brackets. If you are bothered by the printing on the PVC, clean it off with rubbing alcohol. Bob

STICKY MESSY SAP. A cheap and safe way to remove pine tree sap from your car without damaging the finish is to rub it with a soft cloth soaked with plain 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, available at the pharmacy or drug store for a buck or two. George

SECRET INFO. When you finish refurbishing a room in your home, write down this important information on a piece of paper and tape it to the back of the switch plate: the brand and color of the paint, how much it took to paint the room and the circuit breaker number that serves this room. You’ll be happy to find the information next time. Trevor

KALE, NO!  I made a big mistake recently when I cut a bunch of kale up into smaller pieces and put it down the garbage disposal. I let it grind like crazy, followed by tons of water down after it, and still it clogged up the system in my apartment building for three floors down. It took maintenance four hours to clear it. They said, “The lettuce (it was kale) turned into something similar to glue/concrete!” Naomi

SUPER CUBE. This is a crazy simple tip, but it works for me. I love ice cold water and must have it at all times. However, at work the water is just cooled, not the icy deliciousness that I require. I solved this issue by taking a bottle of water slightly less than half full and laying it down sideways in the freezer. (We are lucky enough to have two refrigerators in our break room).  Later, I grab the frozen half bottle and fill it up with water. Voila!  Ice cold water for several hours. I just keep filling it up until its time to get out another one! Just make sure not to put too much water in the bottle, or you won’t be able to fill it with water. Laurel

STICK WITH REGULAR. Most gas stations offer Unleaded Premium for $.10 to $.12 per gallon more than Unleaded Regular. Many customers think they’re giving their car some kind of extra care or a “treat” by filling up with what they think is the best. Don’t do it. Virtually all automobiles run just fine on regular unleaded; so unless your vehicle’s owner manual specifically states that your car requires a premium grade of gas with higher octane, save your money and stick with regular. David

LEVEL PAY. What I’ve done with my electricity and heating bills, after consulting my yearly budget, is pay the same each month. Because I live on fixed income, I send each of those utility providers a flat $100 per month. This means I purposely overpay for heat in the summer when the furnace is not in use, and overpay in the winter to the electric company when I’m not running my central air conditioner. I’ve been doing this for years. No big bills in the summer for the electric, no big bills in the winter for the heat. This takes the mystery out of my budget and works for me quite well. Pam

FLIP THE PAINT. Store partially full cans of paint upside down. The paint will form an airtight seal, extending the useful life. Ted

Got a great tip you’d like to share? Use the comments below or send them HERE.

Best Inexpensive: Hair Conditioners

Considering the huge reader response whenever I mention that the most inexpensive shampoos can actually be good for your hair, but not so for hair conditioners—a follow up post is in order.

Unfortunately, conditioners are not quite as simple as shampoos.

First, we need to demystify the term “conditioner.” It is a vague term that refers to a wide range of hair products designed to make hair more manageable and also treat common hair problems.

Conditioners fall into four general categories according to what they do and the problems they solve: moisturizers, reconstructors, acidifiers and detanglers.

Using the wrong product for the specific condition of your hair will produce disappointing results. For example, if your hair is thin and fine you are not going to be happy with my industrial-strength conditioner for thick, coarse, frizzy, color-treated hair!

While the specific products I am about to mention to you are available readily in supermarkets and drug stores, the prices quoted are for Amazon, at the time of writing.

MOISTURIZERS are concentrated with humectants, which are compounds that attract moisture into the hair and hold it there. If your hair is dry, brittle and limp, you should consider a moisturizing conditioner like Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal DreamCare Conditioner (about $7.50 or $.30/oz.)

Pricey Shampoo Means Money Down the Drain

Come on … ‘fess up. You feel guilty using $.99 shampoo because it’s really bad for your hair. And anybody knows the $24 salon variety is so much better especially for chemically treated hair, right? Wrong!

Price has nothing to do with it (and I tell you this at the risk of getting angry letters from professional hair dressers and salon owners).

Fact: All shampoos are 80 to 90 percent water.  The rest is detergent with a few drops of fragrance, additives and preservatives. (Agua and eau are water in Spanish and French, respectively.)

Fact: There are basically two kinds of detergent: Anionic (harsh) and cationic (gentle).

Fact: The only part of the shampoo bottle that’s regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the list of ingredients. Manufacturers can make any claim they like on the unregulated portions of the label. Sometimes the hype has some merit, often it has none. Manufacturers can make just about any claim they can think up!

The secret to shampoo intelligence is to know your detergents. Pay little if any attention to anything on that bottle or packaging except for the list of ingredients. Water (or some fancy name for good old H2O) will always be the first ingredient. Next comes the detergent. Examples that you might find:

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate – very harsh

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate – harsh

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – still harsh

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – mild, great choice

TEA Lauryl Sulfate – gentle, good choice

TEA Laureth Sulfate – gentle, also a good choice.

Myth: Shampoo builds up on hair so you need to change brands occasionally to counteract this. Shampoo cannot build up on hair, however conditioners and other products and chemical processes do and you may need to use a stronger type of shampoo from time to time.

Myth: Salon-brand shampoos outperform inexpensive store brands. Not true. Salon brands may have more fragrance, foam more or have more ingredients, but all of it goes right down the drain with the detergent.

Myth: High quality shampoo can repair and nourish damaged hair. Hair is dead and cannot be repaired. Any hair product can only provide temporary benefits to the look and feel of hair.

Myth: Baby shampoo (no-tears) is great for adults because it is so gentle. The detergent in baby shampoo is way too gentle and not designed for cleaning adult hair especially when a lot of styling products have been used.

When purchasing shampoo, consider just two things:

  1. Price
  2. Type of detergent

Interestingly, the “rinse and repeat” instruction you will read on every shampoo bottle goes back to a marketing campaign one manufacturer created to increase sales. It does that all right, and you can make your shampoo last twice as long if you skip “repeat.”

Rinse thoroughly. If your hair turns out dull and lackluster the problem may be inadequate rinsing. Tip: Pour 1/2 cup white vinegar through hair during the rinsing process. This will remove all traces of the shampoo and leave your hair sleek and shiny.

If you clip shampoo coupons and match them with shampoo sales in your grocery store, you may never pay more than $1 for shampoo again.

Hint: Many in the Herbal Essences and Suave lineup of shampoos—found in most supermarkets and drug stores—contain the gentle option Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). Just don’t assume—read the label.

With the money you save on the shampoo, buy a quality conditioner. Unlike shampoo that washes down the drain, the quality of conditioner does make a difference.