Over the years I’ve received thousands of money-saving tips from readers—many of which I’ve shared in books, newsletters, and this column. And there are plenty that I’ve not shared for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they don’t work. Some don’t work so poorly, they actually end up costing time and money, not saving a thing!

Today’s first question reminded me of that useless tip. It still makes me laugh. It goes like this:

Start with two empty toilet paper tubes and a new roll of 2-ply toilet tissue. Carefully separate the two layers of toilet tissue, re-rolling each of the layers onto an empty tube to create—ta-da!—two rolls of paper for the price of one.

Not only does this take an unbelievable amount time, unless you own a toilet tissue rolling machine of some kind, the result is a ginormous, ridiculous mess of toilet tissue that is so thin, it takes at least twice as much to get the job done.
Don’t do that, OK? Instead, learn how to comparison shop for toilet tissue. And when you find it on sale, stock up.

Dear Mary: Is there a reliable way to compare prices on toilet paper? It should be easy, but so far I haven’t figured out how to do it. There has to be a way, and I’m going to bet you know it. Thanks! Darryl

Dear Darryl: Comparing prices on toilet paper is confusing because no two rolls or packages are alike because there are no set standards for toilet paper (and I’m not suggesting there should be). We can’t compare roll-for-roll because roll sizes vary from one manufacturer to another. Some companies offer double-rolls, jumbo rolls or even 1000-sheet rolls—all of which is pretty meaningless when trying to make a reasonable price comparison. Same with comparing the number of sheets per roll. There is no set size for a sheet of toilet paper! To make things even more confusing, some rolls are two-ply (layers), others single-ply.

Price-per-square-foot for thick (2-ply) or thin (1-ply) is the most reliable method for comparing toilet paper prices. Most manufacturers these days reveal both of these measurements on the product label. You may have to search for it, but somewhere you should be able to find this information.

So you thought all those math classes you took in school were for naught? Finally, they’re about to pay off. The goal is to discover the price per square foot of the products you are comparing. Do this by dividing the price of the product by the number of square feet.

If the product label reveals the number of square feet (often expressed as FT2) contained therein, you’re in luck. If the label shows how many square inches of product are contained in the package, divide that number by 144 to get to the number of square feet. Now divide that result into the price.

If the store’s shelf label reveals the price per 100 sq. ft., divide that price by 100 to get the price of one square foot.

Dear Mary: Please advise how to remove rust spots from white cutwork linen pieces or from any kind of fabric, for that matter. I have no idea where these spots came from but would love to remove them. Thanks. Frieda

Dear Frieda: Provided these are washable, soak the rust spot with lemon juice then work table salt into the spot. Set it out in the sun for a few hours. Brush the salt away. If any rust stain remains, repeat. Once the rust stain is gone, launder as usual.

Dear Mary: I can’t keep lettuce in my refrigerator for more than two days without it turning rusty. I’ve tried everything, Tupperware containers, washing and putting paper towels in the bag with it, not washing until using. Even though the date on the package is good for at least 5 days after opening I end up throwing it away before that time. Am I the only one who has this problem? Pat

Dear Pat:  “Rust” on lettuce leaves is harmless. It develops from the natural breakdown process in the cells once the lettuce is harvested. Just know that it isn’t rust at all, as we think of it. This color change indicates old lettuce. If this is happening on dated package greens, return it to the store for a refund.

When selecting head lettuce, look at the “stem” area where the head was cut from the stalk. If it is bright white, you know that head is very fresh. If it is rust color, it’s getting quite old. Select the head that’s closest to white for your freshest choice.