The only thing better than figuring out for myself how to do things cheaper, better and faster is when I get to teach these tips and tricks to my readers. Teaching this one to Mike was the best ever! His response just made my day.

Dear Mary: I can’t thank you enough for telling us about your magic shower and tub cleaner. I live in moldy ol’ Florida and I have a tile shower in my older home. I used to bleach it every 10 to 14 days days and by 14th day it would be pretty bad—I’m talking mold and mildew. Since using your magic formal, I’ve bleached only one time this whole summer. I squirt it down two to three times a week and OMG! It’s so easy and well worth it. Love your articles. Please continue to keep us informed. Thanks again. You saved my life. Sincerely, Mike.


Dear Mike: I am laughing because I’m tickled by your excitement. The stuff really is like magic, isn’t it! I know that so many readers are chafing at the bit to know more about this secret concoction that has saved your life (it saved mine too, so I know how you feel). I call it my Magic Tub and Tile Soap and Scum Remover but maybe we need to add Mold and Mildew to that label as well. Whatever, it is truly magical.

I suggest readers read the original column to get the specific details. But for those who can’t wait, here’s a quick reminder of the recipe. Into a 32 oz. spray bottle, pour 1 cup blue Dawn dishwashing liquid; add enough white vinegar to fill the bottle to within an inch of the top. Done. Shake to mix and spray away. Spray the walls, the floor; fixtures, glass doors, shampoo caddy and every surface inside the tub and or shower. If the soap, scum, mold and mildew are shall we say, “well developed,” leave it overnight. 

In the morning, gently scrub with a sponge, Scotchbrite or brush. You’ll be smiling when you realize it is all soft, melted and easily rinsed down the drain. Tough spots might require a good stiff brush the first time. Once it’s clean, spray it down once a week or so. You won’t even have to scrub from then on. Just spray, wait a few minutes and rinse. That’s it. No squeegee required. Let it dry and behold, no water spots either!

Dear Mary: We are trying to frugalize every detail of our lives so we can live on one income. How do you recommend cleaning dry-clean-only clothing items like men’s suits and blazers? Katy

Dear Katy: Your letter made me stop and think about the last time I dry cleaned. It’s been so long I can’t remember. But that doesn’t mean I don’t share your high standard when it comes to the look of professionally cleaned and pressed clothes.

While many clothing items marked “Dry Clean Only” can very successfully be hand washed, men’s suits and blazers would NOT be among them. However, if you exercise good care, these items can be professionally cleaned far less frequently than you might think.

Some fabrics like wool and cashmere must be dry cleaned but it is not good for them to be dry cleaned often. Instead, you should hang those items, especially suits, sports coats and blazers outdoors for several hours out of direct sunlight every month or two. That will refresh and renew those natural fibers.

If you practice good personal hygiene and are careful to deal with spots right when they happen, dry cleaning these suits and blazers once a year should be sufficient.

I still enjoy that just-pressed from the dry cleaner look for everything from my husband’s shirts and slacks, to my clothes and linens, too. My Rowenta DG8520 Perfect Steam is a dry-cleaner steam iron and does an amazing job. It paid for itself in short order because, as I said, I cannot remember the last time I paid a dry cleaner. I do press my husband’s suits and blazers with it, but am very careful to use a pressing cloth with the machine set to the proper temperature.

By the way, I love your word frugalize! I may need to borrow that from time to time.