A man working on a car

More Creative Ways My Clever Readers Save Time and Money

Sometimes I wonder how Everyday Cheapskate readers discover their handy ideas. I mean, who would have thought something that cleans brake parts would also remove stains from clothes? Go figure!

A man working on a car

Cleans more than brakes

I have found that using my husband’s brake parts spray cleaner (there are many; currently Brakleen is sitting in the garage) works really well for getting out grease stains. It doesn’t affect the color and works when other stain removers have failed, even if the item has already been washed and dried. Cam

(You should always, without fail, test any stain treatment in an inconspicuous place first to make sure your fabric is colorfast. These days, most are but please, do not assume anything. -mh)

Nothing goes to waste

Our town has two thrift shops that accept worn-out clothes. They remove the buttons and sell those. Then they bag up the clothes and sell them to a “rag man,” who gives them 7 cents a pound. So really, nothing has to go to waste. I’ve begun doing this myself. My kids love the buttons for craft project, I make good use of the rags, too. Marcelle

Double-duty salad

Mary’s tip about turning leftover salad into soup (What To Do with Leftover Salad) is genius. My Greek salad from a recent dinner did not end up in the disposal. Instead, it crossed the Mediterranean and changed nationalities—becoming Gazpacho the next night. I did what Mary suggested, tossing the leftovers in the blender and adding a little V8 juice. Betsy

M.O.M eliminates odors

I have always had very strong body odor. It didn’t matter what kind of deodorant or antiperspirant I used, it never worked. Then I heard that regular milk of magnesia worked as a daily deodorant. I tried it, and I’ve been using it for over a decade. I pour a little bit of the store-brand milk of magnesia on a cotton square and then pat it on my armpit, then repeat with the other armpit. A little bit lasts all day. Milk of magnesia can dry out quickly in the bottle, so just add a little water and shake well. Lynda

Plastic cuts it perfectly

When I bake brownies, I cut them with a plastic knife when they are still warm. The brownies don’t stick to the plastic knife or roll up when cut, but you have to cut them while they are warm. Sally

Quick tick remover

When my little ones get a tick while playing outdoors, I easily and painlessly remove it with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. I place the cotton ball where the tick’s head appears, and the tick backs out. It’s fairly quick and definitely painless. Dena

Contact lens case recycle

Ever since reading about the tip to cut open a tube of lotion to get to the last bit of product, I’ve been amazed at how much I’d been wasting all these years. (I’ve even started to wrestle open the pump bottles with a pair of pliers to get that last $$ eye cream bit!)  But how to store that last bit of lotion to avoid it drying out?

As a contact lenses wearer, I have many extra contact cases and realized they make perfect storage containers for those last lotion bits. Added bonus: These containers are perfect for travel. I write the contents on the lid and take my pomade, hair gel, eye cream, etc. without the bulk. Kate

Wasp trap

We have a lot of wasps in the summer, and commercial wasp traps at my grocery store cost $12.99 each, so I make my own. I take an empty plastic sports drink container, cut the top off just below the point where it tapers up to the screw-on lid, then inverted the top and place it inside the bottom portion and put a couple of inches of orange juice (anything sugary will work) and set it on my deck.

The wasps fly or crawl into the bottle, but can’t figure out how to get out, and eventually die. It works like a charm, and it’s free! When the trap gets full, I toss it and make another one! Linda


More from Everyday Cheapskate

A close up of a flag
Woman in home office with computer using telephone frowning
Fruit flies are feeding on cut apples on a saucer
dry clothes inside clothes dryer
Poorly washed dishes in the dishwasher. Integrated Dishwasher with white plates front vew and sad emotion on plate. broken dishwasher machine concept
seatbelt adjuster
seatbelt adjuster

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  1. Jean Cannon says:

    I use Murphy’s Oil Soap for my only stain remover. I buy it in the largest size container at a big box store and dilute it one part water to three parts Murphy’s Oil Soap. It is amazing the stains that can be removed by this product.

  2. Becky Meyer says:

    I still have and use my grandfather’s old rug loom. And I have a huge glass jar of buttons my grandma cut off the old clothes she cut into strips for the rugs. She also saved every zipper, snap and hook/eye. My grandchildren and neighbor children are always fascinated with all the buttons!

  3. Jo says:

    I remember the button box and the rag rugs. They were so colorful and sturdy. Lasted (seemingly) forever. Interesting application of MoM. New one to me. Thanks!

  4. Linda Radosevich says:

    Talking about rags used for rugs…my grandmother and mom made rag rugs that were braided (narrow strips of cloth braided together), then sewn in a coil. Very colorful!

  5. barbara a butcher says:

    The best window cleaner I have ever found is Wipe & Glow. If you buy 5, they are $20. I give them away! Special cloth that you just wet with water. Machine washable. Cleans many things.

  6. Jeri Warren says:

    I have been using milk of magnesia as a deodorant for years. It works just as good or better than any commercial deodorant. I purchased some plastic roll on bottles on amazon and use them as applicators. A $2 bottle of milk of magnesia lasts me a year.

  7. Holly says:

    A quick and easy deodorant is to just put baking soda (or a 4:1 mixture of baking soda and talc powder or corn starch) in a shaker. Sprinkle a little on your hand to apply. No odors, no stains, easy to use, and super cheap.

  8. Lynn Roberson says:

    I still make Mary’s whacky beef from her first book. I boil hamburger meat that I buy in bulk and portion it out and freeze. It cuts down on waste and time in making meals. My son has started doing this too.

    • Peggy Saner says:

      I buy the big package of ground beef (usually 4.5 pounds) break it up a little and put it in the crock pot for 4 hours on high, stirring every hour. Drain it then put in individual bags in the freezer.

      • Barbara Jackson says:

        I agree with Inge. Any seasoning would be heavily diluted, it boils in its own fat so it must be high in sat fat, and the color would be a turnoff. Browning meat enhances the flavor, especially when incorporating the fond it creates.

  9. Linda DeCarli says:

    I am a nurse educator at a local college and noticed that the man in the ad for brake cleaner has wax in his ear. He should have his ears cleaned and checked for wax.
    Thank you.

  10. Kathleen Wilson says:

    This quote from today’s posting brought back childhood memories:”Nothing goes to waste
    Our town has two thrift shops that accept worn-out clothes. They remove the buttons and sell those. Then they bag up the clothes and sell them to a “rag man,” who gives them 7 cents a pound. So really, nothing has to go to waste. I’ve begun doing this myself. My kids love the buttons for craft project, I make good use of the rags, too. Marcelle”

    When I was a child growing up in Pittsburgh, I remember a truck making the rounds of my suburban community with one of the riders periodically calling out: “Rag Man! Rag Man!” Any rags orold clothing would be given to the workers. However, my Great Aunt Mary competed for the rags. She would take them and make throw rugs out of them. The machinery to do so was in her basement.

    • Myrna M says:

      75 years ago, buttons and zippers were removed and saved; everyone ha a button box that children loved to play in. Fabric was then cut into 1-2″ strips and wound into balls. The rag balls were taken to town for the lady who had a loom to weave into rugs. 50 years before that, long woven rug strips were laid side by side and sewn together. They were laid over straw or corn husks for insulation, often under the dining room table, then tacked down all around, . At Spring cleaning time, everything was pulled up, straw hauled out, rag rugs hung over a line and beaten clean then re-installed. Whew!

      • Karla says:

        I remember loving playing in mom’s button box (which had its start with my grandma’s button box). I may revive the tradition. (Thinking of all those little envelopes of buttons that come with new clothes.) We learned to count, sort by color, size, etc. Such a simple, but fun and educational activity!

    • Sue Watson says:

      It is interesting to note that Kirk Douglas’s father was a rag man in New York. He wrote about it in his autobiography.

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