cut cucumber in plastic wrap to extend useful life

Cucumbers in Plastic Wrap, and More Great Reader Tips!

It’s universally understood that a red flag means to stop or some variation of caution. A green flag, on the other hand, means “Wow what a great idea!” That’s how I mark emails from my awesome Everyday Cheapskate readers, who send me their best tips. Check out this fresh batch of “green-flagged” tips:

cut cucumber in plastic wrap to extend useful life

Keep cucumber fresh

Finally, I know how to keep cucumber fresh. Do you know how the expensive English cucumbers at the store are wrapped in plastic? Apparently, that’s because this variety has a much shorter shelf life than regular cucumbers and the plastic wrap keeps them fresher longer. The guys at Cooks Illustrated tested wrapping regular uncut and cut cucumbers in plastic wrap. Both work and amazingly to allow you to keep a cucumber fresh for up to a week once it is cut! Place a piece of plastic wrap over and around the cut end of the cucumber. Smooth the plastic wrap over the cut end so that there are no gaps or air bubbles between the plastic and the cucumber. Secure the wrap tightly around the sides of the cucumber. Store in the refrigerator. Jessica

Last-minute search

Before you buy something online do a general search on the Internet for the item you want. You can often save a lot. For example, I recently was shopping online for a new headboard for my bed. After much searching, I found the exact one I wanted for $499. Just to see what would happen, I typed the name of the item into my Internet search engine and found exactly the same item on another site for half the price. What a saving. Caitlin

Bag the spuds

When a recipe calls for putting something like potato pieces in a bowl and adding oil to mix and coat prior to roasting, I use a plastic market produce bag instead. Uses far less oil, and no oily bowl to wash. Tempe

Black tea cleaner

Using strongly brewed black tea is a great way to clean your mirrors. The tannic acid in the tea is a miracle ingredient. Who would have thought? Barb

Super scrubber

With the help of the citric acid from grapefruit and the scrubbing action of the salt, you can kill stains in your sinks and showers instantly. Cut the grapefruit in half. Dip the cut side into ordinary table salt. Now use this as you would a sponge or other scrubber to scrub away the stains. Ted

Dusty fan blades

Take a look at the top of the blades on your ceiling fans. Crazy, isn’t it, how the dust on ceiling fans builds up fast and looks pretty gross? An easy way to clean it is to use a pillowcase to take it off. Make sure the fan is OFF, then slip the pillowcase over the fan blade. Now, gently pull it off bringing all the loose dust with it, keeping it trapped inside the case. Evie

Remove the goo

Ever pulled a sticker off of fabric only to find it has left a residue or part of the sticker backing? Here’s how to get it off: Take a piece of a brown paper bag and place it over the area. Set your iron on low/medium and iron over the bag. The heat will melt the glue and the remnant of the sticker will adhere to the bag. Melissa

Renew the dryer

If you have ever experienced a wad of gum or pack of crayons melted inside the dryer, you know the meaning of “What a mess!” Should that ever happen to you, here’s the routine:  Put some old towels into the dryer and allow it to run on the hottest setting for a few minutes. This should soften the good. Next, make a paste of automatic dishwasher detergent and water. You want it to be pretty thick. Using a damp cloth, use the paste to scrub off the gum/wax. Go over the entire inside of the dryer, then make sure you rinse it off well. You may need ot use a wooden skew or the ike to dig it out of any of the myriad air holes. When you’ve got it all cleaned up, run that load of old towels thru another hot cyccle to make sure it’s all clean. Maggie

Tape rescue

Keep a roll of double-sided tape in your dresser drawer. It comes in handy to keep slippery scarves in place and lapels stuck down. It even works as an emergency hem fix. Janell


After watching squirrels hanging upside down on my bird feeders—sometimes one on each side of the roof—I finally found the solution: a jar of Vaseline. I put on a rubber glove and then smeared the pole from top to bottom with the Vaseline. In no time at all, I watched as one squirrel tried to climb the pole, but jumped off because it was too slippery. So far none have been able to overcome Vaseline while I am enjoying many different birds at the feeder. Marge

Catch mice like magic

I have another use for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I bought a new one and stored it under my kitchen sink. The next day I reached for it and something had been eating it. Pieces of white torn up sponge were around. A mouse, I thought. So I got out some handy mouse traps. As I was about to use peanut butter for bait, I suddenly thought, “If he likes the Mr. Clean Dry Erase Sponge so much…” So I cut off a piece and used it to bait the trap (so much less messy than sticky peanut butter). This morning there he was in the trap, having gone for it. Who would have imagined? Sharon

Ornament storage container

I reuse the plastic fresh apple containers from Costco to store my Christmas ornaments. The clear plastic containers stack nicely and are rigid enough to protect delicate ornaments. Plus I can easily see what’s inside each container. Marianne

Slick closet rod

Use a piece of waxed paper to run across your clothes rods. This will make the hangers slide more easily when searching through your clothes. I do it every six months and don’t feel I have to “work out” just to slide the hangers when viewing my clothes. If the rod in your closet has a sagging point don’t do this until you fix that, since all the hangers will slide to the lowest point. I learned this tip when working in a bridal shop since the gowns were so heavy to push along the rod. The wax paper trick made them slide like butter. Lea

Furniture switcheroo

I counsel young folks moving into an apartment to outfit its insides with patio/outdoor furniture. When they buy a house, they can move the old furniture outside and purchase new inside stuff. Judy

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  1. Marsha says:

    When boiling anything and worrying about boiling just place a wooden spoon over pot. The wood in the spoon helps control the boil .

  2. Tracy Lang says:

    I chuckled at the suggestion to buy outdoor furniture for a starter apartment or home. My first kitchen table was a picnic table. 40+ years out it’s still going strong in our back yard!

  3. Linda B says:

    Here is my Danish grandmother’s cucumber salad recipe. 3 long thin cucumbers 1 tablespoon dill weed (can use dill seeds crushed or 2 tbl. of fresh dill) 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt. I peel the cukes if the skin is tough or waxed. Slice them paper-thin. Mix the ingredients and pour over cucumbers. Mix gently and refrigerate. It is ready fairly quickly. We eat it year-round.

  4. Jackie Jackson says:

    I’ve discovered that if I put a small pat of butter in the pot of water for rice or when boiling potatoes that they don’t boil over. Works for grits & oatmeal too when I cook them in the microwave.

  5. Don says:

    To remove the sticky residue from price tags and other stickers, use lighter fluid. Squirt a little lighter fluid on a wad of paper towel or tissue or a cotton ball, and then wipe that adhesive right off. Of course, be wary of damaging the item as you clean it.

    I bought a bedroom set at a furniture store — $3200. When I got home, I looked up the item names and numbers online, and found the exact same pieces, $1200 cheaper. Wow! Lesson learned.

  6. Teresa says:

    I love the tip for keeping cucumbers last longer, but really have to question using a grapefruit as a “super scrubber”. The last time I bought one grapefruit it was $1.99 and I bought it as a rare treat. What a waste to use as a scrubber when there are many reusable items in a home that can do the job!

  7. Lida says:

    Speaking of cucumbers, I keep reading about cucumber salads that are a favorite of celebrities. Do you have a recipe for cucumber salad Mary?

      • Lida says:

        You are to all of your readers for sure! I know Denise Richards eats cucumber salad’s pretty much every day and always orders it at restaurants so I tried to Google her recipe but had no luck. Will eagerly await yours.

  8. Deb R. says:

    I put vegetable shortening on my feeder poles to keep the squirrels off (they slide right down). That is cheaper than petroleum jelly. An added bonus is that the birds, particularly the downy and hairy woodpeckers, like the fat and will perch on the pole (without slipping!) and eat the fat.

  9. Jana says:

    I actually have used a used dryer sheet to get gum out of the dryer. It works really well, it’s amazing! I also use the dryer sheets for getting lint build up/dust off my dryer too. And for general dusting. You can also use them as the holder for homemade fire starters. Our girl scout troop used dryer lint mixed with melted wax and put them in the center of a used dryer sheet. Tied with twine and voila, homemade fire starters from basically free items! (we used wax that was left over from burnt down candles)

  10. Karen Halstead says:

    To Caitlin who did the search for her item and found it for half price- good job! Here’s another step you can do that has saved me lots of $. After I know what store I’m going to buy from I will open another window and go to Type in the name of the store where I’m buying from and a lot of times there are discounts there for that particular store I may not have known about. So not only did you find your item for 1/2 price (yeah you!), you could possibly get at least free shipping, or another % off just for a quick look.

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