cleaning salt stains on leather boot with olive oil

Secrets for How to Clean Leather, Cast Iron, and Lots More

Every day I learn something new from my clever readers. Take fine leather for example. I think it’s safe to say we’re all aware that Italy is where one would find the best. I’d just never thought that the Italians have superior knowledge for how to care for and clean said leather. While I love today’s first great reader tip, I have to admit that Lysa made me laugh out loud!

female hands cleaning black leather boot with olive oil

Rejuvenate leather

Olive oil removes salt and stains from leather boots and shoes. Shines the leather, too. It’s an Italian thing. Lysa

Good to the last squeeze

I hate wasting any little bit of a product I’ve paid for. After the toothpaste has squeezed out its last glob, I cut off the tube about an inch from the cap. I can get another 5 or 6 brushings from what remains. Debbie

Savings on liquid soap

Those foam pump dispensers are so nice. But they seem expensive for the amount of soap you get compared to the bottle’s water. I save the dispensers, refill about 1/4 of the bottle with liquid hand soap, and fill the rest with water. Put the top back on and roll the bottle around until the soap dissolves into the water (may take a little time to fully blend the two). Voila! I have a refill bottle of liquid soap that takes me years to use up because I use so little of it to refill a foam dispenser bottle. Kay

Cast iron cleanup

I love to cook in my cast iron skillet. I have discovered a very easy way to clean the skillet without removing the pan’s seasoning. Basically, I use coarse salt and a little cooking oil in the warm pan. Something magical happens with the salt and the oil. Cooked-on particles lift off the pan, but the oil remains. Using a paper towel, I scrub away, wipe off the excess oil, and rinse the pan briefly under hot water. Finally, I dry the pan with a paper towel. The pan retains its sheen and is seasoned and ready to for the next cooking extravaganza. Thank you for Everyday Cheapskate! Marie

Custom floor mats

I wanted floor mats for our mini-van so I stopped by our local car dealership. Boy, was I floored (pardon the pun). I checked a discount department store and while their mats were priced more reasonably, they didn’t fit well. I found a perfect solution by buying clear plastic runner material that is available by the yard at the home improvement center. With a utility knife, I customized the fit around the seat hardware. This saved a lot of money and works beautifully. Judith

M.O.M eliminates odor

I have always had a 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, pat it on my armpit, and 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

Powdered laundry detergent

We make our own laundry detergent—the powdered version—because it is easier to store. My husband came up with a great idea for an easy way to grate the Fels Naptha soap bars. We put them in the microwave for about 3 minutes on high. That makes them so much easier to grate; takes only a few minutes. Aimee

Auto cleaner

Use plain old baking soda on a damp rag to remove bugs, tar and anything else from your vehicle. Works great, even on the grill and chrome work. Leaves no residue or odor and won’t harm the paint. I just make a paste with baking soda and water, clean away, and rinse off. Works better than any commercial product I’ve tried. This method even cleans away the cloudy film on headlight covers. Bud

Defrosting chamber

My freezer, washer, and dryer are all in my garage. When it’s time to defrost the freezer, I dump a lot of ice into the washing machine, cover it with a piece of plastic and then pile all the frozen food on top of the ice and close the lid. Keeps everything frozen while the freezer is being defrosted. The ice melts and then I run the machine on spin cycle to empty it. Works like a charm. Helen

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 projects, and I use 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

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

Wasp trap

homemade wasp trap v.2We 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


First published: 9-27-20; Expanded & Updated 10-3-21



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  1. Find Out More says:

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  2. Pat C says:

    If you drive a hatchback or SUV, the cargo liner is also really expensive, especially since it’s either just a piece of plastic or a very large floor mat with the maker’s logo on it. I went to my local hardware store and bought two pieces of utility carpet runner (ribbed ‘carpet’ on the top and slip proof gel on the back, sold on a roll by the yard) for a tenth of the cost of the mat/cargo liner sold by the dealership. I actually bought 2 pieces, one for the cargo area and a second that covers the back seats when they are laid flat so nothing leaks into the car or slides around. Really useful when buying messy stuff like plants and mulch at the nursery.

  3. Gina D Stevens says:

    Before using a new purse, shoes, flipflops–canvas or leather, I thoroughly spay them with a heavy-duty, water-repellant spray. This keeps them from every getting dirty. I have an off white leather handbag that I’ve used daily during the summertime for 30 years. It looks brand new.

  4. Priscilla says:

    I have been cutting open my tubes for over 20 years now. I start by cutting it 2-2 1/2” up from the cap. This part I put in one of my largest pill bottles, the kind from the pharmacy. That prevents it from drying out. The longer part I cut off gets cleaned out first and then I get numerous applications from the part in the pharmacy bottle.

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