Clever Ways to Make Sure Nothing Goes to Waste

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!


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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. Mary

CLEANS MORE THAN BRAKES. I have found that using my husband’s brake parts spray cleaner (there are many; currently Brakaleen 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)

DOUBLE-DUTY SALADS. 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 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

MUSIC’S SECOND LIFE. A friend of my husband passed away and left us many music CDs and DVDs. Some were in great condition; some not so great. Some popular (at one time, anyway); others not so much. I went through them all and was able to sell the majority at They had the best offer prices, and I was not disappointed. Linda 

Do you have some more great tips to share? Let me know here. If your tip has universal appeal, watch for it in an upcoming column!


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  • Jacklyn H

    It is possible that when you apply the alcohol to the tick, it might get agitated and vomit its stomach contents with the bacteria/virus into the individual that it bit. The best way IMHO is to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and steadily and gently pull up to remove. Then you can use soap or alcohol to clean the area.