Reader Tips: It's the Little Ways We Save That Add Up

By Mary Hunt

January 13, 2020 4 min read


In cold weather, it's wise to wait until the car's interior warms up before using the radio or CD player. These units should be warm, especially the CD player, before they are turned on. If you are patient and allow the heater to warm the interior, your expensive sound system will work better for longer. — Judd


To remove bubble gum from upholstery, make a loop of duct tape around your fingers with the sticky side out. Press on the gum, and jerk your finger up quickly. Repeat until all the gum is pulled away. I know this works. I have kids. — Kim


I mop my ceramic tile floors with a solution of 1 gallon hot water and 1 cup vinegar — no soap. The floors shine and sparkle like new — no rinsing required. While hot water might work to remove dirt, it has a dulling effect because of the minerals in the water that are left behind. Vinegar cuts and removes those minerals, getting rid of that cloudy film. — Beverly


I'm never quite sure whether the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty. So this is what I do: Place an uncapped empty spice bottle or similar upright in a front corner of the top rack. When dishes are clean, it will be full of water. I empty the bottle when I unload and put it back empty. — Evie Lynn


I have a special apron with lots of pockets that I use only for cleaning the house. I wear it from room to room as I clean. I put the supplies I need for each room in the pockets so I have everything right at my fingertips. One pocket holds a soapy sponge (in a plastic bag) for touch-up work around light switches, doorjambs and so on. Another pocket is for my upholstery brush. A spray bottle of glass cleaner hangs from a side pocket. I must be quite a sight, but it really works! — Gail


To remove pet hair from a rug, try a window squeegee. Just pull the rubber edge toward you, and let physics do the rest. Static electricity will cause the hair to cling to the rubber strip. — Ed


Mix a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Using an old toothbrush, apply the paste to the grout and give a little scrub. Leave on for a few minutes; rinse. For stained grout between floor tiles, try rubbing the area lightly with folded sandpaper, but beware, as this will remove the grout sealer, too. Once completely clean, consider resealing all of that nice clean grout. Sealant is readily available at any home improvement center. — Rob


Mix 1 part liquid fabric softener and 20 parts water in a spray bottle; set to spray a fine mist. Use as you would commercial aerosol antistatic spray by spraying lightly on clinging skirts, pantyhose, socks, dresses and so forth. Works well and super cheap! — Maria


A spill-proof way to pour cupcake batter into muffin tins or pancake batter onto a griddle is to transfer it to a clean milk carton, using a funnel. The carton's spout lets you pour with precision and provides an excellent container for storage in the refrigerator. — Renee

Would you like more information? Go to for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Photo credit: StockSnap at Pixabay

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