I have something very cool to share with you today. But first, a story about my friend Herta. It's been quite a few years since she and Al came to visit.
In their graciously kind manner, they brought gifts. I thought I'd heard of everything, but one of these gifts left me wide-eyed and sputtering to find a good response, which I am not sure I did.
I concluded that the small, supremely elegant spray bottle Herta was visibly so excited about must be something special in their country — to me it was oddly foreign.
The name on the bottle left me stuttering: Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray. Herta took me into the powder room to demonstrate. "Look, you just spritz the surface of the toilet water before you go," she said. "It stops bathroom odors before they ever begin!" Herta was so excited to show me this fabulous new product. Me? I was like ... whaaat?
I have to admit that I couldn't wait to try it, and I did. You know what? It really worked. The product is oily. When you spray Poo-Pourri into the toilet (before ... not during or after), it sits on the surface of the water and creates a kind of sealant against, well ... let's just say it: fumes. It traps the odors, sending them down the drain, not out into the room. Get it?
I'm not sure if Herta was the first to introduce Poo-Pourri to America or not, but I like to think so. What I know is that it's here now and it has become quite popular.
I see Poo-Pourri in the finest powder rooms (my friends know who they are). Not long ago, I noticed a discreet supply of Poo-Pourri in the ladies' room at church.
The car wash has this clever product on prominent display in the waiting area, right next to the funniest greeting cards. Herta would be so pleased.
I do wonder about a couple of things: First, who came up with this? The idea itself is great, but the person who came up with the name? Brilliant!
Second, why is it so expensive? At $5 for 1 ounce, that works out to $640 per gallon. Don't laugh. I think about these things, and I'm sure there are households, gas stations, dormitories and frat houses — to name just a few — that could use it by the gallon.
For them (and you), I have the best news: You can make it yourself. You can replicate the same kind of discreet preventive product and even dispense it with a little spray bottle — for a whole lot less!
MAKE-IT-YOURSELF POO SPRAY
3 tablespoons vegetable glycerin
2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol, 70 percent
40 drops any essential oil like lavender
1/2 cup water
Pour all ingredients directly into a 4-ounce (or similar) spray bottle. Or mix in a bowl, using a small funnel to pour it into smaller 1-ounce spray bottles. The recipe multiplies well. Shake well right before use. Spritz about 10 sprays to cover the surface of the toilet bowl water. Proceed.
My friend, the late Rich Buhler, taught me a very useful life principle to rely upon when dealing with challenging situations and difficult people. "No matter how difficult that person or the situation may be," he would say, "always strive to leave a fragrance, not an odor."
Thanks to Herta, Al and Rich, I'm leaving fewer odors than I may have were it not for their friendships.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.