Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

The 10-Year Bar of Soap, Plus More Great Reader Tips

In the cupboard right above my washing machine, there’s a bar of Fels-Naptha laundry soap standing in a coffee mug. I’m sure it’s five years old, and it appears that it will be good for at least another five. When I come across a stain, I grab the soap, dip the end into water and use it to scrub the stain — almost as if it were a big eraser — before dropping the item into the wash. Fels-Naptha is good for many other stains as well. But acrylic paint spills on carpet? Read on for what one reader discovered.


I broke a bottle of acrylic paint on the carpet. After trying commercial cleaners, I remembered Mary said Fels-Naptha was superior to many other stain removers. I had picked up a bar in the supermarket laundry aisle. So I grabbed that Fels-Naptha bar and a bucket of hot water, got the soap and carpet wet and rubbed the carpet with the bar and then my fingertips. The paint came out perfectly. Even better, there was no stain ring after I rinsed the area with water! (Make sure to check the carpet’s color fastness in an inconspicuous place before using.) — Sue D.


Measure each window’s length and height and record the information on an index card. Keep a copy in your wallet and one at home. When you find a sale on window treatments, you’ll know which size blinds or draperies will fit. — Amy O.


I had kitchen cabinet doors that didn’t stay tightly closed, so I cut some Velcro adhesive-backed strips to size and applied them in the appropriate spots. Now, my cabinet doors stay closed without that annoying gap. — Krista E.


To cut up whole olives, try using an egg slicer. Throw in four or five olives at a time, close the slicer, and you have perfectly sliced olives. — Darla S.


I have found that if you sprinkle garlic or onion powder directly over a pot cooking on the stove, the steam will get in the bottle and harden the contents. A better way is to measure all spices in a bowl away from the hot pot to keep from contaminating the contents of the seasonings. — Karen G.


Denture tablets work great to clean coffee stains out of thermos-type coffee mugs, as well as traditional glass coffee pots. Just fill the container with water, drop in a tablet and allow it to sit for a few hours or overnight. Empty and rinse it in the morning, and the container will be sparkling clean. — Lori M.


I use clothespins instead of chip clips on cereal bags, Bisquick, bags of rice and, of course, chip bags. They are less expensive than chip clips and work better. — Bonnie L.


To prevent freezer burn on ice cream, place the container upside down in the freezer. It works! — Carol G.


My dad needed curtains in the living room of his beautiful new apartment, but the thought of drilling holes for brackets did not appeal to him. So I took an adjustable shower curtain rod and fit it in the window space inside the frame. I hung the curtains on the rod, and it worked wonderfully. This would work for students in dorm rooms, as well, because often they are not allowed to put nails or brackets in the walls. — Laura M.


Here’s a great use for an empty dish soap plastic bottle: Rinse it out thoroughly and fill it up with windshield washer fluid. Keep it in your car in case your washer fluid runs out. This is really helpful in the wintertime because you can just squirt it on your windshield if your fluid tank is frozen. — Janet R.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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  1. Dear Mary, I didn’t read why you said we should start saving our little silica packages that come in bottles of pills or vitamins. I wonder if you could publish that again – or send me a reply please. Thank you so very much! Mary Valentine

    1. From searching through her other articles, I found two references:

      The first use is to use the packets to keep washing soda (or homemade dishwasher detergent) from caking up and getting hard. Just drop a packet into the container of detergent to keep it loose and powdery.

      The second was to use it to dry out a phone (or other electronic device) that got dropped in water. You just turn it off, dry it as much as possible, then put it in a small ziploc bag with the silica packets.

      Hope that helps!

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