A Stain Treatment Worth Its Salt and More Great Reader Tips

It was a lovely meal. The conversation was engaging, the entree delightful. A good time was had by all. The guests are long gone, and now you are stuck with an ugly red wine stain on your prized tablecloth. Is this linen destined for the ragbag? Not if you know this super simple solution.

RED WINE STAINS. If you get red wine on a washable tablecloth or napkin, spread the stained portion over a bowl or your kitchen sink. Liberally sprinkle ordinary table salt on the stain. Next, pour boiling water over the salt and through the cloth, to take out the stain. If you can do this while that stain is still fresh, it works really well. — Josie

SIMPLIFY STORAGE. Here’s my simplifying tactic for those darn plastic storage containers we use for leftovers. I have three sizes, all the same brand — the cheap brand I find at the grocery store. Each size is stackable. I don’t save plastic butter, cottage cheese and cream cheese containers for leftovers. I only use the three sizes. I add to the collection if needed, only the three sizes, only the same brand. That way, I am not hopelessly looking for lids to fit whatever stray bottom I want to use, and they are easy to store in the fridge. Amazing. — Val

FINGERPRINTS BE GONE. I found a terrific way to clean fingerprints from my stainless steel appliances: Mix equal parts rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and baby oil in a small container that has a lid. Shake well. To use, dampen a soft clean cloth, and wipe away the prints. You’ll have clean, shiny surfaces that resist fingerprints for quite a while. — Lori

CLEAN GROUT. I use a battery-powered toothbrush to brush my teeth. After a few months, instead of throwing the toothbrush head away, I use it to remove the stains from my tile counters. After using a sponge to wet down the grout, I sprinkle a little cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend over the grout, let it sit for a few minutes and then let the spinning, vibrating toothbrush clean in all the little nooks and crannies. It requires very little elbow grease. Then I just rinse off the counter and admire the white grout again. — Sheila

CAKE DECOR. My favorite way to quickly decorate a frosted cake is to take a cookie cutter, place it on top of the frosting and pour sprinkles inside the cookie cutter. When you lift the cutter off, you will have a perfect sprinkle design. — Nancy

FLEA SOAP. Original blue Dawn dishwashing liquid is good for getting rid of fleas on pets. Soap up your pet; let sit about five minutes; and then rinse. This works really well on young pets that aren’t old enough for flea products. — Karen

SHAMPOO BAG. If you are going on a short trip or an overnight stay, it can be a pain to pack your large bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Just put a small amount of each into plastic zip-type bags. That way, you will only be carrying what you will use, and you can toss the bags when you return. — Tom

WRINKLED TRAVELER. When I’m traveling, I often open my suitcase to find all my clothes are wrinkled, no matter how carefully I had packed them. A quick way to get rid of the wrinkles is to lightly dampen the piece of clothing with water and then use a blow dryer to get it dry again. Provided the garment wasn’t too wrinkled in the first place, this should do the trick. — Vicki

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Mary Hunt

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

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