Creating Waves of Awareness
If you douse your clothes and home with Febreze to remove odor, you can do the same with vodka…but without the cyclodextrin, and without supporting a company that tests on animals. (I’m talking to you, Proctor & Gamble.) The alcohol in vodka kills bacteria which cause odor, and vodka is basically odorless, as far as booze goes. Spritz your clothes and hang them in a well-ventilated room. (As with any natural remedy, spot-test first.)
2. Keep cut flowers fresh
If you’re going to have fresh-cut flowers working hard to brighten up your decor, show some hospitality and give them a little drink. Several drops of vodka and a large pinch of sugar added to the water in your flower vase, changed daily, stunts ethylene production and will extend the vitality of bouquet.
3. Shoo flies, and other pests
I couldn’t harm a fly, or any other living thing. Except…if something is biting and sucking the blood from my children, mamma bear swoops in and goes medieval. DEET is persona non grata in my neck of the woods, and I wouldn’t own a can of Raid if you paid me. But a spray bottle of vodka? Sure. Use it to spray directly at the offenders, it can also be used on your skin as a repellant.
4. Calm the sting of sea creatures
The pain of jellyfish and ray stings is magically dissipated with meat tenderizers (the enzymes that work to break down meat’s proteins also break down the stinging agents in the venom). But if you find yourself at the beach with vodka instead of meat tenderizer (and who doesn’t?)–it can help alleviate the punch those stings can pack. Douse the area with vodka. (And…have a shot while you’re at it?)
5. Give your hair some life
Vodka can make people lush and bouncy, and can do the same for your hair. Add an ounce to your bottle of shampoo and use as you usually do. It helps to break down the oil build-up that can make your hair droll.
6. Remove laundry stains
Treat stubborn stains with a splash of vodka and some elbow grease, then launder as usual.
7. Make lavender ironing water
Forget about scented fabric softener for fragrance, be like a cool French granny and use lavender ironing water instead. Mix 3 ounces of 90-proof vodka and 12 drops of pure lavender essential oil and let sit for 24 hours. Then add 12 ounces of purified water and swirl together. Store in the refrigerator until it loses its scent, around 6 weeks.
8. Get rid of unloved plants
Also known as weeds (poor, misunderstood things)–if you’ve got them and don’t want them, vodka can kill them. Vodka attacks broad-leaf weeds, like dandelions, chickweed, by breaking down their protective coverings which leads to lethal dehydration. Fill a spray bottle with an ounce of vodka, a few drops of liquid dish soap, and two cups of water. Spray on weeds, in the sunlight, and wilt away they will. (Or, buck the trend and love your weeds! See Eating Dandelions.)
9. Quash mold and mildew
With homemade mouthwash: Boil 6 ounces of water and 2 ounces of vodka together. Add in 4 teaspoons of liquid glycerin and 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel. Remove from heat and let cool. When cooled, add 10-15 drops of Spearmint oil and shake the entire mixture together well.
11. Make a tincture
You can make a tincture of botanicals and vodka to use topically for a number of ailments or conditions. Fill a jar with a handful of flowers/roots/leaves and top with vodka.
12. Ease a poison ivy rash
Urushiol oil, the pesky component of poison ivy and poison oak, leads most to an agonizing rash. Before the rash sets in, vodka can be poured directly on the skin where contact occurred to minimize the severity of what’s to come. Rubbing alcohol will work too.
13. Shine your shiny things
Who needs separate chrome-cleaner, glass-cleaner, and porcelain-cleaner when a trip to the liquor cabinet can tackle all three materials at once? Dampen a cloth with vodka, rub, back in the shine.
14. Unstick sticky stickers
I bet 9 out of 10 of you save glass jars and reuse them. How many of you cringe at the gummy label adhesive that clings to glass like a manic starfish? (Or is that just me?) Vodka to the rescue. Dab a scouring sponge with some vodka, scrub, rinse with some liquid dish soap, no more sticky ugh.
44 Smart Uses for Salt by Melissa Breyer (Care2):
Add to boiling water.
Many people think that adding salt to water on the stove will make it boil quicker. It isn’t true! But, salt does make water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time.
Prevent fruits from browning.
Most of us use lemon or vinegar to stop peeled apples and pears from browning, but you can also drop them in lightly salted water to help them keep their color.
Soak pecans and walnuts in salt water for several hours before shelling to make it easier to remove the meat.
Prevent cake icing crystals.
A little salt added to cake icings prevents them from sugaring.
Remove odors from hands.
Oniony-garlicy fingers? I like soap and water, then rubbing them on anything made of stainless steel (it really works), but you can also rub your fingers with a salt and vinegar combo.
Reach high peaks.
Add a tiny pinch of salt when beating egg whites or whipping cream for quicker, higher peaks.
Extend cheese life.
Prevent mold on cheese by wrapping it in a cloth moistened with saltwater before refrigerating.
Save the bottom of your oven.
If a pie or casserole bubbles over in the oven, put a handful of salt on top of the spill. It won’t smoke and smell, and it will bake into a crust that makes the baked-on mess much easier to clean when it has cooled.
Clean sink drains.
Pour salt mixed with hot water down the kitchen sink regularly to deodorize and keep grease from building up.
Remove water rings.
Gently rub a thin paste of salt and vegetable oil on the white marks caused by beverage glasses and hot dishes, on wooden tables.
Clean greasy pans.
Cast-iron skillets can be cleaned with a good sprinkling of salt and paper towels.
Clean stained cups.
Mix salt with a dab of dish soap to make a soft scrub for stubborn coffee and tea stains.
A mix of salt and soda water can be used to wipe out and deodorize the inside of your refrigerator, a nice way to keep chemical-y cleaners away from your food.
Clean brass or copper.
Mix equal parts of salt, flour and vinegar to make a paste, and rub the paste on the metal. After letting it sit for an hour, clean with a soft cloth or brush and buff with a dry cloth.
Mix salt and cream of tartar with just enough water to make a paste. Rub on rust, let dry, brush off and buff with a dry, soft cloth. You can also use the same method with a mix of salt and lemon.
Clean a glass coffee pot.
Every diner waitress’ favorite tip: add salt and ice cubes to a coffee pot, swirl around vigorously, and rinse. The salt scours the bottom, and the ice helps to agitate it more for a better scrub.
Attack wine spills.
If your tipsy aunt tips her wine on the cotton or linen tablecloth, blot up as much as possible and immediately cover the wine with a pile of salt, which will help pull the remaining wine away from the fiber. After dinner, soak the tablecloth in cold water for thirty minutes before laundering. (Also works on clothing.)
Since of course we are all very careful in how much detergent we use in our laundry, we never have too many suds. But if…you can eliminate excess suds with a sprinkle of salt.
Dry clothes in the winter.
Use salt in the final laundry rinse to prevent clothes from freezing if you use an outdoor clothes line in the winter.
Wash colored curtains or washable fiber rugs in a saltwater solution to brighten the colors. Brighten faded rugs and carpets by rubbing them briskly with a cloth that has been dipped in a strong saltwater solution and wrung out.
Remove perspiration stains.
Add four tablespoons of salt to one quart of hot water and sponge the fabric with the solution until stains fade.
Remove blood stains.
Soak the stained cloth in cold saltwater, then launder in warm, soapy water and boil after the wash. (Use only on cotton, linen or other natural fibers that can take high heat.)
Tackle mildew or rust stains.
Moisten stained spots with a mixture of lemon juice and salt, then spread the item in the sun for bleaching–then rinse and dry.
Clean a gunky iron bottom.
Sprinkle a little salt on a piece of paper and run the hot iron over it to remove rough, sticky spots.
Sprinkle salt at doorways, window sills and anywhere else ants sneak into your house. Ants don’t like to walk on salt.
Extinguish grease fires.
Keep a box of salt near your stove and oven, and if a grease fire flares up, douse the flames with salt. (Never use water on grease fires; it will splatter the burning grease.) When salt is applied to fire, it acts like a heat sink and dissipates the heat from the fire–it also forms an oxygen-excluding crust to smother the fire.
If you soak new candles in a strong salt solution for a few hours, then dry them well, they will not drip as much when you burn them.
Keep cut flowers fresh.
A dash of salt added to the water in a flower vase will keep cut flowers fresh longer. (You can also try an aspirin or a dash of sugar for the same effect.)
Make play dough.
Use 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons cream of tartar. Stir together flour, cream of tartar, salt and oil, and slowly add water. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until dough becomes stiff. Spread onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the dough with your hands until it reaches a good play dough consistency. (Read about juice dyes here.)
To fill nail holes, fix chips or other small dings in white sheetrock or plaster walls, mix 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons cornstarch, then add enough water (about 5 teaspoons) to make a thick paste. Use the paste to fill the holes.
Deter patio weeds.
If weeds or grass grow between bricks or blocks in your patio, sidewalk or driveway, carefully spread salt between the cracks, then sprinkle with water or wait for rain to wet it down.
Kill poison ivy.
Mix three pounds of salt with a gallon of soapy water (use a gentle dish soap) and apply to leaves and stems with a sprayer, avoiding any plant life that you want to keep.
De-ice sidewalks and driveways.
One of the oldest tricks in the book! Lightly sprinkle rock salt on walks and driveways to keep snow and ice from bonding to the pavement and allow for easier shoveling/scraping. But don’t overdo it; use the salt sensibly to avoid damage to plants and paws.
Tame a wild barbeque.
Toss a bit of salt on flames from food dripping in barbecue grills to reduce the flames and calm the smoke without cooling the coals (like water does).
Extend toothbrush life.
Soak toothbrushes in salt water before your first use; they’ll last longer
Use one part fine salt to two parts baking soda–dip your toothbrush in the mix and brush as usual. You can also use the same mix dissolved in water for orthodontic appliances.
Rinse your mouth.
Mix equal parts salt and baking soda in water for a fresh and deodorizing mouth rinse.
Ease mouth problems.
For cankers, abscesses and other mouth sores, rinse your mouth with a weak solution of warm salt water several times a day.
Relieve bee sting pain.
Ouch? Immediately dampen area and pack on a small pile of salt to reduce pain and swelling. More bee-sting tips here.
Treat mosquito bites.
A saltwater soak can do wonders for that special mosquito-bite itch–a poultice of salt mixed with olive oil can help too.
Treat poison ivy.
Same method as for treating mosquito bites. (Salt doesn’t seem to distinguish between itches.)
Have an exfoliating massage.
After bathing and while still wet give yourself a massage with dry salt. It freshens skin and boosts circulation.
Ease throat pain.
Mix salt and warm water, gargle to relieve a sore throat.
23 Ingenious Uses for White Vinegar by Mel, DivineCaroline:
Adding a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the water when poaching eggs helps the whites stay formed. Add a few tablespoons to the water when boiling eggs, and if any shells crack, the whites won’t leak out.
If your leafy veggies are wilted, soaking them in cold water with a little vinegar can perk them right up.
After chopping an onion, you can eliminate the odor from your hands by rubbing them with a bit of white vinegar.
When cooking any vegetables from the cabbage family (like broccoli or cauliflower), adding a little vinegar to the water will perk up the taste and reduce the gassiness they can induce. This also works when cooking beans, making Mexican food a far more attractive option.
Clean and deodorize the garbage disposal by mixing equal parts vinegar and baking soda and putting it down the drain. After letting this fizzing mixture sit for a few minutes, flush out the drain with warm water for a clean and stink-free sink.
The steam from a boiling a bowl of vinegar and water can loosen caked-on food and get rid of odors in the microwave, too.
One of my favorite vinegar remedies and my personal weapon against fruit flies is to set out a small dish of white vinegar and some smashed fruit, covered with plastic wrap with some holes in it—the flies crawl into the trap, but can’t get out.
If your stemware is cloudy from the dishwasher, wrap the glasses in paper towels soaked in vinegar, let them sit, and the cloudy deposits will rinse right off.
There’s no need to use bleach on tile grouting when you can let vinegar soak on it and then scrub with a toothbrush.
Bring lightly scuffed or dirty DVDs back to life by wiping them down with some vinegar on a soft cloth.
If you have water condensation marks on your wood, just rub the piece of furniture with equal parts vinegar and vegetable oil to remove them. Make sure to rub with the grain, and then invest in a set of coasters.
If a child has an “accident” on a mattress, clean it with a solution of vinegar and water. Afterwards, pour some baking soda onto the mattress, and brush or vacuum the residue once it’s dry.
Spraying vinegar onto deodorant-stained shirts before the wash can remove the discoloration. It’s also great for fighting mustard, tomato sauce, or ketchup stains.
Adding a cupful of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine can freshen up bright colors and give you cleaner laundry. Acetic acid won’t harm fabrics, but it dissolves the soap residue that can dull dark clothing. It also acts as a fabric softener, a static reducer, and a mildew-inhibitor.
Vinegar will also loosen chewing gum stuck to car upholstery, rugs, and carpeting.
If your car still sports a bumper sticker from two elections ago, remove it by spraying the decal with white vinegar to saturate the area, and the sticker will peel off in a few hours. (You might need to spray it a few times.)
Wiping down your car windows and windshield with a three-to-one vinegar-water mixture can keep them frost-free in the wintertime.
Kill weeds and crabgrass growing in sidewalks and driveways by pouring vinegar onto them. A half-and-half solution of vinegar and water can even kill garden slugs if it’s sprayed directly onto them.
To extend the life of cut flowers, add a few tablespoons of vinegar to the water in their vase, along with a teaspoon of sugar.
Wipe out itchy ears with undiluted vinegar to keep dogs and cats from scratching at them.
Cats avoid vinegar, so to keep them from scratching furniture or sitting on certain areas, spray a vinegar solution onto the spot.
For outdoor areas, soak a sponge in vinegar and place it in the forbidden area to keep cats away. If kitty likes to mark his territory, spraying the area with vinegar can help eliminate the smell and deter recurrences.
Vinegar also gets rid of skunk odor. Soak the animal with a half-and-half vinegar and water solution, and then rinse with fresh water.
15 Brilliant Uses for Toothpaste by Zana Faulkner, DivineCaroline:
Relieve irritation from bug bites, sores, and blisters. These skin irritations all tend to weep and, in the case of bug bites, often itch. Apply a drop of toothpaste to a bug bite or insect sting to stop the itching and decrease any swelling. When applied to sores or blisters, it dries them up, thus allowing the wound to heal faster. It’s best when used overnight.
Soothe a stinging burn. For minor burns that don’t involve an open wound, toothpaste can deliver temporary cooling relief. Apply it delicately to the affected area immediately after a burn develops; it temporarily relieves the sting and prevents the wound from weeping or opening.
Decrease the size of a facial blemish. Want to speed up the healing of a zit? Apply a tiny dot of toothpaste to the affected area at night before bed. Wash it off in the morning.
Clean up your fingernails. Our teeth are made of enamel, and toothpaste is good for them, so it stands to reason that toothpaste would also be good for our fingernails. For cleaner, shinier, and stronger nails, simply scrub the underneath and tops of fingernails with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Keep hair in place. Gel toothpastes contain the same water-soluble polymers that many hair gels are made of. If you’re looking to style and hold an extreme hair creation, try gel toothpaste as your go-to product if you’re out of regular hair gel. (This is also a great trick for making baby barrettes stay in place.)
Scrub away stinky smells. Garlic, fish, onion, and other pungent foods can permeate the skin cells on our hands. Scrubbing hands and fingertips briefly with toothpaste removes all traces of smelly odors.
Remove stains. Toothpaste can make tough stains on both clothing and carpets disappear. For clothes, apply toothpaste directly to the stain and rub briskly until the spot is gone, then wash as usual. (Note that using a whitening toothpaste on colors can sometimes bleach the fabric.) For carpet stains, apply toothpaste to the stain and scrub it with an abrasive brush, then rinse immediately.
Spruce up dirty shoes. This tactic works great on running shoes or scuffed-up leather shoes. As with carpet stains, apply toothpaste directly to the dirty or scuffed area, then scrub with a brush and wipe clean.
Remove crayon stains on painted walls. Rub a damp cloth with toothpaste gently on the marked-up wall and watch the Crayola marks disappear.
Make silver jewelry and other silver pieces sparkle. Rub toothpaste onto jewelry and leave overnight. Wipe clean with a soft cloth in the morning. Make diamonds shine by giving them a gentle scrub using a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a little water. Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of toothpaste. Do not use this method on pearls, as it will damage their finish.
Remove scratches on DVDs and CDs. This remedy has been used with mixed success rates, but it seems to work fairly well on shallow scratches and smudges. Apply a thin coating of toothpaste to the disc and rub gently, then rinse clean.
Tidy up the ivories before tickling them. Piano keys retain oil from the skin, which then attracts dust and dirt. Clean away grime gently with a damp, lint-free cloth and toothpaste; after rubbing in the toothpaste, wipe the keys clean with a second lint-free cloth.
Deodorize baby bottles. If baby bottles develop a sour-milk smell, a good cleaning with some toothpaste and a bottle scrubber will clean away residue and deodorize. Always make sure to rinse well.
Remove the burned crust on irons. For those of you who still use an iron, you may find that after time, the plate of the iron develops a burned crust. The silica in toothpaste gently grinds away this rusty-looking layer.
Defog goggles. Scuba divers, swimmers, and triathletes may already know about this handy little trick: Rub a small spot of toothpaste into each lens of your goggles, then rinse thoroughly, and voilà! There’ll be no need to ever buy expensive defogger gels again. Avoid rubbing too vigorously, though, as the abrasive ingredients in toothpaste could scratch the lenses.