Thursday, June 04, 2009

Play It Again, Momma: Homemade Gold & Silver Jewelry Cleaners

I like to keep a little dish by my sink to put my jewelry in while I am doing the dishes. I also love to thrift shop so I put my love for thrift and my little dish together and came up with this cute little idea.

I use a thrifted candle holder to put my jewels in. They look so pretty and, if the edge has a nice lip on it, it is a safe way to keep your jewels out of harms way. It also makes your jewelry a pretty display while you are scrubbing your little heart out and cursing your family for not helping you... or praying- whatever you happen to do while washing the dishes.

And, if you so choose, you could also be cleaning your jewelry while scrubbing your heart (as you curse your family or pray).

Here are two handy little recipes to keep tucked away for that special day!

Homemade Silver Jewelry Cleaner:

In a bowl, place strips of aluminum foil in and place your silver jewelry on top of them. Cover the silver with boiling water and then add three tablespoons of baking soda and soak for ten minutes. Mix remaining hot water and a drop of liquid soap into another glass bowl. Place your silver in the soapy water and wash. Rinse with clean water and polish dry your pieces with a soft cotton cloth. Please take care, some solutions that are great for some metals and stones may damage others.

(Side Note- I use this solution for cleaning all my silver jewelry and have never had any problems. This works like a dream!)

Homemade Gold Jewelry Cleaner:

Fill a small bowl with warm water and a drop of liquid dish soap. Allow this to soak for approximately ten minutes. Proceed to brush the pieces with an eyebrow brush (or a similar substation such as a toothbrush) while they are being soaked. Then you should transfer the gold jewelry to a strainer and then proceed to rinsing it off with warm water. Finish by drying with a soft cotton cloth.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Cleaning Out The Fridge

Continuing the Play it Again, Momma series, we are going to discuss some ways to clean and organize your digs. Enjoy!


Today’s entry request was to cover the topic of cleaning out your fridge. Now ladies, I have been plagued with cleaning questions and ya’ll are making me feel pretty bad about my house. Maybe some money-saving questions might be a better fit for this tired mom? I will continue to answer cleaning questions as they come in, but do not, I repeat, DO NOT look around my house or the items in question. I do enjoy the research though and it has inspired me in ways I didn’t think possible so continue to throw your questions my way. Please email requests to amy@momadvice.com. The column will continue to run until I run out of questions. Be sure to check out next week’s entry where we talk about that nasty toaster oven sitting on our counters.

I do not enjoy cleaning out my refrigerator, but it one of those things that must be done. I wait until the day before grocery day to do it though because this is the day where there is the least amount of items that need to be moved around. It is also a great time to check my inventory before making the shopping trip to see if I really do need half the things on my list.

When I clean out the fridge, I break out two dishwashing tubs & a cookie sheet to accomplish this task. I fill one of these tubs with two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of warm water (no need to measure this, just an idea of how much to use). The cookie sheet is used to put all of the condiments on and drawers are emptied into the other dishwashing tub to move items quickly in and out of the fridge.

Before cleaning the interior of the fridge, fill each drawer with the same amount of baking soda solution in each one and let the baking soda solution do the dirty work while you are wiping out the inside of the fridge.

I use a rag to do the interior and just get the rag wet with the baking soda solution. Gently wipe the interior of the refrigerator and wipe off all of the surfaces and interior of the refrigerator. If the washing solution begins to look nasty, be sure to chuck it and get another tub full to clean with.

For stuck on interior stains, you can sprinkle a little baking soda directly on the spot and add just a little water to it to make a paste. Allow this to set on the stain and then scrub gently and allow the paste to remove the gunk.

Go back to your drawers and empty them and wipe the interiors of these. Now place these back into the fridge and then take your dishwashing tub of solution and empty it into the sink. Refill the tub with just warm water and add a dash of lemon juice to the water. Now use your rag to do a final swipe using just this water & lemon juice solution. This will remove any grit that might be left in the fridge and the lemon juice will give it a nice fresh scent throughout too. Dry throughly with a terry towel.

Take your cookie sheet of condiments and make sure to give each of these a quick swipe with the rag before returning them. Half the battle is just not having clean items in your fridge and this is a good way to start fresh. Return all of the items in the other tub, at this time, to their proper homes.

The exterior of your fridge can often be overlooked, but it needs attention too. As a mother of two little ones, tiny little fingerprints and smudges are all over my fridge on any given day. To remove these, use my homemade all-purpose cleaner and spray this on your fridge. I then use a microfiber cloth to clean the outside as it is still gentle on the appliance but also abrasive enough to remove any marks. Any scuffs still left? Break out your Mr. Clean Eraser (a mom’s best friend!) You can find a generic equivalent of one of these at your local dollar store.

If you have a stainless steel appliance, dip your microfiber cloth into a little vinegar and give the outside of the fridge a good swiping with the vinegar. Then give the appliance another swipe with just plain water and dry thoroughly with a terry towel. If you have soft water, that won’t show any water marks, you can just use the water to clean the exterior.

Now when was the last time you saw the top of your fridge? You might want to hop up there on occasion and give that a good wiping too. If you have a handheld vacuum, use that to suck up any crumbs and debris. After that, use the all-purpose cleaner and give that a good wiping down too.

Just as a side note, after I clean out my fridge, I also empty the ice out of our icemaker and clean it with the same solution and dump all of the old ice out. This can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it is an easy addition to my routine since I already have everything out.

Additional Tips:

When cleaning out your fridge, always use baking soda and warm water to wipe the insides of your refrigerator and freezers- soap or dishwashing liquid will leave a smell and can taint food.

Once every few months, remove all the food, switch off the refrigerator and wipe down all the surfaces. Defrost the freezer at the same time if necessary.

A box of baking soda can be added to your fridge and freezer to neutralize those smells.

Frugal Momma’s Money-Saving Tip:

Make sure that the door seals on the refrigerator, freezer compartment, or freezer are working efficiently by closing the door on a piece of paper. If the paper can be pulled out easily, the seal is worn and should be replaced.

Make sure to vacuum your refrigerator coils (located on the back of your fridge) twice a year. It is recommended that you do this more often if you have pets in the home. Just use your vacuum with the crevice attachment attached to the vacuum hose and give it a good vacuuming. The coils are located either on the bottom of your fridge or in the rear of your fridge. Doing this will save you money because if these are clean, your fridge won’t have to work as hard lowering your bills!

Suggested Reading:

Tips to Keep White Appliances from Looking Yellow (Warning: This does include bleach so be careful with your floors and clothing!)

What else would you like to see featured here? Please drop me an email or reply by leaving me a comment!

*Originally aired March 29, 2007*

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Me On You Tube: Choosing a Coffee Maker

One of our most popular articles on our site is the Frugal Mom's Guide to Coffee so I thought it would be great to do a segment on coffee as a You Tube clip. This segment breaks down the cost comparison between a drip coffee maker and a pod brew system. I tried to share some of the features that I love on my coffee maker and how to care for your coffee maker so you always have a fresh cup.

If you are in the market for a new coffee maker, I did find the best price on my Cuisinart Brew Central Coffee Maker at Sam's Club. My local price is listed as $54.86. In the departments stores I have seen this model range between $80-129, but if you know of anywhere else that carries it cheaper, please leave a comment!

I got the opportunity to plug my experience with my coffee maker for an article in Woman's World Magazine. The article is set to hit the newsstands on August 18th with a cover date of August 25th. They found me when looking for a frugal mom who was a self-confessed coffee fanatic and I guess they thought I fit that bill perfectly!

As I had discussed before, I will be working with Wal-Mart to provide content for a new You Tube channel. I wanted to include a list of the participants because they are all so great and I am excited to see what each of them comes up with! I look forward to working with each of them and please check their sites out for more money-saving tips!

GeekMommy's WebLife
The Domestic Diva
Jessica Knows
Classy Mommy
Being Frugal
Deal Seeking Mom
Frugal Upstate
Keeping the Kingdom First
Coupon Cravings
The "Cent"sible Sawyer

How many coffee drinkers are in your family and what coffee maker works well for you?



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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cute Jewelry Holder & Jewelry Cleaner Recipes

I like to keep a little dish by my sink to put my jewelry in while I am doing the dishes. I also love to thrift shop so I put my love for thrift and my little dish together and came up with this cute little idea.

I use a thrifted candle holder to put my jewels in. They look so pretty and, if the edge has a nice lip on it, it is a safe way to keep your jewels out of harms way. It also makes your jewelry a pretty display while you are scrubbing your little heart out and cursing your family for not helping you... or praying- whatever you happen to do while washing the dishes.

And, if you so choose, you could also be cleaning your jewelry while scrubbing your heart (as you curse your family or pray).

Here are two handy little recipes to keep tucked away for that special day!

Homemade Silver Jewelry Cleaner:

In a bowl, place strips of aluminum foil in and place your silver jewelry on top of them. Cover the silver with boiling water and then add three tablespoons of baking soda and soak for ten minutes. Mix remaining hot water and a drop of liquid soap into another glass bowl. Place your silver in the soapy water and wash. Rinse with clean water and polish dry your pieces with a soft cotton cloth. Please take care, some solutions that are great for some metals and stones may damage others.

(Side Note- I use this solution for cleaning all my silver jewelry and have never had any problems. This works like a dream!)

Homemade Gold Jewelry Cleaner:

Fill a small bowl with warm water and a drop of liquid dish soap. Allow this to soak for approximately ten minutes. Proceed to brush the pieces with an eyebrow brush (or a similar substation such as a toothbrush) while they are being soaked. Then you should transfer the gold jewelry to a strainer and then proceed to rinsing it off with warm water. Finish by drying with a soft cotton cloth.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

WSBT-TV: The Amazing Dishwasher

Today on our Moms First segment on WSBT, we are talking about how to save money using your dishwasher. I offer a few ideas for ways to save money including what cycles to chose, how to make your own dish detergent, what to buy instead of Jet Dry and explain the cost-effectiveness of putting your dishes in the dishwasher.

This is great timing since we are spring cleaning our kitchens this week! I will have to add an extra credit assignment to our printables to clean our dishwashers! You can also read my article, "The Amazing Dishwasher" for more ideas on how to save money!

I have gotten some emails from local folks who missed the recipe this morning for making your dish detergent so I wanted to supply that too!

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

1 cup Borax
1 cup Baking Soda
1/4 cup Salt

Mix these ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Add one tablespoon to your detergent dispenser. If you have an older dishwasher, you may need to experiment with this to see what works best. You can also add this mixture and then a small sprinkle of the regular stuff you buy to extend further.

This formula works well for scouring sinks and tubs too!

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring Cleaning: Week One, Day One

As promised, I am putting together printables for tackling your spring cleaning this year. I just want to stress that we would like for you to share these with others, but ask that you direct them to our site to print them. They have been formatted into PDF files to try and retain as much ownership on them as I can.

I have been working my tail off on these all weekend and I am hoping that you will find them useful. Today we have an introductory letter explaining how the plan will work, what tools you will need to accomplish your tasks, and then your assignment for you to complete. For fun, I have included a recipe/meal idea that you can use. The point is to have a meal in mind so your cleaning doesn't have you running out to McDonald's every night, not necessarily that you have to make whatever is on my agenda.

I am working through these tasks with you and will do my best to post my pictures of my progress. I anticipate my blogging to be a little sluggish as I am trying to put these printables together, spring clean along with you, and keep up with all of the other stuff on my plate. I will do my best though!

Please send some feedback my way- I am anxious to hear it!

Today's Printables:

Spring Cleaning Introductory Page

Spring Cleaning Recipes

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Day One

PS- I am trying to upload my photos for today, but am getting errors and timeouts from Google. Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger?

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ask Frugal Momma: Washin' the Washer


Dear Frugal Momma, Would you mind doing an entry on cleaning the washing machine...both inside and out? I know that probably sounds strange, but I try to clean everything in my home on a regular basis! Thanks in advance! The Cleaning Queen

I have to admit that this is something I had never really thought about, although I am sure it is one of those items that I should add to my regular home maintenance. This entry required a little research so I hope that it will help someone else out there!

For the interior of the washer, you will want to clean your washing machine from time to time by running it empty on a hot cycle. I will offer up two choices for cleaning the washer. You can do it the environmentally-friendly way or by trying the bleach version.

The first way that you can clean the washer is by running the hot cycle with one cup (250 ml) of white vinegar. Just add it during the cycle and allow the vinegar to clean the washer for you. The vinegar will help remove any detergent deposits that have built up on your washing machine.

The second alternative for cleaning can actually be used in disinfecting a variety of non-food-contact surfaces. The recipe was supplied by, "Home Comforts" written by Cheryl Mendelson. This method is recommended for your washer, as well as the bathtubs, showers, sinks, marble, plastic, fiberglass, diaper pails and indoor garbage cans. The disinfecting solution is not recommended, however, for metal fixtures or on dark or colored grout.

Disinfecting Solution

3/4 cup bleach
1 gallon warm water
1 tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent

Using solution, wash surface or object clean. Then keep it wet with the solution for at least five minutes. Rinse and let dry.

The exterior of most washer and dryer tops are made from porcelain enamel or synthetic enamel. This type of material does not stand up well to repeated exposure of chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine bleach, or any abrasive cleaners.

The best solution for cleaning the exterior of the washer (and just about everything else) is my homemade all-purpose cleaner. The recipe for that is:

All-Purpose Cleaner

2 tablespoons dish soap (any kind works fine)
2 cups warm water


Put two ingredients into a spray bottle and give it a shake to incorporate them.


If you begin to see any mildew damage to the rubber door seal, on your washing machine, you will want to disinfect it to discourage further problems and to remove what has already occurred. Make a solution of one cup chlorine bleach to two cups warm water. Wearing rubber gloves, first wipe the lower portion of the door seal (where the water and bacteria will be most concentrated) with a soft cloth soaked in the bleach solution. Then wipe down the entire seal. Finally fill the bleach dispenser with bleach and run the washer empty through one hot cycle. You can repeat this process every two to four months to keep mildew down. This is particularly recommended if you live in a humid climate or if your laundry room is not well-ventilated.

I hope this helps answers your question! Please feel free to email your questions directly to me at amy@momadvice.com on any topic related to homemaking or saving money. I would be happy to answer your questions. You can also submit your questions through our forum.

Related Readings:

Happy Homemaking the Homemade Way
Cleaning Out Yo Fridge
Frugal Solutions for the Swiffer
Frugal Carpet Steaming
Favorite Frugal Cleaners
Organize Your Week

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Washing Your Child's Lovies

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

(The Velveteen Rabbit)



Do you see anything strange hanging on our line? Emily's rabbit makes an appearance there quite regularly, and it always cracks me up to see him pinned and waving in the breeze by his ears. There is just something so comical about that.

Since Emily was three weeks old, she has been in love with bunnies. Before she was born, my grandmother and I were antique shopping and ran across a cute little gift shop. Inside the gift shop was a bunny that I pointed out to her and said how perfect it would be for a little one to carry around since it was smaller than a blanket. She ended up buying one for Emily and she absolutely loved it. A girlfriend also happened to send a very similar bunny to us as a baby gift for Emily. She always had one of these little guys tucked under her arm since she was really small and now we can't go anywhere without them. Her rabbits remind me of my favorite story growing up, "The Velveteen Rabbit." I was never attached to anything in this way, but I always wished I loved something like that.

Emily's bunny collection has grown and now we have four bunnies in tote with us on any given day. She likes to chew on their ears and drag them around on dirty floors. With all the love they receive, they need frequent baths.

Here are some tips for cleaning your child's stuffed animals:

- For smaller toys, like beanie babies, you can actually throw them in your dishwasher. My girlfriend's daughter loves to tote these around and she just puts them in the dishwasher on the top rack. The chemicals that help whiten the dishes, will also help whiten the stuffed animal. Allow the stuffed animal to air dry. Other smaller toys, that your child puts in their mouth, can also be thrown in the dishwasher for a quick and easy way to keep them clean.

- For larger stuffed toys or ones that have been loved a bit too much and could fall apart in the washer, you can stick the stuffed animal in a paper bag with a little baking soda. Shut the top of the bag and shake the bag until the animal is coated in the baking soda. Let the animal sit in the bag for about a half hour and then take him out and give him a quick swipe with a towel, to get any lingering baking soda residue off. He should smell nice and fresh.

- In most cases, you can throw the stuffed animal in a pillowcase and run the delicate cycle in your washer. Before you throw the animal in, make sure that all of the stuffing is sealed in and all body parts are attached. Perform any emergency surgeries before the washing, and then run the cycle. Avoid the dryer, if at all possible, and allow the animal to air dry. In our situation, we have a back-up that we can use, but if you don't the waiting-to-dry process can seem like days. If you have a clothesline, you can hang the animal out there and let the sun dry the animal. Trust me, it is a lot quicker and time is of the essence when it comes to your child's most loved items!

- If you have animals that are collecting dust (this is most likely not the case when it comes to the lovies), you can use your vacuum hose and suck the dust off of the animal.


Sound Off: Does your child have an animal that they carry around with them? How do you care for your animals and how do you distract your child while they are being cared for?

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ask Frugal Momma: Cleaning Out Yo Fridge


Today’s entry request was to cover the topic of cleaning out your fridge. Now ladies, I have been plagued with cleaning questions and ya’ll are making me feel pretty bad about my house. Maybe some money-saving questions might be a better fit for this tired mom? I will continue to answer cleaning questions as they come in, but do not, I repeat, DO NOT look around my house or the items in question. I do enjoy the research though and it has inspired me in ways I didn’t think possible so continue to throw your questions my way. Please email requests to amy@momadvice.com. The column will continue to run until I run out of questions. Be sure to check out next week’s entry where we talk about that nasty toaster oven sitting on our counters.

I do not enjoy cleaning out my refrigerator, but it one of those things that must be done. I wait until the day before grocery day to do it though because this is the day where there is the least amount of items that need to be moved around. It is also a great time to check my inventory before making the shopping trip to see if I really do need half the things on my list.

When I clean out the fridge, I break out two dishwashing tubs & a cookie sheet to accomplish this task. I fill one of these tubs with two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of warm water (no need to measure this, just an idea of how much to use). The cookie sheet is used to put all of the condiments on and drawers are emptied into the other dishwashing tub to move items quickly in and out of the fridge.

Before cleaning the interior of the fridge, fill each drawer with the same amount of baking soda solution in each one and let the baking soda solution do the dirty work while you are wiping out the inside of the fridge.

I use a rag to do the interior and just get the rag wet with the baking soda solution. Gently wipe the interior of the refrigerator and wipe off all of the surfaces and interior of the refrigerator. If the washing solution begins to look nasty, be sure to chuck it and get another tub full to clean with.

For stuck on interior stains, you can sprinkle a little baking soda directly on the spot and add just a little water to it to make a paste. Allow this to set on the stain and then scrub gently and allow the paste to remove the gunk.

Go back to your drawers and empty them and wipe the interiors of these. Now place these back into the fridge and then take your dishwashing tub of solution and empty it into the sink. Refill the tub with just warm water and add a dash of lemon juice to the water. Now use your rag to do a final swipe using just this water & lemon juice solution. This will remove any grit that might be left in the fridge and the lemon juice will give it a nice fresh scent throughout too. Dry throughly with a terry towel.

Take your cookie sheet of condiments and make sure to give each of these a quick swipe with the rag before returning them. Half the battle is just not having clean items in your fridge and this is a good way to start fresh. Return all of the items in the other tub, at this time, to their proper homes.

The exterior of your fridge can often be overlooked, but it needs attention too. As a mother of two little ones, tiny little fingerprints and smudges are all over my fridge on any given day. To remove these, use my homemade all-purpose cleaner and spray this on your fridge. I then use a microfiber cloth to clean the outside as it is still gentle on the appliance but also abrasive enough to remove any marks. Any scuffs still left? Break out your Mr. Clean Eraser (a mom’s best friend!) You can find a generic equivalent of one of these at your local dollar store.

If you have a stainless steel appliance, dip your microfiber cloth into a little vinegar and give the outside of the fridge a good swiping with the vinegar. Then give the appliance another swipe with just plain water and dry thoroughly with a terry towel. If you have soft water, that won’t show any water marks, you can just use the water to clean the exterior.

Now when was the last time you saw the top of your fridge? You might want to hop up there on occasion and give that a good wiping too. If you have a handheld vacuum, use that to suck up any crumbs and debris. After that, use the all-purpose cleaner and give that a good wiping down too.

Just as a side note, after I clean out my fridge, I also empty the ice out of our icemaker and clean it with the same solution and dump all of the old ice out. This can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it is an easy addition to my routine since I already have everything out.

Additional Tips:

When cleaning out your fridge, always use baking soda and warm water to wipe the insides of your refrigerator and freezers- soap or dishwashing liquid will leave a smell and can taint food.

Once every few months, remove all the food, switch off the refrigerator and wipe down all the surfaces. Defrost the freezer at the same time if necessary.

A box of baking soda can be added to your fridge and freezer to neutralize those smells.

Frugal Momma’s Money-Saving Tip:

Make sure that the door seals on the refrigerator, freezer compartment, or freezer are working efficiently by closing the door on a piece of paper. If the paper can be pulled out easily, the seal is worn and should be replaced.

Make sure to vacuum your refrigerator coils (located on the back of your fridge) twice a year. It is recommended that you do this more often if you have pets in the home. Just use your vacuum with the crevice attachment attached to the vacuum hose and give it a good vacuuming. The coils are located either on the bottom of your fridge or in the rear of your fridge. Doing this will save you money because if these are clean, your fridge won’t have to work as hard lowering your bills!

Suggested Reading:

Tips to Keep White Appliances from Looking Yellow (Warning: This does include bleach so be careful with your floors and clothing!)

What else would you like to see featured here? Please drop me an email or reply by leaving me a comment!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ask Frugal Momma: Happy Homemaking the Homemade Way


I am not going to launch into a preachy prose about how bad commercial cleaning products are today when it comes to cleaning your home. It is common knowledge that a healthy home is not doused in heavy-duty bleach and preserving our environment should be tops on our priority list. The truth is, if you peeked inside of my caddy of cleaners though, you would see some of these harmful products in there. The fact is that I am trying to rely less on these cleaners and rely more on homemade cleaners. I am in the process of making the transition over to using only healthy homemade cleaners, and I feel a lot of pride when I take the time to do this. I know how much better it is for our environment….and for my wallet!

Making cleaners does not mean that you need to purchase a ton of items; in fact, most cleaners can be made from things you already have in your house. The main components that I like to work with are white vinegar, baking soda, liquid dishwashing soap, and lemon juice. One purchase that you may need to make though, to begin getting started, is purchasing a few spray bottles. I pick these spray bottles up from our local dollar store. These clear spray bottles will make it easy to measure and label your new cleaners in your house.

If you do decide to use these types of cleaners regularly, I would suggest making a trip to your wholesale club to buy the ingredients. A small box of baking soda can cost around fifty cents at your local grocery store. The same baking soda, in a twelve pound bag, from Sam’s Club costs about $5.42. What a savings! All of these products can be purchased in bulk and once you begin using them regularly, you will go through them quickly.

While you are at the warehouse store, be sure to swing by the automotive section and pick up a bag of microfiber cloths. The cloths sold at the warehouse store are larger and thicker than the ones you can get in other stores, and these are great for all of the jobs around your house. You can use these wet or dry. You can also use these just using water and not even bothering with a cleaner because they are that amazing.

Be sure when you launder your microfiber cloths that you do not use any type of fabric softener and use a very little amount of soap or cleaner on them. If you overload them with cleaning products, they will become less and less effective, particularly when you are trying to attract dust towards them.

Because these cleaners are homemade and use less harsh ingredients, they will require a little more elbow grease than your commercial products. There are lots of great recipes on the internet though and typing in the search phrase, “homemade cleaners” should you give you lots of different ideas and give you an array of recipes to choose from to find which one works best for the jobs you have around your house. Everyone uses different measurements; it just depends on the difficulties of the jobs around your house.
Here are some of my tried and true recipes that we use in our house:

All-Purpose Cleaner- Mix together two tablespoons of mild dishwashing soap and two cups of water in a spray bottle and give it a shake. Use these anywhere that you would use a commercial all-purpose spray. This cleaner is particularly great for countertops, bathroom surfaces, and high chairs.

Glass Cleaner- Mix together one part white vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. Spray this solution on your mirrors and windows and dry your windows with newspaper. The newspaper is great for lint-free drying and is a great way to repurpose some of those old papers you have laying around.

Homemade Oven Cleaner/ Deep Kitchen Cleaner- Mix a paste of three parts warm water to one part baking soda to clean away kitchen stains or to clean your oven.
Bathroom Cleaner- Mix dishwashing liquid with baking soda until you have a thick paste and use this throughout your bathroom.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner- No measuring is required with this recipe. Sprinkle a little baking soda into your toilet bowl and then pour a little vinegar in and watch it fizz it up. Give it a swish with your toilet brush and then flush.

Floor Cleaner- Add ½ cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. The scent of the vinegar will fade in approximately an hour, but you can also add a couple of drops of essential oil to help with the scent. I like the smell of Tea Tree Oil, but you can buy any essential oil that smells best to you. Essential oils can be picked up at stores offering nutritional supplements or can be purchased online.

Furniture Polish- Mix ¼ cup olive oil with four tablespoons of vinegar and two teaspoons of lemon juice. Pour into a spray bottle and shake well before using. If you do not use all of it in one cleaning session, store the remainder in the fridge, as the lemon juice can go sour. You can also substitute the lemon juice with twenty to thirty drops of lemon essential oil and then you won’t have to refrigerate it. Using the essential oils though will up the price a bit on your homemade product.

Silver Cleaner- Although I don’t polish silver very frequently, this is a great to have in your bag of tricks. This will clean all of those nooks and crannies that are hard to reach in more detailed pieces and is great if you have a big batch of silver that needs cleaning. In a large bowl (or you can use your kitchen sink) place strips of aluminum foil in and place the silver pieces on top. Cover the silver with boiling water and then add three tablespoons of baking soda and soak for ten minutes.

By making your own cleaners, you will save hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. For example, a bottle of window cleaner will usually run you around two or three dollars. A bottle of your homemade window cleaner though, will cost you about five cents. What a difference that will make to your grocery budget and helping the environment is a wonderful benefit of your fabulous frugalness.

For more tips visit the following links:


Next week, I have received a request to discuss cleaning out the fridge so I will share some tips for that next week. Please, please send me your questions about anything! Email your questions to amy@momadvice.com and I will be sure to add your requests to my list. Without your requests, this column wouldn’t be possible and I would love to keep this going. I have enjoyed sharing through this format and it helps me come up with more content for our site. The answers will be added to our website as articles for quick reference!

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ask Frugal Momma: The Amazing Dishwasher


I have decided to start a weekly segment on getting to know items in your home. I got some emails and comments about my post yesterday, regarding some tips for your dishwasher, and I thought it would be great to start a little segment explaining frugal tips for caring for your appliances. If you have an appliance or item in your home that you would like to be featured, or you have a question about an item in your home that you would like to know more about, please email me at amy@momadvice.com and I will try and hunt for all those answers for you. Consider it a Frugal Momma question and answer column and ask away! I am not an expert in anything so take my advice with a grain of salt!

I don’t know what I would do without my dishwasher! There is an urban legend out there that says that washing dishes by hand is cheaper than washing them in the dishwasher. You actually waste less water by using your dishwasher, which makes the dishwasher a great addition to a frugal homeowner’s house.

First, there is no exact science to loading a dishwasher, but there are a few guidelines. Heavy duty stuff (pots, pans, plates, & utensils) go on bottom & delicate items and glassware go on top. Place everything in the upper rack facedown and put everything on the lower rack aimed towards the center. Silverware should have forks and spoons alternating, otherwise you will get spoons stuck together and they will need to be rewashed.

The important things to know to keep your costs low for running a dishwasher are pretty simple and straightforward. First, it is not economical to pre-rinse your dishes, especially with the newer models that they have out now for dishwashers. If you have an older dishwasher, like me, a quick pre-rinse with cold water only is the most efficient way to get your dishes clean.
Secondly, try and run the most cost-effective cycle on your dishwasher. Try the shorter cycle first and see if your dishes come out clean. If you need to still run the full cycle, don’t run the drying cycle and allow the dishes to air dry. It is more cost-effective and there is less chance of spotting on your glassware.

It is also important to read the manual for your dishwasher to see the recommended amount of dishwashing detergent you should use. The manufacturer will have the best suggestion for the amount of detergent you should use. Are your dishes looking a little gritty? Do you have a nasty residue on your glasses? The remedy to that problem is decreasing the amount of dishwashing detergent. If you don’t have the guidelines handy, you can always look them up on the manufacturer’s website or you can do your own test run to see how much you actually need to get those dishes clean.

If your glasses are looking spotty then you might need to add something to your dishwasher to make it perform better. I fill our rinse agent dispenser with white vinegar. Vinegar is great for removing spots on dishes and it leaves everything squeaky clean. Just fill the rinse aid dispenser as you would with the commercial stuff and stand back in amazement. You won’t believe how much better your dishwasher will perform with just this simple household solution.

I noticed that our dishwasher was looking pretty bad on the interior and I found the quickest way to get your dishwasher looking like new again is just running an empty cycle and filling the detergent cup with a drinking mix with citrus in it. You can use any citrus drink mix and fill it just as you would with your regular detergent. Any drink mix will do- lemonade, Tang, Crystal Lite, or any other drink mix with the citrus ingredient in it. We had a drink mix that the kids just didn’t like and that ended up going in the dishwasher instead. Doing this once a month will help keep your dishwasher looking like new.

Stubborn spots on the dishwashing door are also bothersome. If running a cycle of citrus drink powder doesn’t do the trick, you can try using other products on the door to get rid of the stains. Tomato-based stains will just have to fade with time, but you can sprinkle a little baking soda on your door and let it set for awhile. Take a soft dishtowel and add a little water to make a paste. Then rub the heck out of it and see if that removes the stain. The baking soda paste is also great for countertops or for burnt on gunk on your dishes.

There is a feature on dishwashers that I have never used, and only after writing this article would I even be aware that it even exists. The feature is the Rinse & Hold feature. This is a great feature for those dishes that you just absolutely cannot picture leaving in the sink until the dishwasher is run in the evening. Instead of washing a few dishes, you can run the Rinse and Hold cycle and have the dishwasher rinse them off for you. But how frugal is this feature? According to Consumer Reports, using this feature only takes two gallons of water compared with four gallons for a typical hand-washing. The energy needed to heat the water though, makes this a less than frugal feature so only use this feature when absolutely necessary. It is much more energy efficient to run your dishwasher with a full load.

Finally, you can make your own dishwashing detergent for a fraction of the cost. All you need to make dishwashing detergent is Borax (at our local store a box of this runs about $3.99), baking soda (cheapest at your wholesale club store) and regular old salt. Mix one cup Borax, one cup baking soda (you can also substitute this with washing soda, but most people don't have this on hand) and 1/4 cup salt. Add a tablespoon of this to your detergent dispenser and run it through a normal cycle. With vinegar added as a rinse aid, the dishes will be clean & spot free.

These blog entries will be added as articles to our Organize section of the site, for quick reference.

Up next week, Amelia's question on making your own cleaners! I can't wait to talk about this one!

Don't forget to submit those questions. I hope that this will be a fabulous addition to the blog!

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Frugal Carpet Steaming


When we got our townhouse in Massachusetts, the carpets were riddled with dirt & grime. I was pregnant with our son at the time, and the carpets were so disgusting that I refused to even take my shoes off, for fear of how filthy my socks would get from our carpet. The house had been owned previously by a rental company and, let's face it, many renters do not care about keeping a home nice that doesn't technically belong to them.

When my in-laws saw how horrible the carpets were, they offered to purchase a small steam cleaner for our new place. They took us to Target and invested in a small Bissell Steam Cleaner for our new home and some bottles of cleaner for us to deep clean the carpet.

Despite our best efforts, we ended up having to replace the carpet throughout the entire house and then two years later, we moved here.

The Bissell Steam Cleaner has been sitting in the basement the whole time we have lived here despite having some carpet in this house. Other projects have come before deep-cleaning carpets, but the other day as I was vacuuming, I realized that one of the reasons I do not like our lower level carpet is because the carpet doesn't seem clean to me.

A light bulb went off and I ran downstairs to grab the steamer and cleaners. I poured the cleaner into the steamer and started steaming our playroom. The water that I dumped out was a murky gray and I made my husband come in and look at all the yuckiness I was able to suck up. After all, isn't that what husbands are supposed to do? What is being married all about, if not for the fact that we can witness the grossness together?

After steaming those floors and feeling the pride in how clean they were, I was ready to steam all the other carpets and rugs in our home. Unfortunately, the cleaner had run out so I would have to invest in some more of the carpet cleaner... Or would I?

I ran downstairs and started searching on the internet to try and find if there were any alternatives to the pricey carpet cleaners. Sure enough, I came up with several recommendations from the commercial carpet cleaning companies.

If you do not want to buy the cleaners, simply fill the tank with the hottest tap water possible and throw in a cup (or two for a large tank) of white vinegar. Begin steaming as you did with the commercial cleaners and stand back in amazement as you notice that this inexpensive solution works just as well as the pricey cleaner.

My main concern with the vinegar was that it would make our carpets smell like vinegar. I need not worry though because vinegar has great odor neutralizing properties , so after about an hour my carpets smelled fresh and they no longer harbored the bad smells or the vinegar smell.

Now that I know how cheap it is to do this, I am more motivated than ever to keeping our carpets fresh and clean.

What are some of your favorite homemade remedies for cleaning items in your home?

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