Amy Clark

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 07.19.07

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Cool Tips

As the temperature outside rises, so does our electric bills, elevated by all those fans and air conditioners. To minimize their elevation, prepare your air conditioner for the cooling season.

Clean the condenser coils on your window or through-the-wall units. Remove the cover to gain access to the coils and clean them with a soft bristle brush. While you’re in there, clean out any lint build up and oil the motor if it is equipped with oil ports on the sides.

Outdoor compressors for whole house units could use a good cleaning, too. Remove sticks, leaves and those fluffy seeds with a hose sprayer.

Protecting your outdoor compressor or your window unit from the hot direct sun can help increase its energy efficiency.

Don’t forget to clean or replace your air conditioner’s filter.
Naomi K.

Simple Rash Soother

My daughter often has rashes from unknown causes so we tend to keep some of those expensive oatmeal bath preparations in the medicine cabinet. One night she came in from a long evening of playing outdoors, and of course, she had a rash. I discovered that we were out of the normal Aveeno oatmeal bath! Ugh! I decided to try regular oatmeal (not the instant flavored oatmeal) and put it into our coffee grinder. We had an instant oatmeal bath, and it worked even better than that drugstore stuff!
Roben K. in Fresno CA

Dinner to Go

For our vacation this summer, my family will be staying for a week in a beach condominium with a full kitchen. In order to save money and eat healthier, we have decided to keep eating out to a minimum. But, who wants to spend a lot of time cooking or haul a lot of ingredients? So, I decided to pre-assemble freezer meals here at home using ingredients I bought on sale. The dinners will fit in a zipper bag and will stay cold in our ice chest until we get to our destination. They will go into the freezer and I will cook them up when we’re ready to eat them. I’ll just add a salad and some bread. We look forward to easy-to-prepare, affordable, and healthy meals away from home, and some great beach memories.
Erin J.

Creative Corn Silk Solution

While processing 400 ears of corn for freezing this week, our family needed extra corn silk brushes, so we improvised and discovered a great tip. Use a microfiber cloth to silk the corn before blanching. The microfiber cloth is slightly sticky to the corn silks and absorbs any corn milk. This eliminates the corn silk beautifully and makes less mess than a brush.
Linda in Raleigh NC

Natural Mosquito Repellant

I read in a book about putting basil around and the mosquitoes will leave you alone. I had a plant growing in my home and took it outdoors on the 4th of July. I sat on the porch for about four hours to watch the fireworks and did not see one mosquito.

Cleaning Discount

Cleaning products are so expensive and take up an unbelievable amount of space to store. We mix equal parts of vinegar and water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid into a spray bottle to use as everyday household cleaner. This works great on sinks, shower stalls, tile and linoleum floors, counter tops, etc. Plus, it saves a ton at the discount stores at check out.
Denise O. in Beemer, NE

Nasty Gnats

To get rid of gnats, fill a disposable pie pan with 1 3/4 cups white vinegar, 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap, and 2 cups water. Let this mixture sit on your kitchen counter or other problem area. You will be surprised at how many you’ll get.
Melissa J. in Madison, IN.

Divide and Conquer

When I buy any plant at the store, I separate the perennials when I get home. I bought a plant for $4.99 and was able to get five plants out of it, putting it in different parts of my yard. Make sure to only buy the healthiest plants.
Melinda M.

Cool Slumber

Place a wet washcloth somewhere on yourself when you lie down to sleep with a fan set on “Low” blowing directly on you. You’ll cool off fast because the heat of your body will be drawn to the “cold spot.” This works the same way if you put a cold wet towel around your neck while you do yard work, etc.
Diane S. in North Olmsted, OH

Removing Mildew

Borax is one of those often forgotten cleaners our grandparents swore by. To remove mildew from upholstery and other fabrics, soak a sponge in a solution of 1/2 cup borax dissolved in 2 cups hot water, and rub it into the affected areas. Let it soak in for several hours until the stain disappears, then rinse well.

To remove mildew from clothing, soak it in a solution of 2 cups borax in 2 quarts (2 liters) water. Of course, modern fabrics can be a bit more fragile than our grandmother’s generation, so it’s a good idea to test a hidden corner first for sensitivity, but so far I haven’t found any problems.
Pam M.

Published July 19, 2007 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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