The leather furniture or pillows in your home do need cleaning occasionally. Be aware that leather is a skin, so you must treat it with care. Use these Heloise Hints:
1. For smooth leather (not suede), dampen a microfiber cloth with tap water and wipe over the surface several times going in many directions. The cloth will pick up dirt and grime. Do not scrub leather or use caustic or abrasive cleaners. However, if the leather needs a bit more cleaning, dilute 1 teaspoon of baby shampoo with 1quart of water.
2. If there are oily or greasy stains on leather, pat a bit of flour or cornstarch into the stains to absorb the oil. You may have to repeat several times.
Sponges are one of the most useful and effective household cleaning tools in your home. They get used in almost every room of the house. They can get very grungy and smelly. Plus, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Here are my best Heloise Hints to clean them:
1. Wash sponges often by placing them in a squirt of dishwashing liquid and hot water. Squish them several times, rinse and dry.
2. Put them into the dishwasher (on the top rack!) to clean during a regular washing cycle. Use a clothespin to clip them to the rack so they don’t go missing.
3. But, if you want to sanitize sponges, soak them for 5 minutes in a solution of 1 gallon of water with ¾ cup of household bleach. Don’t rinse.
4. Don’t keep battered old sponges. Kitchen sponges should be thrown away every 2 to 8 weeks, depending on use. I buy new sponges in big packs, when they are on sale. You know you are going to use them! Plus, they don’t go bad.
If brass objects in your home have become tarnished, you can make home-style cleaning polishes to shine them up. What you use will depend on whether the item is lacquered or non-lacquered. Here’s what to do:
1. To clean lacquered brass, first step is to wipe it with a soft, clean damp cloth. Do not use any kind of cleaner on this surface.
2. To shine non-lacquered brass, here are several hints: Squirt ketchup onto a cloth and rub over the object. Rinse very well and dry. Or, make this solution: dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt with ½ cup of white vinegar and add enough flour to make a paste. Rub mixture onto the brass and let stay for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and buff dry.
Any fire in a house can spread very quickly. Often, heat and smoke can be more dangerous than the flames. Gases make people sleepy and asphyxiation is a leading cause of fire deaths. Here’s what you should do during a fire and be sure all family members know what to do, too:
1. If the fire is small, grab an extinguisher to try to put it out. If you can’t get it under control with in a very short time, leave the house ASAP. Call 9-1-1.
2. If your clothes catch fire, drop to the ground and roll until the flames are gone.
3. If you have to escape from a closed door, use the back of your hand to touch the doorknob and top of the door—before you open it. If they are hot, don’t open. Attempt to get out a window. If the door is cool, open slowly to determine if there is a clear escape route, shut the door behind you when you leave the room.
4. If you see smoke in the escape route, crawl on the floor, underneath the smoke, because smoke and poisonous gases rise to the ceiling.
If you have purchased an item that doesn’t work or you are not happy with the service from a store or business, here’s a checklist to help you make an effective complaint in writing or over the phone—that will get you a refund or the results you want:
1. Save the receipts of the item you bought or make a detailed note of the service that was not done.
2. Include your name, address, work, home or cell numbers.
3. Cite the date and place of purchase.
4. Provide the serial and model number of the merchandise.
5. Give the name of the person, who did the work, if it’s a service complaint.
6. Make copies of your complaint and wait for a response, it may take time,
7. If you don’t get a response, contact the Better Business Bureau or newspaper or TV stations that have consumer reporters who might be able to help.
If they aren’t going to be eaten right away, might go stale or you don’t have room to freeze them, repurpose these yeasty treats into something else. Here are several crunchy ideas:
1. Transform bread into breadsticks: Cut into strips, cover with butter or olive oil, sprinkle with seasonings, bake till crispy.
2. Mix bread into a meatloaf or casserole: Tear bread into pieces; add an egg and seasonings to spice it up.
3. Cut bread into croutons: Dice into bite-size cubes, coat with olive oil and cover with seasonings before baking.
If your children have hamsters or gerbils, the cage/aquarium has to be cleaned often. This task is one the kids need to learn to do to care for their pet/s. Here are the Heloise Hints they can use to clean it out:
1. Empty the cage and really take everything out. That includes, toys, bedding and, of course, the pets!
2. Put the cage into the shower or tub and fill with an inch or so of water. Add several heaping tablespoons of baking soda. Scrub the bottom and sides thoroughly to remove all debris. Rinse with clear water. Dry well. The odors should be gone and the aquarium glass clean. Don’t use detergent that has a strong fragrance.
When the bread is gone, don’t throw out the empty plastic bag! Instead, you can reuse it in a bunch of ways around your home you probably have never thought about. Here are my Heloise Helpful Hints:
1. Put the bread bag into a gym bag and you can use it to hold a wet swimsuit until you get home.
2. Pop a bag into a tote bag or large purse to dispose of a small, dirty diaper when you are our and about.
3. Line a coffee can, next to your kitchen sink, with this bag and it will collect and contain the wet garbage from cooking and make it less messy and easy to toss out.
4. Carry several of these when you travel or walk your dog. You can use it to pick up and then dispose of the droppings.
Salt is a household staple with a zillion uses. Aside from seasoning food, it’s cheap, safe, mildly abrasive/scrubbing cleaning agent. Here are some of my favorite Heloise Hints you can use to clean instead of using harsh chemicals:
1. To sop up salad-dressing drips on garments or red-wine stains on a tablecloth, pour salt on top of the stain to absorb the liquid. Put the tablecloth or garment into cold water and rub the stain. Use an enzyme detergent in the hottest water safe for the fabric, soak for 30 minutes and wash as you normally do.
2. To remove stains from a coffee mug, sprinkle the bottom with lots of salt, add a little cold water and swirl around several times to scrub off the stains.
3. To clean a stained narrow-necked vase, pour in a half-cup or so of rock salt, along with a squirt of dish soap and then fill with cool water. Cover the top and shake well. Rinse and it should look great.
4. To eliminate too many suds in the bath or sink, sprinkle lots of salt over the suds and they will magically disappear!
You may not realize it, but an enormous amount of the dust in our homes, we actually track it in from the outside. So, there are many steps (pun intended) you can take to prevent it from getting inside:
1. Put doormats in front of every entrance into your home. Ask everyone to wipe their shoes on them, before they come inside.
2. Sweep off all dirt and debris from sidewalks and driveways on a regular basis. The less there is, the less tracked inside.
3. Vacuum often around all the doors (especially the ones used the most) and windows.
4. Window fans can pull dust inside. Be sure they are covered during long-term non-use.
5. Get air purifiers with HEPA filters to help catch dust particles. Do check to see how often they should be changed.