Tag Archives: diy cleaning tips

12 Clever Uses for Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a common ingredient in the kitchen. Perfect for thickening up everything from soup to pudding, cornstarch is a wonderful go-to product that can do wonders for your favorite recipes. But don’t limit yourself to gravies and sauces…

Cornstarch can also be used to make face paint, untangle knots, clean oily hair, fight tough stains, and so much more. One box can last you for months, and you’ll love how easy your cleaning (and cooking) routine becomes with the help of this wonderful ingredient.


  • Use cornstarch to make face paint for Halloween, birthday parties, and more. Simply mix two parts cornstarch with one part white vegetable shortening to make a non-toxic grease paint. Add food coloring to change the color.
  • Make your old silverware sparkle like new with a simple combination of cornstarch and water. Use a soft cloth to apply it to your silver, let it dry, then buff each piece for a beautiful shine.
  • Late night poker game leave your cards gross to the touch? Dump those cards in a paper bag, along with a couple tablespoons of cornstarch. Shake the bag to coat the cards, then wipe them down to clean.
  • If your carpets are smelling a little musty, you can sprinkle cornstarch over the surface and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Vacuum as normal.
  • You can use cornstarch as a dry shampoo. Between regular shampoos, a sprinkling of cornstarch can help absorb excess oils. Brush thoroughly to remove excess cornstarch. This is also a great temporary method to help clean dogs as well.
  • Use cornstarch instead of flour to help thicken gravies, sauces, casseroles, soups, and stews. When your recipe calls for flour, use ½ as much cornstarch and your result will be much creamier (so for 2 TBS flour, use 1 TB cornstarch instead).
  • Untangle knots in strings and shoelaces by sprinkling the trouble spot with a little cornstarch.
  • Create your own streak free window cleaning solution by mixing 2 TBS cornstarch with ½ cup ammonia and ½ cup white vinegar. Combine everything in a large bucket containing 3-4 quarts of warm water. The solution should look milky when ready. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray on car and home windows to clean. Rinse with warm water and wipe with a paper towel.
  • If you have a roach problem and want to take matters into your own hands, combine equal parts of cornstarch and Plaster of Paris and sprinkle into any crack and crevice in your home. The roaches will eat the fatal mixture and you should be roach free!
  • Need some spray starch for collars and shirts? Mix one tablespoon cornstarch and one pint of cold water. Stir to dissolve. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and use normally as you would any starch.
  • Sprinkle cornstarch on furniture, clothing, briefcases, and shoes to help eliminate stains. This method works especially well for oil stains. Let the cornstarch work its magic overnight and rub the stain out the next day.
  • You can use cornstarch to prevent and kill mildew in your old books that may have had water damage in the past. Just sprinkle the cornstarch all throughout the book to absorb the moisture and let it sit several hours before wiping the book clean.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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14 DIY Household Deodorizers

Nasty smells can linger in any room in the home. Bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, and basements can retain smells for months…sometimes years.

Everyday products like plastic storage containers, rugs, bedding, and garbage cans can also absorb odors that make them near unusable.

Luckily there are tons of household products that you can use to help you eliminate these pesky odors. Even items like onions and mustard can be used to remove the smell from plastic jars and musty basements.

Oftentimes, these products work better than their chemically treated counterparts and, best of all, they won’t leave your entire home smelling like bleach!


Vodka: You can spritz your vintage garments with a small amount of vodka to rid them of that terrible musty smell (make sure you spot test first). Vodka will kill the bacteria on your clothes without leaving a scent. Hang in a well-ventilated area to dry.

Orange Peels: Stubborn odors plaguing your garbage disposal? Drop orange peels, lemon peels, lime or grapefruit peels down the drain and run your disposal with the hot water on.

Vanilla Extract: Refrigerators and freezers can absorb odors quickly and easily. Zap that pesky fridge odor by rubbing your freezer with a cotton pad dampened with pure vanilla extract.

Vinegar: Create a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water and wipe down the shelves of your refrigerator to eliminate any lingering smells.

Vinegar: To absorb cooking odors, place a small bowl of white vinegar on the stove while you cook.

Vinegar: To deodorize the toilet bowl, pour one cup of household vinegar into the toilet bowl, let it stand for at least five minutes, and then scrub and flush.

Wax Tart: If your car is holding on to smells from every road trip and run to the pizza place, you can hide those powerful odors by dropping a wax tart in your coffee cup holder or under the seats of your car. These small wax tarts are sold by candle makers and will release scents slowly.

Mustard: Saving leftovers is easy with plastic containers, but foods like fish, sauces, and meats can easily leave a nasty smell behind. Add a dollop of mustard to glass or plastic jars and fill with hot water. Let sit and wash with soap and water to leave your Tupperware smelling fresh and clean.

Baking Soda: Eliminate scents from living room and bathroom rugs by sprinkling problem areas with baking soda and vacuuming it up a few hours later.

Baking Soda: Fill ashtrays with 1/2 cup baking soda for a continual deodorizer in your car.

Onions: Who would have thought that onions would help you remove odors from your home? If you find yourself with a basement that smells dank and musty, cut an onion in half, place it on a plate, and leave it in the basement overnight. Once the initial salad-bar aroma dissipates, you’ll have fresh (non-oniony) air. Like magic!

Salt: Sprinkling salt on drips that have bubbled over and out of cookware will absorb any burned smell while a dish is still cooking.

Fabric Softener Sheets: Used fabric softener sheets left in the bottom of your kitchen trash will absorb odors from disposed food.

Essential Oils: Soak your favorite scents on cotton balls and store in small bowls around your home to keep every room smelling clean and fresh.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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9 Clever Uses for the Dishwasher

Baseball hats, sponges, toys, flip flops, and potatoes all have one thing in common…they can all be cleaned with a dishwasher!

This standard kitchen appliance isn’t just for dishes anymore. With a little creativity, you can use your dishwasher to clean everything from hats to food.

As someone who has tried several of these ideas, I don’t recommend mixing any of these things in with a load of dishes, since food particles can get on the fabric of a baseball hat. If you’re going to wash shoes, toys, or other kitchen equipment in the dishwasher, gather up as much as you can to give yourself a good sized load. Do the dishes separately to ensure that nothing gets damaged in the process.

Also I recommend letting anything you wash in the dishwasher (that isn’t dishes) air dry. The heat setting on the machine can melt plastic and warp certain materials, so simply wash your products and let them air dry in the racks with the door open to allow for air flow.


Clean Baseball Hats: Perhaps the most well-known odd use for a dishwasher is to use it to clean dirty baseball hats. Rather than putting them through the vigorous washing machine, place dirty hats on the top rack of the dishwasher and they’ll come out stink free. This trick also works well for shin guards and knee pads.

Properly Clean Kitchen Sponges: Sponges are notorious for absorbing odors, so if you find yourself with a smelly sponge, simply throw them into your dishwasher to extend their use.

Clean Kids and Dog Toys: From LEGOS to tug of war toys, the dishwasher can handle all the germs that kids and pets seem to attract. Doing this around flu season can help limit your chances of having to deal with runny noses and upset tummies.

Get New Life from Flip Flops, Jellies, and Crocs: Rubber shoes aren’t made to last forever, but you can get good use out of them if you wash them occasionally. Rubber also absorbs foot odor, so these summer staples tend to smell…so remember to wash them once in a while to keep your toes (and your home) smelling fresh. You could also run the dishwasher with a little baking soda to help clean the shoes and your dishwasher at the same time.

Give Your Car a New Set of Wheels: Stubborn road grime can be hard to remove from metal hubcaps and wheel covers, but a run through the dishwasher on the pots and pans cycle ought to give your hub caps a sparkly shine.

Garden and Construction Tools: Rusty outdoor tools can do with a good cleaning every so often. Freshen up garden tools, hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches by tossing them into the dishwasher.

Get a Fresh Look with Clean Hair Accessories and Makeup Brushes: Hairspray, products, and oily tresses can gunk up your favorite hair pieces…so run your combs, brushes, ties, barrettes, and hairpins through the dishwasher to help extend their use. You can also use the dishwasher to clean the oils and residue from your makeup brushes. This will not only extend the life of your brushes, but will help prevent acne from forming, since plenty of bacteria reside on your brushes (Hairbrushes and combs made of plastic can take a spin, but not wood or natural boar-bristle brushes. Be sure to remove all the hair first to protect the drain).

Stubborn Kitchen Shelves, Grates, and Stovetops: Spills and burns can make refrigerator shelves, oven shelves, and stovetop grates near impossible to clean by hand, but the mighty dishwasher can help clean those tough spots in no time.

Soapy Suds: Okay, don’t add soap, but the dishwasher can help you clean off a whole bunch of potatoes if you’re cooking for a crowd.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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11 Clever Uses for Cream of Tartar

Bakers should be familiar with cream of tartar…especially those who love making meringue cookies, whipped cream, or egg white desserts. But did you know you could use it for lots of other things? Thankfully, cream of tartar is often used in tiny amounts, so a little goes a long way. That means you either have it on hand for years, or you can use it to help clean your home, your pots and pans, and even make playdough for your kids!

Cream of tartar is a natural product, and is formed from the sediment left over in barrels after the winemaking process.

In terms of usage, cream of tartar has multiple uses in food preparation–including stabilizing egg whites by increasing their heat tolerance and volume, and preventing sugary syrups, chocolates and candies from crystallizing. Here are a few other ways to use cream of tartar:

Cream of Tartar

–Add cream of tartar to whipped cream after it has been whipped to help stabilize it. This is especially helpful if you’re using whipped cream to frost a cake.

–In the same respect, you can add cream of tartar to egg whites when whipping them to increase their volume and help them maintain peaks at higher temperatures, like when making a pie or meringue cookies.

–If you’re cooking vegetables in boiling water, you can add cream of tartar to the water to reduce discoloration.

–Make a paste of cream of tartar and vinegar (or any other acid, such as lemon juice) and use it to buff and clean metals, like your cookware. Make a scrub by combining 2 1/2 cups baking soda, 1 1/2 cups salt, and 2 tablespoons cream of tartar. Store it in an airtight container. When you’re ready to use it, pour a couple tablespoons of the powder onto the cookware and scrub with a moist nylon scrubber.

–You could also boil a solution of 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, 1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice, and 1 quart water in a metal pot for ten minutes to help clean any buildup on the bottom or sides of the pot.

–Use cream of tartar in your homemade playdough to help prevent the formation of crystals.

–Mix in a small amount of cream of tartar to create smooth icings, syrups, and caramels.

–If in a pinch, make your own baking powder by combining two parts cream of tartar with one part each baking soda and cornstarch.

–Repel ants by sprinkling cream of tartar around the hole the ants came from. You can also sprinkle it on cracks and crevices near your doorway to prevent them from coming in the house.

–Combine a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with cream of tartar until it has the consistency of paste. Spread the paste around the area to be cleaned in the bathtub or sink. Scrub the tub with a brush and the paste. Rinse to clean.

–Remove sweat stains from the collar area of a button down shirt by rubbing in some cream of tartar. Launder as usual to remove the stain.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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When to Replace Everyday Items

Ever wonder how often you should replace the things you use every day?  Toothbrushes, razors, makeup, etc?  Even food like milk, eggs, and yogurt?  Well, look no further…

I’ve gathered a list of items that I use almost on a weekly basis and done some research to see how often they should be replaced…and hiding in shame when discovering that I’ve broken several disposal rules.  How do your cleaning regiments match up to what the experts say?  Let’s take a look:


This is one category where the time of disposal is unmeasurable.  Razors should glide across your skin, especially when you’re going with the grain of your hair.  If your razor feels like it’s pulling, that means it’s dull and should probably be replaced.  To extend the life of your razor, make sure you rinse it with warm water after every use and let it air dry when you’re done shaving.  If you see rust on the blade, toss it immediately.  The life of your razor depends on the quality of the item, how often it’s used, and the thickness of your hair.  With a little common sense, you can avoid cuts and nicks by keeping a sharp eye on the blades.


Dentists say that toothbrushes should be replaced every three months.  You should also invest in a new toothbrush if your old one shows wear in the bristles.  Worn and fractured bristles are a breeding ground for bacteria…so you could be doing more harm than good if you’re brushing with an old toothbrush.  You should also get a new toothbrush after a sickness or flu.  There’s nothing worse than continuously infecting yourself with a flu bug!  To help remind you to replace your brush, simply write the “expiration date” on the toothbrush handle.  Invest in those jumbo packs of brushes from Sam’s Club and Costco to save some money if you live with more than two people.


Everyone has a different name for them:  loofahs, bath sponges, etc.  Basically those sponge like contraptions you use to wash your body.  My aunt once called hers a shower flower and I loved that…so the name kind of stuck.  Regardless of the name, these sponges live in a warm wet environment…a bacteria heaven.  If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your body sponge, it’s probably been too long.  These are inexpensive to buy, so I usually replace mine when I switch out my toothbrush.  If your sponge is discolored, falling apart, or has an odor, it’s time to replace it.

This holds true for dish sponges as well.  If it starts to smell, it’s time to go.  You can also put your sponges in the dishwasher to clean them between replacements.


If you are using a liquid based make up, it should be replaced every six months.  This was a shock to me.  I have makeup that I’ve saved for a year or more!  If you are using mineral makeup, that can last for up to a year.  Compact Powder and Blush lasts about 6 to 9 months. The brushes and rounds that come with them should be replaced whenever they start to get dirty. It’s easier to replace them than to wash them, unless you have your own expensive brushes you like to use. In that case, wash them.  Eye makeup, including liner, mascara, and powder, should be replaced every 3-6 months…earlier if you’ve had pink eye since using it.  I can speak from experience here…eye makeup can quickly become germ infested.  I’ve had my fair share of reactions to old eye makeup and I’m telling you, it’s not fun.  Lipsticks and gloss last for a year…those are safe to keep for a while.  As a rule of thumb, I’d say refresh your makeup every 4 or 5 months.  Luckily I’m a Clinique girl…so I wait for those Clinique bonus days, buy my favorite moisturizer, and get free makeup about every month!


Eggs and meat are often marked with a “sell by” date.  While following this date insures the best use of the food, you can use eggs and meat for a few days after the date.  According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, the following rules apply:

Poultry, ground meat and ground poultry, fresh variety meats (liver, tongue, brain, kidneys, heart, chitterlings), and uncooked sausage can be stored for 1-2 days after sell by date

Beef, veal, pork, and lamb can be stored 3-5 days after sell by date

Cured ham (uncooked) can be stored 5-7 days after sell by date

Eggs can be stored 3-5 weeks after sell by date

Cooked poultry, cooked sausage, and lunch meat can be stored 3-4 days after sell by date

Bacon, hot dogs, and yogurt can be stored one week after sell by date

Generally it’s best to use food by the date marked on the package, but with the proper storage, food can last a bit longer if necessary.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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7 Clever Uses for Toothbrushes

Ideally you should only use a toothbrush for about 3-4 months before it needs to be replaced.  Seems like such a waste to let this little power cleaner spend the rest of its existence in the garbage!  Next time you replace your toothbrush, consider giving the old one a new job…

1.  Naturally toothbrushes are awesome cleaning tools.  Use them to clean hard to reach places around the house and everyday items, such as jewelry, computer key boards, cheese graters, buttons, waffle irons, and so much more.

2.  If you’re an out-of-the-box hair dyer, use an old toothbrush to apply color around your hairline.  It will limit the amount of color you have to scrub off your skin.

3.  Use toothbrushes to apply stain remover to clothes and car interiors.  Keep one in your glove compartment to remove dirt and rocks from tires.

4.  With summer just around the corner, it’s time to do some major cleaning!  Use an old toothbrush to get all the dust out of your air conditioner and fans before turning them on.

5.  Glue labels to them and stick them in the garden to identify plants and herbs.

6.  Use toothbrushes to exfoliate all over your body.  Rub it on your lips, face, elbows, knees, etc. to help remove dry dead skin.  Also great for a mani/pedi kit.

7.  If you’re creatively minded, you can turn old toothbrushes into really unique jewelry.  Read about making fun bracelets here.  Toothbrush bristles also make very unique paint strokes.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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9 Clever Uses for Shampoo

So it’s about this time in the summer when I get the desire to chop all my hair off.  I do like having longer hair because it’s easy to just put up in a pony tail…but short hair is just so much easier, cooler, and kinder to my shower drain!  PLUS, I don’t have to use nearly as much shampoo as I do with long hair…

So what else can I do with all the extra shampoo??  Or what if you bought a bottle on clearance only to discover you hate the smell, you have an allergic reaction to it, or you’re simply ready to try something new?  Here’s some new uses for your old shampoo…

Scrub a dub dub!

–Wash your lingerie, wool, or delicate clothes with shampoo.  It will not only clean gently but leave it smelling nice and fresh.

–Use shampoo you don’t like to wash your combs and brushes once a month.

–Mix baby shampoo and warm water together and soak a sweater that’s been shrunken.  Give it 15 minutes to get cozy with the soapy water and then transfer it to a bowl of clean water (do not wring it out).  Once it’s done soaking the second time, roll it in a towel to capture the moisture.  Lay it on a flat surface and start to reshape it.

–Use a mixture of shampoo and water to clean your houseplant leaves.

–Use it as a substitute for bubble bath, shaving cream, and hand soap.

–If you find your bathroom coated in hairspray (guilty!), use shampoo to wipe the residue off counters, mirrors, and walls.

–Use a dab of shampoo to clean spots out of rugs and carpet.

–Mix shampoo and conditioner to lubricate squeaky hinges in a pinch.

–Use oily-hair shampoo to clean collars instead of expensive laundry products.  Oily hair shampoo can also be used to remove car grease from your hands without drying them out.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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7 Clever Uses for Toothpaste

So you’re out of toothpaste and you run to the store to pick some up before work.  You go through your purse and find that you only have about $2.00 in change.  Since you’re in a hurry as it is, you grab the cheapest tube you can find, only to discover that it tastes like baking soda.  Yuck.  Well, you don’t want to put that purchase to waste…so here’s some other things you can do with toothpaste!

Minty fresh!

1.  Remove scuff from your shoes.  Simply dab some on your leather shoes and wipe with a cloth.  Wipe clean and you’re stepping out in style.

2.  Toothpaste is great for adding shine to your pearly whites, but it can also add a sparkle to that rock on your left finger.  Use a toothbrush to scrub your diamond ring with toothpaste and wipe it clean.  Your hand will be as sparkly as your smile.

3.  Use toothpaste to hang posters and fill “cavities” (ha!) in the wall.  Add a little drop to each of the four corners of your poster and hang it up.  It could also help hold a poster in place when you secure it with something stronger.  As for holes in the wall, use white toothpaste to fill in ugly nail holes and paint over it.  Good as new.  Toothpaste will also help remove those crayon stains from the wall, too.

4.  Be sure to add extra toothpaste to your overnight bag because it can also work as pimple ointment, bee sting ointment, and bug bite relief.  Use it as an overnight cream for pimples and rub it on a bug infected area to help sooth the pain and the itch.

5.  Put some toothpaste on a paper towel and fold it up.  Place it under the seat of your car and open the door to a minty breath of air every time you drive.

6.  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.

7.  Remove scratches from DVD’s and CD’s.  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.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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8 Clever Uses for Lemons

I don’t know if it’s the fact that summer is right around the corner or it’s just my life-long love of yellow, but I have been obsessed with lemons recently.  I redecorated my kitchen to accommodate my obsession, retiring my retro kitchen décor for that of photos of bright lemon desserts and sunshine colored towels.  Doing so got me thinking of what other possibilities could be in store for these little tangy fruit jewels…

Dirty microwave?  Leave a glass of lemon juice and water inside the microwave and turn it on for one minute.  It will smell good as new.

Rub half a lemon on your stainless steel sink to help remove lime scales.  Let it sit for a while and rinse.

Add equal parts lemon juice and water to an atomizer and create a wonderful chemical free air freshener for your home.

Combine lemon juice and baking soda into a paste and rub it on chrome or copper.  Rinse and buff with a soft cloth or paper towel.

Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to your dishwashing detergent to boost grease cutting power.

Use hot lemon juice and baking soda to de-clog drains.  On that note, throw some lemon peel in your garbage disposal unit once in a while to keep it smelling fresh.

Add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice to a half gallon of water for an effective and eco-friendly way to clean your windows.

Mix lemon pulp with sugar to exfoliate your feet.  Rub and rinse and you’ll smell of summer!

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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