Backache saver

Paula Vogelgesang

I’ve worked in a small grocery store for many years and one of the jobs I really don’t like is having to get down on my hands and knees to dig/scrape wads of chewing gum off of the floor after it’s been walked on all day. So I finally used some gray duct tape and taped a sharpened putty knife to the end of an old mop handle. It takes a lot less time to dig the junk up off of the floor and also saves my back and knees.

Smelly basement cure

One of my biggest problems every spring is an odd smell in the basement. I have one area that has a bit of a moisture problem. Not every year, just some of the time. It’s worse than usual during a wet year like this one. I tried the commercial cleaners but it’s an old, rough cement floor and hard to work with. Then someone told me, “Just put handfuls of plain baking soda on the floor for a few days and then sweep it up. It worked! Soda is nontoxic, has no smell of its own and it’s really cheap. I bought a couple of 1-pound boxes and scattered it around and I didn’t have to worry about kids, cats or dogs getting hurt with the stuff. It took the smell away in about 36 hours and it was all good until this spring so I am repeating the process again. I did discover that some box stores carry 12 pound bags of the stuff so I bought one of them and took out a couple of pint jars of soda for my kitchen baking cupboard. I still have lots left for the basement.

Sock savings

I have six children ages 4 through 15 and when I have to buy socks for the whole crew the cost really adds up fast. A neighbor shared one of her ideas with me and it works quite well as long as the kids don’t know it.

She takes the outgrown and holey socks from the older children and recycles them for the smaller ones. First, she turns the sock wrong side out, marks out the holey place with a pencil and then sews a new end in the sock. After which she cuts off the hole and then turns the sock back right side out, matches it with the other sock that has also been shortened and puts them back in the drawer. Doing both socks means the kids can’t tell the difference. She only buys solid color socks and several pairs at the same time.

Fire protection

You can make a fire extinguisher for your outdoor fire pit or grill with just two ingredients. Mix 4 ounces of baking soda with 1 gallon of water and just keep it close at hand. This is equal to 80 gallons of plain water (soda magic) and just might save the yard if the fire should want to get away.

Patch a pan

I have an old milk pan that belonged to my dad over 60 years ago and I use it under one of my big potted plants. It developed a small leak a while back and I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how to fix it so I could continue to enjoy this item from my father. A friend came over and I was telling her about my problem and she solved it in about 30 seconds. She asked me if I had any clear nail polish in the house. I went and got it for her. She turned the pan upside down and put a coat of the polish over the spot, flipped it back over again with the hole hanging over the side of the table and dabbed at the hole on the inside. She then told me to let it dry and repeat a couple more times and it will be just fine. So I did what she said and it worked! The nail polish completely sealed up that little hole and I am once more enjoying my little treasure from my father.

Cleaning computer keyboards

To wipe away the dust and dirt that gets between the keys on your computer keyboard, it is recommended to use a small brush, but I never could find one that didn’t get stuck. Then I discovered some fat-looking pipe cleaners at a variety store and they work really well. I can bend them double to use in the row and then just use a single thickness between the keys. They are really fuzzy and get all the gunk with one pass. They clean easy too.

Clean faucets

This time of year, with the guys in and out of the fields and the machinery, the bathroom faucets take a beating. I’ve discovered an easy and cheap way to clean them. Just soak a rag in some vinegar and wrap it around the faucets for about 15 minutes, then give them a good rub down and polish with a dry rag.

Cheap food storage

Instead of buying plastic containers for leftover foods, I use my quart and pint canning jars instead. I can see what is inside and, because I already have them, I’m not spending any money. I think it will be extra important this year considering all the flooding and freezing we’ve had to deal with so money will be scarce.

If you have hints or ideas to share, send them to PennyWise, Box 518, Kadoka, SD 57543; or email them to If you send me your name and address, I’ll send you a free copy of the PennyWise Newsletter. Please mention High Plains Journal when you write.

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