We used to call these “Hints from Heloise.”  Anyone remember Heloise?  Oh well.  Now they are called “life hacks” – ways to make life simpler and solve pesky problems.

1. My mother cleaned everything with vinegar.  She had a number of glass-topped tables, and often the house smelled like a salad.  But it works.  One of my favorite uses for vinegar is to get the smells out of towels, whether they are musty/mildewy or just full of undesirable body scents.  A half cup or so in the washer, along with the detergent, and all the smells (including the vinegar smell) will be gone.  This works on doggie items too.  Oh – don’t use fabric softener on your towels – it makes them less absorbent.

2. More laundry tips: you don’t need to use as much soap as the label says.  Soap builds up in your clothing – try washing a load without any soap at all and you will be amazed to see how much soap appears!  Not only do I water down my laundry soap, but I use only ¾ of the amount of soap that is called for.

3. Same thing for shampoo and liquid hand soap. Dilute!  It sudses up much faster, too, instead of having to force that thick sticky glob of shampoo to disperse through your hair.

4. Regular bath soap – you know, a bar of soap – lasts longer if you unwrap it and leave it out for a few days. I have no idea why this works but I read about it, tried it, and it’s true.  ‘

5. Tired of the shower curtain flapping around your legs? So gross!  Our shower is in the tub, so I take a nice heavy bottle of shampoo and place horizontally it on the shower curtain with the ledge of the tub underneath it.  Then I push the bottle outward a little, so it won’t tumble back into the tub.  Voila!  The shower curtain stays where it belongs.

6. We are all thrifty people, especially those of us who dilute, but there is one item that you should toss before you reach the bitter end, and that is stick deodorant/antiperspirant. It stops working at a certain point.  Even though there may be a good quarter inch of stuff left, don’t risk it.  Deodorant is not all that expensive, so I give you permission to throw thriftiness to the winds and break out the new container of deodorant.

7. I developed this issue later in life, so you may not have it yet, but sometimes if my rings are wet on and off for a good part of the day, my finger skin under the ring gets a little funky. To keep this from happening, I use a bit of antifungal spray (the kind people use for jock itch or athlete’s foot) in the morning to keep the funk at bay.  You can put it on a cotton swab and poke around under the ring or just shpritz it right on to your ring finger and twist the ring around a little bit.  This works on any other funky body parts, too (use common sense – not in your mouth!).

8. My father had two home remedies that always worked: the first was putting a hot tea bag on your closed eye if a stye was developing.  I don’t know if it’s the heat or something in the tea itself, but it’s a great tip.  The second is his cold remedy — what he called a “gugga-mugga”:  a cup of hot milk with sugar and butter (which melts from the hot milk).  Some people find this disgusting, but again, it works to decongest and I have no idea how.

9. Another cold/flu remedy we use is Orange Tea, which is hot water with a mixture of instant iced tea and that orange-y product that supposedly the astronauts used! Mix it until it tastes good to you or your child, and it will warm you from the inside out.  Kids looooove it.

10. Another tip from my dad: if you are trying to get your kid, or yourself, into a pool or the ocean when the water seems really cold, do this:  put some of that cold water on your earlobes.  Do that a few times and somehow your body temperature adjusts and the cold water is not so agonizing.  Maybe it’s just the distraction of splashing your earlobes, but it works!

I will return with more life hacks in the future!  Meanwhile, I hope you find these useful.  Share your own!

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