Category Archives: cleaning products

Using What You Have & What Works

We have a large lot with a lot of trees. The trees dump a lot of pine cones, acorns and oak leaves on the property. Clean up requires much work, and a large volume of space to gather the leaves, cones, acorns, and compost same or haul them to the town’s leaf  or brush pile.

Because I am on a “clean up” jag, I’ve been working on the yard. I have no panic attack issues (that I know of) with the garden.

We only have 2 plastic trash barrels. They’re too big to go into my car. I have a few smaller metal trash cans, but they too would likely have to be put on their sides, and would probably leak leaves, etc. into my car. The better idea seems to be to bag up the leaves and take them to the dump that way. The leaf paper bags work, but are expensive and wasteful.

Because I’m not all that tall, hauling trash barrels and/or full leaf bags gets to be comic for everyone other than me, as the bags are nearly my size. They’re difficult to deal with, full.

Accordingly, we went looking for easier ways to haul the assorted leaves, twigs, etc.  DH brought home one of these:large concrete tub

It’s a concrete mixing tub. After using it a while, it cracked on the corner, so he bought another. It also cracked on the corner, but both are still usable, so we use them, cracks and all!

Last fall, we bit the bullet and bought a package of reusuable plastic bags. These are also made for construction. They’re called “Demo Bags” and we bought them with the idea that we’d use them over & over, for yard waste. So far that works!

The bags fit over the ends of the tubs. It’s not a loose fit, but it’s do-able.

I can push the contents of the tub right into the bag. This was completely unexpected, and welcome — it makes the job much easier!

The bags are big enough for me, especially with my “iffy” elbow that I don’t fill them, but put 1-3 tubs of leaves in them, about 1/2 the bag’s worth. I can then lift them without a problem.

I have a place to put away the tubs, but don’t have one for the previously used bags, yet. That’s the only glitch about this “system”. I’m using what we already had (the tubs), getting the yard cleaned up fairly efficiently, and I’ve cut down the amount of money spent on single-use supplies.

Definitely a win!

(The used bags are being stored right next to where the tubs are stored when they’re empty. Hurrah!)



Stealing From Our Grandmothers

Because I make rugs from old clothes, I’m always looking at the cheapest clothing in thrift shops with the idea that I could maybe use the materials? A few weeks ago, I found a super heavy, dirt brown wool pullover sweater. Ugly color. Not an attractive shape, but it was WOOL and heavy….

One of my rarely used tools is my long-pole feather duster. It upsets me for three reasons.

  1. That although I got it used, it’s made with ostrich feathers. (If it was made of chicken feathers I don’t think I’d mind so much, hypocrite and happy chicken consumer that I am!)
  2. It doesn’t work all that well. It has a telescoping metal handle, which is handy when trying to clean the staircase fan/light. It gets the fan blades cleaner but NOT clean!
  3. It’s a single-use tool. I only use it on the fan, and as I said, it doesn’t work that well….

Accordingly, I hardly use the feather duster. I feel guilty every time I look at it thinking that some bird’s tail feathers (and likely nothing else) were used to make it.

Our grandmothers covered their brooms with cloth, by pinning it on, to make dusters.

When I cut the felted sweater into pieces today, I had the yoke with the neck separate, and thought, “WTF a I going to do with that?” And then it hit me — one arm was flattened out and wrapped around the bottom of my broom. The neck was threaded onto the handle of the broom, and wrapped around the first piece. Fastened with a kilt pin? I now have a “duster” with a thick, recycled wood pad — on the end of a pole.

When I need to use the broom as a broom, I’ll just unpin the yoke, remove the now dirty sleeve for washing and put away the yoke and pin with the other flattened sleeve.

The wool started out dirt colored, so I don’t have to worry that using it will stain it and it will need replacing.

I already had the pin.

The sweater yielded 2 small sheets heavy brown felt, two dusting pads, a method to connect them to my current broom,  and the ability to remove another single-use tool from my life. Whoopee! [The feather duster is in the discard bin.]

The only thing I don’t have? A way to clean the fan, but that’s not new.

Saving $$$

Because of the new porch and wanting to pay off the loan we got ASAP,  I’ve been looking for ways to save money.

Usually, this means that I find a lot of sites/data that I already know. However, pleasantly enough, I found one this morning which had info. new to me!


I get aarp’s emails regularly and from them and other sites, most of the ideas are those I know and have used for years:

  • Drink water at restaurants
  • DIY morning coffee/snack
  • Cook at home, from scratch
  • etc.

The saving $ ideas of mine which I’ve never seen elsewhere:

  • Buy the most concentrated form of soaps, or anything else that you can. If you use it with water, you can add it yourself.
  • Buy unscented products rather than buying “his” and “her” products.
  • Use tank tops as underwear, flipflops as slippers during the winter and other such so that you can buy less stuff to start with.
  • Have a set budget for restaurant meals and plan to eat at least one other set of meals from it, whenever possible. (Our budget for 2 adults = $20, and the 2nd meals make that $5/per meal, still expensive, but a lot more affordable than it might be!)
  • Shop your fridge/pantry and use what needs using first instead of sticking with a meal plan.
  • Use a chamois to “mop up” steam from glass and metal shower/bath rather than using glass or chrome cleaners. The steam is a free by product of bathing, use it!
  • Use “snow” from your freezer as sweeping compound to clean your hard floors.

Not unique to me:

  • Buy in bulk when you can afford to, items are on sale, and you have the space.
  • Have a price book.
  • Share and borrow, as needed.



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Last Week & This

My wonderful husband and I had a reason to get into my biggest kitchen cabinet. I had put a part of a babydoll crib rail in there to hold up my asst. Pyrex and other baking dishes. It worked, for a while. Then it didn’t.  Because we had a reason to get into that cabinet, I asked him if he could fix it?

He did. Yay! Less chaos! Today I cleaned the front of the cabinets on that side of the island the best they’ve been cleaned in some time. The inside of the cabinet is still tidy, now its vertical face looks great too. Have yet to tackle the drawers (need stuff culled out of them) and the counter. A bit at a time.

Last week the sink overflowed in the bathroom. This will probably cause us to get a new shower fixture. (The two are related, I’ll explain if/when we get the new shower fixture.) The overflow caused me to clean out/cull (again, I’d done this last summer) the sink cabinet. Less stuff, more order!

I’m doing what I usually do when I re-start cleaning, that is, I’m cleaning closets & cabinets. Used to be that doing that would make me feel like I was cleaning AND I didn’t get panic attacks. Not sure what’s going on now, but it all needs to be cleaned, so I’m not questioning, just doing!

My cleaning tracker got all messed up. I dropped two days in January, another the beginning of February. By the time I got to this week, it was really messed up. I’ve spent the time tonight to straighten it out, but in the process, essentially, I’ve got garbage data. I have no idea when I actually did what, since 1/29. Sigh!

It’s fixed, but what a pain!

We think we found another solution for the floor as my floor wax only looks good right after it’s used and before someone walks on it (it’s sticky; grabs dirt off of shoes, ug). And we’d already planned to sand the floors this spring, so . . . .

Lots and lots and lots to do!




Been Thinking and Reading and Thinking Some More

This is about frugality, DIY, and cleaning.

Yesterday I was trying to find info regarding brooms and dustpans. I found this. And although I don’t know that I agree with them (I hate microfiber stuff!) I thought it was interesting that I’d spend an hour researching then reading about brooms and dustpans!

Today’s quest is slightly different. I have a note in a book I’m pulling data from about Zote soap. I had no idea what Zote was, so I looked. That lead me to read this rather lengthy thread about DIY “Super Laundry Sauce” made with Fels Naptha vs Zote. You can find that here.

I had another “Aha!” moment re house organization, and I’m working on it. And, obviously, I’m working on the cleaning portion of that.

I have a Labor Day tradition, well several. But the one that concerns us here is I buy myself a new broom (the replaced house broom becomes the “outside” broom, the replaced outside one is discarded or becomes the “shed” or “garage” broom.) This year I’m seriously thinking about buying a dustpan as I have a large aluminum shop dustpan and I don’t much like it. I think I’ll give it back to DH for the shop! (Or maybe that will go to the shed too?)

So between the annual ” buy myself a new broom” and the organizational efforts, I’ve been researching cleaning products and DIY soaps. At the moment, we don’t need laundry soap — I’ve been buying liquid from the coop in bulk. The buy bottle is empty, but the use bottle is still comfortably full, so I don’t need any! I think I’ll just keep the info on hand re the DIY soaps. Last time I made my own laundry soap it didn’t work all that well.

Happy Labor Day!

btw, in my researching brooms I found something else that is new to me. “Warehouse” and “Lobby” brooms are cheaper than many others. If you’re going to buy just a plain old broom and would consider buying it online (haven’t seen these otherwise) try looking for those!