Around-the-House Hacks – I

Because I’m a big fan of “reuse, reimagine, recycle”, I’ve developed not only hacks for my happy place (aka kitchen) but hacks to reuse many items that people consider easily disposable. I tell myself I’m ‘thrifty’, not cheap, but heck, why not get more than one use from something?

For this post, I thought I might talk about how many uses and reuses there are for fabric softener sheets. No disrespect to those who still use liquid fabric softener. I mean, if you want to lug around a heavy plastic bottle that is at least 35% water, hover near your washer so you can make sure to add it at just the right time, and fill your recycling bin with the bulky bottle when it’s empty, that’s your prerogative! But for most of us, the sheets provide more convenience, cost less per use, don’t fill our recycle bins and, there’s so much more!

Do you know how fabric softener works? Whether in liquid or sheet form, fabric softener contains chemical components that are positively charged, which attracts them to the negatively charged electricity in your clothes. By softening your clothes with this chemical lubricant, less friction and less static are caused as they rub against each other. Because fabric softener is attracted to moisture, the slightly damp surface of the clothes makes them electrical conductors; the electricity then travels through the clothes instead of staying on the surface, which is what causes static and sparks. The lubricant also fills the teeny-tiny pores in the fabric, making the fabric feel softer

Most of you probably already know about putting a fabric softener sheet in luggage to keep it from smelling musty, or that they will absorb some of the stink from inside a pair of sweaty sneakers or shoes. Some people tuck one away inside their vehicles, put them in dresser drawers or in clothes hampers and wastebaskets, gym bags, anywhere their is an opportunity to erase/absorb unpleasant odors, even under furniture cushions!

But fabric softener sheets can do more than just help with odors or help soften your clothes and prevent static cling in the dryer!

Fabric softener sheets make good dusters! Whether it’s cleaning up sawdust in the workshop, or using them as a duster instead of a cloth, the sheet’s positive charges will grab and cling onto particles rather than just pushing them around or into the air! (This is really great when dusting the paddles of a ceiling fan!)

And believe it or not, when tasked with a sewing project, running a threaded needle through a fabric softener sheet will coat the thread enough to keep it from tangling while you sew!

Did you know that there are lots of ways to reuse a fabric softener once it’s been used in the dryer? A used fabric softener sheet will pull pet hair right off of the fabric of your clothes or furniture. It will help remove soap scum from a shower door. Dusting electronics with a used sheet will pull away the dust plus leave an invisible shield that will help repel future dust. Wipe down your wet pet with a used sheet, which will help wick away the moisture and keep its fur from getting a musty smell. It will also buff chrome when it’s clean but still looks dull and/or streaky. Use them on your non-material blinds to dust and add the same invisible shield that will help repel future dust. Carry a used fabric softener sheet in your purse or pocket. If you develop static cling while out in public, simply dampen it and run it lightly over your staticky clothing and the static will disappear. (Note: you can use it on your hair for the same purpose!)

Sooner or later, the fabric softener sheet will end up in the trash bin, but getting more use from it with all of the ways you can use a used sheet makes it an even greater value for the money! So get out there and try these great tips!

Cleaning is such a dirty job!

I want to start this post by giving kudos to people who earn a living cleaning up after other people. Whether it’s housekeeping in a hotel, cleaning private homes, cleaning offices, schools, hospitals or any public building, it is a physically demanding, often unappreciated and dirty task.

Having been in the hotel industry for over 20 years, I’ve cleaned my share of rooms and done more than my share of laundry. I’m happy to say that more than 50% of guests in a type of lodging are fairly neat and considerate. Other people take advantage of the fact that someone else will clean up after them and become lazy and entitled. And ask anyone who has ever worked cleaning up after a sports team has lodged there, and they will tell you that this is the worst of the worst. The parents who are along are far more interested in gathering with each other and drinking than paying active attention to their kids, and some of them show their kids how to be messy by example.

No, I don’t mind having to move all of your “stuff” just to make the bed! NOT!
I’m honored to pick up every wet and dirty towel! NOT!

Nonetheless, does any of us really enjoy cleaning? And aren’t there cleaning tasks we hate worse than others? For example, I absolutely HATE to dust. I would rather scrub a toilet than dust! Of all cleaning chores, dusting is the one that doesn’t show any real change, therefore not offering a sense of accomplishment. And you know, unless you live in a dust-free bubble, that dusting is going to be the first thing that will look like it was never done in the first place!

I’ll admit I’m not a super-organized cleaner at home. I tend to start in one place, have to put something away in another place, then see something else in that area that needs done, so do that. Aging and having minor aches and pains these days also means I can accomplish less at one time than I used to. And I know that, living alone with very few visitors, I tend to let some tasks go longer between cleanings than I should.

How do you do your cleaning? Do you start with one task (like dusting) and do it all over your house before you move on to the next task, or do you completely clean one room at a time? Do you spread out your cleaning over several days or tackle it all in one day? Do you have any good hints and tips about making cleaning easier that you’d be willing to share here? I know I’d be grateful, and I’m sure other readers would, too. If you can, please leave them in the comment section! Thank you!