Things Mom Never Told You, Vol. II

From time to time I find these little helps referred to as “lifehacks” by many, a term my husband detests. I’ve put a couple of them together to share with you, and over time as I come across more I will keep doing so. I want to make you all a promise right out of the gate – I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable. So with that, I bring you the next edition of “Things Mom Never Told You”.

Have you ever wondered how to….

…Really get the top of your travel coffee mug clean?

Me neither, until my husband took a good look at mine one day and said “um, honey, this is pretty nasty. You might want to give it a scrub.” Now, I rinsed out the top of my travel mug faithfully EVERY time I used it, with HOT running water. I have a spillproof Contigo, so I even held the button open so water ran through it. You’d think it would be clean. Nope. I tried soaking it a few hours in denture cleanser tablets…followed by a vinegar bath….followed by a mild bleach bath. Nothing worked. I even took old flannel sheets and ripped off little strips and poked ’em into the corners. Got lots of crap out, but I could see it still was gunky. After a bunch of searching on the internet (because we all know if you find it on the internet it’s true!),  I found the magic solution.

Mix a solution of about 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water, enough volume to cover the top of your mug. Put it in a container large enough that it is a couple of inches higher than the mug top, and set it in the sink. (Do not omit this critical step! You’ll thank me later.) Add a generous tablespoon of baking soda, and watch it foam like CRAZY! When it’s done, you can put a lid on it and agitate, although you’ll need to take the lid off every few seconds to let the air out. You’ll be grossed out at the gunk that comes out of your lid. I’ve done it now 6 times, and still getting gunk out of mine, as you can see in the video that I posted online. In that I don’t put a cover on it, but just stirred it around a bit and let it sit and soak.

You can continue to add baking soda, until you don’t get any more foaming up. At that point the vinegar is neutralized and you’ll need to have fresh water/vinegar for cleaning. This also works to de-gunk the lid of your coffee carafe if you have a thermal type pot, and I even did the drip basket on our coffee maker and got some results. I expect it will work with anything with nooks and crannies you can’t get into. I keep hearing how good vinegar and baking soda are as cleaners, as both are cheap, so don’t be afraid to use them. A 1 lb box of off brand baking soda at my grocery store is $0.69, and a gallon of white vinegar is $2.99.

Another good use for vinegar is to soak an old rag or paper towel with it and wrap it around the base of your sink tap and handles, where they get calcium built up. snug it up and let it sit there for a half hour or so, nice and wet. (If you use a paper towel you may need to rewet it periodically with more vinegar as it will dry out.) When you remove the rag, much of the build up can be wiped away, and most of the rest will scrape away pretty easily with a razor blade.

…Get the most out of your tubes and bottles of lotion and makeup?

Got this one from my awesome manicurist Brenda, to whom I shall be forever grateful. I think this is one of those salon insider secrets no one wants you to ever know, but I’ll share anyhow. So…when you think that tube of moisturizer, conditioner, hand lotion…whatever it is…when you think you’ve shaken it a dozen times and tapped it on the counter ten more and just can’t get another drop out of it, here is what to do. Go and get a popsicle stick, a small zip top bag, and a scissors. Cut the tube apart near the opening, maybe 2 inches (less if it’s a small tube) and use the popsicle stick to scoop out what is left in the tube. You might even find some residual you can scrape out of the other end too, so don’t forget to check that side as well. I put the stick and the parts of the tube in the bag and close it up in between uses, so that whatever I’m scooping out doesn’t dry up over the course of the next few days, since the tube is now open to air. If you won’t be using up the product in the next few days, transfer it to another container that seals up well but is smaller. For one rather expensive  hair product I got 4 additional applications out of the tube!

To get additional liquid out of small glass bottles, try reforming a paper clip. Straighten it out first, then put a small loop on the end and bend the loop 90 degrees to the rest of the clip. You’ll probably need a needle nose pliers for this, and may even need to use the pliers to get the paper clip far enough into the jar, so keep it handy. You’ll also need a small container to put the residual liquid in. Tiny travel containers or containers with screw on lids from camping stores like REI or Gander Mountain work really well for this. Check out the  video below. In fairness, I’ll offer the following disclaimers: I could have spent a little more time scraping out the bottle to get more out of it or perhaps made my scraper a better design, but I wanted to demonstrate what could be done for the video. You nay come up with a better way to do it, so feel free to let me know in the comments if you do.

As an addendum, I ended up getting about 5 additional applications out of that bottle.

 

Have fun!

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