I was lying in bed last night flipping channels and found this cute, cheesy, little show on PBS called Haley's Hints. It's this guy doing all these amazing cleaning jobs with vinegar and cream of tartar and whatnot.
My favorite trick, that many frugal folks probably know about very well, was getting ink out of clothes. I'm always getting little pen streaks on khakis or white shirts and then just smudging them everywhere trying to get them out.
Haley said, spray the ink stain with copious amounts of hairspray (the cheaper the better). Then take an ordinary bar of soap (no dye, no perfume) and rub it into the stain. Then hand rinse it in cold water. Voila, no more ink stain.
Another one that I really could have used back at my old apartment was about getting melted candle wax out carpets. All he did was put a folded paper towel over the wax and then press down on it with a warm iron (no steam). After about 10 seconds, he'd lift it up, put it turn the paper towel to a clean spot and repeat, over and over until the wax was absorbed. If the wax was colored and left a stain, pour rubbing alcohol on it (make sure the carpet is colorfast) and scrub it out with a toothbrush.
The last one -- and I plan to try it -- was getting those ugly yellow water stains out of the bathtub. Hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar. Mix them together into a thin paste, then pour it onto the stain and rub it in with a sponge or cloth. All gone.
But the thing that irked me about all these wonderfully frugal tips, was that if I wanted any more from Haley's fount of knowledge, the book would have cost $60. Yes, part of that was to help out wonderful PBS, but dang! The irony!
It also made me wonder how well some of this stuff works. But, since it essentially costs nothing, you know I'd try it.
I think it's funny that it's so easy to take care of so many household needs with cheap things you've already got int the house, but people buy expensive, poisonous cleaning products that can only do one thing, and even then might not do the job.
Be easy. Be green. Be cheap!