Household Hints
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Pennsylvania Masons
Tips From The Masonic Shop

  1. Chain link fence vs. weed whacker. Yes you can spray a grass/weed killer on it but it ends up looking almost as bad or even worse than before. So, the fence wins.
    Unless you want to spend some time on it. First off... dig! Yes it's a project. But dig down maybe 4 inches or so on each side of the fence. And maybe 4 inches or so wide. Lay down plastic. Fill with crushed stone. Top with a little peat moss. You're done. And it looks great!
    You may have a shoot come up now and then but you can easily pull it out. However, since it has no real place to root, it will eventually die off.
    Now throw your weed whacker away.

  2. Hard boiled eggs. Go Green! Do you worry about overcooking hard boiled eggs? Well don't. The green way is to place your eggs in a pot, cover with water, place on stove. Bring them to a full boil as you normally do and then SHUT THEM OFF and save energy. Just set your timer for about 20 minutes and they're done. The hot water is enough to finish cooking them. And also, once the timer goes off they're done, but there is no real need to remove them from the still hot water. So if you bring them to a boil and shut them off, you can then head out the door and do your shopping or whatever. No need to baby sit them! They won't over cook.

  3. To unclog a plugged drain, try pouring 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by a 1/2 cup vinegar, into the clogged drain and covering it tightly. After a minute or so, rinse the drain out with two quarts of boiling water. Cleaning the drain in this manner from time to time will help keep debris from building up.

  4. Drain still clogged? Got a wet dry vac? Electrical tape? Good. Lay the roll of tape on the drain and put the vac nozzle over the tape. Creates a good seal. Now turn on the vac and suck that sucker out.

  5. To clean your oven, use a mixture of ammonia and water. The solution may be stored in a spray bottle. For tougher stains, apply a mixture of baking soda and water directly to the stains and let the mixture stand for several minutes before wiping the oven surface clean.

  6. To clean the microwave, put about two tablespoons of baking soda or lemon juice into a cup of water in a microwave-safe, four-cup or larger bowl. Let this mixture to boil in the oven for about five minutes. The steam will condense on the inside walls of the oven. (Caution when opening the door.) You can then simply wipe off the walls, the inside of the door and also the door seals. Or... Use Lemons to Clean your Microwave Harness the power of citrus to clean your microwave: Cut a lemon in half, squeeze juice into a small bowl of water, add both lemon halves and place in the microwave for five minutes. The fresh scent eliminates cooking odors, and condensation from the steam loosens random splatters that have hardened. Wipe with a damp cloth.

  7. To clean your coffee or spice grinder, grind several pieces of white bread. This is really good, if you've used your coffee grinder for grinding spices. The bread helps pick up oils too. Of course, if you use it only for coffee, you won't have this problem if you keep the coffee beans in the freezer!

  8. For a great smelling air freshener, mix 1/2 cup crushed bay leaves, 1/4 cup dried sage, one cup witch hazel and let it sit un-refrigerated for three days. Strain out the herbs and transfer the remaining liquid to a spray bottle.

  9. Garbage disposal odor? Sprinkle baking soda in it along with a few drops dish-washing liquid. Scrub with a brush, getting under the rubber gasket and all around the inside. Then turn on water and the disposal and flush thoroughly. For a fresh citrus scent, throw in a few cut-up lemons or limes or orange peels and run them through. Use ice to cleanse the blades in your garbage disposal and break up the grease that collects on the rotors. Every few weeks, toss in a handful of cubes, turn on the disposal and run cold water.

  10. Make your own window cleaner by mixing equal parts of vinegar, ammonia and water. Put in a spray bottle , squirt on windows and wipe off with newspaper (Elbow grease required, but the results are worth it) or towels.

  11. If you're having trouble with ants, stir together 1/2 cup molasses and six tablespoons of both sugar and active dry yeast. Place the paste strips of cardboard or even bottle caps near the infested areas. To keep ants out, locate their outside nests and dowse them with several gallons of boiling water. Stir the ground between each dowsing. Then pour talcum powder, cream of tartar, borax, powdered sulphur or oil of cloves on the entire area.

  12. To eliminate cockroaches, mix oatmeal or flour with an equal portion of plaster of Paris and spread the mixture into the infested area.

  13. To clean ceramic tile, mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup ammonia, 1/3 cup baking soda and seven cups warm water. Store the solution in a spray bottle for easy bathroom cleaning.

  14. Clean your toilet bow with small amounts of baking soda and vinegar.

  15. To create a safe disinfectant for cleaning, mix either 1/2 cup borax or mixture of 1/2 cup ammonia and 1/2 cup washing soda into a gallon of warm water.

  16. Clean your carpet by sprinkling it with cornstarch and letting it sit for 30 minutes before vacuuming. A liberal dosage of baking soda will deodorize your carpet. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes before vacuuming. For heavy stains, apply either baking soda, cornstarch, cornmeal or talcum powder. Let it stand for six hours before vacuuming.

  17. To remove candle wax from carpets, scrape up what you can with a dull knife. Put paper towels or and old, white cloth over the area; with iron on low-warm (no steam), gently press. As wax is lifted, move towels so a clean part covers the remaining wax; repeat until wax is gone. If you don't have an iron, hot water will do the trick too.

  18. To clean brass, mix 1/2 cup portions of all purpose flour, salt and powdered detergent. Add 3/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup of very warm water. Stir together and shake well before using. Pour a dab of the mixture onto brass and rub with a washcloth. Or... Shine brass using a dab of Worcestershire sauce or ketchup. Squeeze the condiment onto a cloth, rub the item, then rinse with water and dry with a towel.

  19. To polish silver, use toothpaste and warm water. An old, soft bristled toothbrush will yield the best results. You can also use them to get leftover bits of food from graters, sieves, food-processor blades or any hard-to-clean stuff.

  20. Use a small brush type hair roller to clean radiators. Stick a pencil into the brush, making a handle and it's great tool for hard to get clean areas.

  21. Fill a paint roller with your favorite wall washing solution and use it to wash your walls. Rinse with clear water. It goes much more quickly than sponging.

  22. To clean mini-blinds or slats of shutters, use a clean paintbrush. It's a lot cheaper than expensive blind cleaning tools. Or... Just slip on a pair of white cotton gloves, dip fingers into a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm tap water, then run your fingers across both sides of each slat. Rinse gloves as necessary in a bowl of clean water.

  23. Black scuff marks on a floor are instantly wiped away with a small amount of baby oil or petroleum jelly on a cleaning rag. Afterward, be sure to wipe the floor with a spray cleaner so the spot won't be slippery. Or... Use a new tennis ball to wipe scuff marks off tile, vinyl, woodwork—even painted walls. It won’t harm the surface

  24. To remove gum from leather, just put a dab of peanut butter on the gum. In a little while, the gum will peel right off.

  25. Baking soda with ground cinnamon or cloves makes a great carpet freshener.

  26. To clean pewter, rub the item with the outer leaves of a head of cabbage. Then buff with a soft cloth.

  27. Use a dryer softener sheet to wipe your TV screen to remove static electricity.
  28. binder clipChip clips? Try binder clips. Much cheaper and stronger. Use 'em for chips, coffee beans you keep in the freezer or anything you want to keep fresh that has an inferior seal of its own. Find them in any office supply store.

  29. Gift tags? Don't buy them, print them! Just do a web search for gift tags and you'll come up with tons you can personalize for any occasion! Add class to your gifts. (Psst) Find some at The Masonic Shops free gift tags.

  30. Try coffee grounds to keep your refrigerator smelling nice and fresh, just as you do with an open box of baking soda. Place them, new or used, in a bowl and remember to replace them every month or two.

  31. Cover the bottom of your trash can with old newspapers. It's an easy way to keep clean and soaks up leaks and odors.

  32. To keep bacteria from taking up permanent residence in your kitchen sponges, rinse them with water at the end of each day, squeeze, then put in the microwave for three minutes. Let cool before touching. Do the same with your cutting boards, if they are microwaveable.

  33. Try coffee grounds to keep your refrigerator smelling nice and fresh, just as you do with an open box of baking soda. Place them, new or used, in a bowl and remember to replace them every month or two.

  34. To wash a narrow vase, pour in 2 tablespoons of dry rice and cup warm water, cover with the palm of your hand, shake vigorously, then rinse.

  35. A dry paintbrush (with bristles at least 3 inches long) is great for both the surface and grooves of your collectibles. Dust framed photos with a pastry brush, which is softer than a paintbrush and easier to dip into corners and places that are difficult to reach.

  36. Cover the top of your BBQ grill grates with Aluminum foil, tuck in under the edges. Then turn the grill on high for 10 -15 minutes. your grill will be spotless.

  37. Save those scissors! Fold a sheet of foil several times and cut through it with a pair of dull scissors to sharpen the blades. Of course, cutting sandpaper works well too.

Got a tip? Send it to us! We'd love to hear from you.

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