I run a humidifier in my home year-round because it’s so dry here in Arizona. Once in a while, the thing will get to smelling a little bit off, so I put in about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to clear the air. The acid in the lemon juice kills any mold spores, and the air smells good again. I do wash out the tray every week with hot, soapy water, and that usually does the trick, but once in a while, I have to use the lemon juice. It’s cheaper than any of the additives they sell in the stores and works just as well.
(tip submitted by MCK, AZ)


We’ve had a bad drought all summer, and water has been a big problem for everyone. I have an air conditioner that drips water almost continually, and normally, it just runs off into the grass. But I decided to save it somehow. From a store, I got a plastic barrel that had previously held cleaning solution, scrubbed it out really well with hot soda water, and air-dried it. Then, I put it under the air conditioner and put in about 6 drops of cooking oil to keep the mosquito larvae at bay. In this way, I’ve been able to collect a barrel of water every two days, which I have used on my flowers, trees and garden. It doesn’t take the place of a good rain, but it has sure helped to have a little extra water where it’s needed.
(tip submitted by GP, NE)

(PENNYWISE SAYS: Another way to save water is to catch it when you are running water into the sink for rinsing pans or other purposes and you are waiting for it to get to the right temperature. Then, dump the collected water into the washing machine or use it to water your houseplants or outdoor flower planters.)


I seldom buy juice, and then it’s only frozen orange juice, because I make the rest of the juices we use from homegrown apples, grapes, raspberries, chokecherries, plums, etc. Mine is pure juice — I don’t add any sugar or other sweeteners — and it’s so easy to make. I don’t see much point in paying more than $4 for a half-gallon of apple juice when ripe apples are falling off the trees. In fact, I have been known to ask people if they were going to use the fallen apples in their yards — they usually just dump them in trash bags and dispose of them — so I offer to pick them up and take them home. I make apple juice, apple jelly, applesauce and apple butter from the bounty.

I also pick any wild fruit that is available if I can get to the bushes and trees in the pastures and along the creeks. It makes really good jellies and jams as well as juices to drink.

Just cook the fruit in a little water, drain off the juice, and can or freeze it. If you make juice from berries with small seeds, you may want to line your colander with a piece of muslin to catch the seeds. I usually can my juices in quart glass jars, but some of my friends prefer to freeze their juices in plastic containers. Any Cooperative Extension office can provide excellent instructions on safe preparation and storage.


To clean and deodorize your toothbrush, simply put the brush end in a small jar and pour hydrogen peroxide over it to cover the bristles. Let it set for a few minutes, and then place the cleaned toothbrush in a clean cup in the medicine cabinet until it’s time to use it again. The peroxide kills any bacteria that might be hiding in the bristles.
(tip submitted by JC, SD)

(PENNYWISE SAYS: Peroxide is a great disinfectant, but I had not thought of using it in this way — super idea!)


I just wanted to let you know that I’m using an idea shared with me by my elderly neighbor. She said to put 1 cup of ammonia in my washing machine when I wash my son’s football uniform to ”take the stink out.” These kids sweat so much when they are practicing or playing their games, and there was always a smell left, no matter what kind of soap I used. The ammonia works great!

(tip submitted by MU, SD)


Are you always scrambling for a piece of paper and a pencil when you need to write down a message or a telephone number? A reader sent in the neatest hint. She says to take a few sheets of notebook paper and staple them to the inside cover of your telephone book, and clip a pen to the top of the book too. When you get a message and a phone number, you won’t be looking all over the house for a piece of paper and something to write with.
(tip submitted by BK, SD)


I had an old kitchen knife holder with a magnetic strip that I removed from the kitchen, and my husband promptly put it up in the bathroom! He keeps two sizes of nail clippers and a couple of nail files handy there. I hadn’t realized how much time I was wasting looking for the clippers for the kids’ hangnails as well as for my own broken fingernails. It’s cheap and it works!
(tip submitted by MG, NE)


I have a terrible time trying to keep track of my hoe, shovel, rakes, and other tools in the yard. I lean them up next to the fence, and they get knocked down so that I cannot see them readily. (I have a sight problem and can’t tell what things are beyond 8 feet.)
My daughter, who’s 10, was given some of that new “wild colored” duct tape as a birthday gift for making crafts. She took some of the rolls outside and marked every one of my tools with a couple of wraps of that brightly colored tape and I can SEE them now — even when they are lying down in the grass!

(tip submitted by JL, IA)


by Paula Vogelgesang

Do you have any tips or ideas you would like to share? Email them to Paula at [email protected]  

Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.

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