Homemade Insecticide  Soap

Mix 1 to 3 Tablespoons of your favorite dishwashing liquid into a gallon of water.  Before you completely spray the plant, test the liquid on a small area of the plant.  Some plants can be sensitive to this mixture and will easily burn. Check in a day or two–if there is no injury, saturate the leaves completely.  This is great for small insect control.
(tip submitted by LP, MN)

(Pennywise says: I’m going to try this one; I bring my plants in late in the fall and sometimes have unwanted guests that hang around until I can get rid of them. This would be a great option!)

Non-Toxic Fungicide

Plants that have a powdery white coating on the leaves most likely have mildew, which is common, especially with humid hot days and cool nights.

Mix together the following in a recycled gallon jug:
1 Tablespoon baking soda
2 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil

Fill the jug with water, and shake well before using.  Put some of the mixture into a spray bottle and spray the whole plant every two weeks.
(tip submitted by LP, MN)

Make It Yourself Cleaners

Glass Cleaner

Put two cups of water in a spray bottle and add a few drops of lemon juice. Put the lid on, shake up good and go to work. If the windows are really dirty (windshields, etc.) you may have to add a little more lemon juice. The acid in the juice cuts the crud and makes the cleaning quick and easy.
(tip submitted by ST, IL)

Scouring Powder From The Kitchen

Dear Pennywise: I see a lot of people buying scouring powder in the supermarket and it’s expensive.  They probably have a product at home in the kitchen cupboard that will work just as well and is a lot cheaper: It’s called baking soda!

You can clean the coffee oil deposit out of your cups simply by putting some soda on a rag and scrubbing the inside of the cup. All the coffee oil comes out, and the cup is shiny clean when you rinse it out (again, cheap!)

You can also use plain baking soda to clean your bathroom fixtures. Simply sprinkle soda in your damp sink and scour away.

I sprinkle soda along the edges of the water in the toilet and use a scouring sponge to get rid of the hard water deposits. I also use a soda scrub for stains on my kitchen counters, stovetops and even my kitchen table. As I said, cheap, and the most of us always have this in the house.
(tip submitted by GC, MI)

(Pennywise says: I was in a big box store a week or so ago and found a 12-pound bag of baking soda for $3.99. It will last me a good, long time.)

Button Saver

My son has a ‘favorite coat’ he wears to school as well as to play in. It has buttons (he has problems with zippers).  At his age, (eight-years-old), the darn buttons kept coming off, until a friend of mine shared a hint. She told me to get out my clear nail polish and soak the thread on the top of the button, under the button and on the back side of the coat, where the thread came through the fabric, with the nail polish.

This trick has really helped! The thread stays a long time and I’m not sewing buttons on every other day–those large coat buttons are not cheap.
(tip submitted by AW, IA)

Do you have any tips or ideas you would like to share? Email them to Paula at [email protected]  Be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.