eruthros: Gillian Anderson sitting with her head thrown back, laughing. (GA promo pic laughing)
[personal profile] eruthros
I sometimes feel I've missed entire pockets of knowledge growing up -- that there are all these things nobody told me about taking care of a house or about personal care or about makeup or whatever, probably because they thought my mom would tell me.

So! In that spirit, here are some household + body care things I have learned in the past few years:

1. If I put skin lotion on right after I get out of the shower, it makes my skin happier and less dry! I have been going to dermatologists since I was eight, and not one of them has mentioned this -- they all gave me steroids and asked me if I used lotion before bed, which I did. And then someone told me this, and it's like a miracle, it works better than using steroids in the morning, it's cheaper, it's better for me, and I can use the steroids as-needed.

2. Cleaning venetian blinds is really hard. The easiest way is to take them off and spray a hose at them, or wash them in a shower, but if I'm too lazy for that those floor-cleaner pads work, and so do disinfecting wipes.

3. If you have a slow-draining drain and you don't have or don't want to use chemical drain cleaners, try pouring in a cup of baking soda and then several cups of boiling water. If that doesn't work, try it again and pour some vinegar in after the boiling water. (Some people say put the vinegar in after the baking soda and then seal the drain, but I've never tried that.) If that doesn't work, agitate it with a plunger, and then run more boiling water. If that doesn't work, call your landlord. :)

4. I have very pale eyebrows, so pale that they're basically invisible, so an eyebrow pencil always looks kind of hilarious. However! I now know that I can use a mascara brush dipped in eyeshadow to just color the hair in the eyebrows. Who knew! (Probably you.)

5. Butter keepers are amazing.

6. If you have ever had to wear a brace that holds moisture in and found some red rash under it with little raised dots? Surprise, you might have diaper rash! If you don't have allergies to creams, some over the counter steroid cream can help. And you can prevent it (sort of) with diaper rash cream like A+D. It smells like lanolin, but it makes life better.

If you have adulthood hints you've recently learned or amazing and brilliant solutions -- things that make cleaning windows easier or that help you figure out which pants are likely to fit or that fixed your broken cuticles or whatever -- please comment and share! Eventually I'll learn how to be an adult by osmosis.

Date: 2010-04-30 02:26 pm (UTC)
were_duck: Ellen Ripley from Alien looking pensively to the right in her space helmet (Breakfast like Clockwork)
From: [personal profile] were_duck
I did not know all of these! I, too, am having to learn these supposedly easy grown-up things on an as-needed basis, so this list is completely useful to me, too.

Though I did see once on tv that another way to clean venetian blinds if you're not thrilled about using a hose is to immerse them in a cleaning solution in a tub or something, let 'em soak for a while and scrub over them with a cloth to help get up any stubborn spots. This method can also be used for things like dirty mesh or yellowed lace.

Date: 2010-04-30 02:49 pm (UTC)
were_duck: Ellen Ripley from Alien looking pensively to the right in her space helmet (Detective Olivia)
From: [personal profile] were_duck
Yeah, it's really a once or twice a year thing to do, not a weekly or monthly thing. But if you deep clean them well frequently enough you can just get by with swiping the blinds to get rid of dust. Not that I'm one to talk... I don't think we've cleaned our blinds since we moved in here in August...

Date: 2010-04-30 10:54 pm (UTC)
were_duck: musician Janelle Monae singing in a grey jacket (Janelle Monae dynamo in a suit)
From: [personal profile] were_duck
Awesome! Isn't vinegar amazing?

Also, I am very pleased I tracked this post. So many great tips!

Date: 2010-04-30 11:17 pm (UTC)
torachan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] torachan
I haven't cleaned my blinds once since I put them up over fifteen years ago.

I win!


Date: 2010-05-01 09:53 pm (UTC)
torachan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] torachan
I think they're totally gross, but at this point there is really not anything I can do about them. The dust is so stuck on that it's just not going to come off.

So I just try not to think about it. (Which is surprisingly easy, actually.)

Date: 2010-04-30 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] octette
i didn't learn any of this stuff from my mother (or any other relatives) but i did learn quite a bit of it from and magazines in dentists' offices when i was a little kid; i also find green blogs to be really helpful when it comes to tips and tricks. (i like the greenest dollar particularly.)

- if you are a person who vacuums, you can keep drapes and curtains cleaner by vacuuming them when you do the floors.

- baking soda is pretty much good for anything you can think of to use it for, including scrubbing/cleaning almost anything. add it to washing machines instead of fabric softener; use it with vinegar to clean non-aluminum pots; run it through a drip coffee pot or dishwasher to clean it. you can also mix it with cream of tartar and cornstarch to make baking powder. oh, and if you make a paste of baking soda and vinegar and spread the paste on insect bites, it helps relieve swelling and itching. mix equal parts baking soda and cornstarch to make a deodorant; for dry skin, add an equal part (or even more) of coconut oil.

- the scent of lavender and mint helps keep away ants and flies; a few droplets of lavender and mint oils in a squirt bottle with about a liter of water will last for a while. squirt anywhere ants come in and it will deter them. the scents are bad for cats, though.

- fresh ginger will help stave off a cold and help you feel better faster when you're sick. (i grate it about 2 tbsp into 8 oz of juice; it is particularly good with lemon, orange, and pineapple.) ditto raw garlic, although that's often harder to eat.

- if you cook with eggs and often use just the yolks, save the whites by freezing them in plastic bags or ice cube trays. they defrost pretty easily in the fridge overnight and are perfectly useful for angel food cakes or pavolvas or whatever.

- save the cut bits of vegetables (the tops of onions and onion skins, any parts of garlic, the tops of celery, peppers, the woody parts of asparagus, tops of carrots, and mushroom stems are really excellent for this) in a bag in the freezer. when you have about two quarts worth of cut veg, make veg broth. two quarts of cut veg will make about 8 quarts of light veg broth or 4 - 5 quarts of darker broth. (i usually make it in two 4 quart parts; just add 5 quarts of water to the 2 quarts of veg and boil for 1 - 2 hours. strain the broth out into bags or tupperware, and then add more water and boil again.)

- if you oversalt soup, add a peeled potato. it will absorb all the salt. then you can just fish it out and throw it away.

- instead of using dryer sheets (which are terrible for your skin and also the environment), use pillows filled with herbs. (this post at the greenest dollar explains how & links to an etsy shop if you don't want to sew them yrself.)

Date: 2010-04-30 03:12 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] octette
i am trying (with not much luck) to get my family to switch over to green cleaning. my mother is pretty convinced that there's no way to get things clean without bleach, though.

i love the orange stuff! but it makes me sneeze, while the lavender/mint combo does not (and also is cheaper).

the problem i have with the tennis ball method is that it's rough on clothes. anything that is going to bang clothes around is going to make them wear out faster.

oh -- another green blog i find helpful (and you might find it particularly helpful for green cleaning stuff) is enviromom. there's often helpful stuff in the comments section, too. and can be really awesome (although sometimes incredibly tedious).

green cleaning

Date: 2010-05-17 03:46 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Another good resource I found about green cleaning ( is

Date: 2010-04-30 09:36 pm (UTC)
bossymarmalade: burns answers the phone (a-hoy hoy)
From: [personal profile] bossymarmalade
Oooh, oooh -- in addition to the remedy for oversalted soup, if there's too much grease floating on top of your soup you can fix it by dropping a cabbage leaf or two in the pot. It will soak up most of the grease and then you throw it out!

Date: 2010-04-30 07:41 pm (UTC)
aris_tgd: Action is eloquence. (Captain Lochley from Babylon 5.) (Lochley eloquence)
From: [personal profile] aris_tgd
You know what's really, REALLY good on grout and tile? Dilute phosphoric acid.

You know what's a really, REALLY cheap way to get dilute phosphoric acid? Coca-cola. Just make sure to rinse it off to get rid of the sugars.

This message brought to you by my clean bathtub.

Date: 2010-04-30 08:00 pm (UTC)
gwyn: (spuffy band kathyh)
From: [personal profile] gwyn
Awww, I can't believe no one ever gave you the info about moisturizers after the shower! Another good thing for pale eyebrows (which I have, and they are now turning GRAY, sob) is an eyebrow brush, which you can run in short dashed lines along the shape of your brow, with the eye shadow. Then just run your finger over it and it looks a lot more natural than pencils. I find sometimes the mascara brushes end up giving me shadow where I don't want it, because I'm a klutz, so the small angled brush at least gives me the illusion of better control.

One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is white vinegar. I buy it by the giant bottle at Costco because I use it so much in so many things. It makes a fabulous fabric softener, and added to the laundry, it also helps get rid of anything moldy or smelly. I have a fabric shower curtain that sometimes gets that pinkish tinge on it, and a run through the wash with some towels, and vinegar in the softener cup, will whiten it up really nicely.

Olive oil is a great cleaner for stainless steel appliances -- just a tiny drop on a cloth will help get finger prints and water spots off.

Date: 2010-04-30 09:55 pm (UTC)
bossymarmalade: lisa simpson gets going (cautiously gung-ho!)
From: [personal profile] bossymarmalade
Here are some of mine!

- if you have a big red pimple in a visible place, dab some toothpaste on it (preferably the white paste kind) and let it dry. Leave it on as long as is feasible, and it will remove most of the redness and swelling.

- if you have pollen allergies, eat local honey to build up an immunity. I've tried this and apart from being no hardship, it really works!

- burned, greasy bits on pans you don't want to scrub with steel wool will respond well to being scrubbed with salt, dry rice, or eggshell and a little water (you can also use soap and rice/eggshells to clean inside a narrow-necked vessel)

- windows and mirrors dry streak-free if you wipe them with newspaper instead of cloth

- to quickly figure out if a blouse will fit you, hold it up to your front and wrap it around you. If the side seams reach comfortably to the vertical midline of your torso (covering the sides of your breasts completely), you're probably good to go! I am amply furnished and hate wasting my time trying to wiggle into blouses that have enough room everywhere else and NONE for my breasts.

- if you like rings or other jewelry with a lot of little glued-in bits of crystals or whatever, make sure the bits all stay in place by putting a few coats of clear nailpolish over the piece

I love these sorts of information swaps. *g*

Date: 2010-05-01 01:26 am (UTC)
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] fairestcat
A clever window-cleaning related tip I recently learned from my wife, who learned it from her grandmother - If you're cleaning both sides of a pane of glass, such as a window or glass-topped table, wipe side-to-side on one side and up-and-down on the other. That way you'll be able to tell which side a streak is on easily.

Date: 2010-05-04 03:08 pm (UTC)
bossymarmalade: fry gives you a thumbs-up (fry-approved!)
From: [personal profile] bossymarmalade
SWEET! I wear a LOT of skirts and that tip will help me out considerably, thank you!

Date: 2010-05-01 02:12 am (UTC)
jumpuphigh: Pigeon with text "jumpuphigh" (Default)
From: [personal profile] jumpuphigh
If you dry your sink after you use it every time, you will almost never have to do a serious scrubbing. I use a dishcloth in the kitchen and a washcloth in the bathroom and when they are too damp, use them to wipe down counters and then toss them in the laundry and pull out a dry one.

I use watered down white vinegar to clean just about everything. It works on glass, stainless steel, ceramic, vinyl, etc. It's cheap and is good for people with allergies as well as for the environment.

Date: 2010-05-01 05:01 am (UTC)
firecat: gkar and londo kissing (gkar londo)
From: [personal profile] firecat
Hi, I saw you post somewhere with a Mira Furlan icon so I'm subscribing to your journal because I don't know enough Babylon 5 fans any more. Also, I will really have to try the mascara on eyebrows trick.

Date: 2010-05-01 11:31 pm (UTC)
firecat: vir looking frustrated (frustrated vir)
From: [personal profile] firecat
Wonderful icons!

Oh eyeshadow! That means I can have blue eyebrows! (I am far too easily amused today.)

Date: 2010-05-01 06:37 am (UTC)
meghanc: purple-red sea urchin, green plants (Default)
From: [personal profile] meghanc
[personal profile] kate directed me this way.

-When you're washing windows, scrunched-up newspaper is the absolute best. Spray on vinegar (or glass cleaner, if you swing that way), then scrub with newspaper. (You can toss the papers into your compost pile later, too.)

-To clean out water bottles, throw in some coarse salt, a few ice cubes, and a slice of lemon. Shake vigorously for a minute or two and rinse well. (You'll probably still want to use dishsoap, but this will get out the scum that sometimes accumulates in the corners.)

-Dr. Bronner's soap is magical. No, really. It does a great job of pretreating laundry and makes floors shiny. If you garden, spraying some diluted soap over your garden will keep away many common pests. If you're going outside and would prefer not to be eaten by bugs, dilute some peppermint or lavender Dr. Bronner's, then use a cotton pad to wipe it over your arms, neck, and other exposed skin. It's not perfect as a bug repellent, but it's about as effective as Skin So Soft or Off.

-If you have sensitive skin, consider making your own deodorant. There are a billion recipes online (self-link: I have one on my blog, here) and, in my experience, it's just as effective as the storebought stuff.

-If you have mice and can find their holes, you can stuff the holes full of steel wool and the mice won't be able to get back through. (This only works, however, if you're *totally sure* that the mice are on the other side of the wall.)

-A piece of white chalk will absorb moisture--you can put it in with jewelry to help prevent tarnish, or tuck it into a shoe to help suck up some of the extra moisture from sweaty feet.

-If you have a metal showerhead--especially the cheapy kind that you find in most rentals--you can often greatly improve its performance by taking it off the spout and leaving it soak in a vinegar/water mix overnight. Clears out all kinds of mineral deposits.

-Magic Erasers (or the cheap knockoffs) are fantastic for a lot of things. They're basically super-fine-grain sandpaper, so they're reasonably safe to use on most things. They do a great job scrubbing rings out of tubs and toilets, and on more than one occasion, I've used them to scrub a burnt mess out of a pan.

-Lemon juice will often get out adhesive or gum. If you're allergic to peanut butter like I am, knowing this can literally be a lifesaver!

(Sorry for the double post--I misformatted the first time.)

Date: 2010-05-02 01:53 am (UTC)
meghanc: purple-red sea urchin, green plants (Default)
From: [personal profile] meghanc
The deodorant is pretty fantastic--my partner (who's a sweaty, stinky monster) and I have been using it for a few weeks now, and despite some 80+ days that had lots of sweating, the stinking has been minimal. The only catch with the recipe I posted is that once it goes over about 80 degrees, the coconut oil is liquid, so it's like putting on lotion. This makes it easier to put on, but more difficult to store. (I discovered that last night when I carelessly sat down on the bed, grabbed it, and pulled off the top, sloshing deodorant all over my thighs and the sheets.)

If you have issues with coconut oil, I'd imagine that any other oil or butter that's more-or-less solid at room temp could be used--I'm thinking shea butter or cocoa butter might work well.

I also have crazy allergies, which is why I'm on this quest. I'm hoping to get back into soap making this summer, and shampoo bars are on my to-do list. We'll see how that goes.

Your showerhead trick is much like my showerhead trick! I finally replaced my showerhead with this awesome one from Amazon--still low-flow, but it has two parts, one stationary and one hand-held. I can rinse my legs and still have water on my back! It's amazing.

Also, hey, I went browsing in your journal--do you mind if I friend you? You seem neat.

Date: 2010-05-01 07:31 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] nixwilliams
put the vinegar in after the baking soda and then seal the drain

wouldn't this result in ROCKET PLUG!!! ?

i'm loving this post and comments, btw!

Date: 2010-05-01 12:05 pm (UTC)
lauredhel: two cats sleeping nose to tail, making a perfect circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lauredhel
- Use far less laundry detergent than laundry detergent companies tell you to. I've used a quarter to a third of the recommended amounts for years, and no one's any the wiser.

- Line-dried clothes are wonderful. (I happily have had zero contact with "dryer sheets", but if they're anything like fabric softener, they'd bring my whole family out in horrendous hives.)

- You can use the same moisturiser for everything. Face, body, feet, hair treatment, babies, etc. It's just grease 'n' water, there's no mystery or magic that makes the fancy stuff worth a fistful of cash. Buy a one kilo tub of unfragranced moisture base from a wholesale supplier, keep it in the fridge, and just portion it out into 50-100g tubs as needed.

- Crockpots are the best thing invented ever.

here via network

Date: 2010-05-03 12:57 pm (UTC)
calvinahobbes: Calvin holding a cardboard tv-shape up in front of himself (doctor thumbs-up)
From: [personal profile] calvinahobbes
Late to the party, but I'm going to throw a couple out there anyway. Even if my mom did try to teach me some things growing up, it wasn't really until I moved out and suddenly faced full house cleaning head on, all alone!, that I realized I probably should've paid attention :o)

- If you wipe down showerhead and armature after every shower, thoroughly, with a dry cloth you can basically avoid ever needing to clean it. I've used the trick for two years in my current apartment and it still looks shiny and new!

- I use absorbent cotton wadding doused in vinegar to wrap around/ lay on hard-to clean patches of mineral residue (behind a pipe/ in the sink). It keeps the vinegar in place long enough to do its thing without using huge amounts - or requiring quite as vigurous scrubbing!

- Regular dishwashing soap is basically the only cleaning product you will ever need: it's good for washing floors, for smearing on stains before you put dirty clothes in the washer. It's a miracle against grease and dirt.

- You can freeze basically any food. I frequently buy cheese (feta, the kind for sandwiches, pizza topping) in bulk and freeze it in portion sizes (defrost ahead of time at room temp; don't microwave). I also freeze cream/milk in ice-cube forms or portion sizes, that way I always have some if I decide to make a sauce or something similar (you can nuke those). I've frozen mashed banana and put it in cake-batter for instant muffins! The possibilities are endless :o)

- I have slight allergies, and when I clean my apartment I usually vacuum everything. I use the brush thingy on my canister vacuum cleaner to dust off all shelves and flat surfaces - saving the floor for absoloutely last. It does a much better job than using a dust cloth, which basically just sends the dust flying.


eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)

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