FIREPLACE GLASS. This is a trick I learned from my mother for cleaning the fireplace glass or stove doors that get fouled with smoke and soot, to where you cannot see and enjoy the flame.

First, spread newspaper on the floor. Then open the door. Take another wadded-up page of a newspaper; wet it; dip it in the ashes; and use it to clean the glass. This will remove everything from the glass without scratching or harming it in any way.

Last step: Wad up one last piece of newspaper, and use it to wipe away all of the crud and nastiness. The result is quite amazing, and the price is right.

— Rosanne

AUTO CLEANER. Use plain old baking soda on a damp rag to remove bugs, tar and anything else from your vehicle. It works great, even on the grill and chrome. It leaves no residue or odor and won’t harm the paint. I just make a paste with baking soda and water, clean away and rinse it off. It works better than any commercial product I’ve tried. This method even cleans away the cloudy film on headlight covers.

— Bud

CLEAN AND DEODORIZE ICE CHEST/COOLER. Add about 1 inch of water to the bottom of the cooler; drop in 4 Alka-Seltzer tablets; and allow them to sit for an hour. Pour out the dirty water, and then rinse and dry. All odors will be gone, making the cooler clean and ready for its next use.

— Claudio

HAIRSPRAY OVERSPRAY. If your bathroom mirror, countertop, wall, woodwork or floor get covered with hairspray like mine do, spray the surface with ordinary rubbing alcohol, and then follow with a damp cloth to wipe it away. That will remove the hairspray overspray — even a stubborn accumulation — and leave the areas sparkling clean.

— Justine

ORGANIZE HOUSEHOLD SUPPLIES. Use an over-the-door hanging shoe rack with clear vinyl pockets to organize and store cleaning supplies, with one item per pocket. This gets them up and out of the reach of children. But even better, now you can actually see what you have.

Mary Hunt, founder of, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Send tips or address questions to: Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740, or email her at

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