Sometimes, I wonder how “Everyday Cheapskate” readers discover their handy ideas. I mean, who would have thought something that cleans brake parts would also remove stains from clothes?

CLEANS MORE THAN BRAKES. I have found that using my husband’s brake parts spray cleaner, Brakleen, works really well for getting out grease stains. It doesn’t affect the color and works when other stain removers have failed, even if the item has already been washed and dried.

— Cam

(You should always, without fail, test any stain treatment in an inconspicuous place first to make sure your fabric is colorfast. These days, most are, but please, do not assume anything.)

NOTHING GOES TO WASTE. Our town has two thrift shops that accept worn-out clothes. They remove the buttons and sell those. Then they bag up the clothes and sell them to a “rag man,” who gives them 7 cents per pound. So, really, nothing has to go to waste. I’ve begun doing this myself. My kids love the buttons for craft projects, and I make good use of the rags, too.

— Marcelle

DOUBLE-DUTY SALAD. Mary’s tip about turning leftover salad into soup is genius. My Greek salad from a recent dinner did not end up in the disposal. Instead, it crossed the Mediterranean and changed nationalities — becoming gazpacho the next night. I did what Mary suggested, tossing the leftovers in the blender and adding a little V8 juice.

— Betsy

MILK OF MAGNESIA ELIMINATES ODORS. I have always had very strong body odor. It didn’t matter what kind of deodorant or antiperspirant I used; it never worked. Then I heard that regular milk of magnesia worked as a daily deodorant. I tried it, and I’ve been using it for over a decade.

I pour a little bit of the store-brand milk of magnesia on a cotton square and then pat it on my armpit and repeat with the other armpit. A little bit lasts all day. Milk of magnesia can dry out quickly in the bottle, so just add a little water, and shake well.

— Lynda

PLASTIC CUTS IT PERFECTLY. When I bake brownies, I cut them with a plastic knife when they are still warm. The brownies don’t stick to the plastic knife or roll up when cut, but you have to cut them while they are warm.

— Sally

CONTACT LENS CASE RECYCLE. Ever since reading about the tip to cut open a tube of lotion to get to the last bit of product, I’ve been amazed at how much I’d been wasting all these years. (I’ve even started to wrestle open the pump bottles with a pair of pliers to get that last bit of eye cream!)

Here’s how I store that last bit of lotion to avoid it drying out: As a contact lenses wearer, I have many extra contact cases and realized they make perfect storage containers for those last lotion bits. As an added bonus, these containers are perfect for travel. I write the contents on the lid and take my pomade, hair gel, eye cream, etc., without the bulk.

— Kate

WASP TRAP. We have a lot of wasps in the summer, and commercial wasp traps at my grocery store cost $12.99 each, so I make my own. I take an empty plastic sports drink container, cut the top off just below the point where it tapers and then invert the top and place it inside the bottom portion, put in a couple of inches of sugary juice, and set it on my deck.

The wasps fly or crawl into the bottle but can’t figure out how to get out. They eventually die. It works like a charm, and it’s free! When the trap gets full, I toss it and make another one!

— Linda

Mary Hunt writes this column for Creators Syndicate. She is the founder of, a lifestyle blog, and the author of “Debt-Proof Living. Submit comments or tips or address questions on her website. She will answer questions of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.

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