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Cleaners, heaters and more

Cleaners, heaters and more

By Frank and Muriel Newman

This week we have more creative money saving tips from readers, including lots of cleaning tips and ways to save money on heating costs.

Giselle has this tip passed on by her grandmother. “My grandmother taught me to put about half a teaspoon of baking soda in the cup and add a splash of water to make it into a paste. Rub the inside of the cup with this solution and it will get rid of the stain. If it doesn't work the first time, just add more baking soda and water! I do this all the time and it works a treat!”

Lee from Whangarei suggests, “Try Chux Magic Eraser Hard Surface Cleaner. There are eight disposable blocks in the packet and they can be bought at the supermarket. You can also buy them as a block and cut to the required size. It’s amazing also for cleaning around light switches, removing crayon, scuff marks off floors, etc - just wet and lightly rub! You can use each piece more than once.”

Tess from Auckland has this tip for cleaning burnt pots. “To clean burnt pots, cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice and rub the lemon on the burnt area, then scrub with goldilocks or the steel pot mitts which are a lot cheaper. I find the burnt-on food comes off easily.”

To clean water spots from shower glass Mervyn from Dunedin uses a cake of sand soap. He says it’s a lot cheaper than similar cleaning products.

Margaret from Mt Maunganui has this suggestion for keeping your towels in tip top condition. “Reconditioning your towels is as simple as running them through two hot loads. Skip the detergent on both loads, run them through once with hot water and a cup of vinegar, then again with hot water and half a cup of baking soda. My towels all have more body and absorbency, plus my white towels are cleaner and brighter. I usually do this every six months or so.”

Too keep away the winter chills Pamdelilah from Christchurch has this tip for a DIY heater. You will need some tea light candles, a bread baking tin, and two ceramic flowerpots! “The tea lights (up to four) are placed into a bread loaf baking tin then covered with the smaller upside-down flower pot so the pot sits on top of the edges of the baking tin. The drainage hole in the top of the upside-down pot is covered (sealed) with the metal casing leftover from one of the tea light candles. Then a second larger ceramic flower pot is placed over the first (making sure they don’t touch). The hole in the bigger flower pot is left uncovered.” Apparently this creates a very efficient heater. If you want to see this technique in action, go to YouTube and search “flower pot heater”. A word of caution though - the pots get very hot, since there is of course a flame from the candles involved, so only do this on a hard surface that is not at risk of burning … we don’t want you burning your house down!

C A S from Whakatane has a tip for those who have a wood fire to heat the home. “We have found that by placing a fan in front of our built in fireplace we use less wood and get more heat from the fire. Basically, the increased airflow over the fires surface, transfers the heat to the air at a faster rate, which makes the room much warmer. The same fan can be used with free standing fireplaces, just aim the fan at the flue and feel the increase in room temperature.”

Jess from Community Energy Action in Christchurch has these tips. “Free recycled curtains for bedrooms and living areas are available to people on low incomes through the Community Energy Action's Curtain Bank. Call 0800 GET WARM for a measurement form.”

And this. “Do-it-Yourself window insulation is available through Community Energy Action. It starts from $29 and can be as effective as retrofit double glazing in reducing heat loss and condensation. It will help keep your home warmer and healthier for a fraction of the cost of double glazing!” Check them out on their website,; they are doing great work in their community.

With winter now upon us, why not send us some of your favourite low-cost hearty recipes to share with the oily rag community, by visiting or by writing to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.


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