Household tips


Summer can be a time to catch up on chores, unless you're industrious, that is, and use it to catch up on snores. In either case, tips can be useful to help get the job done. Here are a few for some of the common household tasks.

To unclog a drain in the kitchen or bathroom, try using baking soda with vinegar and, to unclog a toilet, use hot water with dishwasher soap. Use a megaphone to unclog your spouse's ears when they refuse to listen to you as they're watching TV.

If your smoke detector becomes so sensitive it keeps going off, wrap a shower cap around it. Wrap a big blanket around your house, should you become sensitive to the big fires southwest of town.

Try using lighter fluid to remove dark stains from your sink and bathtub. A few whacks on the behind will remove most stubborn cousins from the living room, when they refuse to go home.

If your bathtub has turned yellow, bring back its original whiteness by rubbing it with a turpentine and salt mixture. Keep it even cleaner by not letting your dog use it for its hot-tub. Clean the walls and fixtures after taking a steamy bath or shower. The steam helps to loosen the dirt. To keep it even cleaner, just don't take baths or showers at all.

When using an evaporative cooler in this hot weather, open windows in the warmest rooms, just enough so that a 2-inch-by-2-inch square of tissue stays loosely against the screen, but not tightly, nor so loosely that it falls off. If the cooler fails to cool you off, call your travel agent and take the first flight available to Alaska.

To clean a pillow case sewn permanently onto the pillow, put the whole pillow in the freezer over-night, to remove impurities. Do not confuse the pillow for a frozen dinner and eat it the next day — unless that assists you in taking your after-dinner snooze.

Wash fresh fruit and vegetables more effectively by wetting them down, then sprinkling them with baking soda and scrubbing them. To speed up the process, take a shower, hold the fruit and veggies in your hands, and then dump the baking soda over your head. Try not to eat any of the fruit or vegetables while standing in the shower.

If you have trouble removing the stem from strawberries, wash them and then insert a wide plastic straw in the berry's bottom and push the stem out. This beats doing the job with the crowbar and sledge hammer that you've been using.

To keep juices from boiling up in a pie you are baking and running all over the oven, cut a few tiny slits into the top of the pie crust, stand a piece of tubed pasta into each slit, and then remove the pasta after the pie has baked. Leave the pasta in the pie if you want it to taste terrible and play a joke on your family.

To increase the size of the cake you are making from a mix, some suggest adding sugar, an egg, flour, and baking powder. This helps some, but for a really big cake, add a five-pound bag of sand. Concrete mix is not recommended.

Are crickets escaping your shoe when you try to step on them as they enter the house? Use your bare hand instead, since it is much quicker. If you find this repulsive, get over it. Think of how it must be for the cricket.

To preserve flowers you have cut from your garden, spray them with hair spray and they should last longer. You can also tape the flowers to your head and then spray them, giving you the added advantage of looking pretty.

Follow these tips to ease the burden of your chores. Or don't follow them, and just leave town on a really long vacation.

Kozeny has worked as a teacher, counselor and in pastoral ministry. He can be reached by email at