Thursday, July 10, 2008

Things I Learned from Pantry Power

Mrs. FixIt Pantry Power
Author: Terri McGraw

I admit to thinking the idea of a book of household tips based on the alphabet seems forced. There was no way this book would be useful, I thought in my jaded, anti-bullets way. Then I started reading and to my delight bookmarked at least one page per letter.

The first half was alternative uses for common household items which seems to be one of my stranger hobbies.

Aluminum Foil
  • Wrap paintbrushes in aluminum foil and freeze for future touch-ups. When you're ready to go, unwrap and thaw. I did this with mixed success. Turns out waiting for paint to thaw takes as long as watching a pot boil.

Baby oil

  • Cleans paint off skin
  • Fight soap scum on curtains with a coating
  • Fight soap scum on tiles, fixtures and tub Works!


  • Use a piece to pick up small shards of glass
  • Hardened brown sugar will soften if stored with bread
  • White bread @ bottom of cookie jar keeps em fresh longer

Cardboard Tube (tp, paper towel, wrapping)

  • Store grocery bags in them Genius.

Chalk (Apparently soaks up moisture)

  • Ring around the collar, chalk then wash
  • In toolbox to eliminate rusting
  • Closets to eliminate mustiness

Cola (Apparently kills grease and my insides)

  • Pour on rust and scrub
  • Down the drain to unclog greasy buildup
  • Boil in a pan with cooked-on crud Works!
  • Over a load of greasy clothing

Dish Soap

  • Kill stains in the microwave - 1 cup water + 1 tablespoon white vinegar + few drops of dish soap. Run on high for 5 minutes then let sit for 10...wipe away Mental Note: Must Try!

Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Removes blood stains from clothing
  • Kills mold in showers
  • Preserve flowers - cool (not cold water) + teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide


  • Clean blender by blending ice cubes and lukewarm soapy water
  • Place an ice cube on crushed carpet areas. Fibers will plump. Mental Note: Must Try!
  • Get rid of gum in hair and clothing

Shower Cap

  • Water & cover plants if you're leaving for a few days
  • Attach shower cap to the bottom of hanging plants to catch drips


  • Reduce splintering by masking taping the length before sawing
  • Tape a screw to an item if you can't screw & hold simultaneously GENIUS
  • Before hanging pic, criss cross transparent tape where the nail will go to eliminate wall cracks


  • Preserve flowers - 2 tablespoons of white vinegar + 2 tablespoons of sugar to water. Vinegar kills bacteria, sugar feeds flowers
  • Warm white vinegar (nuke it) to kill soap scum & hard water stains in the bath


  • 1 tablespoon in vase will kill flower's bacteria. This will also keeps flower stems firm (no slumped over bulbs)


  • Gift wrap!
  • Mat for pics
  • Laminate for kitchen placemats! GENIUS! Staples does heavy duty lamination for about $1

The tools section had some handy ideas and these were my four favorites:

  • If you're having trouble hammering a nail in straight, brace it between the teeth of a comb
  • Sharpen scissors by cutting through several layers of aluminum foil
  • Sharpen knives along the bottom of unglazed mugs or terra cotta planters
  • Tie string along the top of a paint can. Run brush across it to scrape off excess paint and let it fall right back into the can. GENIUS

I first read this book three years ago and revisiting this list reminded me of all the small changes I've made in my cleaning life because of it. Using baby oil as a cleaning agent in the bathroom has cut my work by at least 90% Instead of scrubbing and cursing I put a few drops unto a paper towel and rub them over the fixtures. Soap scum and water spots are vanquished!

So Pantry Power is definitely worth checking out of the library; if only so you can find your own list of preferred life shortcuts. Saving them to an easily searchable blog beats having random post its popping up years later!