Daily Dose of Thrifty

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink and Make it Shine: Simple 3-Step Solution with Ingredients Found Around Your Home

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by Cassie on July 30, 2014

Are you ready to combat the chrome and get geared up to defeat the grungy stainless steel sink? Well, we want to share with your our 3-step process on  how to clean a stainless steel sink and the best part is, there are no expensive cleaners – only simple ingredients found at home already!

awesome-3-step-solution-to-deep-clean-your-stainless-steel-sink

I love this method as you walk away with it looking like a brand new sink.  Mine is 10+ years old, has plenty of scratches and dings. I can’t say that I treat my sink nicely, as I don’t.  I work it hard, things get thrown in, things get left sitting in… etc. It is a well used kitchen appendage! So it is always a joy to see how she shines and the smile on her face after this great cleaning – it’s a day at the spa for her. :)

So let’s get this party started and get our sinks clean with a few minutes of work and a few ingredients.  Think of this as like a car wash – the supreme wash with the cleaning, buffing and spot-free rinse, and the waxing!

Well, that’s what we are going to do.

Step 1 for Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

supplies needed for step 1 of stainless steel sink cleaning

Supplies:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Dish soap
  • Scrubbing tools like toothbrush, scrubby pads/sponges and steel wool

How to clean stainless steel sink step #1

  • Plug the sink(s)
  • Then add about a 1/2 inch of water
  • Sprinkle baking soda all around
  • Squirt some dish soap in the sink all around

prepping big stainless steel sink for cleaning

Big sink with this solution

prepping stainless steel sink for natural cleaning with homemade mix

Small side sink with the solution

  • Then pour distilled white vinegar into the sinks and let the solution “bubble up.”

stainless steel sink cleaning big sink foaming with homemade cleaner

Bubble Fest! 

stainless steel sink cleaning with homemade cleaner foaming up

  • Then let this sit for a minute or two.
  • Go through and scrub away with your scrubby pads and steel wool. When using steel wool, gently scrub and it will also help buff away some superficial scratches (but do this carefully as you can create other scratches :))
  • This is also the time I use a toothbrush to get the crevices by dipping the toothbrush in the solution and scrubbing the outside parts of the sink.

using toothbrush on stainless steel sink for cleaning crevices with homemade cleaner

  • Then when you are satisfied, pull the plug to drain and rinse the residue away.

stainless steel sink cleaning dirty water after scrubbing

The dirty water left from scrubbing the small side of my sink – this is evidence it works well :) 

Here’s the results after step #1 of stainless steel sink cleaning.  My camera does not do this justice.  In person, the difference already is amazing!

stainless steel sink cleaning after step 1

After Step #1 of 3-Step Stainless Steel Cleaning – already a big difference! 

stainless steel sink small after cleaning step 1

Step 2 of Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

This is what you might consider your spot removal and spot-free rinse step.

supplies step2 for stainless steel sink cleaning

Supplies:

  • Cream of Tartar (buffer and scratch reducer)
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Rubbing Alcohol (optional)

How to clean stainless steel sink step #2

  • Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the sink.  This will help to buff and smooth out small scratches.
  • Then spray with the Hydrogen Peroxide – when you turn on the water after buffing, then this will create a “spot-free rinse”
  • Simply take your scrubby pad and “buff” the sink by working in a circular motion.

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  • Then turn on the water and rinse away. Feel free to spray a bit more hydrogen peroxide if you need to!
  • For this step, if you have rust or other spots, you may need to go a step further in removing the rust.

how to remove rust from stainless steel sink

  • This is best done with straight rubbing alcohol on a rag or scrubby pad.  Just pour a bit of it on and scrub away the rust/tough stains BTW – this is a before all of the steps picture.  I often find that the rust will fade after completing step #1 and #2, so you couldn’t see it in the camera, so I am showing rust from first picture so you can actually see it.  However, even after the first 2 steps, there is still a bit of rust visible in real life – so this is when you might need to pull out that alcohol!

Step 3 of Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

This is what you might consider your shammy shine/waxing when you wash your car! Well, we want that stainless steel to shine as well! This also gives your sink a bit of nourishment.

Supplies:

  • Olive oil or baby oil
  • A rag

To finish up, I will use a towel to dry it up and then give it a nourishing shine with oil! Olive oil or baby oil is best.  Simply pour oil on a rag and wipe down the sink.

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Then your sink will shine and be happy and you will be too!

full-sink-before-and-after

Here’s the before and after next to each other so you can see the awesome difference.  Again, camera’s (and my poor photography skills) do not give this justice, but it is beautiful instead of a dull stainless – it’s shining! 

*One final note, you may have noticed my sink, an extra big sink with a small sink instead of it being divided in half. Let me just say I HATE this sink design. It looks like it would be quite cool and functional – but the truth is…. the small sink is useless! You can’t wash dishes and rinse reasonably without water going everywhere, it is too small for holding strainers and cleaning food (which is why I get a lot of buildup on the edges as seen in the toothbrush picture – the water always leaks out over the sides!), water not only spills over the counter tops, but onto the floor and has been a real pain.  If you have a choice, I would recommend not going with a sink like this. When I change one day – I will steer clear of this useless design.

See more specific Cleaning Tips HERE

See our Cleaning Pinterest Board HERE 

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Alex & Cassie
 

5 Thrifty Steps To Improve Your Home’s Value (Plus 3 Things To Never Do)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex on July 22, 2014

5-thrifty-steps-to-improve-your-homes-value

Selling your home can be complicated and everyone wants to get the best deal they can. It is often the little things that make the most difference. Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to improve the value of your home to help it sell faster and gain top dollar offers:

Listen to the experts - The absolute best thing you can do to increase the likelihood that your home will sell quickly and at a price that makes you smile is to listen to the realtor. Oddly, many people hire professionals to help them with various projects in life and then choose to ignore the experts’ advice. When you do this, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Why hire an expert if you are then going to ignore their advice?

Stage the house for selling-  Yes, they know you still live there, but the idea is to keep the house from looking lived in. When you have family photos still on the wall or Fido’s dish by the back door, potential buyers still see the house as yours and often won’t even make an offer. Staging helps a potential buyer to imagine the home being their own.

Keep the house clean and remove as much of the personal stuff as possible- This is basically free, but can greatly improve the likelihood that your home will sell quickly.

Mow the lawn- If the landscaping is out of date or overgrown, consider inexpensive improvements to the lawn. Replace outdated shrubs with new plantings, plant fresh grass and add new mulch. The landscaping doesn’t have to be extensive, just neat and appealing. Help potential buyers imagine pulling into the driveway and being happy to be home.

Paint and clean the walls – Scuff marks on the paint or fingerprints on the wall accumulate when you live in a home, but the new buyers don’t want to see them. The best option is to add fresh paint in a neutral color. If painting is not in your budget, at least take a magic eraser to the old paint until it looks new. Good old fashioned elbow grease works just fine for most people.

3 Things to Never Do as These Quickly Decrease the Value of Your Home

Sometimes making decisions not to do something is the best way to save money where selling your home is concerned. Here are some things to consider:

Major Renovations – Although major remodels seem like a great idea to increase value, most often they end costing far more than the potential increase in value. You have to be extremely cautious about expensive improvements and really be selective about the ones you undertake. One good reason for this is because you may not have the same taste as the new owner. Think about how much it would stink if the new cabinets that costs thousands ended up costing you a sale?

Skimping on cleaning or maintenance  – This can also decrease the value of your home or the likelihood it will sell. Keep the cobwebs out of the corners, make sure there are no dust bunnies under the bed and change furnace filters as if you were planning to live there another 20 years. It will likely save you from having to do a lot of little repairs to make the buyer or home inspector happy. A fresh coat of paint on a rotting wall is never going to work out for you. Fix the basics and then worry about the aesthetics.

Smoke indoors - Smoking leaves a lingering odor.  Even if you can’t smell it, it can leave nicotine deposits on furniture, walls, light fixtures and more. Smoke outside and make sure to keep your butts cleaned up.

What tips do you have to improve the value of your home on a no or low budget? 

See more Frugal Living Tips and Articles HERE

 

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Alex & Cassie
 

DIY: Easy Homemade Air Conditioner for Only $25

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex on July 11, 2014

The more we walk down our path of thrifty and frugal living, the more I realize that one central key to it all is creativity.

What do I mean? When your family runs into a scenario and you face that critical decision-making situation – you will often have a quick, obvious answer that will cost more than you want to spend (often a lot more than you want or are prepared to spend). But its those who sit back and try to find an alternative idea – that often costs much less – that can call themselves thrifty.

Its the creative ones that apply a little ingenuity that save their money but solve the same problem in a more creative way.  This article seeks to help give yet another creative idea implemented – with a much cheaper price tag.  Just over $25 to be exact.

diy-easy-25-dollar-thrifty-air-conditioner

The temperature here is climbing – with a few days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry to our friends in Phoenix and elsewhere – I know you’ve had that for months now  :)).  A friend of mine from work (I refer to him as Mr. Wizard – you’ll see why soon) was struggling to keep his house cool.  What’s the first thing he could have done?  Run down to Home Depot or Lowes and pick up an air conditioner for a pretty penny.  Well, Mr. Wizard likes to think outside the box, searched the web for a couple of ideas and came up with a creative and unique solution – a more fun solution – the DIY easy homemade air conditioner!

Items you will need:

  • styrofoam cooler (recommended 45 quart)
  • household fan (he splurged and bought the $15 higher-quality fan at Walgreens to generate more output)
  • 24-pack of water bottles
  • 2 PVC elbow pipe fittings
  • knife to cut the holes for the attachments

Instructions (with design considerations):

  • Obtain the styrofoam cooler and cut your holes on top –  Remember its going to be easier to cut smaller and enlarge the holes as needed as the cooler is the second largest expense of the project.  As mentioned above, he recommends using the 45 quart cooler to allow a larger space to enclose more ice-water bottles.  Because he can fit 24 bottles into the contraption he can cool down his house (especially his living room and kitchen living areas) for a longer time – up to 6-7 hours.
  • Place the PVC elbow fittings in the cooler and face them with discretion – You may wonder, “Why add the PVC elbows at all?  Why not simply cut a hole and allow the air to blow out?”  Well this design gives you a couple of nice benefits.  First, you can protect any electronics or other delicate items by facing your PVC fittings away from those items.  Second, as you sit back and enjoy the cool air you just might want to face it in your general direction.  Just don’t let the other family members know what you’re doing – you just might be in the dog house over that one!
  • Freeze the water bottles and space them out in the cooler with as much separation as possible – You may wonder why we’re emphasizing the space.  The more cold surface area you can direct your air over – the cooler your output air will be as you can maximize the contact area.  Obviously your mileage may vary depending on the humidity and starting temperature of the air.

air-conditioner-inside-frozen-water-bottles

  • Close the lid, turn on your fan and enjoy! – Obviously you should check for leaks in the water bottles and check for condensation around and under the unit.  Sit back and love the cooler air – and all the money you saved in the process with your very own DIY easy homemade air conditioner!

Of course – being Mr. Wizard – he measured the temperature of the air flowing out of his homemade air conditioner – a nice, frigid 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  And as mentioned above, as it lasts 6-7 hours, he can turn on the air conditioner in the afternoon and run it until 9-10 pm at night.

Would it have been an easier decision to have quickly ran to the store and pick up a multi-hundred dollar air conditioner?  Maybe.  Was it more creative and a general blast to build his own DIY easy homemade air conditioner while being more thrifty?  You bet!

We would love to hear from you about other ideas where you have taken the less-trodden path – that of the creative and alternative ideas to help you save money in your family.  Email them to us with some pictures and we would love to post them!

A huge thanks to Mr. Wizard for sharing his pictures and story with us!

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Alex & Cassie
 

26 Amazing Reasons to Have Lavender Essential Oils on Hand

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on July 9, 2014

26-amazing-reaons-to-have-lavender-essential-oil-on-hand

As a frugal and trying to be healthy family, we do and have used essential oils in our home.

First, as mentioned many times before, we have used essential oils in cleaning for 8+ years now.

Second, a few years ago, we started using essential oils for personal care too! The combination of the two uses have been life-changing for our family and our health.  We are very thankful to have healthy, affordable and effective options.

So as we shared with the 17 Household Uses for Lemon Essential Oil, we wanted to talk about our favorite oil – Lavender!

Some of these uses can also be in the dried and fresh form, in fact, I am trying to grow lavender as well as there are many, many benefits to fresh and dried lavender.  But the benefit of the oil is that if you buy the right oils, you are getting a pure, unadulterated highly concentrated form of lavender that goes a long way and can be used much easier than a fresh or dried version – however, don’t throw out any dried or fresh lavender either!

The Details

Let’s talk about what lavender does (I am quoting my aromatherapy books and an essential oils encyclopedia where the hundreds of sources/tests/studies are listed).

Properties

The properties of lavender essential oil are that it has acted as an analgesic, anticoagulant, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-fungal, antihistamine, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, antitumor, cardiotonic, regenerative and sedative in hundreds of studies and tests.

Historical Uses

It has been used for thousands of years for homeopathic care and everyday use.  In a nutshell, lavender has been traditionally used for emotional issues, calming, cardiovascular functions, nervous system and for the skin.

Precautions

First, always use an oil that is approved and certified for internal use or therapeutic use before you use an oil for the purpose (see notes below).

Second, evidence suggests that long term use of lavender has shown to be beneficial for hormones for women, but cause hormonal imbalance in males.  With that, we would suggest using it sparingly with young children and males.

Qualities of oils

I wanted to mention something very important – the types of qualities of essential oils that you purchase and use. First, these are not fragrance oils and you cannot get them at big box or grocery stores – those are different. Essential oils can be purchased at health food stores and online.

Cleaning Grade Essential Oils

For cleaning and many household uses, I will buy the more affordable pure essential oils that are about 1/2 the cost as the very high quality oils.  The reason why is that I am not convinced it is totally necessary to use the highest quality of essential oils for cleaning.  If you can afford the highest quality, then by all means, but for those on a budget like us, then a pure essential oil works just fine.

Essential Oils for Personal Use

For any personal, aromatherapy use – this is where I personally draw a hard fast line.  I think it is essential (no pun intended :)) to use the highest quality oils that you can get.  They already offer a more affordable option than medicines, and so this is not a place to skimp.  I am talking about when the oils touch your body or taken internally.

Where to get these different grades of oils?

I have quite a collection of both my cleaning grade and higher quality personal use oils.  Both companies that I purchase from are also available internationally (for those that have asked in the past).

Natures-Alchemy-100-Pure-Essential-Oil-Lavender-079565003177-sm

For cleaning grade, I have purchased all of them from Vitacost website and they are affordable, convenient to get and have worked well.  You should also be able to get them at health food stores and from Amazon. For the best deal, see our post HERE on the 7 Best Essential Oils for Cleaning. 

lavender-doterra

For the higher quality oils, we understand that a few companies meet this criteria.  We personally have only tried doTerra, which is once such company that offers the highest quality of pure, therapeutic grade essential oils that are safe for personal use and even consumption. These have worked well for us.  We get the purest quality of oils from doTerra HERE (aff link).  They can seem to be pricey, but note that a 15ml bottle contains about 300 drops – so these really do last a very long time!

How Households Can Utilize Lavender Essential Oils Today

We personally find that we use lavender the most, or rather for the most purposes.  If anyone were to ask what one oil they should start with or have on hand, it would be lavender.

Personal Uses (we would only use the highest quality, pure, therapeutic grade oils for these) 

  1. Use lavender oil to help with sleep issues and sleeplessness. The main use that most everyone knows about is for anxiety and help with sleeping.  We have used it for this purpose for a very long time! It’s WONDERFUL this way! This is also a great use for the fresh and dried leaves, as well as the oil! We simply diffuse the oil or place on a cottonball and stick in pillowcases.
  2. Relieve headaches naturally.  I get headaches a lot.  Lavender oil has been my go-to natural drug.  I don’t like using OTC meds too often due to risks associated with them.  However, lavender has been amazing and I am so grateful and thankful that don’t have to worry about it being to harsh on other parts of my body.  When I have a headache, I rub diluted lavender oil in a rollerball (I dilute with fractionaed coconut oil, but many carrier oils will work) and roll this on my temples, the base of the back of my neck and sometimes my feet/toes. I was so amazed at how well this works. In fact, I used this even today as I was blogging (I get headaches from working on the computer :)) and I had relief in 15 minutes – you can see my picture on Instagram HEREAre you following us on Instagram yet? It’s a great place to see what we are up to each day! 
  3. Heal and relieve burns. If myself or anyone else gets accidentally burned from a pan or something, a drop of lavender oil will help to heal the burn and heal much quicker.
  4. Heal, clean and relieve cuts. If there is a skin abrasion, this is the go-to oil! We will sometimes use others in addition to lavender for further help per issue, but on it’s own is mighty fine!
  5. Help clear acne. Due to it’s antimicrobial and healing properties, it can clean out the acne and help your skin to recover.
  6. Help relieve and heal sunburns. We have also used vinegar, but we will follow some burns with lavender because of how helpful lavender is for the skin.  In this case, it is best to apply by spraying. Dilute the lavender in a glass bottle with purified water.
  7. Seasonal allergy reliever! Smelling lavender, diffusing lavender oil and even rubbing it on your feet or temples helps to relieve seasonal/environmental allergies like hay fever.  Honestly, this works sometimes, and sometimes this works best when combined with allergy meds too.  We only have to take allergy meds a couple of times a year (assuming this must be our extreme allergy time) and the rest of the year, the other reactions are often relieved with lavender!
  8. Menstrual cramp reliever.  Just rub it on your abdomen during that fun time of the month!
  9. Cold Sore healer. Similar to the acne issue, cold sores can be relieved the same way.
  10. Achy muscle soother.  If you have a muscle ache, rub lavender oil on your sore muscles for relief!
  11. Most any issue involving the skin, lavender is a great option!
  12. It is also my most favorite oil in my homemade personal care recipes (and be watching for those as I will start sharing them now :))

Household Uses (many of these are links to other articles)

  1. Make aromatherapy tissues for allergy and cold relief.
  2. Make your own laundry detergent with scent like Tide
  3. Make your own fabric softener.
  4. Make your own Downy Unstoppables laundry scent booster, but with natural ingredients.
  5. Make your own soothing baby wipes.
  6. Fabric refresher - Create this by mixing purified water with lavender oil. Just spray your fabrics when needed!
  7. Diffuse in the air with an oil diffuser. Check out the post HERE on diffusers. 
  8. Make your own fragrance diffuser.
  9. Spa Baths – Enjoy a calming, relaxing and healthful bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Even use epsom salts with lavender oil in your bath! 
  10. Lavender pillow or rice warmer.  Fill a small pillow with rice and then sprinkle lavender oil and warm this up in the microwave for less than a minute for a sinus, headache, calming treatment.
  11. Make your own cleaning products. Because of the many cleaning, purifying and cleansing properties of lavender, it is a GREAT ingredient to add to homemade cleaning products for a chemical-free option. We share over 26 homemade cleaning products on our cleaning page HERE and some of these contain lavender oil.

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Many of these cleaning recipes use lavender oil! 

Cooking Uses (only the high quality, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils for this purpose!) 

  1. Teas – brew your own tea with dried lavender or even with lavender oil.  As a tip, don’t let the water boil – remove the water right before it reaches boiling point. If not, it will burn the oil.
  2. Homemade breads – adding a drop of lavender can really enhance and make a very earthy and yummy flavor to your breads.  This requires experimentation, but lavender is an herb and think about how yummy breads are with herbs!
  3. Flavor enhancer in recipes.  Yogurt, salads, ice cream, Soups, Mediterranean and Italian dishes are nice with a very slight hint of lavender – one drop is more than enough. Another area where it is fun to experiment and receive nice flavor and health benefits too!  I don’t use lavender often in the kitchen (not like other oils that I will talk about later) but I do use it on occasion.

What uses do you use lavender essential oil for?  

See more household tips HERE

See our Essential Oils Pinterest Board HERE 

*Please note, this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition or replace any medicines or medical treatment, it is purely our opinion from our experience and research from a non-medical perspective.  Please confirm all of these things with your doctor. 

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Alex & Cassie
 

How to Clean Your Air Conditioner: A Clean Air Conditioning Unit Saves More Money

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on July 5, 2014

cleaning-air-conditioner-hose-sm

We thought we would share the steps on How to Clean an Air Conditioner.  A clean air conditioning unit saves more money a few different ways:

  • Helps your unit to run more efficiently, which lowers your energy costs.
  • Keeps your air conditioning unit in good working order to help it last longer.
  • Cleaning it yourself saves you money over needing to hire help.

It is recommended that you do an annual cleaning. You can’t handle every part of a service to your air conditioner as the pros need to handle the coolant levels and other maintenance, but as far as cleaning, this is something you may be able to do.  Hiring out the cleaning part can cost around $120, so this is savings in your pocket instead!

So, it’s smart to take a little bit of time to get it clean.  We actually found a great step-by-step tutorial from the Family Handyman site.  The process that they share is one of the easiest and clearest we have seen online.  It is basically a 3-step process for handling both the outdoor and indoor unit:

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Clean the condenser – from vacuuming debris, straightening fins, wiping out the inside, and hosing off the fins, all with the power off of course! 

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Restart the condenserSteps HERE on how to safely do this! 

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Clean the indoor unit – from checking the filter, vacuuming and lubing and cleaning the drain tube and port. 

Those are the basic steps. You can find the full step-by-step tutorial on the Family Handyman site HERE.

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Alex & Cassie