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Everyday Cheapskate: Home remedy to keep cats out of your kids’ sandbox

Pop Quiz: What looks like water, is certainly inexpensive, has a pungent odor but is not toxic (in fact, you can drink it if you like), is biodegradable, serves as a useful disinfectant and will repel kitties from your kids’ sandbox? Give up? Read on to learn the answer in today’s first great reader tip.

SCAT CAT! Keep cats out of your kids’ sandbox by pouring distilled white vinegar around the box once each month. Keep in mind that vinegar will kill some types of grass and other vegetation, so be careful where you pour it. — Sally, email

CLEAN AND DEODORIZE ICE CHEST/COOLER: Add about 1 inch of water to the bottom of the cooler, drop in 4 Alka Seltzer tablets, and allow to sit for an hour. Pour out the dirty water, then rinse and dry. All odors will be gone, making the cooler clean and ready for its next use. — Claudio, New Mexico

GLASS BOTTLE CUTTING: Soak a piece of yarn or string in nail polish remover. Tie it around a wine or other kind of glass bottle right at the spot where you want the cut. Carefully light the soaked yarn with a lighter. Let the yarn burn all the way around for about 10-15 seconds, then dip in a bowl of cold water. Give it a tap, and you’ll get a perfect cut every time. (Caution: You’re dealing with a toxic liquid, fire and broken glass here. Take every precaution necessary!) — Nita, Connecticut

NO AGE LIMIT. At a wedding I attended recently, I witnessed the sweetest thing. The grandmothers served as flower girls. They thoroughly enjoyed their flower-strewing duty, as the audience stood and cheered. — Zenda, New York

BOOT FORMS. Roll up a couple of magazines, and stick them into your boots to keep them standing tall between wearings. Works great, and the mags can be reused many times. — Janet, Colorado

PERFECT RATIO. A mix of 75 percent salt and 25 percent pepper makes the perfect seasoning combo to fill an all-in-one shaker. — Edgar, Texas

RIBBON CADDY. Use multi-tiered pants hangers to store rolls of ribbon and other kinds of craft supplies that come on spools. Now with a single glance you can see your entire collection. Hang this “caddy” in a closet, and that will cut down on the clutter, too. — Candace, Arizona

Spa-style loofah gloves are awesome for outdoor window washing and for cleaning outdoor furniture. With a quick swish in the soap bucket and a wipe-down, the dirt disappears. Then, rinse everything off with a hose. Wear them on one hand or both. They are great for cleaning bathroom counter surfaces, too. — Wilda, Oregon

MIRACLE WORKER LAUNDRY STAIN REMOVER: Mix together 1 teaspoon of traditional blue Dawn dishwashing liquid, 4 tablespoons hydrogen peroxide and 2 tablespoons baking soda. Scrub on stain, let it sit for at least one hour, then launder. And don’t forget to be totally blown away that even THAT stain came out! This is particularly miraculous on baby stains, if you know what I’m talking about. Yes, that one and the others, too. — Mary, California

Would you like to send a tip to Mary?

You can email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Include your first and last name and state.

Mary Hunt is founder of

To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators webpage at


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