From the category archives:


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It might not surprise you guys that baking soda, canning jars, and pressure cookers are among the few products that boomed during the 2008 recession, given how many posts on these miracle products have appeared on personal finance sites over course of the past year. Personally, I’m only surprised that dryer sheets and slow cookers have not created their own splinter economy of their own. Still, the article in U.S. News And World Report I cited above made me realize that it’s been a while since I’ve trolled the web for a list of wacky alternative uses of basic household items, and I know you guys have missed it. So today, I bring you a list, culled from the bowels of the frugalosphere, of alternative uses for bleach. Except, as I was completing this list, it became clear that the alternative uses for bleach are often times 1) not “alternative” in its strictest sense, given that some of these groundbreaking ideas for bleach use are, in fact, among the stated applications of the bleach product; and 2) that “bleach” often times means “the container in which bleach is sold.” So, your mileage may vary on the actual utility of these tips, as usual, but don’t forget that you’re not really frugal until you’ve figured out a way to milk every last cent out of that $0.85 you spent on a bottle of Clorox. Enjoy!

  1. “Extend the ‘life’ (scare quotes mine) of freshly cut flowers, by adding one-quarter teaspoon of bleach for every quart of water used in your vase.”
    Now this makes sense, because you know what they break out when they need to sanitize things, and fast, to stop the spread of disease, and the guys with the Hazmat suits aren’t there yet? That’s right, bleach. So clearly, it’s totally peachy to pour bleach all over freshly cut flowers, because they’re not living anymore, after all, and won’t mind the excruciating pain of having microorganisms burned off their stems by a chemical reaction. Nobody will hear their silent screams, because they’ve already been murdered before their time, see? Everybody wins. Well, until your cat tries to drink out of your flower arrangement, and then you’re fucked.
  2. Deodorize coolers and thermos bottles.
    Oh, sure — this is a great piece of advice, because you’re probably one of those “cleaner” guys who shows up to clean up the mess after something goes wrong with a hired hit? And after you’ve carted around sundry body parts and containers filled with human blood, you have to make sure that you’ve killed every last bit of DNA, just in case somebody doesn’t do something right, somewhere down the line, because that’s why they call you in, of course, to clean up everyone else’s mistakes, right? Amateurs.
  3. Remove mold and mildew from outdoor siding, tile, brick, stucco, and patios. This one sounded reasonable to me, until I started thinking about the amount of mold one would need to have on the outside of one’s house before one would be able to decide that maybe their problem was a bit bigger than something that might be solved with a bottle of bleach.
  4. Remove coffee or tea stains from china.
    You can soak clean china in a water and bleach mixture to remove old coffee stains. This also works on the dentures of great grandparents you don’t like very much.
  5. Disinfect garbage cans. Right, but is this really an alternative use? Isn’t this more or less what bleach is for? Killing nasty stuff that resides at the bottom of garbage cans? Sorry, but I’m not giving you any points for thinking outside of the box on this one.
  6. Bail a boat.
    Yes, you read that right: in case you happen to be in a sinking boat with an empty bottle of bleach and a pair of scissors, go ahead and cut diagonally across the bottom for a handy tool to scoop out the water from the boat and avoid drowning! Thank you, frugalosphere, for these super realistic, handy, and — dare I say it? — life saving tips!
  7. Make a scooper.
    If you keep the cap on an empty, clean bleach bottle, you can cut it diagonally across the bottom and use it to scoop up dry goods like flour, sugar, rice, dog food, fertilizer, cat litter, and what not.
  8. Make a pooper scooper. Wait. First of all, didn’t you just tell us to make a scooper out of this damn thing? Are you trying to cram in an extra list item for free here? But wait, am I really asking the right question here? What kind of poop are you using this to scoop up? And what are you going to do with it afterwards? Because I don’t see that coming back in my house.
  9. Clean butcher blocks to prevent bacteria from breeding.
    After you wash your cutting boards, apply a solution of three tablespoons per gallon of water.
  10. Make a hot cap. One site recommends cutting off the bottom of the bottom of a bleach jug and then putting it over seedlings at night. But wait. Isn’t a hot cap something you invite somebody over for after a date, when you’re from the 1930s? I’m so confused.
  11. Remove stains from baby clothes.
    OK, I totally call foul on this one. That is sooo what bleach is for. Am I to believe there are people out there who don’t know about this use for bleach? This laundry use?
  12. Make a carrier for small children’s toys and crayons. “Cut a hole in the side of an empty, clean Clorox bleach jug opposite the handle.” OK, but why small children, Hannibal?
  13. Make a clothespin holder.
    Cut a hole in the side of an empty, clean Clorox bleach jug opposite the handle, and punch a small holes in the bottom for drainage. Hang your new clothespin holder on the clothesline.
  14. Make an anchor.
    “Fill an empty, clean Clorox bleach bottle with cement.” . . . and then tie it to the ankle of the dead body you’re trying to hide.
  15. Make a hip bucket for harvesting fruits or berries. Cut a large hole in the side of an empty, clean Clorox bleach bottle opposite the handle, then string your belt through the handle.
  16. Make dumbbells. Fill two empty, clean Clorox bleach bottles with sand.
  17. Make a megaphone. Remove the cap and cut off the bottom of an empty, clean Clorox bleach bottle.
  18. Clean mildew from grout.
    Mix three-quarters cup Clorox bleach with one gallon of water, and use an old tooth brush to scrub off the mildew.
  19. Use bleach instead of jet dry.
    Apparently, a capful of bleach added to your dishwasher will make your glasses sparkle and your silverware shine. It also might poison you.

Kindle 2

I’ve been thinking about getting a Kindle (or something like it) lately. To be honest, it has nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with the desire to be able to have books without going to a book store or waiting a few days for a book to get here from Amazon. I have always read a lot, and really the only thing that changes is what I’m reading. For the past year or so, it’s mostly been blogs, but I’m kind of in an anti-blog phase right now, irony and all, and I’ve been wanting to get back into reading books more often. The problem is, I’ll read about a book and I want to start reading it right then, this is what the internet has done to me, created this insatiable desire to consume content and a ridiculous impatience for the manner in which that content is relayed to me. Honestly, sometimes I’m only reading blogs because they are quicker and easier than dealing with a book.

Yes, I realize I am a blogger. Nevertheless.

So basically, what I want is a way of getting something to read NOW, not two days from now when it arrives from Amazon (or ten days, if I buy the cheaper used version), and not after braving the ninth circle of hell that is Barnes and Noble in order to find it. The last time I was on a plane, I remember being told to shut off my iPhone before takeoff even though it has an airplane mode and I don’t see how it would interfere with their precious flying instruments. And facing the two upcoming trips I have on the horizon (both to Texas, incidentally, where I’ve never been and am a little nervous about going), I want to be able to have something to read that doesn’t require me taking a four hundred pound bag full of magazines on the plane.

So the question is: Kindle or Nook or Skiff? The reality is, I’ll buy a Kindle because it’s the closest thing to ubiquity that is available. With ubiquity comes ease, and I am lazy: iTunes is only the best because it’s what everyone uses. As is the case with the iPod/iTunes arrangements, there will no doubt be some annoying things about Amazon and Kindle, particularly concerning proprietary stuff, and I’m sure I’ll complain at length about these things later. But they have the most connections, the most availability, and the most users, and with that comes power. With that comes the best chance for being able to get a Kindle version of the book I want, when I want it, with the least amount of friction. As I’ve been trying things out on my iPhone with the Kindle application, I’m finding that I’m reading more, wanting to read more, and excited at the prospect of all the books I can now read with such ease. That means I’m going to be reading more books, which means more money for the publishing industry, that means more money I’m going to spend (unfortunately), and that means good things for Amazon. Publishing ompanies, authors, and other content-creators and managers need to get on this digital train sooner rather than later, if you ask me. There’s a fortune to be made.

I really wish I had known about this service before Christmas, but that’s what I get for falling behind in my Google Reader. Here’s the deal: many items on Amazon qualify for free shipping if your order total comes out to over $25. But if you’re a dollar short, or $2.01 short, or whatever, you’re out of luck. Well, not if you have the filler item search for Amazon, which will find an item to make up the difference exactly (or close to it). Genius. (Via Frugal Hacks.)

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