Home remedies that work — and how you can win with your own tips

Vinegar can kick up the taste of a dish — or clean hard-water deposits on coffeemakers and the like.

There are countless home remedies for all manner of malfunctions. From shining your own shoes to using baking soda and vinegar as substitutes for harsh chemicals, you can save lots of money with a little ingenuity and elbow grease.

Send in your own Do It Yourself tips — from fixing a zipper to building a bird house — and get a free book packed with tons of helpful tips.

It’s called, “How To Sew a Button..And Other Nifty Things Grandmother Knew.” The new release is by author Erin Bried and even comes with an endorsement from Food Network Iron Chef, Cat Cora: “A must-have book for anyone who wants to reap the wisdom of our grandmothers.”

I’ve personally found it chock full of great advice. Here’s one example on how to unclog a drain.

1. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda down your slow-running or clogged drain.

2. Wash it down with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. It’ll bubble like your fifth-grade science experiment, but put the stopper over it and let the fizz work for 15 minutes.

3. In the meantime, put on a full kettle to boil water.

4. After your minutes are up and your kettle whistles, unplug the drain and pour the boiling water down it. Repeat if necessary.

If that still doesn’t work, fill your sink with several inches of water (if it’s not — ew — already filled), plug your overflow holes with a wet rag, rim your plunger with petroleum jelly, place it over the drain and press up and down on the handle until the obstruction clears.

There are many, many more step-by-step instructions on cooking, cleaning, saving, entertaining and more from Bried, a senior staff writer at SELF magazine.

To win a copy of the book, comment below with tips of your own. A winner will be randomly selected. Be sure to use a correct email address when submitting your comment. No contact information will be published. This contest is for general readers only, and not for publicists of any kind.

So, what tips did you learn from your parents or grandparents that you still use today? Do you have “just in case” items that you keep in your home — like lemons, baking soda, aloe plants, vinegar or nail polish?

Follow me on Twitter @atlbargains

15 comments Add your comment


December 30th, 2009
12:02 pm

A great tip that my Granny gave me for whitening my teeth was to mix baking soda and peroxide together and brush. Your teeth feel as clean as they would after a visit to the dentist.


December 30th, 2009
2:24 pm

Use a banana peel to shine up your shoes in a pinch.

Rana Cash

December 30th, 2009
2:31 pm

I like both of these. Do you smell like a banana all day after shining your shoes, though?


December 30th, 2009
3:42 pm

My mother used ketchup to clean brass.


December 30th, 2009
4:20 pm

I only knew one grandmother growing up, and unfortunately she passed away long before I even cared about knowing these hints. My favorite hint in the kitchen: to get rid of the odor of garlic or onions on your hands, rub them on a stainless steel spoon under running water.


December 30th, 2009
4:50 pm

My grandmother taught me to recycle christmas cards and make an index card from the pretty card pictures…..write holiday cooking recipes on the back of the card! Makes a great reminder of the holiday get together with relatives or friends, in your thank you cards! I have a whole recipe box of treasured recipes on recycled cards that have passed down the generations. What a pleasant treasure all year long!


December 30th, 2009
7:17 pm

A mix of equal parts of vinegar and water to get rid of pet stains ans their odor.


December 30th, 2009
7:28 pm

A handful of spiderwebs applied to a wound stops the bleeding.


December 30th, 2009
8:55 pm

We use this remedy all the time! Drano who?

To get odors out of pots (I use this all the time when I boil crab legs), mix dishwashing detergent with baking soda and clean.

To get rid of light scratches on cds, rub toothpaste, or rubbing alcohol on the scratch.

BongWater Slurpee

December 31st, 2009
12:16 pm

Drano is good for bathtub drains or just putting a little in a bowl and wetting it! The fumes offer one helluva head rush!


December 31st, 2009
7:36 pm

To freshen the microwave, microwave a bowl of water and a few lemon slices for several minutes. The lemony steam will freshen and soften any dirt so you can easily wipe it clean…

BongWater Slurpee

January 4th, 2010
10:56 am


December 31st, 2009
7:36 pm

Sounds like too much work. Think I would just buy a new microwave.

Rana Cash

January 4th, 2010
5:27 pm

Thanks to everyone for the terrific ideas. I’m going to be using some of these myself, particularly after that run-in I had with shallots and onions this weekend! Thanks @toontz

The winner of the book giveaway will be announced on Wednesday’s DIY blog.

[...] My Sister’s Farmhouse, Gladys Tells All, Green LA Girl, Outblush, Non-Toxic Kids, Granny Su, Atlanta Bargain Hunter, Henna’s Place, Well Preserved, To The Max, Magpie Housekeeping, Shore Chic and Umami [...]

[...] My Sister’s Farmhouse, Gladys Tells All, Green LA Girl, Outblush, Non-Toxic Kids, Granny Su, Atlanta Bargain Hunter, Henna’s Place, Well Preserved, To The Max, Magpie Housekeeping, Shore Chic and Umami Girl. [...]