Mother's Down-Home Country Lore: Cleaning With Coca-Cola, Making a Crock-Pot Humidifier and More

Learn readers best tips for using common household items for new and improved purposes. This month's edition includes advice on reusing coffee grounds, revitalizing snow boots and more.

| January/February 1982

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    This diagram shows where to cut into an old sweater to make a child's outfit.

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In Mother's Down-Home Country Lore, readers share their best tips and tricks for modern homesteading.

Coca-Cola Cleaners

Although Debbie Ward-Jones doesn't drink Coca-Cola, she finds that it's handy to keep a supply of the beverage around her house in Rancho Cordova, Calif. That's because Deb has discovered that the bubbly liquid is great for cleaning tough stains from such porcelain fixtures as toilets, sinks and bathtubs!

Crock-Pot Humidifier

One evening last winter, as her child lay suffering from a severe upper-respiratory ailment, Gwen Thomas found herself in desperate need of a vaporizer — and a search through her kitchen produced a quick and effective solution. The Marengo, Ind., mother poured boiling water into her Crock-Pot and plugged in the low-energy appliance in her young daughter's bedroom. She applied Vicks rub around the top lip of the pot, left the lid off, and set the heating element on "high." The room's air stayed moist, mild and lightly scented all night long.

Dual Functions For Coffee Machines

Speaking of dual-purpose appliances: When her family gave up caffeine, Canadian Eileen Palmer put her automatic drip coffee maker to work in other ways. One day, as she rinsed and drained her alfalfa sprouts — and watched with dismay as many of the little seeds slipped down the drain — it occurred to her that a coffee filter would prevent that loss. Now, she places her seeds in the paper-lined upper portion of her unplugged coffeemaker and filters the rinse water into the pot (for use in soup or for watering houseplants).

Later, Eileen discovered another ingenious use for the system: She fills the top paper filter with fresh, homemade yogurt and allows it to drain overnight (with the pot catching the nutritious whey). In the morning she has a soft and delicious cheese.

And Another Use For Coffee Grounds!

When Sandra Price was a little girl, she'd help her father every weekend as he cleaned the church prior to Sunday services. Her job was to sweep the concrete floor in the large basement room that was used for meetings and receptions. Sandra says her dad would always sprinkle used coffee grounds all over the floor before she swept. The semi-damp grains picked up dirt fast, kept dust from flying about as she worked and made it easy for her to tell where she had swept and what areas were yet to be done. Sandra still uses coffee grounds today to keep her garage and patio floors clean.

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