Dear Mary: Reading a recent column of yours about cleaning a garbage disposer prompted me to want to tell you about a brush that is made just for this purpose. It’s just like the Mr. Scrappy disposer brush, and I’ve had it for at least 10 years.
This brush is designed to clean all the way into the disposer and also under the splash guard. I put baking soda, white vinegar and water into the disposer and then push the brush in while it’s bubbling to clean all around and up under the splash guard. It is remarkably easy to use and keeps my sink and kitchen smelling fresh and clean. My brush is showing some wear now, so I just ordered a new one. — Fran
Dear Mary: I got this idea from a former co-worker. Every Christmas, she gave her granddaughter a special Christmas tree ornament, making sure it was one that had the year inscribed on it. She did this for more than 20 years so that when her granddaughter got married, she had a full set to start her own tradition. — Sylvia
Dear Mary: An easy way to clean grill grates or oven racks is to line your bathtub with an old towel or bathmat (to protect its finish) plus five or six dryer sheets. Set the grates or racks on top. Add 1/4 cup of blue Dawn, and fill the tub with hot water so that the grates or racks are covered. Let them sit overnight. In the morning, the gunk will have softened because of the anti-static agents in the dryer sheets and the degreasing power of blue Dawn. Use a sponge to wipe the grates or racks clean or a scrubber for extra-tough situations. — Barbara
Dear Mary: Years ago, an appliance repair technician came out to repair our oven. I asked him how he cleans the glass door on a self-cleaning gas oven. He recommended using a paint scraper — the kind that uses a single-edge razor blade in a metal holder. It works like a charm. It’s nice not to have to use strong chemicals. — Sheila
Dear Mary: Another great use for pennies: Tape one or two — or more, if need be — to the top of a ceiling fan blade that is off balance. — Bobbi
Dear Mary: The Goin’ Postal shipping store in our community will gratefully recycle the packaging materials that come in a Home Chef box by using them to package its clients’ shipments. It’s possible that other shipping services will do the same thing. As for the ice packs, most schools will be grateful to take them. — Dawn
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, go to the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.