Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Best Kept Secrets

By Reena Nerbas

Contributors Share Their Best Kept Secrets

  • Potatoes, remove food stains from fingers. Slice a potato and use the exposed side to rub stained skin, wash as usual. Edna

  • Real vanilla (not imitation) is great for keeping ticks and mosquitoes away. Wipe vanilla onto skin and let dry, mosquitoes will not bother you, and your skin will smell sweet. Betty

  • Shine jewelry. Soak silver in water in which potatoes were boiled. Let stand for one hour. Rinse. C. C.

  • White shoe polish will not smear if hairspray is applied to the shoe after it has dried. Darren

Reena’s Note: White shoe polish will have a more even appearance if shoes are wiped with rubbing alcohol before polishing.

  • If you need to scrape your windshield but aren’t getting a good grip on the scraper while wearing gloves, but don’t want to freeze your fingers off, find an old or cheap pair of mitts. Cut a hole in the top – just big enough – near and just in front of the middle finger. Slip the handle of the scraper through so it’s now inside the mitt. Voila! Grip and warmth! Rekha

  • I want to sing the praises of the spring tension rod. I have used it to put up quick curtains on windows (just drape the fabric over a couple of times) and you don’t have to put holes in the molding. I also, put the rods from front to back on the wall of my closets to store a variety of items. I use the large ones (bath sheet rods) in my workroom to hang fabric on for steaming and measuring. I put them in doorways and closet doorways with curtain panels (I removed the doors, so they wouldn’t take up so much space in the room when they were opened). One fit perfectly in my bathroom above the sink as a guest towel holder (I covered it with a fabric tube). And, yes, I do use one for my shower curtain. The main advantage is that you can redecorate often with very little sewing. Patty

  • To keep cat litter fresh smelling, mix baby powder in with the litter. Eric

  • Cure hiccups every time. Cut a wedge of lemon. Dip it in sugar and eat the lemon. Not only does it taste good, but it also makes hiccups vanish. L. B.

  • Back sandpaper with duct tape before applying it to vibrating sanders, it will last up to five times longer. Denis

  • Before dropping uncooked pasta into a pot of boiling water, grip it firmly with both hands (one on top of the other). Twist both hands in opposite directions and drop pasta into the pot. The pasta will fan out around the edges of the pot and cook evenly. Adrianne

  • To stop eyes from burning when cutting onions place your cutting board near the exhaust hood over the stove. It pulls the fumes up and away to prevent tears. Grant

  • If you don’t have enough batter to fill all cupcake tins, pour 1 tablespoon of water into the unfilled spots. This helps reserve the life of your pans. Anonymous

  • Remove permanent marker from countertops and appliances by wiping with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel. Janice

  • For perfectly decorated sugar cookies, cut each cookie with a cookie cutter on the baking sheet. This will prevent the cookie from losing its shape. After removing all excess dough, reposition the cookie cutter onto the cookie and add sprinkles. The cookie cutter is used to keep sprinkles evenly distributed in the center of each cookie. Agnes

  • If your tongue becomes burnt, due to hot liquid, resolve the pain by sprinkling sugar on the burn and leave to dissolve. Jordan

Happy New Year!

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

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