Cleaning house

Drain Flies

I thought I had fruit flies.

But there’s no fruit outside of a can. No produce on the counters or in the trash. So where are these little black fruit fly things coming from?

The kitchen sink drain is where. Tiny bits of vegetation languishing in the trap. Don’t ask me why the flies don’t drown, but they don’t.

To get rid of them, the drain must be completely cleared. An inexpensive way to do this is with baking soda and vinegar.

Put 3/4 cup baking soda down the drain (both drains if it’s a double sink), encouraging it to fall in by stirring it with a fork or spoon. Then pour on half a cup of vinegar. It will boil and spit, so move your face away. When it settles down, pour more vinegar. Keep doing that until all the boiling noise is from down inside the pipes, not up in the visible drain area. Leave it alone for an hour or so and then flush with plenty of hot water.

This also works well for clearing a partially blocked drain.



The Magic of Hydrogen Peroxide on Grout

The tile in my shower might be as much as thirty-three years old, so it’s no surprise it had stubborn mildew. I tried my super-duper homemade spray cleaner. I tried vinegar. I tried straight bleach. I tried scrubbing with a toothbrush (how tedious is that?). Everything worked, but only for a few days.

Apparently, once the spores get deep into the pores of the grout normal cleaning won’t affect it.

I bought an OXO Good Grips brush to make it easier and cover more ground with a stroke. Squirted the H2O2 above it and scrubbed it into the grout. This worked very well.

What was amazing about it was, the effect has lasted far longer than anything else I tried. It’s been several weeks, and the discoloration hasn’t returned. It might be that the peroxide penetrated deeply enough into the grout to kill the mildew at its source.


Never Mix Bleach and Vinegar

I knew never to mix ammonia and bleach. Why do they not mention that mixing bleach with vinegar creates the same toxic gas? I’ve been experimenting with all-natural daily shower sprays. They weren’t working, so I thought, why not add a tablespoon of bleach? Luckily I Googled ‘can I mix bleach and vinegar?’ and found out why not.

Never mix bleach and vinegar, or any other acid, including lemon juice.

Is It True? Zap! ‘Restorer’ As Seen on TV

There is a type of commercial I’ve learned to be suspicious of. The product always is supposed to solve a real life problem with amazing wonderfulness. They always offer a second one free or for a nominal price, “just pay an additional handling charge.”

After seeing the commercial for Zap! for the umpteenth time and wondering if it would clean the grout in my floor, I Googled “Zap! complaints.” The first result was a link to where it is sold on Amazon (not solely online as they claim). Here are the reviews:

Most said it was no more effective than any other ordinary cleaning product, and was not effective on grout.

When in doubt, Google it.


52 Weeks: Earnings -Pet Care and Housecleaning

From the book:

Pet care

Internet articles about jobs for retired people often mention pet sitting and dog walking. Cliff used to dog-sit for people he met while playing bridge at senior centers. We had one adorable little poodle dog with us for three months while his human companion recovered from a stroke. Well-paid working couples would be a market to look into for this, along with well-heeled seniors who travel.

House cleaning

Those same working couples and seniors might also be in the market for a house cleaner. In the early ‘80s, I worked freelance as a house cleaner. Back then, I charged a set price of $25 for a fixed group of tasks that added up to a basic weekly cleaning. With practice, it took me about two hours to do. You can charge for a set of tasks, or you can charge by the hour and let the customer set the tasks.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Disposables – Trash Bags

From the book, Frugal Living for the 21st Century:

“When I was a child, my mother never bought trash bags. Somehow as an adult, I came to assume that I had to. I still remember the moment my ideas about trash bags changed. It was sometime in the early ‘80s. I was trying to feed a family of four on one income. I was standing in the grocery store aisle with my hand on a box of trash bags. Suddenly I thought, “I’m about to pay money I can’t really spare for something I’m literally going to put straight into the trash!”

For a kitchen trash can I used a paper grocery bag, like my mother before me. She turned the top down like a cuff to keep it from collapsing shut, and put a newspaper section in the bottom to catch any moisture. I don’t get the paper, but there’s always junk mail. Living alone, I use a small wastebasket that fits a plastic grocery bag perfectly. Green enthusiasts may prefer the paper bag choice.”