iStock/olloClear flower residue in a vase
Once your beautiful bouquet is gone, the souvenir it leaves behind is not the kind of reminder you want: deposits of minerals on the vase interior. Reach inside the vase, rub the offending ring of deposits with salt, then wash with soapy water. If your hand won’t fit inside, fill the vase with a strong solution of salt and water, shake it or brush gently with a bottle brush, then wash. This should clear away the residue.
You can quickly freshen up artificial flowers — whether they are authentic silk ones or the more common nylon variety — by placing them in a paper bag with 1/4 cup salt. Give the bag a few gentle shakes, and your flowers will emerge as clean as the day you bought them.
Hold artificial flowers in place
Salt is a great medium for keeping artificial flowers in the arrangement you want. Fill a vase or other container with salt, add a little cold water, and arrange your artificial flowers. The salt will solidify, and the flowers will stay put.
Keep wicker looking new
Wicker furniture can yellow with age and exposure to the sun and elements. To keep your wicker natural-looking, scrub it with a stiff brush dipped in warm salt water. Let the piece dry in the sun. Repeat this process every year or every other year.
Give brooms a long life
A new straw broom will last longer if you soak its bristles in a bucket of hot, salty water. After about 20 minutes, remove the broom and let it dry.
Ease fireplace cleanup
When you’re ready to turn in for the night but the fire is still glowing in the hearth, douse the flames with salt. The fire will burn out more quickly, so you’ll wind up with less soot than if you let it smolder. Cleanup is easier, too, because the salt helps the ashes and residue gather into easy sweepings.
Make your own brass and copper polish
When exposure to the elements dulls brass or copper items, there’s no need to buy expensive cleaning products. To shine your candlesticks or remove green tarnish from copper pots, make a paste by mixing equal parts salt, flour, and vinegar. Use a soft cloth to rub this over the item, then rinse with warm, soapy water and buff back to its original shine.
Remove wine from carpet
Argggh! Red wine spilled on a white carpet is the worst. But there’s hope. First, while the red wine is still wet, pour some white wine on it to dilute the color. Then clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. Sprinkle the area with salt and wait about 10 minutes. Now vacuum up the whole mess.
Clean grease stains from rugs
Did that football-watching couch potato knock his greasy nachos onto your nice white carpet? Before you kill him, mix up 1 part salt to 4 parts rubbing alcohol and rub it hard on the grease stain, being careful to rub in the direction of the rug’s natural nap. Or better yet, have him do it. Then you can kill him.
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Remove watermarks from wood
Watermarks left from glasses or bottles on a wood table really stand out. Make them disappear by mixing 1 teaspoon salt with a few drops of water to form a paste. Gently rub the paste onto the ring with a soft cloth or sponge and work it over the spot until it’s gone. Restore the luster of your wood with furniture polish.
Restore a sponge
Hand sponges and mop sponges usually get grungy beyond use long before they are really worn out. To restore sponges to a pristine state, soak them overnight in a solution of about 1/4 cup salt per quart (liter) of water.
Relieve stings, bites, and poison ivy
Salt works well to lessen the pain of bee stings, bug bites, and poison ivy:
- Stung by a bee? Immediately wet the sting and cover with salt. It will lessen the pain and reduce the swelling. Of course, if you are allergic to bee stings, you should get immediate medical attention.
- For relief from the itching of mosquito and chigger bites, soak the area in salt water, then apply a coating of lard or vegetable oil.
- When poison ivy erupts, relieve the itching by soaking in hot salt water. If the case is very unfortunate, you might want to immerse yourself in a tub full of salt water.
Keep windows and windshields frost-free
As you probably know, salt greatly decreases the temperature at which ice freezes. You can use this fact to keep the windows in your home frost-free by wiping them with a sponge dipped in salt water, then letting them dry. In the winter, keep a small cloth bag of salt in your car. When the windshield and other windows are wet, rub them with the bag. The next time you go out to your car, the windows won’t be covered with ice or snow.
Deodorize your sneakers
Sneakers and other canvas shoes can get pretty smelly, especially if you wear them without socks in the summertime. Knock down the odor and soak up the moisture by occasionally sprinkling a little salt in your canvas shoes.
Clean your fish tank
To remove mineral deposits from hard water in your fish tank, rub the inside of the tank with salt, then rinse the tank well before reinstalling the fish. Use only plain, not iodized, salt.
End the ant parade
If ants are beating a path to your home, intercept them by sprinkling salt across the door frame or directly on their paths. Ants will be discouraged from crossing this barrier.