DIY Deconstructed

Readers’ DIY suggestions take on 2 cleaning dilemmas

Published On: Jul 27 2014 01:44:40 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 28 2014 07:29:56 AM CDT

Over the past couple of weeks DIY Deconstructed has been posted to Channel3000.com, tweeted and posted on Facebook, and thanks to that exposure I have gotten some reader suggestions for ways to take on some of the issues I have written about. So this week I decided to test two of them and they worked a lot better than the Pinterest suggestions.

The first viewer suggestion I got was how to unclog my bathtub drain after a mixture of baking soda and vinegar didn’t do anything. I got two suggestions and the first one was so good I didn’t have to try the second one.

A Facebook commenter said the best way to unclog a bathtub drain is to use a plunger. So I ran the water to let the tub fill up a little and then tried the plunger. I didn’t notice immediate results, but during my next shower I definitely noticed it. The standard inch of water that usually sat at the bottom of my tub after a shower was not there. Using a plunger to unclog a drain definitely works.

The second suggestion I got for unclogging my bathtub drain came from Jeri who said I should buy a “zipper” gadget at Menard's. They are basically long plastic, flexible sticks with plastic barbs along the side that you use to fish out whatever is clogging your drains. I found the zippers and they were only a couple dollars, but the plunger worked so well I decided to save them for another time.

The best viewer suggestion I’ve gotten so far was to use a pumice stone to get rid of the hard water stains in my toilet bowl. I tested a Pinterest post that said to use borax and vinegar, which didn’t do anything to the small ring of hard water stains in my toilet. But after a couple minutes of scraping with a pumice stone they were gone. My toilet bowl is now picture perfect!

Thank you for the DIY cleaning suggestions. I will keep reviewing what I see on Pinterest, but keep your tried-and-true suggestions coming!

-- Hannah

Washing T-shirts with salt doesn’t make them vintage

Published On: Jul 20 2014 01:51:57 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 20 2014 02:08:25 PM CDT

The best type of clothes are the kind that you feel great in, and super soft vintagey T-shirts will always be my favorite. It’s those T-shirts that never lose their shape, fit perfectly and come out of the wash feeling super soft and comfy.

I, like so many other Badgers, have an obscene amount of Badgers apparel. I have more Badgers T-shirts than I can fit in my closet so some of them live in plastic drawers in the back of my closet. I’ve always thought that I would wear more of my basically-unworn Badgers T-shirts if they were soft and comfy instead of super new, starchy and stiff. And that’s why the pin on Pinterest promising the vintage T-shirt feel with a couple washes was appealing.

The pin says to dump 1/4 cup of sodium carbonate washing soda and 2 cups of salt into the washing machine with the T-shirts you want to age (or towels if you only want to age one shirt). Then you add your regular detergent and run the washing machine on the highest temperature. After it’s done you dry the shirt on the highest heat, and then repeat the process three to five times.

The post says to use a smaller batch of the salt and washing soda mixture for the rest of the washes, but after the first wash didn’t do anything to change the feel of the eight shirts I was trying to age I decided to continue using the same amounts.

After three washes with the full amounts and three high-heat drying sessions my shirts did shrink a decent amount (the post warned about that), but they are definitely not soft like a vintage T-shirt. They might be ever so slightly softer than before, but not to the point where it was worth the effort of the three washes.

The post also says to use sandpaper to scrape off parts of the logo or design. I tried it on one of the shirts and the sandpaper definitely does what it says it’s supposed to. After just a couple seconds of scraping, the logo was noticeably worn down and less stiff.

Pinterest do or don’t? The post shows a picture of a perfectly vintage Adidas shirt so that’s what I was expecting. But after three full washes and drying sessions the shirts I was trying to age kept coming out just as stiff and new-feeling as before. The sandpaper scraping definitely ages the logo, but the washing mixture doesn’t do anything to age the T-shirts. I guess I’ll just have to wear a Badgers shirt every day to start aging them the slow way!

--Hannah

9-step process cleans grimy, smelly garbage disposal

Published On: Jul 13 2014 12:33:49 PM CDT

Recently my garbage disposal started to smell a little funky. Usually I drop a chunk of citrus peel down there and the smell goes away, but this time it was pungent enough to overpower anything a citrus peel was going to do. I found a nine-step cleaning process on Pinterest and gave it a try.

First you sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda into the disposal, then you pour a cup of vinegar on top of the baking soda. The mixture will foam up, and you let it sit for a couple minutes to let all of the fizzing clean out the gunk. Then you pour a cup of hot boiling water down the disposal (I used an entire tea pot because there was residual baking soda around the edges).

Step four is to put some ice chips down the disposal and run it. Then you add 1/2 cup of salt and run it again. Once all of the ice and salt has been ground up in the disposal you drop a small chunk of lemon (or any other citrus fruit you may have) into the disposal. The last step is to make a vinegar and baking soda paste (about a tablespoon of baking soda and a couple splashes of vinegar), and use that paste to scrub under the plastic flaps with a toothbrush. The last step is to dump water down the disposal for a couple minutes to rinse it all out.

The baking soda and vinegar mixture helps with the griminess on the inside, the salt and ice add scrubbing factor and the lemon gives the finished product a nice citrus scent. I think the baking soda and vinegar paste step was what really put this cleaning method over the top. The black plastic flaps at the top of my garbage disposal apparently had a lot of grime and nastiness on them because the toothbrush I was using kept coming out brown. I scrubbed the flap with the paste for a couple minutes and I think I finally got them clean.

Pinterest do or don’t? I have seen a lot of variations on this garbage disposal cleaning process, but this one is definitely the best. The vinegar and baking soda paste was the most effective because I’m pretty sure the icky grime on the plastic flaps was what was making the entire thing smell funny.

--Hannah

Hard water stains definitely aren’t easy to get rid of

Published On: Jul 06 2014 12:52:34 PM CDT

When I moved into my apartment there were a couple of things that indicated it had definitely been lived in before. I blogged about a couple dark spots the previous tenant left on the carpet last week, and this week I tried to get rid of the hard water ring around the toilet bowl that has been there since I moved in. My mom has tried scrubbing, soaking and Kabooming the hard water stain off, but it’s still there.

The post I found on Pinterest was very simple. It said put 1/4 cup of borax and 1 cup of vinegar in the toilet bowl. Let it sit for 20 minutes, and when you come back it should scrub right off. I didn’t have borax so I tried using washing soda and vinegar first. Based on an ingredients comparison I didn’t think they were super different, so I was hopeful I’d get similar results. When I combined the ingredients there was a little fizzing and then nothing. I let it sit for 20 minutes and most of the discoloration wiped off, but none of the hard water crusty ring came off.

After scrubbing to no avail I decided maybe I needed to actually use borax. A friend let me borrow the 1/4 cup I needed to try doing the test again, but this time even less happened. I poured the borax and vinegar in, and there was zero fizzing. I let it sit for 20 minutes, and again couldn’t get the crusty hard water ring off.

Pinterest do or don’t? The only thing this vinegar and borax or washing soda mixture was good for was general cleaning. It did not even touch the hard water ring that has set up a permanent residence in my toilet bowl. It would have been nice to get rid of the hard water ring, but I’ve decided just because that’s there doesn’t mean my toilet is dirty; it just means my apartment building has hard water. Do you have a method that gets rid of hard water stains?

-- Hannah

Vinegar, baking soda mixture removes 3-year-old carpet stain

Published On: Jun 29 2014 01:11:16 PM CDT

If I could rip out all of the carpeting in my apartment and replace it with wood floors I totally would. Wood floors are a ton easier to clean, and I think they look better. But since I’m a renter I have to deal with the one downfall in my apartment, beige carpeting.

When I moved in there were a couple dark spots on the carpeting between my kitchen and my bathroom. Since that is probably the heaviest traveled chunk of carpeting in my apartment, I have accidentally added to those original dark stains. But I could never get them out with the carpet cleaner I bought at Target. So I didn’t have much hope for the post on Pinterest saying that baking soda, dish washing liquid and vinegar would get the stains out.

The post says to sprinkle baking soda on the stain and let it absorb, then vacuum it up, but since my stains were so old I kept the baking soda on the spot to add to the power of the mixture. Then combine a tablespoon of clear dish washing liquid, a tablespoon of white vinegar and two cups of warm water. I doubled the amounts because I had about a dozen spots the size of an apple I planned on attacking. The post says to use a wash cloth to sponge the stain with the solution, and blot it until all of the liquid is absorbed. With the addition of the sprinkle of baking soda, the spots on my carpet fizzed a little and then the soapy mixture started to suds. I used more water to scrub the soapy mixture out of the carpet and had to dab the spots for about 10 minutes or so to get the soapiness to go away. The whole process definitely took longer than the post suggested, but once the carpet was dry the dark spots were gone!

Pinterest do or don’t? With some small adjustments, this Pinterest post definitely works. I suggest using two tablespoons of clear dish washing liquid, two tablespoons of white vinegar and 4 cups of warm water, especially if you have a large area to clean. Then, unless the spot is brand new, I would keep the baking soda on the spot (remember, it’s just a sprinkle) as you’re dabbing the stain with the vinegar mixture. That way the baking soda and the vinegar will react and break up the stain better. And if the mixture works as good for you as it did for me you will see exactly how dirty the rest of your carpeting actually is!

--Hannah

Mixture claims to eliminate yellow armpit stains

Published On: Jun 22 2014 01:59:41 PM CDT

I’ve come to realize some topics on this blog might not be things people like to talk about in public. For example, last week I tested a DIY foot soak for dry feet and this week I’m testing a mixture to get rid of those pesky yellow armpit stains on white T-shirts. Well as long as I keep finding DIY suggestions for these odd topics I will keep talking about and test them!

As much as we don’t like to admit it, I’m sure everyone has some workout or under shirts that they’d like to see restored to their original whiteness under their arms. I have a couple old T-shirts I wear to the gym all the time that are getting pretty gross looking, so a post on Pinterest claiming to get rid of the stains with a simple mixture and a regular load of laundry sounded great.

The post says to mix one part Dawn dish washing liquid and two parts hydrogen peroxide. You’re supposed to mix it together, sprinkle some baking soda on the yellow spot and pour some of the mixture on top. Then you use a scrubby brush to work the mixture into the stain for a few minutes. With the addition of the baking soda the mixture fizzes a little and starts to absorb into the material. After scrubbing for a little while I tossed the shirts into a regular load of laundry.

I did three white shirts and a grey shirt because the original post said it also works on dark discolorations on colored shirts. After the regular laundry load and time in the dryer I pulled out my shirts and examined them. I was expecting a miracle so the results were a little disappointing. The discoloration on the grey shirt didn’t get any better, but the white shirts were better. The yellow discoloration wasn’t completely gone, but it was significantly less noticeable.

Pinterest do or don’t? As long as your expectations aren’t to completely get rid of the stains on the first try, this is a good option to try. The process is definitely easy enough and cheap enough to try a couple of times to get your desired outcome. Maybe my stains were too hardcore for the mixture to work the first time! The next time I wear these four shirts I will try the mixture again and see if a second attempt continues to fight the yellow discoloration into submission!

--Hannah

Listerine, vinegar mixture softens feet, doesn’t remove dry skin

Published On: Jun 15 2014 02:33:08 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 15 2014 02:34:00 PM CDT

I don’t necessarily have really dry feet, but who I wouldn't pass up softer, prettier feet, especially now that we’re in the heart of summer. I’ve used a pumice stone, foot scrubs from the drug store and now a Listerine and vinegar foot soak to get pedicure-ready feet.

The post on Pinterest for the soak says to combine 1/4 cup of Listerine, 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of warm water. After soaking your feet in the mixture for 10 minutes, the dead skin is supposed to wipe right off. My first issue with the mixture was the amount…a full cup of total liquid barely covered the bottom of my feet. Now maybe my container was bigger than the person who wrote the recipe, but my feet wouldn’t have fit in a much smaller container so I didn’t really have another option. I had to multiply the ingredients by 16 just to get the mixture to cover my feet! So I used 4 cups of Listerine (or the blue Up and Up version from Target), 4 cups of vinegar and 8 cups of warm water.

My second issue was the smell -- menthol mixed with vinegar really doesn’t have a great smell. Once my feet were in the mixture for a couple minutes I couldn’t smell the vinegar anymore, and the minty menthol wasn’t too bad on its own. My third issue with the mixture was that it said to use warm water. I would definitely suggest using hot water, because by the time my feet had been soaking for 10 minutes the water was room temperature and no longer soothing. Plus, the hot water might add to the therapeutic feeling of the menthol mixture, which was warm and tingly!

Suggested recipe

  • 4 cups of menthol mouth wash
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 8 cups hot water

*soak feet for 10-15 minutes

When I pulled my feet out of the minty water the first thing I noticed was that they smelled super-duper minty! As for the dry skin wiping off: mine didn’t really wipe off. The warm menthol water definitely made it easier to use the pumice stone on my dry heals, but I still had to work at getting the dry skin off. NOTE: A friend of mine has used this same mixture twice and said it worked great for her. So it is possible I didn’t soak my feet long enough, I should have used hot water instead of warm, or my feet don’t have enough dry, flaky skin that they need to be scraped off.

Pinterest do or don’t? Because I choose to wear Toms shoes in hot, cold, rainy, snowy and all weather in between my feet regularly don’t smell good, so I will be using this mixture regularly to try and combat the smell that Toms wearers know all too well. As for the dry skin promise of the post -- the mixture didn’t get rid of my dry skin without the use of a pumice stone. The menthol mixture did make using a pumice stone on my heels a lot easier, so I will definitely be using the recipe (altered with my suggestions above) to get minty, pampered feet!

--Hannah

UPDATE: Baked permanent marker mugs make good gifts

Published On: Jun 08 2014 02:07:13 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 15 2014 01:22:00 PM CDT

I love giving gifts, but I hate giving generic gifts, and the best way to avoid expensive personalized gifts is to make them yourself! In high school I started making fleece tie blankets for friends, and after college I started giving friends my framed photography. Both of those DIY projects are good options, but both are a little time consuming and on the pricier side. So I started searching for fun gift ideas on Pinterest and I found this DIY mug project.

I have more coffee mugs than I know what to do with, but I still love buying new ones and making my own personalized ones seemed like the next step in my crazy coffee mug addiction! The post says to use permanent markers to write on or draw designs on ceramic mugs. I printed out an outline of the state of Wisconsin for one of my mugs and traced it (then I wrote "Go Badgers" where Madison is on the map). Once you’ve perfected your design, you put it in the oven at 350 degrees and bake it for 30 minutes.

I made two, with a white mug and an orange mug, to see if different mugs or colors would make a difference. Once the mugs cooled down I filled them with boiling water to see if additional heat would make the marker smudge. The marker stayed intact through multiple handlings filled with boiling water and being hand washed. I would still like to see what happens to my DIY mugs when I send them through the dishwasher…stay tuned for an update!

Pinterest do or don’t? Definitely a do! I have bad handwriting and am not a good artist, but I am still super happy with how my DIY mugs turned out. They are 100 percent personalized and each mug cost $3.99 plus 10 minutes of artistic time and 30 minutes of baking time. These baked permanent marker mugs are a great, inexpensive way to send someone a fun personalized gift.

-Hannah

UPDATE (6/15): I washed the white mug by hand and the orange mug in the dishwasher. The orange mug actually came out better in the dishwasher than the white mug after I washed it. The orange mug only had one letter that was starting to rub off when I took it out of the dishwasher. The white mug was starting to was off in multiple locations, including the 'Go Badgers' in red on the front. So basically no matter how you wash these DIY mugs they probably aren't permanent. They are still a good, fun, inexpensive gift idea...you just have to realize they are DIY and not permanently decorated mugs.

Can a lemon really remove hard water spots?

Published On: Jun 01 2014 01:56:10 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 01 2014 01:57:29 PM CDT

Hard water spots don’t really bother me, but some people really can’t stand them. I feel like unless you spend a lot of money trying to “soften” your water, your bathroom fixtures are going to have water spots. It doesn’t mean they aren’t clean, it just means when the water dries it leaves little droplet spots.

When I moved into my apartment my shower fixtures had hard water spots on them. Again, they don’t bother me, but when I saw this super simple solution I figured I would try it because shiny fixtures are prettier than dull ones.

The post on Pinterest says to cut a lemon in half and rub it on the fixture. When you rinse away the juice it says the spots will magically disappear. My shower fixture basically looked like the one in the Pinterest post when I started, but definitely did not look like the “after” picture that was posted. I scrubbed and scrubbed until my lemon was in pieces and my water spots were still there. I had chunks of lemon all over the place in my shower I was scrubbing so hard. Then I took a cup of water and rinsed it off, hoping the spots would magically disappear, but they didn’t.

Pinterest do or don’t? The water spots were duller after scrubbing them with a lemon, but they definitely weren’t gone. I don’t know how anyone could possible scrub harder than I was scrubbing to get the spots off, so I probably won’t try this again. Anyone out there have any luck with this method? Did I miss a step or is there a trick I don’t know about?

-Hannah

Simple mixture helps with winter’s effects on leather boots

Published On: May 04 2014 02:55:46 PM CDT   Updated On: May 21 2014 09:06:28 AM CDT

Leather boots are my best friends three seasons out of the year. They go great with dresses in the spring and fall, and can dress up skinny jeans in the winter. But wearing leather boots in the winter has its disadvantages: salt and water stains from Wisconsin winters really take a toll on my beloved boots. I have tried leather cleaner to no avail…my boots still look raggedy after wearing them through the winter.

I found a homemade version to try on Pinterest so I pulled out my staple black leather boots to test it out. The post is simple: Use a mixture of vinegar and cold water to scrub water stains off of leather. I bought a tiny squirt bottle in the travel section at Target for 99 cents and did a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar.

I spritzed the boots with the mixture and used a paper towel to try and scrub away the water stains. When the boots were still wet the results looked promising, but as soon as they dried I could still see the stains. The stains were definitely less noticeable but they are still there. I repeated the process to see if the stains would continue to go away, but that didn’t seem to be the case. I’m not sure if I was supposed to leave the water and vinegar mixture sit on the boots (there really were no additional instructions on the Pinterest post), but I didn’t see the exact results I wanted to in the end.

Pinterest do or don’t? I’m on the fence on this one. The water and vinegar mixture definitely didn’t get rid of my winter water stains, but it did make them less noticeable. If I can’t find a permanent solution to the havoc that Wisconsin winters reek on my lovely leather boots, I will probably continue this process every spring to make the damage less noticeable.

Elementary school volcano combo doesn’t clear up drain

Published On: May 11 2014 12:41:44 PM CDT   Updated On: May 21 2014 09:06:28 AM CDT

I moved into my current apartment almost three years ago and have had the same slow-moving shower drain since day one. It isn’t clogged, it’s just super slow. I have tried using store-bought chemicals and the plunger method, but it still seems to only drain at a trickle. It doesn’t bother me too much, but it would be nice to get a full drain going!

I found a post on Pinterest for unclogging drains that uses baking soda and vinegar…the same combination kids have used for decades to make those cool exploding volcanoes in science class. The instructions say to poor 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar into the drain, wait 15 minutes and then pour about 5 cups of boiling water down the train. The instructions also say you might need to use something long to poke down inside the drain to help the mixture…well I knew that wouldn’t work for my drain because mine isn’t open, it is a small grate of tiny holes.

I spilled the baking soda while I was pouring it into the tub so I probably put 3/4 a cup down my drain and then added the 1/2 cup of vinegar. I stayed to watch it bubble and foam, but once the vinegar had gone down the drain there was still a decent-sized pile of baking soda sitting in and around the drain. So I poured more vinegar down the drain until all of the baking soda was gone. I waited the prescribed 15 minutes and then pour the entire contents of my screeching tea kettle down the drain.

About an hour later I took a shower and didn’t notice even the slightest difference. The mixture didn’t do anything to whatever is causing my drain to be slow. If the DIY mixture couldn’t unclog my half-clogged drain, I can’t imagine it would be very helpful for a fully clogged drain.

Pinterest do or don’t? I vote DON’T since it didn’t do anything for my slightly slow drain. I can’t imagine it would have enough power to take care of a drain that is actually clogged. Also, I did use quite a bit more vinegar to rinse down my leftover baking soda and it still didn’t do anything. I think this combination of at-home products is best left to impressing crowds at elementary school science fairs.

2-step cleaner brightens up, de-grimes dishwasher

Published On: Apr 27 2014 02:49:01 PM CDT   Updated On: May 21 2014 09:05:29 AM CDT

Like last week’s post about cleaning your washing machine, this week I tested a similar process for cleaning your dishwasher. I did not have a dishwasher when I was little, so when I moved in to my current apartment it was a new convenience for me. It really is one of the greatest inventions I’ve used in a while, but after two years of dishes I realized my dishwasher was starting to look a little dingy.

Finish brand sells a dishwasher cleaner that costs about $4. I have never used it so I can’t vouch for how it works, but I figured I’d try the non-chemical way to clean my dishwasher first. The post I found on Pinterest says to put a dishwasher safe cup filled with plain white vinegar on the top rack of an empty dishwasher, and then run the longest cycle with the hottest water. According to the post, the vinegar will help wash away the greasy grime, will sanitize the compartment, and will help remove any odd smell emanating from the dishwasher.

After the cycle is complete, you sprinkle a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the compartment and run it through a short cycle. According to the post, the baking soda will help freshen and remove stains.

My dishwasher wasn’t extremely dirty when I decided to clean it, but the baking soda really did brighten up the inside (I didn’t even realize it looked stained!). My dishwasher didn’t have an extremely bad smell, but once I cleaned it, it smelled a lot fresher than before. The one issue was the drain at the bottom. I hadn’t noticed the drain at the bottom of the dishwasher before, but as I was sprinkling the baking soda around the bottom of the compartment, I noticed my drain was a little grimy. Neither the vinegar nor the baking soda did much about that, so I had to clean that off with a scrubby brush, but that took me less than 30 seconds.

Also, I used the opportunity to clean by the door seals and hinges, and the outside, and now my slightly-dated dishwasher looks pretty and clean!

Pinterest do or don’t? My dishwasher wasn’t that dirty, so this chemical-free cleaning option did what I expected it to do -- wash off a little greasy grime and brighten up the look and smell of the compartment. If you have an extremely dirty and grimy dishwasher, cleaning it might be better left to a store-bought option. If you have used the store-bought dishwasher cleaning options what did you think of them?

Bleach, vinegar handle washing machine grime

Published On: Apr 20 2014 01:35:04 PM CDT   Updated On: May 21 2014 09:05:29 AM CDT

Having to clean something that you use to clean another thing seems like a confusing concept, and cleaning my washing machine had definitely fallen through the cracks over the year. But one day when I opened my top-loading washing machine it smelled a little musty, and I realized the top of the barrel was sticky from spilling detergent. So I logged on to Pinterest to find some options for cleaning it.

The post I found suggested using bleach and vinegar in a 3-hour process. It seemed simple and cheap enough so I gave it a try. First you fill your washer with hot water and add one quart of bleach. Then let the washer agitate for a minute, before stopping it and letting it sit for one hour. After one hour, you let the washer run through its longest wash and spin cycle. After the washer is done you fill it with hot water again and add one quart of distilled white vinegar. Then let the washer agitate for a minute and let it sit for another hour. After the second hour your let the washer run through its longest cycle again and take the opportunity to use a rag to wipe down the top of the barrel, the lid and other nooks and crannies that have probably accumulated lint and detergent like mine had.

According to the original post I found on Pinterest, the bleach and vinegar will clean away bacteria, soap scum and mineral deposits from the wash basket and the machine’s hoses. In addition to actually cleaning the machine, it takes care of any musty smell the washer might have had.

Pinterest do or don’t? If you have a top-loading washing machine and don’t want to spend $5 on a detergent-brand cleaner like I didn’t, this is a great alternative. It takes a little bit of time (not time you’ll actually be actively cleaning…just time that you have to let the machine sit and run its cycle), but it is super simple and seems to take care of any grime that accumulates in a washing machine.

--Hannah

Super easy solution to reusing plastic containers

Published On: May 18 2014 01:30:53 PM CDT   Updated On: May 18 2014 01:35:28 PM CDT

I don’t like to bake, but I find the tradition of someone baking a ton of goodies during the holidays and then distributing them to family and friends super cute. Over the years, one of the biggest struggles I have heard about it how to transport those homemade goodies without having to ask for your good Tupperware back or shelling out for disposable stuff. Well this simple trick I found on Pinterest will  really make giving out goodies easier during any time of year!

The post says you need pure acetone, a rag and a dish pan. I had acetone to remove finger nail polish (because the acetone-free stuff really doesn’t do the trick), and I had a dish pan because I’ve used it to attempt an at-home spa pedicure before. I wasn’t sure how badly the rag would get ruined (if at all) in this process, so I decided to try a paper towel (and yes, I’m so cool that I have Cars paper towels!). The post didn’t say how much acetone to use, but it didn’t take much. I just used enough to get the paper towel completely wet and the wrapped it around the container.

After about 10 minutes (the post says 3-5 minutes but I lost track of time) I moved the paper towel just a little bit, and all of the green ink under the spot I moved wiped right off. With a few quick swipes of the paper towel my once-green cottage cheese container was completely white, including the top that I flipped upside down into the extra acetone.

Pinterest do or don’t? This is definitely a great project to reuse everyday containers. The process was super simple and worked exactly like it said it would. Now I have a perfectly blank canvass to fix up nice and pretty to send someone some goodies! Maybe I will have to bake this week!

There’s no fast, easy way to deice your car

Published On: Apr 13 2014 01:22:00 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 13 2014 01:30:31 PM CDT
vinegar, water, spray bottle

Wisconsin winters can break even the most devout fans of this state, but for someone moving to the Frozen Tundra from a coastal state it can be even worse. This past winter was exceptionally harsh, and though I made it through without losing any faith in my beloved state, Michelle Li, a Wisconsin transplant and one of our news anchors, might not be able to say the same thing.

After the first snow, Michelle sent me a pin with a supposedly fast and easy way to deice your vehicle. I think she was hoping for a quick-fix on those cold, icy nights. The post said to fill a spray bottle two-thirds full with vinegar and one-third full with water. Then when your vehicle freezes over you just spray the windows and it melts away. Now I’m not sure where the person who originally posted this on Pinterest lives, but after trying this combo I can only assume the harshness of their winter pales in comparison to Wisconsin winters.

I already had some vinegar, but I had to spring for a $1 spray bottle at the Dollar Store to test this suggestion out. The measuring wasn’t an exact science, but I think I got about as close to two-third and one-third of the container that I needed. I put the spray bottle in my car and waited for the perfect opportunity.

spray bottle A week went by and freezing rain popped up in the forecast. This freezing rain was so bad that as I was walking outside some co-workers and I were basically shuffling across sheer ice to get to our cars. I figured this would be the best possible opportunity to test out the mixture because my car had about a half inch of pure ice all over it (I wish I had a picture to show you, but the couple I tried to take with my smartphone kept coming out really dark).

The first couple of sprays seemed promising, because the thick ice started to crack, but that was the end of the effect the spray had on the ice. I kept spraying and spraying until I had used about a third of the bottle;  and the thick heavy ice was still intact. I had started my car to warm up the inside, and I’m really glad I did because that’s what helped me get the ice off. The defrosters started breaking the ice down, but as the ice melted the vinegar water I sprayed on it also started to melt and vinegar doesn’t smell the greatest. So not only did the spray not work, it made my drive home a little stinky!

I tried the spray a couple more times and every time the vinegar water would freeze on top of the already-existing ice without contributing to the deicing process. Then it would all thaw out once my defrosters started working, so I would get to smell vinegar during my drive home.

Pinterest do or don’t? Don’t use this stinky mixture unless your version of winter involves an inch of snow and 20-degree temperatures. If you live in Wisconsin, Minnesota or other states with extremely cold and harsh winters (and we wouldn’t change a thing would we?!?!), this water and vinegar mixture won’t do anything to help you through what should theoretically be no more than five months of cold and snow! My deicing suggestion is to bundle up to go out and start your car up before you leave, or pony up and install a remote start, because the only thing that helps deice your vehicle is warming it up.

--Hannah

Make-your-own cord organizers are cute, cheap, functional

Published On: Apr 06 2014 02:06:57 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 06 2014 02:16:23 PM CDT

I hope I’m not the only person with a large case filled with tangled, messy and hard-to-find cords to all of my numerous electronics (mine is blue and white and very large). If I’m the only person that hasn’t come up with a cheap organizational strategy by now, then this post will be completely useless. But if you’re like me and need a fun, cheap, personalized way to organize those annoying, yet necessary cords, I have found a great project on Pinterest.

They are clothespin cord holders, and when I first saw them I didn’t understand how they worked. I’m guessing if the Pin had been linked to a website in English I might have been able to read the instructions, but it only took me a couple minutes to figure out that these are actually pretty basic.

You take two clothespins, decorate them with markers or other crafty things (washi tape anyone?), glue them on top of each other (with the pincher sides on different ends) and wrap your cords. To make it stay in place, you clip the starting end of the cord with one of the clothespins and then the end of the cord to the other clothespin.

I didn’t buy anything for this project, but if you had to buy the items it wouldn’t cost much. With the clothespins, markers and glue you could probably do the entire project for under $10. I used super-strength Gorilla Glue for wood (but only because I had it). You could probably use any type of crafting glue (I’m not sure about Elmer’s glue though. It might not hold strong enough).

For me, the hardest part was drawing on the tiny flat part of the clothespins with my fat Sharpie markers. I’m also not extremely artsy so my designs and color combos are a lot less impressive than the ones posted on Pinterest. Once I figured out that less glue is more in this project, my clothespin holders turned out pretty well.

My big blue and white bag is definitely easier to dig through, and none of the cords get tangled. One thing to note is based on the length of the cord, you might have to wrap it differently to get the ends to clip in to the clothespins, or in the case of one of my cords I actually can’t get it to wrap so I just clip it the last time I wrap it around and let some of the cord hang off -- it doesn’t cause any issues at all.

Pinterest do or don’t? I would definitely recommend using the clothespin holders for your cords. They are cheap, easy to make and you might even enjoy customizing them!

--Hannah

At-home shellac manicure is epic fail

Published On: Nov 29 2013 11:34:43 AM CST   Updated On: Mar 27 2014 11:24:21 AM CDT

The first thing from Pinterest I ever tested was a set of nail products that the pinner was claiming could replicate a shellac manicure. Shellac manicures usually cost $30 or more, but dry instantly and last at least two weeks. I first got into shellac manicures when I was working in retail. There are hundreds of ways to chip a nail while stocking shelves, cashiering and helping guests, but my shellac manicures made it through two retail work weeks every time. So these two products (adding up to a less than $15 initial investment) seemed like a good alternative to $30 every two weeks.

I found both the top coat and base coat at Target in the nail care aisle. The pin said to put one coat of the Sally Hansen Hard as Wraps acrylic gel on first, then two or three coats of your favorite nail polish, and then one coat of the Sally Hansen acrylic top coat. The only other instruction was to let each coat dry completely before applying the next one. A) That’s not a lot of helpful guidance and B) that is a lot of waiting in between five coats.

After waiting a really long time for my five coats to fully dry (at least an hour) my nails looked as close to professionally done as my shaky hands could accomplish. I had high hopes for the products, but 20 minutes into my first day with my navy blue nails I had a huge chip in my right index finger. I’m not talking a small chip here. More than half of the polish chipped off. With a regular at-home manicure the polish chips off in small chunks and it is easy to touch up or ignore. With these DIY shellac products once a nail was damaged, it was 100 percent over. Throughout the rest of my day I had a total of six nails almost completely chip off. Crazy! Needless to say, I was not impressed.

But considering how awful I am at at-home DIY beauty regimens I figured I would give the products a second chance. Well, after the fourth chance I gave up. Every time I made sure to let each coat dry completely and to polish the tips of my nails to seal the polish, but it didn’t matter. Every time I tried the DIY shellac products huge chunks of my polish would be chipped off less than 24 hours after application. In a last-ditch effort to find a reason for this chaos I tried an OPI base/top coat with the same navy blue nail polish. This time, the whole process only took about 30 minutes and my first chipped nail didn’t appear for three days (and yes I was working all three of those days too).

Pinterest do or don’t? Don’t: Definitely stick with your normal at-home nail routine.

--Hannah

Learn more: DIY Deconstructed

Published On: Nov 29 2013 11:31:23 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 29 2013 12:00:00 AM CST

Calling all Pinners: Have you ever pinned something on Pinterest and thought, “What a good idea, I wonder if it works?” I have done it dozens of times and have only actually tried a couple of the how-to things I’ve pinned.

If you’re anything like me, you want someone to test it out for you so you don’t have to sift through the duds to find the really good ideas. Well that’s why I’m here.

I’ll be pinning and testing interesting ideas on Pinterest boards from all over!

TEST SUGGESTIONS: I have a couple things I want to test to get started, but if you find something on Pinterest you think is Pinteresting and want it tested, send it to me! I will be testing DIY beauty ideas, cleaning techniques and homemade products, crafts, DIY gifts and organization ideas.

--Hannah

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