Dear Sara: I recently bought a new washing machine without realizing that it doesn't have a fabric softener dispenser. Now I'm left with a whole bottle of softener.
Short of running to the basement and trying to catch the rinse cycle, is there any way I can use this stuff? Is it possible to make your own dryer sheets?
I tried one of the balls that you fill, but it didn't release the softener. I wonder if it has anything to do with the way the new machines are designed to save water. Any help would be appreciated. -- Beverley M., Massachusetts
Dear Beverley: You can dilute liquid fabric softener or cheap hair conditioner with water and use it to fill a spray bottle or plastic container, such as a baby-wipes container.
Use the spray bottle of softener and spritz a washcloth, or soak a cloth in the plastic container, wring it out and toss it into the dryer. If you miss the scent, add a few drops of essential oil.
You can reuse aluminum foil by wadding it into 3-inch diameter fabric softening balls and use a few to reduce static in the dryer, too.
Reuse a tennis ball, or make your own dryer balls from wool. I suggest wool over the tennis ball because the rubber from the tennis ball could smell over time due to the high heat.
To make a wool dryer ball, use 100 percent wool-felting yarn. Acrylic yarn doesn't felt, and don't use super-wash wool because it's treated not to felt. Make a few small yarn balls, approximately 5 inches around.
Wrap the yarn tightly. Pull the yarn end through the yarn ball to prevent unraveling. You can add drops of essential oil for scent, too.
Place the balls in pantyhose, tying a knot between each ball, or tie a piece of yarn or a rubber band in between so it resembles sausage links.
Place the pantyhose chain of yarn balls into a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to prevent lint. Toss this into the washing machine and wash it in hot water. Once washed, run it through the dryer to felt the yarn balls. Remove the yarn balls from the pantyhose and you'll notice they will have shrunk a bit.
Wrap more yarn around the ball to make it larger (about eight inches around). Place in pantyhose again, wash and dry again for a second felting. It will look a bit fuzzy on the outside, but it's now ready to use to prevent static in the dryer.
I love my Downy ball, but I have read that they sometimes don't open. I'd give their customer service line a call at 1-800-688-7638 to let them know what is happening and give them a chance to make it right.
Also, fabrics that are made from synthetics create a lot of static, so remove them from the dryer before the load is completely dry, or hang them on a hanger, drying rack or line to dry.
Dear Sara: How well do you paint your own fingernails? I bought new polish today (Sally Hansen XL Xtremewear in White On) and it seems every time I paint my fingernails with a thick polish, I get it all over the skin next to my nail and it streaks. Is there an easier way to do this? -- Tisha, Canada
Dear Tisha: I'm not really an expert on nails, but I'll share what I do. I make sure my hands are clean and moisturized. I file and buff my nails. I make sure my polish has been shaken.
Then I paint my nails, starting in the center of each nail, then doing both sides. I use small strokes, not long stripes. I don't brush right up to my cuticles and skin; I let some of my nail show.
I apply a second coat and use a top coat, too. I do paint the top coat to the edges. I think most people paint their nails too quickly, use too much polish on the brush and brush too close to the skin.
(Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email email@example.com.)
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