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Many household products can function well in areas quite different from their initial intended uses. Here are a few examples:

Icy Steps?
If you live in an area that freezes during the winter, here's a tip for keeping your front steps from getting icy. Just take a bowl of hot water, add a few drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid to it. Once you've poured that mixture over the steps, they won't freeze again. (Of course, this trick may work with other dishwashing liquids, as well. You'll need to do some experimenting to find that out for yourself.)

Is your roof growing?
Sprinkling powdered laundry detergent on your roof can kill moss, but it won't kill other things, even when the next rain leeches it down the downspout during the next summer shower. If you happen to see bubbling at the bottom of your downspouts, don't panic. Itís just the detergent being washed off the roof, and it's generally harmless to the environment.

Budding Artists?
If your children have decided to use the bedroom walls to create their latest crayon masterpieces, you'll get excellent results by dipping a damp rag into baking soda and then using that mixture to scrub it off. It won't be easy, but you can do it--assuming you're willing to work at it--and it's cheaper than repainting the room.

Along those same lines, if your kids should use appliances or kitchen countertops as canvases for artwork instead of their bedroom walls, and their medium of choice is permanent marker, you'll find that dipping a paper towel in rubbing alcohol will take it off. Like the walls, this mixture needs to be combined with a liberal dose of elbow grease.

Sticky Price Tags?
Another commercial product that's found in most people's homes, WD-40, can serve double duty as a cleaner, as well. It can be used it to remove the pesky glue thatís so hard to get off when you peel labels or price tags off of plastic items. Just spray it on and rub it back off. It works like a charm, without harming the plastic itself.

Streaky Windows?
Here's a tip for washing windows: if you're washing both the inside and outside, try using vertical strokes for one side of the window and horizontal ones for the other. That way, you'll instantly be able to tell which side a streak is one. Instead of expensive window cleaners, you can use vinegar for outside windows. Using old sheets of newspaper also can minimize streaking. When you decide to tackle the window washing chore, do it on a cloudy day. You'll experience less streaking and less frustration, because the windows won't dry as quickly when the sun isn't blazing down.

Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher