How Fixtures Can Save You Big on Water Usage

The easiest way to lower your water usage (and utility bill) is to screw low-flow aerators into your sink’s faucets. Aerators are easy to install, cost $5 or less, and can save you $50 or more per year. If the showerheads in your home were installed before 1994, you should seriously consider replacing them with their modern, energy-saving equivalents. Check out your local hardware store for low-flow alternatives, and remember that just because it’s low-flow doesn’t mean it has to be weak!

How to Use Less Water on Your Lawn

Have you ever set the sprinkler on the lawn and forgotten it was there? Purchasing a water timer will take care of that problem for you. Available at your local hardware store, these hose attachments work like egg timers and turn off the water supply after the amount of time you specify, usually between 10 minutes and two hours. It's a minimal investment with a worthwhile return!

Make Sure Your Toilet Doesn’t Leak

Does your toilet tank leak into the bowl after each flush? If it does, you could be wasting up to 73,000 gallons of water per year! To find out, put a drop of food coloring in the tank when it’s done flushing and see if it shows up in the bowl. If you see the color in the bowl, check out how to fix a toilet tank leak.

Savings with Each Flush

If you don’t have a modern, water-saving toilet, a great way to save water is to fill a plastic bottle or two with sand and put them in your toilet tank. You’ll use a lot less water with each flush. Just make sure you place them away from the operating mechanism. Also, don’t use bricks—they disintegrate and can damage your toilet.

Save Water During Each Shower

We’ve already shared with you some easy ways you can heat less water to lower your water bill. But what about the time spent waiting for the water to heat up? Keep a bucket in your shower to use to collect cold water as the shower is heating up. Then, use it to water plants, soak stained clothes, or other jobs that you don’t need warm water for. Meanwhile, quit fiddling with the knobs on your shower to find where you want it before it gets hot. Find your favorite setting, then mark where the knob is pointing on the tile with a dab of nail polish or a waterproof marker. This water-preserving trick is great for kids, who often take a long time adjusting the water before they get in.

Does Your Teenager Take 45-Minute Showers?

Does your teenager take 45-minute-long showers? If you have teenagers, try giving them an incentive to take shorter showers. A great one is five minutes added on to their curfew (or phone time) for every minute they shave off their showering time. 

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Baking soda

Easy DIY jewelry cleaner

Baking soda mixed with hydrogen peroxide is a great cleaner for lots of household objects, and it’s also a safe and effective cleaner when it comes to cleaning gold, silver, and costume jewelry. For best results, make a by adding drops of hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda, then rub gently on your jewelry. Rinse off and wipe dry. It gets rid of dirt, grime, and body oils, and leaves your gold and silver sparkling.

Quick and easy way to clean silver jewelry

If your silver jewelry is starting to look a little dull or needs polishing, stick it in a bowl with a few tablespoons of baking soda and a square of aluminum foil.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then wipe clean. The aluminum acts as a catalyst for ion exchange, a process that will make the tarnish transfer from your silver to the baking soda. This is the magic of science, folks!

Dishwashing detergent

Gem-polishing potions

Wondering how to keep your beautiful jewelry looking like the first day you wore it? Gentle dishwashing detergent and water plus a soft cloth can clean rubies, amethysts, citrines, emeralds, sapphires, and garnets. Diamonds can be washed similarly: Fill a small pot with a cup of water, plus a teaspoon of dishwasher detergent. Add your diamonds, bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the pot sit until it cools. Once it’s cool (but not before), carefully remove your jewelry and rinse.

Just make sure to wash each piece separately to avoid chipping.

See also: 12 Surprising Personal Uses for Baking Soda

Classic jewelry cleaning recipe

Here’s the recipe that we received from reader Madelyn Jessup, which her mother always used to wash her gold jewelry: Mix 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid with ½ teaspoon ammonia and 1 cup warm water. Dip the jewelry into the solution for 10 seconds, and use an old toothbrush to brush off any marks. Your gold will look sparkling new!

… And other household items

Another easy clean for gems

The easiest way to clean emeralds, diamonds, rubies, and sapphires may be with club soda. Place your jewelry in a glass of it overnight and they will shine like new in the morning.

Related: 6 Clever Hacks to Solve Jewelry Mishaps

Get sparkling pearls with vegetable oil

Because they’re so fragile, pearls shouldn’t get wet—and can’t be cleaned with normal jewelry cleaners. Instead, use vegetable oil. Dab some oil on a soft cloth, then gently rub on each pearl. Let the vegetable oil dry overnight, then buff with a soft cloth to remove dust and oils that can make pearls look dull over time. The best way to care for a pearl (or coral) necklace is to wear it regularly—oils from your skin add a gentle luster.

Quick clean for costume jewelry

Clean costume or inexpensive jewelry by dropping two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water. Immerse jewelry for about five minutes and pat dry with a clean towel.

These stones should never get wet: Since turquoise, opals, amber, and marcasite are porous stones, never immerse them in water. Instead, polish them with a soft, dry chamois (clean claws with a soft bristle brush). Wipe with sweet almond oil to remove any grease marks, if desired.

Just for fun: How to Insure Jewelry and Expensive Gifts

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