The winner: (Clever readers may find the bathtub works well for the following chore. But if you believe in a special tool for each and every job, this idea is right up your alley.) To make cleaning Venetian blinds simple: Use a 5- or 6-foot length of aluminum gutter, about 6 inches longer than your widest blind. Fasten an end cap on each end with silicone caulking. Use two gutter hangers and fasten them to a piece of wood, as seen in photo. Use caulk between gutter and hangers to hold in place After allowing a week for curing, you are ready to clean blinds. Fill two-thirds full of hot water and detergent. Immerse open blind into water, swishing up and down several times to remove dirt. Rinse well, then stand it on end to drain off excess water. You can hang it while still damp. Just wipe off blinds with a towel. Jack Neumeyer, Albemarle
Zap hard-water stains
We had very hard water and for years could not get the toilets clean. Then someone told us about The Works and it cleaned all the old stains easily. Also, it’s probably the best bargain around. It’s about $1.50 at Walmart and is also available at Dollar General and Family Dollar.
Mary Boyd, Vale
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Cake pan is for the birds
Water for the birds sometimes ices up and it’s impossible to get rid of it in most birdbaths. I now use the rubbery silicone cake pans when a hard freeze is predicted. The “ice cakes” can easily be peeled and flipped out and the pans filled with fresh water.
Julia Burdick, Mooresville
Win an ‘I’m So Clever’ book
Send your clever tip, address and phone to email@example.com or Home Section, Charlotte Observer, P.O Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230-0308. Each week the best idea wins an “I’m So Clever” book. Now available at Paper Skyscraper.