Secrets for Cleaning Leather Boots, Cast Iron, and More

Secrets for Cleaning Leather Boots, Cast Iron, and More
One reader's magic formula for cast iron cleaning: Coarse salt and a little cooking oil in the warm pan. (Bruce Peter/Shutterstock)

Every day, I learn something new from my clever readers. Take fine leather, for example. I think it's safe to say we're all aware that Italy is where one would find the best leather products.

I'd just never thought about the fact that Italians have superior knowledge for how to care for and clean said leather. I love today's first great reader tip, and I have to admit that Lysa made me laugh out loud!

Rejuvenate Leather

Olive oil removes salt and stains from leather boots and shoes. It shines the leather, too. It's an Italian thing. —Lysa

Good to the Last Squeeze

I hate wasting any little bit of a product I've paid for. After the toothpaste has squeezed out its last glob, I cut off the tube about an inch from the cap. I can get another five or six brushings from what remains. —Debbie

Savings on Liquid Soap

Those foam pump dispensers are so nice, but they seem expensive for the amount of soap you get compared to the amount of water in the bottle. I save the dispensers and refill about one-quarter of the bottle with liquid hand soap and the rest with water. Then, I put the top back on and roll the bottle around until the soap dissolves into the water (it takes a little time to fully blend the two). Voila! I have a refill bottle of liquid soap that takes me years to use up, because I use so little of it to refill a foam dispenser bottle. —Kay

Cast-Iron Cleanup

I love to cook in my cast-iron skillet. I have discovered a very easy way to clean the skillet without removing the pan's seasoning. Basically, I use coarse salt and a little cooking oil in the warm pan. Something magical happens with the salt and the oil. Cooked-on particles lift off the pan, but the oil remains. Using a paper towel, I scrub away, wipe off the excess oil, and rinse the pan briefly under hot water. Finally, I dry the pan with a paper towel. The pan retains its sheen and is seasoned and ready to go for the next cooking extravaganza. Thank you for "Everyday Cheapskate"! —Marie

Custom Floor Mats

I wanted floor mats for our minivan, so I stopped by our local car dealership. Boy, was I floored (pardon the pun). I checked a discount department store, and, while their mats were priced more reasonably, they didn't fit well. I found a perfect solution: I bought clear plastic runner material that is available by the yard at the home improvement center. With a utility knife, I customized the fit around the seat hardware. This saved a lot of money and works beautifully. —Judith

Milk of Magnesia Eliminates Odor

I have always had a very strong body odor. It didn't matter what kind of deodorant or antiperspirant I used; it never worked. Then, I heard that regular milk of magnesia works as a daily deodorant. I tried it, and I've been using it for over a decade. I pour a little bit of the store-brand milk of magnesia on a cotton square and pat it on my armpits. A little bit lasts all day. Milk of magnesia can dry out quickly in the bottle, so just add a little water and shake well. —Lynda

Auto Cleaner

Use plain old baking soda on a damp rag to remove bugs, tar, and anything else from your vehicle. It works very well, even on the grill and chrome work. It leaves no residue or odor and won't harm the paint. I just make a paste with baking soda and water, clean away and rinse it off. It's better than any commercial product I've tried. This method even cleans away the cloudy film on headlight covers. —Bud

Nothing Goes to Waste

Our town has two thrift shops that accept worn-out clothes. They remove the buttons and sell those. Then, they bag up the clothes and sell them to a "rag man," who gives them 7 cents a pound. So, really, nothing has to go to waste. I've begun doing this myself. My kids love the buttons for craft projects, and I make good use of the rags, too. —Marcelle
Would you like more information? Go to for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments, and tips at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living." Copyright 2020
Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” COPYRIGHT 2022 CREATORS.COM