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The Grandma File - Ten Things That Can Be Done With Kitchen Spices

Updated on June 17, 2014
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My grandma was never into over the counter cleaning products. Actually, she used spices for almost everything. She had a special "grandma file" where she kept secret recipes for everything from keeping away ants to curing indigestion. Once I was allowed a peak into the file, I was hooked. Now I'm going to share some of these simple tricks that can eliminate a trip to the store and help save money by using what you already have on hand.


Frugal Pest Control

  • Keep moths at out of the closet with cloves. Cloves are a natural moth deterrent and eliminate the need for mothballs altogether. A closet fitted with a small bouquet of cloves also leaves clothes smelling far better than a closet full of mothballs. Cloves can also be used in old thermoses to keep the musty smell away.
  • Keep ants at bay with the use of bay leaves. Ants hate the smell of bay leaves. Crumple a few in the windowsill or at the base of the screen door. If the ants are particularly pesky place a leaf in sugar and flour containers to keep them away.
  • Tell bugs to back off with a mixture of pepper and flour sifted around the outside of a planting garden. For even more protection sift it over plant leaves to keep the bugs from foraging in your neighborhood.
  • Use green sage to thwart red ants. Sprinkle it around kitchen cabinets to keep those little biters out of the kitchen.
  • Use cayenne pepper to make a spray that will deter even the most persistent of bugs. Mix a few cayenne and a quart of water in the blender. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray the pesky little buggers. If there is an ant colony causing problems dump some powdered cayenne down into the mound and watch them evacuate. Deer can also be handled with this potent mix. Spray it on the deer’s favorite trees and shrubs and they too will leave them be.

Simple Solutions to Household Cleaning

  • To get the smell out of glass jars, mix dry mustard and water and fill them. Let the solution stand in the jar overnight. Wash them and give them a good rinse; the odors should be gone.
  • Clean aluminum pots and pans with cream of tartar. Put two tablespoons of cream of tartar in one quart of water. Boil it for ten minutes. This will not only brighten the pans, it will take out discoloration as well.
  • No need to use bleach to whiten those socks; brighten up white clothes by washing them with a pinch of cream of tartar.


One Old Trick, One New

  • Here’s one for the gardeners: plant basil around tomato plants. Basil will drive away flies and worms, keeping the tender tomato plants free of bugs the entire growing season.
  • Highlight hair with a mixture of one cup water, one teaspoon allspice, one teaspoon cinnamon, and one half teaspoon of cloves. Simmer the mixture for ten minutes then let it cool. After shampooing pour the mix over damp hair then rinse.


Simple spices can offer up some pretty awesome do-it-yourself solutions to everyday problems. Frugal doesn’t mean cheap; it means using the tool that you already have for job that is right in front of you.



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    • tinaweha profile image

      Tina Boomerina 5 years ago from Seattle (and the world)

      Will spices help rid me of my pesty family?

    • Everyday Green profile image
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      Everyday Green 5 years ago from Michigan

      Only if you put a bunch of cayenne in all of the food you serve them.

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