Home Maintenance

The New Normal: save money on laundry detergent

A while back I re-posted a money saving laundry tip from the blog HomeEc101. It mentions the many ways white vinegar can help you save money when you do your laundry at home. See the original money saving laundry tips there and over here too.  Then the super-awesome Sarah Cooper of CoopCrafts dropped by and mentioned that she makes her own laundry soap.


I was baffled, and intrigued. I googled around her site and found the CoopCrafts recipe for homemade laundry soap. I got more intrigued. I went shopping. I decided to give it a whirl.

[caption id="attachment_8858" align="alignleft" width="105" caption="retail box of 20 Mule Team Borax household cleaner"]retail box of 20 Mule Team Borax household cleaner[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8857" align="alignleft" width="107" caption="retail box of Arm and Hammer "washing soda" laundry additive"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8859" align="alignleft" width="109" caption="Retail bar of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap"]Retail bar of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_8860" align="alignleft" width="79" caption="retail box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda"]retail box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda[/caption]

First you grate the bar castile soap very finely (this is especially important for cold water washing).

I used the smaller of the 2 lemon zester options on my kitchen box grater.

[caption id="attachment_8861" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="box grater for kitchen use"]box grater for kitchen use[/caption]

Then I mixed the soap crumbles with 1 cup each of the Borax, Washing Soda,  and baking soda.

Et voila! Laundry detergent.

Estimated total cost for about 5 cups of detergent = maybe $2.00.  Use 1 tablespoon per laundry load, 2 for big loads or very hard water.

GoogleCalculator tells me that's 80 loads of laundry worth of detergent... for about $4! I stored it in my laundry room, in an old heavy-duty plastic bucket with lid.

retail package of Kirk's Original Coco Castile soap
retail package of Kirk's Original Coco Castile soap

Dr. Bronner's isn't the only castile soap out there. It does come in many scents, but it's a bit pricey at a little over $4 per bar. I found a cheaper version at my local supermarket where Kirk's Original Coco Castile soap is about $1.39 per bar.  I found all the ingredients I needed locally, at my regular supermarkets.

I also have begun adding about 1/3 cup of white vinegar to the rinse water and gave up my regular fabric softener. Holy laundry revelation, Batman! I can hardly even begin to describe the positive difference: Soft, fluffy towels. Super clean and clean-smelling laundry. No static cling. No more chemicals going down my drain into the public water supply. No more rendered animal fat on my clothes.**

Making my own laundry detergent and using white vinegar in the rinse water has been a revelation to me. I can't believe I spent a fortune for all those years on commercial laundry soaps.  Never again will I buy All, Cheer or any of the others.

You should try this at home. It's a ridiculously easy way to start if you're baffled by how to live a little greener and reduce your carbon footprint on the planet. Plus your laundry will come out cleaner with no static cling.

**you do know that fabric softener is largely made of rendered animal fat, don't you? that's a bunch of dead, boiled animals all over your clothes

disclaimer - I do not own sticky-stain-makers, otherwise known as children. Your mileage may vary. Parents, you might want to try this on your own laundry first and work your way up to the truly nasty piles of laundry-like filth kids can create.

Clean your dryer lint trap


Did you know that the stuff they put in dryer sheets to make your clothes soft comes from…

...well forget about it. Trust me, you don’t want to know what it comes from. Suffice it to say that I found out what it comes from one day when I stumbled on a vegan lifestyle website.

But, did you know that your laundry fabric softener builds up on the dryer lint catcher? That decreases air flow and makes your clothes dryer work harder. You won't see the waxy film but it's there.

Pinch a few pennies and keep the planet a teensy bit greener by cleaning your dryer’s lint catcher every once in a while. Old Republic Home Warranty company recommends you do this every 6 months. Even Snopes.com says "clean your dryer lint trap."

Remove the lint catcher and wash it in hot, soapy water. Scrub it with an old toothbrush to remove the built-up fabric softener. Air dry and replace. (save this up for that random, dateless Friday night when you re-organize your sock drawer)

disclaimer: this blog does not  accept sponsored/paid product or service reviews. Blog authors received nothing of value in exchange for writing this post. But if anybody wants to offer to clean our clothes dryer lint catchers, we’re totally open for that. totally.

Related Posts - save money on your laundry/random uses for vinegar , ketchup the magic stain lifter , 2 cheap cleaners you MUST have in your kitchen

Save money on laundry

Image ID 1078391 by Stock Exchange user coptaFound today’s money saving tip on HomeEc 101, a nifty blog about all the things you were supposed to learn in your high school Home Economics class but probably didn’t pay attention to.

You can use Borax or vinegar in your laundry to save money. I never knew this, did you?

  • Vinegar is a cost-conscious alternative to liquid fabric softener.

  • Borax in the laundry water gives you soft water. This is especially helpful for many folks in the metro Phoenix area, since we have notoriously hard water which causes detergent buildup.

Do you have any great laundry tips? Or other household tips? Thanks to the New Normal economy we’re all struggling living through, every money-saving and time-saving tip is very, very welcome. Post your comments below!

Disclaimer: this blog does not currently provide paid/sponsored reviews of products, services or blogs. This blog post author received nothing of any value in exchange for writing this post.

Will my house ever sell?!?

Sometimes selling your home in Metro Phoenix in 2010 can feel like a lot of hurry up and wait.  There are some things you can do to make the process quicker and less stressful.  This is reprinted from December 6, 2008. Gives you a little idea how long sellers have been struggling to sell their homes.

A Few Ideas for Handling Seller’s Stress

  1. Paint everything: every wall, baseboard, door frame and window frame. Inside and out. Year after year, national studies reveal that a fresh coat of paint provides something like a 400% return on investment.

  2. Invest $20 or $30 in a brand new, thick and cushy welcome mat for the front door. First impressions count.

  3. Weed out your closets and bookcases. Pack up 1/3 of what’s in there. Donate it or store it for your upcoming move.

  4. Take everything off the kitchen fridge. Buyers aren’t considering buying your 5-year old’s macaroni craft project so they don’t need to see it. They also don’t need to know what time Johnny has soccer practice or which Doctor Susie sees.

  5. Enlist the entire family in keeping the house clean for showings.

  6. To present the appearance of a clean house in under 5 minutes: wipe down counters, kitchen appliances and mirrors with diluted Windex or plain diluted ammonia. (Windex costs more but smells better)

  7. Hide your personal papers, bills, and so forth from the office/desk area (it’s nobody else’s business).

  8. Take down family photos from every wall and dresser top.

  9. Remove the prescriptions from the medicine cabinet (yes, people WILL look. Potential buyers do not need to know that you’re mixing a custom cocktail of Prozac and Viagra.

  10. If possible, find temporary foster homes for your pets. Try family, friends and/or neighbors. This is challenging but important. I love my cat. But if my house smells like cat, it WILL NOT sell.

  11. Take up yoga, tai-chi or meditation.

  12. Ignore your neighbors’ asking prices; concentrate on nearby sold prices.

  13. While you’re at it, (mostly) ignore your friends’ and family’s advice. They are not Realtors. You hired a Realtor for a reason. Ask questions, request documentation of market trends, but trust him/her.

  14. If your Realtor isn’t giving you a weekly or every-other-week update, ask for one.

  15. Write a counteroffer for every offer you receive, even the ones that make you want to scream profanities at the buyer (and see below about Handling Low Ball Offers)

Related Posts:

Quickie Around the House

Quickie Around the House an occasional series of helpful homeowner tips. The series name has changed over time but it’s always focused on making your life easier.

This Quickie is courtesy of Moxie Girl, a personal concierge-type service that you really should check out.
Frustrated when cleaning scorched food from your stainless steel cookware? Add a squirt of ketchup or tomato sauce to the still warm pan when you are done cooking and watch the burned food magically disappear!

Moxie Girl offers an alternative approach to home services by combining the duties of a house cleaner with the touches of a personal assistant. Moxie Girl provides you with more than just a clean house; We provide sanity in your home.

Moxie Girl offers these services and more:

  • home organizing

  • home cleaning

  • personal assistance, errand running and concierge services

  • home/pet sitting and vacation checkups

  • event hosting

  • new baby services

  • home maintenance

Friend Moxie Girl on Facebook, or visit the Moxie Girl website. You’ll be glad you found them!
Disclaimer: Moxie Girl did not provide any services, products or discounts to ThePhoenixAgents.com or its owners, Chris Butterworth and Heather Barr. This review is provided only because we know the folks who run Moxie Girl and we think their services are pretty darn cool.

You can see other entries in the Quickie Around the House series, here.

Buy for less than you pay in rent?

The conventional wisdom (and a lot of mortgage companies’ advertising) currently says that you can buy a house for cheaper than you can rent an apartment in the Greater Phoenix area.  Is it true? Mmmmm…  Yes and no.

Case in point:


First time home buyer, starter home in the south end of the 85016 ZIP code. House is in good repair but cosmetically it’s stuck in the mid-1950s. Three bedrooms,  1 bathroom, 1 carport, average sized yard, 1100 square feet.

Current rent on 900 square foot, 2-bedroom apartment about 5 miles away from the home noted above = $615. Expected mortgage payment on the new house noted above = $505.

So, yes! You can buy for cheaper than you can rent! Except…

It’s a PITI


When you’re a renter, you pay the rent and then you’re done. But home ownership means extras.

  • P = principle: repaying the mortgage money you borrowed

  • I = interest: the convenience fee for borrowing said money

  • T = taxes: specifically property taxes on the house you buy

  • I = insurance: the lender who lent you the mortgage money will require you to have homeowners' insurance on the property

Back to our Case in Point buyer from above paying $615 in rent and expecting to pay $505 for her new mortgage. The $505 is only PI, and doesn’t include TI or anything else involved in home ownership. Taxes & insurance add another $150 monthly. So rent, $615. PITI home ownership costs, $505+ $150 = $655.

But don’t forget the WUST and the MAINT, two acronyms I made up.


Water, utilities, sewer, trash. Your new house is probably bigger than your old apartment, so you’ll spend more heating & cooling it. What about HOA fees (Home Owners Association)? Factor those in.


Homeowners also face maintenance costs that renters don’t.

  • what if the roof if it leaks? (smallish new roof, ballpark $6,000)

  • A/C and heater systems don’t last forever (ballpark cost $5,000)

  • the cost of keeping up the landscaping. Even Xeriscape yards require a bit of upkeep

  • replacing the faucets when they leak, the toilet flapper if it goes, the appliances when they go, the patio roof when it leaks… you get the idea

Home ownership is a lot more than paying rent. Yes, your new mortgage payment may be less than your old rent. But there are other costs it’s easy to forget about when dreaming about becoming a homeowner.

On the other hand, there’s a big fat tax advantage to being a homeowner: you can deduct mortgage interest paid from your federal taxes. And in your first few years, nearly your entire mortgage payment goes towards the interest you owe, so you can plan to deduct nearly all your mortgage payments from your taxes!

Thinking about becoming a homeowner? Call or email me. I’ve got the coolest little spreadsheet that lets you estimate all your home ownership expenses – PITI, WUST, MAINT and even your negotiables like cell phones, movies & entertainment and groceries -- so you can make a wise decision.

Heather Barr, Thompson’s Realty
602-999-8831 or Heather@ThePhoenixAgents.com

Changes to lead paint rules

Updated April 23  - Fantastic website launched by the EPA, HUD, the Ad Council and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. Get the facts about lead paint, prevention tips, and guidelines for Do It Yourself home renovations involving the potential to disturb lead paint. (LeadFreeKids.org)

As of April 22, 2010 federal laws regarding safe handling of lead based paint are changing. They’re becoming much more restrictive.

Though aimed mostly at contractors, who must now be EPA certified in safe lead based paint handling law, homeowners should take note. If you’ve ever done a renovation project you know that paint & plaster dust is everywhere! Even a simple project like hanging a new bookshelf can disturb quite a lot of plaster & paint dust.

Dust? I thought the problem was paint chips. . .

Federal law is changing because we’ve become increasingly aware that it’s not just  a matter of “don’t let your kids eat paint chips”. Rather, it’s the dust that renovations cause that is truly dangerous. "Even though lead-based paint was banned for use in the home in 1978, HUD estimates that approximately 24 million homes still have significant lead-based paint hazards today."  (quote source). Further, some statistics taken in Maine showed that 60% of lead paint poisoning incidents were caused by renovation activities (Nat'l Assn of Realtors, via video link below).

Lead Based Paint chart shows older homes at more risk

The simple fact of the matter is that the older your home, the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint.

Check out the EPA’s homeowner’s guide to lead-based paint. Also, check the EPA’s online document designed to educate contractors on how to comply with the new rule. Frankly between you and me, it’s not a great document. However, the National Association of Realtors produced a series of nifty videos about the rule change. It’s aimed at Realtors but still way easier to digest than the EPA’s government-produced document aimed at contractors. Go figure.

Your rethinking my devotion to historic homes Realtor,

Heather Barr

What’s in your electrical box?

fix and flipper fix the double tap

You might find it interesting to have a look at your electrical fuse box. A fairly frequent home inspection finding we’ve noticed lately is the ‘double tap’ inside the fuse box.

If you click on that picture above, you’ll see that one fuse has two wires attached.

I’m no electrician and I don’t even play one on TV, so I can’t explain it better than that. Maybe this seems like a minor problem but messing up electricity is never a good idea.

How do you correct the double tap? I’ve seen it done. It took about 15 minutes and the part cost under $5. We have a couple of good electricians and handymenpeople. Call/email/text us for names of some folks who can help you out with this minor problem.

Great packing, moving idea

color coded strapping tape from UHaul

Color-coded packing tape marked with the name of the room the stuff goes in. This is so cool!  U-haul.com sells this stuff, $2.95 for a 30yard roll.

Frugalista bargain-hunter anal-retentive tightwad that I am, I wondered if I could do better on pricing.  I looked around online and found that OfficeMax sells ‘paper tape’ for $3.49 for 500 inches. Who measures tape in inches??

Of course, now I need a measurement converter to figure out if 500 inches is more or less than 30 yards. If you are reading this shouting out “I can do that in my head!” I officially hate dislike you. <Chris, I’m lookin’ at you>

I might be able to convert 500 inches to yards in my head but it would hurt. So I checked the lovely folks at Math.com and their length converter. Five hundred inches is 14 yards. So the U-haul tape is the better deal.

I checked Overstock.com, OfficeDepot, and Target and couldn’t find anybody selling packing tape that’s color-coded. Readers, can you?

Two must-have kitchen cleaners

Disposal Care This stuff is fabulous! If you have problems with a smelly garbage disposal, this might be just the ticket.


You can generally find this at grocery stores, although I’m not sure I remember seeing it at my local Target (which has the new grocery section). It’s a little counter-intuitive to use, because of two things:

1) you put the whole yellow paper-covered package into the disposal, there’s no need to open the packet

2) you put the product in the disposal while running only a slight trickle of water into the sink, not a full-force stream of water

Frugalista Tip: You can also clean a garbage disposal with a combination of a tray of ice cubes and some cut-up lemon or limes.


There are a lot of expensive stainless steel sink cleaners out there. This is dead cheap; I found it online at Sur Le Table for $2.95 for this 12 oz canister. Most of the more expensive stainless cleansers are liquid spray-on formulations. This is a gritty powder like Ajax. Works miracles!

Disclaimer: I use both of these products and recommend them both. But this is a recommendation, not a guarantee. Read the labels, use common sense, etc.

Fix and Flippers, Bustin’ Your Chops Again

Alright folks. I’m going to rag on fix and flippers again. I can’t help it; they leave themselves wide open.

Investors! Listen up! When you buy a home at foreclosure auction, it’s going to need some work. Paint and carpet might not be all the house needs to make it livable. Case in point (these are all from 1 home). . .

fix and flipper fix the sink Kitchen sink has a temporary drain pipe. It’s designed to get you through a weekend until the plumber arrives.

fix and flipper fix the toilet Oh, fix and flipper. Seriously?! You put in laminate floors. But they’re already buckling because the toilet leaks where it connects to the wall. This is about $20 in parts and 30 minutes of labor!

fix and flipper fix the tub While you’ve got the plumber in the house, how about having him spend another 10 minutes and $15 in parts to make the shower/tub diverter work? So I could, ya know, maybe. . . take a shower?

fix and flipper fix the water heater Now this one’s truly stoopid. That red arrow is pointing to the pressure relief valve on the water heater. It’s connected to. . . wait for it. . . nothing. So if the pressure relief valve starts working, it will spew hot water all over the wall of the garage. Not how it’s designed to work. Again, 30-45 of labor and maybe $10-$20 worth of parts.

fix and flipper fix the closet doors Oh fix and flipper. Again I say unto you, Seriously?!  You installed shiny new carpet over what I presume is a new carpet pad. But you didn’t install door handles on the doors. Or the $8 worth of hardware that makes the doors stick to the floor instead of flopping freely in the breeze.  Ohhhhhh, Le Sigh.

fix and flipper fix the double tap Can’t tell what it is? Click to enlarge. It’s the circuit breaker box at the side of the house. Showing 1 circuit breaker attached to 2 household items (hence ‘double tap’). I’ve seen this job done. It requires an electrician buy about $10 worth of parts and spend 15 minutes installing another circuit breaker, then re-wiring 1 of the 2 household items to the new breaker. Fix and flipper: for realsies? you couldn’t manage this?

OK, all snark aside. The work here amounts to maybe $600 worth of parts and labor from a plumber and an electrician. They call them fix and flips; the buyer shouldn't have to ask for these to be fixed. If you’re flipping houses and your profit margin is so slim you can’t absorb $600, you shouldn’t be flipping houses. You’re doing it wrong. Stop. Get a desk job. Seriously.

When Good Sprinklers Go Bad

broken sprinkler

broken sprinkler

broken sprinkler

Homeowners new the metro Phoenix area might not realize the importance of checking your sprinkler heads once in a while. They easily get clogged with dirt, debris, whatever and can result in this.

It’s an oddity of the Arizona lifestyle that your neighbors are often not people you talk to frequently. People come home, pull in the garage, shut the door and go inside. Life in metro Phoenix is largely lived in our backyards, not the fronts. Your neighbors may not even know this is happening at your place.

So once in a while on a weekend or whenever you have time, run the irrigation/sprinkler/bubbler system through a full cycle and see whether you’re giving your lawn a nice misting or a flood.

Floor Tile. Do It Yourself?

Well… maybe…


Ok, you’re convincing me. Looks good so far. What else ya got?


Alright. So far, so good. Looks like a pretty successful Do It Yourself project. Those Home Depot classes must be really great.




Seriously? Lemme look closer at that one…

CIMG1215 detail

Ow! Where’s my eye bleach??


The Moral of the Story – Yeah, so if you’ve never laid floor tile, maybe that shouldn’t be your first attempt at Do It Yourself. Sometimes experts are worth their fees.

Maybe you should try painting instead.

Fall Home Care Tips

It might not feel like it today…

weather 10-19-09 but fall is here.

Courtesy of Home Warranty of America, here’s some seasonal home maintenance tips (with commentary by me in orange).

“With the fall and winter months upon us, now is the time to do some routine maintenance around your home to prepare for the changing weather ahead. Taking the time to do some work now may save on some major expenses later. Some of these tasks can be performed by you, and some may need to be done by a professional.

Outside Your Home

  1. Clear debris out of window wells, gutters, downspouts, and storm drains.

  2. Remove garden hoses from spouts. Drain and store for the winter. Wrap spouts in insulation.

  3. Drain in-ground sprinkler systems. (heeee! oh those poor people who live in cold climates)

  4. Check windows, doors, and siding for holes and cracks. Caulk as necessary.

  5. Check weather stripping on windows and doors for fit and condition. Replace as necessary.

  6. Inspect all soffit vents and other venting systems to make sure they're clear of debris. (does anybody even know what this means? is this a cold weather thing, or am I ignorant of home care because I live in a condo?)

  7. Check painted surfaces for paint failure, water damage, or mildew. Repair or repaint if needed.

  8. Check caulking where two different materials meet, where wood siding joins the foundation wall, at inside corners, and where the window and door trim meets the siding. (siding! how quaint. We ‘Zonies could probably give the outside stucco of the house a quick once-over for cracks. Home Depot and others like them sell stucco repair materials.)

  9. Check for broken or cracked glass and damaged screens or storm windows. Check for loose putty around glass panes. Repair glass if necessary.

  10. Insulate outdoor faucets, pipes in unheated garages, and pipes in crawl spaces with materials such as rags or newspapers. (again with the cold… gosh I don’t miss that!)

Inside your Home:

  1. Have a heating professional check your heating system every year. Replace your furnace filter.

  2. Woodburning stove connector pipes and chimneys should be inspected by a certified chimney sweep at least annually.

  3. Make sure you have proper insulation in your attic/crawlspace. While checking your insulation, if you see any dark, dirty spots, it may indicate you have air leaks coming into your home.

  4. Remove hair from drains in sinks, tubs, and showers.

  5. Test all smoke alarms. Replace batteries as necessary.

  6. Check your home around windows and doors for air leaks. An easy way to check for leaks is to move a lighter around the window or door frame and see if the flame moves with a breeze. If you find a leak, you can caulk it or you may have to replace the wood frame. Repairing these leaks can save you money on your energy bill during the cold months.

  7. Check for water leaks on the ceiling. Repair if needed.

  8. Make sure there are working nightlights at the top and bottom of all stairs. (I fail to see how this is seasonal. Any cold-climate readers clue us in?)

  9. Test your emergency generator.

More Truth About Arizona's Termites

Just today I sent a current client a link to Chris' excellent August article called The Truth About Arizona's Termites. Wanted to add a few additional items I've learned over the years by talking to my termite inspectors, Budget Brothers Pest & Termite.

  • Termites are drawn to the paper backing on drywall.

  • They're also drawn to moisture in the soil, which is why home and termite inspectors recommend homeowners keep bushes and trees trimmed well back away from the house.

  • Termidor isn't the only chemical used to treat a property for termites, but it's currently the most effective available.

  • Termidor acts as a bait and a poison. Termites are drawn to it like ants to honey and carry it back to the hive where it kills all termites in the infestation. Killing them all can take several months.

  • A termite inspection costs about $30 to $60

  • Treating an entire house with Termidor can run about $600 to $800 (your mileage may vary)

  • An annual termite treatment warranty will only set you back $100 to $150 and is renewable every year after a complete treatment was completed. At any time during the year, if you find evidence of termites (typically a "mud tube" visible on the drywall or exterior of the home) you call the company that gave you the warranty and they'll spot treat the area with additional Termidor at no charge.

  • If you find a mud tube, don't knock it off until the spot treatment is complete.

  • Home builders are required to treat for termites during the building process and cannot issue a builder's warranty on the home without doing so. A termiticide must be applied to the ground before the concrete slab is poured and the builder remains liable for termite-related damages for several years after the first buyer takes possession.

  • The State of Arizona maintains a registry of treatment records. You can learn more at the state's website, the Arizona Office of Pest Management. See the "consumer information" tab.

Pet Safe Pesticides

photo credit to eravariel at Stock Exchange

I have been suffering for a few days with a mob of home-invading ants. I blame myself, actually. Unknowingly, I'd brought them into the house in a recyclable shopping bag.  After hanging on a door handle for about a week, I took  the bag down and set it on the floor, getting ready to take it back to the car and shop.

The bag tipped over and instantly, I had a gazillion little black ants swarming over the floor!!

Luckily they were swarming on blond hardwood so I could see all the little beasties pretty easily. It turns out that flip-flops are a very effective weapon of mass destruction when applied with strategic precision. "Strategic precision" means wildly slapping the floor with said flip-flops while shrieking at the top of one's lungs.

However, the collateral damage for this particular WMD is the wind shear that sends a few dozen beasties flying for every shoe swing.

And here's where I (finally!) get to the post point. I have cats. Cats tend to eat off the floor. It's like having perpetual toddlers in the house - anything the cats find even mildly interesting is instantly eaten or licked. So..... traditional pesticides are out of the question.

After much internet research I discovered that there are several non-toxic ways to eradicate ants.  Boiling water poured on the anthill is supposed to be effective. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is also said to be effective because it gets into the ants' little joints and dehydrates them from the inside out. I did find some online articles that seemed to prefer DE from plant stores over the pool-grade DE that's often used in the desert southwest for filtering pools. Pyrethrin is supposed to be a plant-based pesticide safe for use with pets. Except that  I found an online chat room where one member claimed the pyrethrin poisoned her cat and it took over $200 at the vet's office to restore the cat.

My problem with all the advice I found online is that I didn't feel I could trust the sources. The information I found came from websites with names like EcoChem.com, 4TheBirds.org, ThePetShrink.info, OccultCorpus.com, ArticlesBase.com and FreePatentsOnline.com.   I've never heard of these! I'm just not sure that I'm going to trust my feline babies' health to those sources. If I'd found something from Cat Fancy magazine or even a single vet's office, I'd have felt more reassured.

So in the end I decided to try the two easiest and least harmful sounding options - white vinegar and powdered cinnamon. I knew the ants were drawn to the cat food crumbs on the floor, so first I baited the little buggers.

  • I put the cats into a locked bedroom away from the action. Then I laid out a trail of cat food across the floor of the ant infested room and waited about a half-hour. Sure enough, an ant swarm. I followed it to the source at the patio sliding door in the master bedroom and poured a little powdered traditional pesticide on the entry point.

  • I walked back the line of ants to the food crumbs, killing them with the flip-flop WMD method noted above with a speed adjustment to minimize the wind shear factor.

  • Next up, a vinegar water wash down for every floor and baseboard surface in the two rooms affected. Websites recommended a mixture of half-and-half white vinegar and water. Whew, what a smell!

  • Finally, a border of powdered cinnamon (from the spice rack) on all window ledges, sliding door tracks and around the baseboards. I vacuumed up the poison powder from earlier and covered over the ant's entry spot with a generous mound of cinnamon.

The whole process took two hours and it was midnight before I was done. Exhausted, I added a ring of cinnamon around my bed because the entry point was in my bedroom. Thoughts of little ants crawling onto my bed in the night was enough to send me screaming out the door to a hotel that accepts cats! (By the way, Motel 6 is pet friendly, should you ever travel with your beloved furry family members.)

The result? Success. Apparently ants really don't like cinnamon. Nary an ant in sight since I broke open the spice rack. Hope you find my ant saga helpful if you ever get infested yourselves!