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Everyday Cheapskate: Does Anyone Make a Decent Upright Cordless Vac that Really Works? (Yes!)

Mary Hunt on

My affinity for TV game shows' lightning rounds -- where the duration is predetermined, and the aim is to achieve as much as possible within that time frame -- might be linked to my attention span. Lightning round questions are brief, with quick and concise answers.

I see we have lots of questions in the audience, so let's set the clock. Ready? Set ... Go!

Q: Can you recommend a decent upright cordless vacuum that actually works well?

A: Sure can. In fact, I can recommend two -- a stick-style cordless vacuum and a handheld style. Since you didn't specify, I'll tell you about both, and hopefully before the clock runs out on our lightning round!

I've been using my Hoover ONEPWR Evolve Pet Elite cordless upright vacuum cleaner for more than a year now. Simply fabulous. Lightweight (less than 9 pounds), holds a charge forever, easy to clean, stands up by itself, quiet as can be and so handy.

I love the Black+Decker Dustbuster AdvancedClean cordless handheld vacuum so much, I have three of them -- one in each of the main areas of my home. Each gets a regular workout, too. This specific Black+Decker handheld vacuum (B+D makes several models) has a lithium battery (long run time and doesn't need to be stored in the charger) -- so easy to clean and offers excellent suction.

Q: Do I HAVE to only use HE labeled laundry detergent in my new Whirlpool washer? Why?

A: Yes. If the owner's manual recommends HE detergent, that means it is a high-efficiency washer. HE washers use considerably less water and have sophisticated computer-like electronics. They're very smart! HE detergent creates no suds or bubbles. The presence of too many suds can confuse washing cycles, cause delays and make proper rinsing of clothes difficult, if not impossible. Refer to your manual, then do what it says. And always measure. It is possible that your machine requires far less than you're using.

Q: Why isn't my dishwasher getting things clean anymore? The glasses are coming out cloudy and so is the flatware.

A: Could be any number of problems, but I suggest you start with the easiest. Is the rinse aid reservoir empty? Most dishwashers these days have a place to be filled with a rinse aid like Jet-Dry. (Check the owner's manual.) Make sure you keep this filled. Next, when did you last clean your dishwasher? We need to clean our dishwashers routinely -- at least once every three months. The hoses, filter and water-spraying mechanisms can get a buildup of hard-water minerals. The filter can become clogged with yuck and gunk.

Here is one method to clean your dishwasher that has been proven to be effective for many:

Step 1: Remove and clean the filter to remove all that buildup. Soak it in warm, soapy water for 10 minutes, then replace. (This filter should be cleaned as often as you remove lint from your clothes dryer. Yes! That often.)

Step 2: Pour 4 cups of white vinegar into the bottom of the empty dishwasher. Run a heavy complete cycle.


Step 3: Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher, and leave overnight. In the morning, run an empty heavy, complete cycle.

Step 4: Gently scrub any remaining dirty areas with a toothbrush.

Still experiencing a problem? Bring out the big guns with a commercial product like Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner. Follow the instructions on the label.

Q: Do you have a DIY solution for cleaning grease on stove hoods and wherever grease seems to accumulate?

A: Yes, I do. I consider this a maintenance formula I use to clean those areas routinely, which means very often. Once grease builds up on a stove, hood or other kitchen area, it gets more and more difficult to remove. Here's the perfect degreaser for routine cleanup of the cooktop, hoods and surrounding areas (being careful to avoid granite that has been treated with a sealant):

1 part distilled white vinegar

1 part water

1 tablespoon Blue Dawn

Combine in a bottle with a sprayer top and it's ready to go.


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 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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