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Everyday Cheapskate: Help! Need Cheap Pest Control, Leather Seats Are Hopelessly Stained, Best Upright Vacuum on Earth

Mary Hunt on

Dear Cheapskate: Once each quarter, we have our house and property professionally treated for pests. The results have been excellent, and we no longer have the problem with bugs that we had before. Do you know of a homemade or store-bought solution that we can use instead of paying quarterly? The payment is quite high, and although I was able to negotiate to lower the fee, I know that's just temporary. I am afraid if we don't continually have our house treated, we may end up with an infestation again. -- Gloria, email

Dear Gloria: Pest control performed by a professional service is costly because these companies are licensed to use chemicals that are toxic and restricted for consumer use. The professionals know how and where to apply the chemicals in a way that doesn't put you and pets in harm's way.

There are do-it-yourself options for minor issues like ants and aphids, but it sounds to me as if you have bigger problems that warrant the services of a professional.

Instead of trying to do this yourself, I suggest you shop around to find the most cost-effective service possible, and let your current provider know that you are doing so. If you find a lower bid, your company may be willing to match that number to keep you as a loyal customer. Also, consider service every four months or twice a year. That might do the trick as a maintenance option and cut your costs.

Dear Cheapskate: Last summer, heat from the sun caused the red lettering from a plastic shopping bag to melt onto the grey leather, front passenger seat in my car. I have been unable to remove the stain and hope you may have a solution. -- Toni

Dear Toni: Because this was a grocery bag, the ink is undoubtedly considered "food grade" because it comes into contact with edibles, so it should be easy to remove. Provided your previous attempts to remove it have not seriously changed its properties, Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Cleaner and Conditioner should remove that stain and, at the same time, condition the leather. While you're at it, you should clean all the leather interior.

I have used the product for super challenging situations, and for me it has performed well. Available on Amazon, the reviews are fantastic. Read them before you spend $20 on this cleaner. I'm confident it will be money well spent to make sure the stain is removed and your car retains its resale value.


Dear Cheapskate: I just have to say thank you! I recently purchased the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional vacuum that you have written about -- even though I have a good vacuum and am trying to minimize my possessions. Oh my! I have been vacuuming for a week straight and am still getting dirt out of my family room carpeting. What's more, it even feels like new carpeting under our feet. Not to mention this machine is also beautiful -- white and silver! This is just indicative of the numerous ways your wisdom and insight have blessed me and my family. Hope I get to see you in person again sometime (I was in the audience when you spoke in Naperville, Illinois, several years ago). -- Nancy

Dear Nancy: Yours is the 19th message I've received just this week from readers who are also ecstatic over their Shark vacuums. I know the feeling. I get it every time I put my Sharky to work. I have moved from being embarrassed by what he gets out of the carpet to feeling kinda self-righteous, knowing that finally my carpeting is really clean. Now it's easy to keep it that way. I try to stay on top of even the smallest spot so it doesn't become a stain, using the commercial spot treatment Carpet Aid.

By the way, there are dozens of models of Shark vacuums out there! My best advice: Make sure when you purchase that you see these words in the specific model name: Shark, Navigator, Lift-Away and Professional. Now you have what I consider the best upright vacuum that will give you lots of options, including attachments you will need and a canister that "lifts away" to easily vacuum steps on a staircase. I have put together more information along with links and resources for the items mentioned above at

It was great to hear from you and to recall that evening in Naperville. When I walked to the podium, I was shocked nearly to tears to see my college music professor, Fr. Wilbur David Ellsworth, and his wife, Jean, sitting front and center. I had not seen them since graduation day. Knowing you were there as well makes that memory extra special.


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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