How to stretch leather shoes that are too small

A little while ago I bought some RM Williams boots on Ebay that were just the style I like and were surprisingly cheap.

Small problem – they were a size too small. I could get them on, but after a couple of hours it hurt so bad I had to take them off. So I hunted around for a way to stretch them. There are lots of ideas out there, and it took a while before I found that I thought would work: rice.

Fill the front half of the boot with rice, sit the boots up against something so that the toes are pointing to the ground, and fill them with water. The rice, of course, soaks up the water and expands, and in doing so moistens the leather and helps it stretch.

I left them overnight and it worked – my boots are now a comfortable fit.

How to Kill Ants (outside)

If you have an ant problem, it’s always a big problem. That is, whether it’s inside or outside, you have ants in their thousands, or possibly millions.

In this situation, forget fly-sprays – they don’t kill enough, and in any case they leave a residue.

The only course of action is to get some WMDs – something that will wipe them out in their millions.

Last week I was attacked by ants while trying to hang out the washing. The cement paving near the clothesline was infested with them, so I had to take drastic action.

In this circumstance, I resorted to a remedy that we used to use as kids to kill trapdoor spiders – boiling water.

So I boiled the kettle, took it outside, and poured it down the crack between two pavers from which the ants seem to be coming. Then I did it again, and again, and again. Over about a two week period, I tipped boiling water down the crack, and along the ant trails, wherever I saw them a couple of times a day.

Now they are all but wiped out, and I can hang out the washing without being attacked. But there is an odd and slightly smell in the air in the vicinity – cooked ants.

Warm is the new hot

It used to be when you were using the HOT cycle on your washing machine it would just pump hot water straight in. WARM would pump both hot and cold, and of course COLD would just pump cold water in.

But that now appears to have changed. My LG top loader pumps both hot and cold water when set to the HOT setting. The resultant temp is 40 degrees. If I turn off the cold tap and just allow it to only pump hot in, it finishes up at about 50 degrees.

The reason for this, no doubt, is that modern laundry powders are heavily based on enzymatic cleaners, and enzymes work best at about 40 degrees.

So I’m curious to hear from others on this. You may not have an IR thermometer handy like I do, but I’m curious to know whether your machine pumps in both hot and cold water when set to the HOT setting. Please comment below, and remember to tell me the brand of machine.

What can you use vinegar for?

The farmer’s almanac gives us the following uses for vinegar. I’ll copy and paste from their website and comment accordingly:

  • Bring a solution of one-cup vinegar and four tablespoons baking soda to a boil in teapots and coffeepots to rid them of mineral deposits.

Yes this will work, as long as you don’t add the baking soda. Vinegar is acidic and therefore is the right pH for removing alkaline mineral deposits. But adding the baking soda will partially or fully neutralise the vinegar and reduce its effectiveness. The chemistry of vinegar/baking soda is explained here

  • A solution of vinegar and baking soda will easily remove cooking oil from your stovetop.

It will work a little bit as long as you don’t add the vinegar, as the vinegar will neutralise the baking soda. But baking soda is only mildly alkaline, and you will get better results with the more alkaline Washing Soda

  • Clean the filter on your humidifier by removing it and soaking it in a pan of white vinegar until all the sediment is off.

This will not work very well at all. Presumably this is cleaning dust, and dust is essentially dead skin that contains fat, so it is oily when you wipe it with a wet sponge. It therefore requires an alkaline cleaner, such as an oven cleaner. Spray it on, wait about 30 seconds, then just wipe it off.

  • Saturate a cloth with vinegar and sprinkle with baking soda, and then use it to clean fiberglass tubs and showers. Rinse well and rub dry for a spotless shine.

Baking soda and vinegar neutralise each other. Far better results will be achieved with washing soda

  • For a clean oven, combine vinegar and baking soda, then scrub.

If you use just use washing soda for this, you won’t need to scrub

  • Clean and deodorize your toilet bowl by pouring undiluted white vinegar into it. Let stand for five minutes, then flush. Spray stubborn stains with white vinegar, then scrub vigorously.

This could work. Harpic used to make a range of cleaners that used hydrochloric acid as the active ingredient. The beauty of toilet bowls is that the porcelain is impervious to almost any chemical.

  • Clean windows with a cloth dipped in a solution of one part white vinegar and 10 parts warm water. This works for dirty TV screens, too!

Ammonia will work better, as it has grease-cutting properties that vinegar doesn’t. Also it will leave a positively charged surface that will repel further dust (which is also positively chatged

  • To clean drip coffeemakers, fill the reservoir with white vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly by brewing two cycles with water before using.

Yes, this ll work by removing mineral deposits

  • To remove bumper stickers from car chrome, paint on vinegar and let it soak in. Next, scrape off the stickers. Decals can be removed similarly.

No this will not work. Use acetone – it will work instantly, as it dissolves the adhesives

  • Rid your refrigerator and freezer of bad odors by cleaning the insides with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, then wiping dry.

Yes this could work. Vinegar is acidic, and many fridge smells are amines, which are both volatile and alkaline – so the vinegar neutralises them.

  • To remove smoke odors on clothes, hang them above a steaming bathtub filled with hot water and a cup of white vinegar.

Not sure about this one. But it’s possible.

  • To prevent mildew, wipe down surfaces with vinegar.

Yes – it could work – the biomass probably wouldn’t like to adhere to an acidic surface

  • Use a sponge dampened with vinegar to clean shower curtains.

Yes, this could work, as most of the deposits would be alkaline minerals

  • To loosen a stuck jar lid, hold the jar upside down and pour warm vinegar around the neck at the joint between the glass and the top.

Hot water (without the vinegar) will work here

You’ll notice that baking soda is often used as a sidekick to vinegar. Find out more helpful household uses for baking soda here, and see a list of more natural household cleaners.

It is used as a “sidekick” simply because they foam when added together, and for reasons dating back about 70 years, people associate foaming with cleaning. This is the only reason. Explanation here 

REMOVE CLOTHING STAINS WITH VINEGAR

  • Vinegar naturally breaks down uric acid and soapy residue, leaving baby clothes and diapers soft and fresh. Add a cup of vinegar to each load during the rinse cycle.

It is true that the vinegar will react with the urea (from the urine) but it also breaks down mineral deposits (scale on clothes)

  • To remove chewing gum, rub it with full-strength vinegar.

????  Can’t imagine why this would work, but I haven’t tried it. If you put the garment in the freezer, you will be able to pull away the frozen gum easily

  • Soak paint stains in hot vinegar to remove them.

If this works, it’s the heat that’s doing it. Try a steam cleaner

  • To remove salt and water stains from leather boots and shoes, rub with a solution of 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup water. Wipe over the stained area only, and then polish.

I can’t see why this would work, but I haven’t tried it

See our page on how to remove stains for more tips.

NATURAL REMEDIES WITH VINEGAR

  • For brunettes, rinsing hair with vinegar after a shampoo makes hair shinier. Use one-tablespoon vinegar to one-cup warm water.

Correct, because you are neutralising the pH of the alkaline shampoo. A conditioner would achieve the same result

Haven’t tried this. It’s possible.

  • Place a vinegar-soaked brown bag on sprains to ease pain and aid recovery.

There is some history to this (Jack and Jill fixed a “broken crown” with vinegar and brown paper). I’m not sure of how much science there is behind it, however.

  • Rub cider vinegar on your skin to repel insects.

Very possible, if you had no Aerogard (or equivalent) available