If you’ve ever had the need to prevent children from closing a door and unwittingly locking themselves in a pantry or bathroom, you may know the old hand-towel trick: Throw the towel over the top of the door. That’s it. No matter how hard a child might try to close it, no can do. I’ve always loved that handy-dandy tip. But I have to admit I’d never thought about how to use a similar trick to keep a child from opening a door. Well, I hadn’t until I heard from today’s first great reader ...


My 2-year-old grandson opened an outside entry door with a lever-type handle and went outside while I was in the bathroom! I live in an apartment and am not allowed to install a chain or other hardware on the door. I searched for a portable lock and found several kinds — all about $15 to $25.

I finally found a suggestion of closing a folded washcloth in the opening between the door and doorjamb. That effectively jams the door without harming it. Opening the door requires the strength of an adult to pull the cloth out. I’m so thankful to find this tip because it didn’t cost me a thing and it really works to keep a child from opening a forbidden door. — Barbara


My wife and I enjoyed your column on grilled cheese sandwiches. We may just try some of the suggested variations!

We like to include pickle slices in ours. We typically use the presliced Vlasic Stackers dill pickles. Timing is important with these. You really don’t want to heat the pickle itself, so you need to pull the sandwich apart right after it comes off the griddle, before the cheese-glue “sets,” to insert the pickle slice. An alternative is to incorporate a slice or two of deli ham next to one of the bread slices so that this quick action isn’t needed. — John

Note: Your humble columnist, being a huge fan of pickles, found this idea to be a bit off-putting, if not downright odd. Hot melted cheese and cold dill pickles?! I must apologize for jumping to conclusions. I tried it. Oh, my! Absolutely delicious. Next, I’m going to try Vlasic Bread and Butter Stackers. Your instructions are spot on, John.


I have been reading your column for years and have used so many of your fabulous tips, and I would like to add one that I’ve never seen mentioned. As a dusting/cleaning rag, I have found nothing beats a good old-fashioned cotton diaper. I buy two dozen very clean (they’ll never be that white again!) “retired” diapers from a local diaper service. They last an incredibly long time, and I feel good about giving the diapers a second life and keeping them out of the landfill. — Stacie

What a great idea. As I looked into this, I found that mechanics, contractors and all kinds of service people buy up retired diapers just about as fast as they become available for purchase. Every diaper service I contacted across the country sells its retired stock as diapers. Some sell by the dozen (as low as 50 cents per diaper); others sell by the pound ($3 to $5 per pound seems standard). Some companies require local pickup, but others will ship.

Rather than try to list all of the companies here, I suggest you search “diaper service” in your local area, and then give that company a call.

Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at Every dayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”


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