The Frugal Geek’s Toolbox

toolLast night, I did a survey of my toolbox, the one I lug around to handle most repair tasks around the house, with the car, and so forth. The box had many of the usual suspects in there (a crescent wrench, a claw hammer, a flashlight, a few screwdrivers, and so on) and also some more utilitarian items (like duct tape and WD-40), but those are the items you’ll find in most toolboxes – if you want a boring list like that one, just read the toolbox list at eHow for that stuff.

Instead, I dug into the interesting stuff – the geeky stuff. Homebrewed solutions to common problems and the like. Here’s the best of what I found.

Homemade Goo Gone

What you need Gasoline and natural citrus oil.

How to get the gasoline Take a small jar with you when you pump gas. Pump a bit of gas into that jar. Close it up.

How to make your own citrus oil Put the rinds of three oranges into a closed gallon of water (i.e., a gallon milk jug full of water) for ten days, then strain out the rinds. The water left will be nice and oily, full of citrus oil.

How to make the homemade Goo Gone Mix one part of the gasoline to four parts of the citrus oil / water mixture. Put it in a spray bottle. You’re good to go.

What does it do? It’s basically a great replacement for Goo Gone, as I’m fairly sure that commercial Goo Gone is something close to a distilled version of this mixture. It’s not quite as potent, but a few sprays on anything will replicate the effects of commercial Goo Gone. It’s great for getting rid of anything that leaves behind a gooey or sticky residue – just spray a few squirts of this stuff on it, let it sit for a few seconds, then rub it off vigorously.

Homemade grips

What you need Leftover balloons from a kid’s birthday party.

What does it do? Need to get a grip on something that has just been sprayed down with WD-40? Can’t pop the top off of a jar? Just stretch some balloons over the area to make your grip a lot easier. I like the biggest balloons I can find, as they have the most utility for these uses.

Homemade general cleaner

What you need A teaspoon of washing soda (not baking soda), a big squirt of liquid detergent (like Dawn), and three cups of hot water, mixed in a spray bottle

What does it do? If you’re doing some spring cleaning or some car detailing, or you made something into a greasy mess while working on it, this stuff will help you get it clean very quickly. Between it and the Goo Gone, you can clean pretty much anything with just a few squirts and a bit of rubbing with a cloth.

Old toothbrush

What you need An old, used toothbrush. Seriously.

What does it do? This is my ultimate secret weapon. Hand in hand with most cleaners, it can clean up any area, even stuff you can’t directly reach. Even better, use this along with WD-40 on a tight bolt. Spray it down, brush the area with the old toothbrush, and things loosen up amazingly quickly.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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