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Cleaning and Organizing Tips and tricks to get your home and all within it sparkling clean and neat as a pin.

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Old 02-12-2014, 11:05 AM   #26
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We go through a lot of dish towels and cloths and I've gotten into the habit of rotating them. Fresh ones go on the bottom of the stack so 'older' ones get used next. I do this with my massage table linens as well. My system for towels is a little different: nicer ones are the mainstay of the bathrooms and worn ones live in areas where they are handy for wet pets or spills. We have a collection of rags as well and when a sheet/towel is too worn they get ripped up immediately and turned into rags. Those rags are used and often thrown away instead of washing.

A good system for bed linens is to put the set into one of the pillow cases. When you need to change sheets its all together and ready to go. Old pillows in old pillow cases make great pet beds! When they get too dirty, toss them.

We have 3 sets of sheets per bed. I like nice sheets and will pay a little more for good ones. They stay softer with no pilling and last longer.
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Old 02-12-2014, 11:51 AM   #27
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I really like your system of keeping sets inside a pillow case - everything it together & can be grabbed at once.

Few things I forgot to mention last night. One of the cats was being a pest It was hard to focus...

I tend to like thick rags so personally, don't use old sheets for that purpose. I do have an old sheet cut up into what I call 'first aid rags' & they come with us on bike trips & hikes. They're long enough to use as wraps for gauze pads in case of pad cuts, etc.

For cleaning, I use towelling. Old face cloths & cut up towels are perfect for dusters, rags to wash anything & I prefer hand towels when I'm drying dishes. The thin 'tea towels' they sell are soaked through after a plate or two - I despise them. When my cleaning rags start looking really nasty, they're rotated off cleaning duty & are used to clean our bikes or other nasty, greasy jobs... precisely because we can toss them after use.

I keep 2 sets of summer sheets & 2 sets of flannels per bed. Right now, I'm sitting on a couple of extra sets but only because I have a few sets that are within a few months of not being 'keep worthy'. Bottom sheets always wear out fastest. When I buy sheet sets on sale, I try to find single sheets - sets of 2 flat sheets work as spares for the bottom. We use a ton of pillows so I always have lots of pillow cases. We sit on pillows & SO uses about 6 at night; I use 3.

Preppers - keep in mind I am NOT suggesting chucking out or otherwise disposing of prep items. If your prep linens are part of your day to day storage, just up the count & I envy you the room to store them! Otherwise, organizing prep items is a different topic & not one I think I'm qualified to address. I do prep but not to the extent where I could live without setting foot in a store or other source of stuff for over a year. I simply don't have the space.
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:52 PM   #28
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Our local animal shelters are always grateful for old towels, sheets, blankets and even t-shirts.
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:59 PM   #29
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Default Decluttering Dodges & Demons

So far, we've begun tackling the piles of paper as well as linens. For many people, that may have amounted to simply a few hours of work, split up into more manageable chunks or for each of the two 'subjects' - a big block of time. Others are still working away at one or the other or both.

If you belong to the latter group, you might be finding yourself mightily discouraged by now. You think you're never going to get to the end of either project or both. And there's so much more to do...! Relax, you'll get there. If you keep chipping away at it as time permits, you'll slowly find yourself with fewer items of surplus stuff clogging up your life.

I think in some ways, it's 'better' if it's a slower process. That gives you time to think more clearly about your stuff - why you have it, what you're going to do with it. If you find you have illogical ideas about your things, a slower process gives you time to change your thinking about stuff. And believe it or not, we can learn thought patterns about our things that become entrenched. Even if part of us acknowledges that certain ways of seeing things make little or no sense, it takes time to repattern our thinking. It also takes time to get used to having more space. If you've spent years living in a home where you can barely move, you might find yourself feeling a bit uneasy having space. If you clear it all away too quickly, you might find yourself so ill at ease - you rush to refill it. Oops! NOT the result you wanted when you got started.

There are a number of difficulties we can run into when trying to declutter, clean up, clear out, downsize - pick your favourite euphemism. In my home, it's rather impolitely known as GROMS - 'Getting Rid Of My Sh*t'. Periodically I, SO or both of us declare a GROMS day or half day & go to town. We do it twice a year & even though we like to pride ourselves on being organized & neat, we still manage to find excess stuff we don't need & can unload. We may have missed a broken item 6 months ago, something since became surplus to needs or we obtained an upgrade. Tastes may have changed - whatever. It still surprises me we can find that much extra to get rid of in spite of more frequent prunings in various rooms.

Periodically as I natter on about getting rid of different categories of stuff, I'll break with a discussion about one of these many roadblocks & we've all got them. We'll never entirely get rid of our mental blocks about keeping things, nor should we. A reason for keeping things only becomes a roadblock when we use that reason to keep an unreasonable amount of certain things. Example: keeping a few favourite items of baby clothing our little ones wore is fine. Keeping everything they ever wore, (or didn't), is a roadblock.

So let's chug on & keep making progress. For those finishing or still working on clearing our paper & linen, you haven't really missed anything about cleaning or organizing that stuff or how often to do it. Before we get into that, we need to make sure we have some elbow room in which to work. If eventually you want to half empty a room in order to wash walls & other surfaces, shift furniture, etc. you need room elsewhere & nearby, to move things TO while you work. Hence - first we keep chipping away at clearing out.

I'm going to be mean & tackle something tougher next. About to watch the rebroadcast of Walking Dead - I'll let how I feel about the episode dictate what we jump into next. And for those not ready to 'jump into' anything new - keep chipping away at the paper and/or linen if needed. If I haven't hit a 'trouble area' yet - trust me... I will!
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:12 AM   #30
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Incidentally, anyone with useful time savers, tips & tricks - add them in here. If you have an idea that can be best demonstrated with photos - add those as well. I still have to figure out how to get photos on to this laptop - yeah, another idiotic little chore I've been putting off. I'll be loading photos of things I do when it's appropriate.

And don't think spouses & children get off scot free. ALL members of a household contribute to clutter. They can all deal with their share!
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:19 PM   #31
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I'm accumulated odd stuff from the turn around table, things I never knew existed. People here buy and discard the strangest things.

My favorite today is a soft memory thing to put between your legs as you sleep, it has a hollow between two humps. Better than a pillow for a bad hip.

The guy who picks up all the new items from the turn around table sells it on E-Bay

I'll be putting out scads of stuff that I'm not using and I'm sure he'll have them on E-Bay by evening.

I'll have to learn how to use it.
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:48 PM   #32
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The wind was blowing quite a bit today and we noticed more of the breeze coming from the attic space over the front foyer. So we crawled in and did a bit of insulation stuffing. That meant some of the boxes had to be moved and I found THREE boxes of old files! OUT they came and I'll do a quick look through but they are destined for the burn pile. I also found some more boxes of "stuff" but those will have to wait for another day.
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:11 PM   #33
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Default The Big C

Yup... clothing. And the places in which they're stored; closets, dressers, cupboards, storage bins...

Bluntly, most of us probably have too much clothing & it can take up a significant volume of space. We have the clothing for different seasons, (valid), clothes for work, clothes for play, clothes for hobbies, fat clothes, thin clothes & the clothing 3 sizes smaller we just KNOW we're going to fit some day. Formal clothes, old clothes for messy jobs, clothes that no longer fit but are old favourites we simply can't bear to part with. Then there are the accessories - scarves, belts, bags, shoes, shawls, jackets, hats... there can be a LOT of stuff.

But the time has come, you've decided, to lose some of the clothing & accessories you've accumulated. Your head is swimming - where do you start? How do you know you're keeping the right stuff or more importantly, won't regret getting rid of certain things? You know what? You'll make a mistake or two but in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? For the most part - no. We've all bought items where, a few years later, we wish we'd bought several - they look good, wear well, are easy to clean; we love them. We've also bought clunkers. WE MAKE MISTAKES. IN all areas of life - regretting a few items of clothing we may dispose of isn't going to kill us. So let's get started.

I mentioned mistakes earlier & that's an easy place to start. Pull out the stuff you bought that you've regretted; those items you wore once or twice or perhaps never. I don't care what you spent - if you're not wearing it, you're not wearing it & the money is wasted anyway. Yes, I mean the pants that DO make your ass look fat, the top that may be okay but doesn't go with any skirt or slacks you own. You may not be able to get at all your mistakes if your closet or set of drawers you're currently working on is too stuffed but get started. Split the discards into 2 piles - stuff destined for garbage or recycling & items others may be able to use.

Next - go after items that have been in your spaces for a long time & haven't been worn - the clothes, you keep pushing aside on the rack. For most such items, if you haven't worn them in a year or more - you're not going to. Look at it this way - if you have 5 pairs of black slacks for work & only ever wear 3 of them - lose the other 2.

As well as excess numbers of certain types of items - the aforementioned black pants or 33 t shirts when you really only wear 7 or 8, have a look at colours. There may be certain colour families you don't wear often or frankly, really don't flatter your own colouring. If you know what those are - lose them. If you're not sure - ask someone you trust & be fair - don't get snotty is someone tells you an item is NOT flattering.

Another category of item to minimize - high maintenance clothing. Dry cleaning is expensive & unless you have a ton of disposable income, don't hang to too many items that need regular dry cleaning. Same with ironing - if you loathe it & have some items you hate wearing because they have to be ironed after laundering - get rid of them.

Clothing that doesn't fit - GET RID OF IT. If you've lost a lot of weight & kept it off for at least 6 months, keep a few items you really like in the larger size but get rid of most of the rest. Have faith in your ability to keep the weight off. After all - you lost it to begin with & that's tougher than keeping it off. I hung on to stuff for years that was larger than what I wear - hoping I'd GAIN weight. Not going to happen - I'm simply a bean pole. So I got rid of that stuff. If I ever go up a size or 2 - clothing is not that expensive; not for the lifestyle I lead.

Now about that stuff shoved in the corner that needs repairing. DO you sew or otherwise repair clothing? Be honest with yourself about this. Never mind what you WISH you did or had time for; if it's been kicking around a while without being fixed, it's not going to be. Bye bye...

Okay, now stop. Time to deal with the discard piles. Be honest about that too. I know the fabric on that shirt might work well in a fabric craft... except it's a craft you've never found time to learn. You probably won't & if you ever do - you'll have other items that will work - trust me. Rags - some fabrics make horrible rags & if you've already done your linen cupboards, you're probably not short on rags. If you are short on cleaning or hobby rags, feel free to fish out a few items for those purposes. Cut them up right now & throw away the remaining scraps. If other family members could use some of these items for rags, let them grab some. Then bag the rest for garbage or recycling.

As to the other items you're divorcing. Many are perfectly wearable - just not by you. Too big, too small, wrong style, wrong colour, too out of date; whatever the reason. Don't tie yourself up in knots worrying about their eventual fate - your aim is to get them out of your life. Donating them to charity is the quickest way to get them out of your life - a no fault fabric divorce. If they're vintage items, a local theatre company or school for the arts might find them useful. Just don't complicate the process of getting rid of them.

Okay - lots more to do with clothing, especially if you have enough wardrobe for a half dozen people but you're probably exhausted. Hang what's left back up, return the other stuff to drawers - we'll revisit clothing next time. Hopefully you've cleared enough closet/cupboard space so that when we come back, we can do some more purposeful organizing. If you've managed to make that kind of space for yourself, pour yourself another drink - you've earned it!
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:49 PM   #34
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You have a lot of great ideas Sue! As for paper, the farther into the back bedroom DH got, the more boxes of paper files he's found. Last night he brought me another one. I don't remember if it's been mentioned or not but somethings you just can't throw in the garbage or recycle bin. Anything with your medical info or SS number on it needs to be shredded. There is just to much in our case to run it through a shredder. A lot of banks will shred it for you if you have an account with them. I'm hoping to get the bags I have to our bank tomorrow.

With clothes, I gave away things to big for me and things to small for either of us. Even things that fit me are going. With being retired, I don't need work clothes. Gone. Itchy sweaters, gone. Pants that don't fit right, gone. So far, I've gone from about three closets of clothes down to one. The church is loving us.

I think tonight I may do some work in the kitchen. We have a lot of cast iron pans to move with us. We also have one that's huge, it's a Le Crueset. There's still a chance it may go away. We have two kitchens worth of pans. We are not keeping a lot of them.

If you are giving away things to charities or churches, get a reciept for your taxes. It's considered charity and can be deducted on your taxes if you file the long form. Small amounts can be used with no reciepts but with the amount we've given so far, we need one. It will help off set paying off the house and all of our medical bills.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:15 PM   #35
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I hadn't even considered the receipt for charity for tax purposes. Yes, it can help offset moving, medical or other bills & can take away the sting of knowing you wasted money on some items of clothing that seemed like a great idea at the store but once home, were never worn.

I didn't know banks would shred paper if you have accounts with them. Another option if you don't have too much paper with info you don't want to share with the world - go over it with a heavy black marker. I have seen strangers in our garbage bin opening bags & going through paper - no doubt trying to snatch enough info for identity theft.

One thing I forgot to mention about clothing disposal - make sure you check pockets before discarding anything. You may find money - even a dollar bill is a score & you may find some crucial piece of paperwork you don't even remember stuffing into a pocket.

Later in the week - back to clothing & doing some real organizing.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:34 PM   #36
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I have way to much paper to go through it all. So far there's little over a paper grocery bag full of papers to get rid of.

Check books for cash also. I've found money in several books that I'd forgotten about. I knew my boys wouldn't mess with my text books from college so years ago I stashed money in a few.
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:58 PM   #37
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Default It all gets easier with practice!

I've learned the hard way that cleaning the tops of things is useless. The tops are cluttered because there's nowhere inside to put anything. As soon as they're cleared, they get cluttered again.

So since I'm cleaning preparatory to some necessary repairs, and have some weeks or months advance notice, I choose one piece of furniture at a time. (Or in the case of sewing stuff, a cluster of rolling plastic carts with drawers.)

I empty the furniture, from the bottom drawer/shelf, up. Onto the living room floor everything goes. The drawers are cleaned of dust. The top is scrubbed if necessary. Only then do I tackle the contents.

One bag for throw-aways. One bag for donation. One pile for maybe-keepers. Then everything I'm keeping is sorted, in logical order, back into the drawers. The throw-away bag goes to the trash. The donation bag goes to the car.

The maybe-keepers are spread on the living room floor to be looked at every time I go in or out of the house, with a rule that when I come in, one item gets put away, and when I leave, one item gets thrown away. Sometimes I get sick of looking at the stuff after a few days, get a bag, shove everything in, and either throw or donate.

Sometimes now I redo a piece of furniture I've already done, and get rid of more things, or consolidate categories of things into one storage piece. I now have a few EMPTY drawers, something I haven't had for years.

I also went around the house one week, gathering every toxic thing I no longer want to clean, paint, stain, fertilize, kill... with and took it to hazard waste cleanup.

Finally, I'm buying NO THING, even to eat, unless I really need it! (Eggs, milk, bread count as needs, but not much else.) I'm eating prep food. I think tenting for termites will require removing everything edible anyway, so better to use it than figure out how to store it outside with the power off.
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:58 AM   #38
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My name is Sharon, and I am a bookaholic. I am powerless over my addiction to information. The hardcopy kind that no virus can touch is my weakness.

But this is insane. It really has gotten out of hand!

About 95% of my books are how-to books on just about every self-reliant topic imaginable: every aspect of homesteading, gardening, cooking, foraging, primitive living skills, field guides, herbal, medical, etc. etc. etc. I cannot part with them....no way Jose!

I did finally cull out the few fiction books I had and donated them. Whoop-de-do.

To help me manage my addiction, a friend built massive bookshelves that line the walls from floor to ceiling, in my bedroom and in the den. Lo and behold! I learned that books also have superior insulation value!
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:40 AM   #39
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Back to clothing this evening.

Many other topics to come...

Might even delve into specific moving issues & strategies - Lord knows I've moved enough. Different thread though, after decluttering/organizing has been way more thoroughly explored.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:21 AM   #40
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To deal with the magazine monsters, I keep a basket of them in the bathroom, and near my desk and also near my "lounging" areas, along with a paper stapler in each basket. When I don't have anything better to do, I tear out any articles worth saving, staple them together and file them in appropriately marked folders in a large filebox. The mutilated magazines go to the recycle center.

However, Mother Earth News and other good reference type magazines stay intact and have a special place on the bookshelf.
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Old 02-20-2014, 05:00 PM   #41
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Welcome Back, PCS!!!
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:08 AM   #42
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:34 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadaSue View Post

One thing I forgot to mention about clothing disposal - make sure you check pockets before discarding anything. You may find money - even a dollar bill is a score & you may find some crucial piece of paperwork you don't even remember stuffing into a pocket.
Brown recluse spiders love to hide in clothing, shoes, boxes, etc. They live up to their name, and are so reclusive that many homeowners do not know they are sharing space with them. If there are BR spiders in your home, you may want to wear gloves before going on a major clothes-culling blitz, or if you will be rooting in a lot of pockets. (I like wearing those old-fashioned long white gloves for this job.)

How do you know if you have these dangerous spiders in your home?

You may be able to monitor the presence of these spiders by placing a few glue traps in strategic locations (along baseboards, behind furniture, in closets). https://www.google.com/search?q=glue...sm=93&ie=UTF-8

Also, look carefully at the junction where the walls and ceilings meet. BR spiders tend to make small disorganized clumps of webbing there. They are hard to detect, but a flashlight helps. Here is a close up picture: http://www.brownreclusespider.org/br...spider-web.htm

Last edited by CajunSunshine; 02-21-2014 at 08:10 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-21-2014, 01:51 PM   #44
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Holy smokes! Never occurred to me & I'm so glad you brought it up. Forgive my naivete; I live where one doesn't have to think about venomous insects or snakes or anything. Please keep adding these cautions when appropriate because I sure as shooting won't think of them!
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Old 02-21-2014, 01:58 PM   #45
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Was bitten twice by recluse spiders. Not pretty sight, your flesh disolves, ditto when I was stung by a scorpion.
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:29 PM   #46
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Quote:
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I live where one doesn't have to think about venomous insects or snakes or anything.
ohboy! ohboy! ohboy! I'm movin' to CANADA!!!!!

Wait a durned minute.... Do y'all have ticks? How about chiggers? Them are dealbreakers.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:39 PM   #47
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What's a chigger? We've had overwintering deer ticks the last few years & moi ended up with a case of Lyme Disease which I tried to completely deny for a few days. Posted a photo here of my classic bullseye rash & several people with grater experience & medical training, collectively kicked me in the proverbial gonads & I got treated.

Other than that, few bug issues other than mosquitoes & deer flies in season.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:34 PM   #48
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I shake out anything that hasn't been used in the last 24 hours. Every time I put on my shoes I bang them together to make sure something isn't hiding in there. Of course most of the time all I find is hay or straw but you just never know.
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:12 AM   #49
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What's a chigger? It's the scourge of North America...



It is a teeny-tiny mite that likes to ruin your outdoor fun. It itches, it makes you crazy for days and days... (more info here: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3809/#b )

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Old 02-22-2014, 01:31 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilly View Post
Was bitten twice by recluse spiders. Not pretty sight, your flesh disolves, ditto when I was stung by a scorpion.
I'm so sorry you went through this, Lillly! I can personally testify to the the recluse spider ordeal, as well. I've been bitten several times over the years. I lucked out with aggressive home treatment which included Echinacea root and Goldenseal root internally and externally, along with constant applications of a high quality tea tree oil. I kept the spider-bite hole filled with the TTO 24/7. Whenever I did not, the dime-sized hole kept getting bigger...and fever ensued...ick...ick...ick! I won the battle with home remedies, but was prepared to rush to the doctor if it looked remotely like I was about to lose the war.

For those who are not familiar with the implications of a Brown Recluse spider bite, a Google Images search will leave a lasting impression!
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