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Restore Leather and Silver with Alberto VO5 Conditioning Hairdressing

Alberto VO5 lifehacks

Old School Hair Product = Lifehack

So this is something I learned years ago in a Hints From Heloise binder that my mother had: there is an old school hairstyling product buried on the bottom shelf of your grocery aisle that is super useful around the house: Alberto VO5 Conditioning Hairdressing. It’s in a little rectangular box that looks like this:
alberto VO5 conditioning hairdressing



The dressing is a mineral oil blend that contains no water or alcohol, so it’s great to condition leathers and metals without worrying about added moisture.


  1. Remove tarnish spots from silver by rubbing some Alberto VO5 Conditioning Hairdressing on with a paper towel or rag.
  2. Put a thin layer of VO5 on bronze or silver to prevent oxidation after polishing.
  3. Soften and restore leather, patent leather, or vinyl by applying VO5 with a paper towel or rag; wipe off excess.
  4. Lubricate stuck zippers or hinges with a very little bit of VO5.
  5. Get a stuck ring to slide off your finger by coating with VO5 and pointing hand upward to allow blood to drain, then pulling the ring off.
  6. Clean paint or other stains off your hands by wiping with VO5 then washing with Dawn dish detergent.
  7. Remove adhesive residue from bandages on skin.
  8. Soften calluses and dry skin on hands, feet, elbows, and knees.
  9. Remove waterproof mascara or other stubborn makeup with some VO5.
  10. Protect your pet’s paw pads by putting a little VO5 on them before going out for a walk in the snow and salt.
  11. Clean up your chrome bumpers or kitchen and bath fixtures by buffing on a bit of VO5.
  12. Prevent wax buildups on candle holders by coating them with VO5 first.
  13. Put it in your hair! For those of us with fine hair who want volume, a pea-sized amount (or less) should only go on split ends. But if you are looking for a wet look, a retro Dagwood, or to tame flyaways, try some Alberto VO5.

Action Shots

Want to see how it works on some leather and metal ballet flats that I hadn’t worn in over a year (thanks COVID)? Scroll down!

tarnish on shoe buckle, faded leather
tarnish on shoe buckle, faded leather
shoes looking pretty gray, not black
shoes looking pretty gray, not black
shoes brought back to life
Looking much better after one pass with VO5

Other Lifehacks

Want to see more of my attempts at being a lifehacker? Check out my DIY category for more ideas.

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10 Laundry Tips and Tricks

10 Laundry Tips and Tricks

10 Laundry Tips and Tricks

What’s the point in having great clothes and household items if you can’t keep them in good condition? Here are some of the laundry tips, tricks, and best products I’ve come across.

    1. You don’t need fabric softener or dryer sheets. Who tells you that you need them? People that sell them. Or possibly appliance manufacturers, because they gum up the works and ruin the machines faster. Fabric softener actually makes your towels less absorbent and your wicking athletic clothes ineffective. It’s also full of carcinogens. Try distilled white vinegar for fresher towels and dryer balls to combat static.
      10 Laundry Tips and Tricks dryer balls
    2. Use mesh bags. I like these drawstring bags, or you could make your own if you sew. Having a zipper rather defeats the purpose, so strings or snaps are the way to go.10 Laundry Tips and Tricks mesh bags
    3. Get a clothesline and/or drying rack and use the dryer as little as possible, for the sake of your clothes, your utility bill, and the environment. Ideally, have a place to dry sweaters flat and hang other items. Towels, blankets, and sheets are the only things I dry all the way, and even then on medium heat. Other clothes I either dry part of the way and then air dry for the rest, or air dry 100%.
      Drying rack
      Travel clothesline
      Outdoor clothesline
      Retractable clothesline

      Clothing rack
    4. Close all zippers, and segregate zippered items in a large mesh bag. Otherwise zipper tips will make holes in your knits and silky fabrics.
    5. Wash bras and socks in a mesh bag, then hang hang bras to dry and leave socks in mesh bag in dryer. Voila, bras will last longer and there will be no more lost socks!
      blue white and yellow socks
    6. Try regular blue Dawn detergent for most stain removal, and brush in baking soda if there is anything oily to soak out of it.
    7. For blood stains, try saliva first. (It’s gross but enzymatically it often works.) For set blood stains, try period stain soap. I have a bar soap called Right Out, but it seems to be out of stock everywhere. Fels-Naptha is another wonder stain removal bar.
    8. Use Woolite Dark for black clothes and dark jeans. It contains a small amount of dye, so be wary of patterns. Jeans generally can be washed less than you think (some people never wash them at all, dry clean them, or put them in the freezer to kill the stink) but I find that modern jeans with added stretch need a wash when they start losing their stretch. I air dry though.
    9. For things that need to be cleaned but can’t be rinsed, try a no-rinse detergent like Eucalan. (Apparently you can even use it to wash cats and dogs.) Often wool can be simply aired out (clothesline or drying rack for the win), but if it or other dry-clean-only type items need more, you can put some cheap UNFLAVORED vodka in a spray bottle and spritz. Obviously test on an inconspicuous spot first.
    10. For red wine stains, put white wine on it. If no white wine is available, salt is a handy tool to soak it up also.
       wine glasses

There are the top tips off the top of my head, as of 2021. Watch for updates as I find new laundry tips and tricks!

More Lifehacks

Check out my DIY category for more cool ideas…

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Free PDF Sewing Pattern: Retro Overnight Bag by The Crafty Kitty, via Birch Organic Fabric

Today I stumbled across this adorable pattern and fabric on the Birch Organic Fabric site, and I just had to share it! The designer is Stephanie of The Crafty Kitty, and the fabric is Serengeti by Jay-Cyn Designs. Click the picture below to download the pattern and instructions!


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Replacing a Coat Lining

An inexpensive trenchcoat of waterproof khaki ...
An inexpensive trenchcoat of waterproof khaki with a snap-out lining by VEB Leipziger Bekleidungswerks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been meaning to write about replacing a coat lining for months–I’m either very late, or very early!

J has a now-vintage winter coat from Structure (the former men’s line from Compagnie Internationale Express) that has held up to much abuse over the years. The lining finally gave out though (and was hanging from the hem in tatters not unlike a tail!), but J didn’t want to give up on it.

You’ll find many vintage coats at thrift stores and estate sales have this same issue–the lining tends to be the least durable part of the coat’s construction. Thankfully, though, replacing a lining is something you can do fairly easily and inexpensively.

Supplies needed:

  • Fabric: For this project, I bought some nice cling-free poly lining from the late Hancock Fabrics. I bought 3 yards just to have some left over. You can use many different fabrics for linings–silk, polyester, even quilting cottons! It can be so fun to add a funky patterned lining to a classic trench or peacoat. The sky is the limit!
  • Thread: Go for good quality, since coats take strain at the seams.
  • Needles: With thick fabrics like wool, make sure you have the appropriate size needles for your machine–they can get dull quickly. There will also be some hand-sewing to finish, so make sure you have a needle for that too!

The black fabrics didn’t photograph terribly well, and I always forget to take in-progress photos, so I can just briefly explain the process:

  1. Take a seam ripper and carefully remove HALF of the lining. Go ahead and cut it away from the half you are leaving intact.
  2. The half you cut out will become your pattern for the new lining. Just cut on the fold for the main interior piece, cut two sleeves, etc., until you have all the pieces.
  3. The half of the fabric you left in will show you how to re-construct the garment. Assemble the sleeve, and then start sewing the lining into the coat. Work around until you hit the sections of the old lining that you left in, and begin to remove them and sew in the new lining.
  4. Finish off the bottom corners by hand.


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Inspiration: Jose Romussi embroidered vintage photographs

Artist Jose Romussi found a new application for string art and embroidery–applying them to vintage photographs of dancers. The results are stunning.

Jose Romussi is a Chilean artist currently based in Berlin. He uses fiber arts in new and surprising ways, changing old media into new incarnations. Check out more of his work at


All images © Jose Romussi.