Coupon Corner: Spring arrives with deals in tow

Since spring has more or less arrived, it's time to air out the house, including clothing, pet beds and any number of other things. But getting completely rid of some strong odors, such as those from cooking, pets, smoke and perspiration, can be tough.

Adding about one-half cup of baking soda to the wash will usually help because it softens our hard Carroll County water, and makes your detergent work harder.

Febreze spray has been around for a long time, and it's very good for items you can't launder, but there's also a Febreze that's made for the washer. Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator, a professional strength liquid, can handle almost anything, and it's safe for HE washers, too. The usual amount is one to two caps full, depending on the strength of the odors.

I cover the back of my car with a comforter when I take my dogs for a ride and recently, one of them was sick all over it. After shaking-out the comforter, I added Febreze to the washer and it came out like new, with absolutely no odor.

Unfortunately, not very many stores sell Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator. I've been buying it at the Weis in Westminster, where it's located on the left side of the laundry aisle, near the stain removers.

The product is a little expensive, but when you have a really tough odor - and if baking soda doesn't work - Febreze can usually save the item from going in the trash.

A 50.73 fluid-ounce bottle usually retails for just less than $9, but recently I found stickers on the bottles, good for $1 off, so watch for them.

Creamy petroleum jelly

People use petroleum jelly in any number of ways, but when my hands or feet need some serious softening, I apply it, and then cover with either socks and/or gloves before going to bed. In the morning, my hands and feet feel so much softer. But of course, the problem with petroleum jelly is that it's so messy and gooey.

There's a product called Creamy Petroleum Jelly that eliminates all the gooey mess, gloves and/or socks, yet really softens your skin. As an added bonus, it's enriched with Vitamin E.

And best of all, a tube of Creamy Petroleum Jelly won't break your budget. You'll find it in the baby products section of Dollar Tree.

There are some common-sense warnings on the tube including: For external use only; do not get into eyes; do not use on deep puncture wounds, animal bites or serious burns; keep out of the reach of children.


Gift cards

If you opt for gift cards from credit card rewards programs, the first thing to do is to find out if there are "rewards partners," so you can increase the amount of your reward. For example, Discover Card has many partners that will increase your $45 reward to $50.

Another nice option, is that some of the restaurant companies' gift cards are good at more than one restaurant. For example, gift cards for the Darden Group are good at Bahama Breeze, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Long Horn Steakhouse, even though each restaurant is listed separately on the telephone menu from the credit card company. Outback Steakhouse and Carrabas are usually interchangeable, too.