Home Repair on the Cheap: Top 7 Tips

For ants, McGraw suggested putting out a bit of baking soda wherever the bugs have been spotted. Let it sit for 24 hours and then vacuum, repeating if necessary. The bicarbonate in the baking soda, she said, kills the ants.

Ostrow also suggested cinnamon for the ant infestation, sprinkled in the doorways or wherever else they are coming in.

"It actually kills the ants as they cross the line," she said. "I say try it rather than put poison down."

But, McGraw cautioned, know when to call the professional if home pest control remedies just aren't working.

"One squirrel will lead to two, which will lead to a whole family," she said.

Forget the Chemicals -- Use Shaving Cream to Clean

With the rising emphasis on green-cleaning, Ostrow and McGraw said there are cheap and green alternatives to cleaning products that most people have in their home already.

McGraw said a house can be cleaned almost entirely with white vinegar, lemon juice and shaving cream.

For carpet stains, she said, put a dab of white shaving cream -- not the gel variety -- onto the spot and blot. Use cool water to clean up the shaving cream. For pet stains, which are a little different and sometimes harder to lift, McGraw suggested using a bit of dishwashing soap and water. If that doesn't do the trick, pour white vinegar on the spot and let it dry.

White vinegar, she said, is also good for washing windows and mirrors without leaving streaks. A mixture of lemon juice and water will also do the trick.

And for outside the home, Ostrow said homeowners should clean their gutters the old--fashioned way -- with a ladder and a hose. Just make sure someone is holding the ladder.

"The worst enemy of your house is water," she said. "Water where it's not supposed to be."

The Wonders of Toothpaste

Not only does toothpaste make your pearly whites sparkle, it can pull double duty as a cleaning agent in several places around the home.

Toothpaste on a soft cloth can help shine up faucets, McGraw said, and it can be used to clean glass-top stoves instead of the expensive cleaners recommended by some manufacturers.

And while spackle is best for a permanent job, toothpaste can also be used to fill nail holes on the quick, say, before the landlord comes to inspect the apartment.

Squeaks Heard 'Round the House

The squeaky floor -- a horror movie staple and the bane of teenagers' existence as they fail to sneak into the house after curfew.

Rather than hiring someone to come in and adjust -- and possibly rip up -- your hardwood floors, McGraw suggested sprinkling baby powder in between the floorboards and sweeping up the leftovers.

The powder, she said, lubricates the two boards so they no longer rub together and squeak when someone walks over them.

Ostrow said graphite will also serve the same purpose and not create unsightly white dust like the powder.

Bonus squeak repair: a squeaky door hinge can be fixed, McGraw said, by removing the hinge pins, coating them in shaving cream and reinstalling them.

Home Repair -- the Basic Essentials

Even the most inexperienced home dweller should have some basic tools, Ostrow said, that will come in handy for most types of repair situations.

She recommended filling a tool kit with lubricating oil, such as WD-40, as well as steel wool, duct tape, carpenter's glue and an assortment of nails and screws.

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