In elementary school, I was one of the kids who would go nuts raising my hand and jumping up and down when the teacher asked a question and I was sure I knew the answer. Me, me, me! Pick me!

That may or may not be what I did when both of today's questions landed in my inbox on the same day, one right after the other. For links to everything mentioned here, please visit www.everydaycheapskate.com/amavachome.

Dear Mary: Your "best inexpensive" recommendations are awesome! I love my Eufy RoboVac II and Rowenta steam iron. Both items are practically life-changing. I also adored Home Chef, but the accumulation of ice packs and insulation pads overwhelmed me. The company could not provide answers as to what to do with this stuff. The ice pack gel cannot go down my drains because of our septic system. This was the recommendation of the ice pack manufacturer. My freezer can't hold any more packs. I've listed both the ice packs and insulation padding on FreeCycle and Craigslist numerous times with no results. Any ideas? I miss my Home Chef.

-- Ellen

Dear Ellen: I've contacted the company that manufactures the PacTemp Creative Packaging Company ice gel packs as well as our friends at Home Chef to make sure I'm giving you the most reliable answers to your question.

Ryan Usher of Creative Packaging Company tells us that the best way to dispose of the gel ice packs is to allow them to fully thaw. Next, cut open the side and empty the gel into your waste receptacle. Recycle the empty plastic pouch with other plastics. Easy.

The company does not recommend putting the thawed gel down the sink or septic tank because, while it is nontoxic and non-hazardous, it can further clog the pipes if there is a pre-existing clog. The method above is the best method of disposal.

As for the delivery box and the insulation liner, it's all compostable.

I think you're good to go with rescheduling your Home Chef!

Dyson vacuum

Dear Mary: I'm wondering whether you have an opinion on the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball canister vacuum cleaner? We need a new vacuum and have a large area of wood and carpet. I like the idea of not having to replace a bag.

-- Julie

Dear Julie: I do have an opinion, and here it is: I am not a Dyson fan. I've owned and used Dyson products with great disappointment. I think they are too heavy, too cumbersome, too noisy, too prone to premature breakdown and way too expensive.

Quite a few years ago, in my frustration, I set out to find the best vacuum -- forget inexpensive, I just wanted the best so I could stop buying vacuum cleaners! I kept looking at the Shark but assumed it couldn't be any good because it was inexpensive. I decided to buy one anyway with the promise to myself that if it wasn't a great vacuum, I would return it with haste. And, let me tell you, I was shocked -- speechless -- by what happened.

Since then, I have owned and gifted so many Shark Navigators I have lost count (I use the excuse that "I always need to be testing the latest model, so here, you can have this one"). My kids, my friends -- we're all Shark freaks. And I'm the biggest one of all. I cannot recommend the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional vacuum cleaner enough. You'll be happy to know that it is bagless and very easy to clean, and it was designed for hard surfaces, carpet and stairs. The machine is so lightweight and so well-designed it makes vacuuming (almost) fun!

mary@everydaycheapskate.com|Everyday Cheapskate, Box 2099 Cypress, CA 90630

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