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SOLUTIONS: Everyday stain removal needs fast treatment

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QUESTION: My goal for the new year is to purchase less store-bought products and make my own stain removers. Can you give me a few hints as to which everyday products clean different kinds of stains? Mel, Grunthal

ANSWER: Whether you are dealing with protein, tannin, dye, oil or a combination of the two you are right; different stains require a variety of treatments and the faster you attend to a mess, the better the results.

Protein stains are those which come from the body such as eggs, blood, yogurt, ice cream and milk. Never use hot water to treat a protein stain. Blot the area with cold water and dish soap, continue this treatment and notice if the stain is disappearing. If it remains, pour three per cent hydrogen peroxide and salt onto the stain until the area is damp, leave for two to three hours and wash or blot with water. Repeat until the stain is gone.

If you spill a combination stain such as ketchup, spaghetti sauce or any other tomato-based food, treat the area by scooping up as much of the sauce as possible. Do not scrub or you may push the stain further into the carpet. Onto a washcloth put a few drops of dish soap and very hot water. Blot the stain. Follow that with dish soap on a washcloth and cold water. Continue this treatment until the stain is gone. The goal is to make the stain colourless even if you can't remove it entirely. If the stain remains, pour household ammonia onto the area, leave for a few hours and wash or blot with water.

Another stain classification is tannin. I like to think of these as 'from the ground' i.e. wine, coffee, tea, fruit juice etc. If someone happens to spill red wine onto your carpet, immediately react by pouring white wine over the area. If you do not have white wine, pour a liberal amount of salt over the wine. You will immediately notice the salt turn pink. Allow the area to dry and brush the salt away. Next, sprinkle the area with borax and water, leave for 30 minutes. Wipe and blot with white vinegar. White vinegar is important as a last step because it prevents stained areas from turning brown. Test all treatments on an inconspicuous area. For a more complete list of stain removal treatments visit my website

QUESTION : What is the best and fastest way to clean mini blinds? Norma, Flin Flon

ANSWER: On a weekly basis, it is wise to put the brush attachment onto your vacuum nozzle and vacuum your blinds. If you prefer not to use the vacuum, put a clean sock on your hand and wipe the slats of the drapes with a damp cloth and a small amount of shampoo. When the time comes for a thorough cleaning, remove the blinds from the window. Either lay them on the lawn and spray them with a hose. Or place them in your bathtub and spray with shampoo and water. Or run the jets in your jet tub to get the blinds clean. Rinse with water and re-hang. After the blinds are dry, wipe each slat with a fabric softener sheet to repel dust.

QUESTION: I have had my velvet sofa set for more than 25 years and never cleaned it. It is hardly ever used and still looks new; well, it did until my son spilled tea on it. Any suggestions as to how to clean velvet? Mindy, Ste. Anne

ANSWER: Begin by vacuuming the couch to freshen the upholstery. Next in a two-cup measure, pour one cup lemon juice and add one tablespoon baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Remove the foam from the measuring cup and spread it onto the couch. Wipe the entire couch including the stain. Scrub the couch until all traces of foam have disappeared. This is an effective procedure to clean and freshen furniture and get rid of stains without soaking the furniture with water.

Healthy holiday snacks

-- Fresh fruit Christmas tree: It all begins with a pineapple. Cut the top off and remove peel. Cut a slice off of the top of the pineapple. Use a star cookie cutter to cut a star from the pineapple slice. Slide a variety of fruits onto skewers such as grapes, strawberries, blueberries, honeydew, watermelon, kiwi, oranges and grapefruits. Push the skewers into the pineapple with a slightly downward angle to make branches. Remove pomegranate seeds from a pomegranate and secure them onto your tree using toothpicks; these make up your Christmas tree lights. Once all of the branches are in place, position the cut-out pineapple star on the top of the pineapple. Brush the entire masterpiece with lemon juice unless you are planning to serve immediately.

-- Christmas lite trail mix: Into a festive bowl mix Cheerios, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, mixed nuts (not referring to family members), flaked coconut and red and green peanut or non-peanut M&M's.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my brand new blog/website:

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2012 F2

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