QUESTION: We recently purchased a 10-year-old home, which we love despite the lingering odour of cigarettes from past owners. We have repainted, burned candles, simmered cloves and cinnamon on the stove, etc. but the odour persists. The upstairs floors are wood laminate. The finished basement is rug, but the odour is not as strong down there. Do you have any helpful hints for getting rid of this nasty smell? Thanks. Barbara, Winnipeg
ANSWER: You may want to consider renting an ozone machine. This little machine is not recommended for regular use but it is great for enclosed areas that have had smoke or flood damage or just smell. The machine lets out a molecule called O3 (which of course is oxygen with an extra molecule attached). The third molecule escapes into the air and absorbs all odours. These machines can be rented at tool rental retailers as well as some hardware stores.
QUESTION: I had a cedar chest built for my home-sewn quilts. The chest is completely lined with aromatic cedar and now after a few years, I noticed that my quilts show a slight discolouration where they have touched the sides of the chest. I think this may be coming from the natural oils of the cedar, but the makers of the cedar assured me by email before I started storing my quilts in the chest that I should not worry that this would happen.
Should I now wash all my quilts? Some of them are being saved for future wedding gifts etc. Can I continue to store my quilts in the chest without worry? Should I line the chest with some other fabric before I put my quilts back inside? If so, what would you suggest? Delores, Winnipeg
ANSWER: It is not recommended to store quilts in a wooden chest/boxes unless extra precautionary measures are taken. Keep these extra special gifts in the chest, but line it with acid- free paper. And before folding the quilts, crumple up additional acid free paper and tuck it inside of the folds to keep them loose and prevent folds from becoming permanent. If acid-free paper is not an option, loosely wrap each quilt in a white linen sheet.
Since the quilts are gifts, washing them may not be the best solution. In order to remove the brown discolouration on your quilts, purchase a bar of Sunlight laundry soap. Wet the soap and scrub the stain. Rinse and let dry, check brown stains. If stains remain then you may want to consider hand washing the quilts. Dry well before storage.
QUESTION: Can you please tell me how much vinegar to put in a full load of laundry to be used instead of fabric softener sheets in the dryer? Thank you, D.M., Killarney
ANSWER: You can use between one-half to one cup of white vinegar to each load. Adding half cup baking soda to the vinegar will do an even better job at deodorizing your machine and cleaning out the hoses than plain vinegar.
QUESTION: I have a small plastic bird feeder and the suction cups that hold the feeder to the window keep falling off. Any ideas about how to hold the suction cups to the glass? Also, my kitchen window hasn't been opened in some time. How can I open the window without breaking it? It unwinds with a handle at the bottom. Mary, Winnipeg
ANSWER: Suction cups stick best to clean surfaces, therefore if you have not already done so, clean the window and the inside of the suction cup with rubbing alcohol or your favourite window cleaner. Wet the suction cup with either water or hairspray to help it stick.
In terms of the stuck window: As long as there are no screws or nails holding the window down, you should be able to open it. If the window frame was painted, it may stick and sometimes plain old moisture from outside will suction windows making them difficult to open. There are tools for this job known as window zippers but they can be tricky to locate. Sometimes all you need to do is run a utility knife around the perimeter of the window. Or use a flat pry bar to gently nudge the window open. If the window won't budge, it may be warped and professional help should be enlisted.
Feedback from Manitoban who cares:
Just finished reading your response on how to keep cheese from getting mouldy. I happened to catch a television segment and the hostess had an expert cheese maker from France talking about different types of cheese. She mentioned that she stores her cheese tightly wrapped in plastic. The expert immediately told her that was the wrong thing to do, and that cheese should be wrapped in wax paper and then stored in foil in the fridge. She was shocked, and since then that is how I store my cheese and I never have a problem with it going mouldy. We also buy the bigger bricks of cheese because they are a better price. It works! Pat, Winnipeg
Fabulous tip of the week:
-- Make your own scrub mitt: With the right sides together, fold a facecloth in half. Sew around the edges of three sides. In less than 30 minutes you have created a functional scrubbing mitt for your body or bathroom cleaning.
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: reena.ca