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SOLUTIONS: Tips to bring dinnerware up to scratch

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QUESTION: I purchased a new set of dishes, only to find there are scratches left from the cutlery after use. This is the second dinnerware set I have had difficulty with. The dishes have both been ivory in colour with a matte finish. Is there some kind of glaze that hardens the finish, thereby preventing scratches? I have been told there is a cleaner on the market that will remove the scratches each time the dishes are used (excuse me?) and that the problem could be the cutlery. My set is stainless steel and several years old but in excellent shape. Would you have any suggestions? Thanks for your column. Cathy, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Patina develops when the coating on glass is damaged. I am not aware of a food-safe glaze that will properly adhere to dishes. The top picks to fix this challenge are to scrub the plates with one of the following: Zud or Barkeepers Friend. Or rub the plates with extra-fine 0000 steel wool and ceramic glass top stove cleaner. Extra-fine steel wool is available at hardware and paint stores.

QUESTION: I have a home business and I ship fragile items to customers across Canada. More than once, the items have broken in transit. How can I package the merchandise so they stay intact? Louise (Selkirk, MB)

ANSWER: Begin by wrapping the contents with white tissue paper. This will protect the items and avoid discolouration. Next, wrap the items with small bubble wrap and secure the bubble wrap with packing tape followed by large bubble wrap and packing tape. Fill the box with Styrofoam peanuts. Check the box to make sure it is sturdy and has no weak seams. Pack the box to the top, because a full box reduces the chance of items moving around inside. Lastly, using a thick permanent marker, write FRAGILE on the outside of the box.

Alternately, you may want to consider using 'green' items to ship products, while still presenting a professional image to recipients. Such items include: newspaper, biodegradable packing peanuts (dissolve when exposed to water) and plain popcorn.

QUESTION: I recently purchased a new T-fal UltraGlide steam iron. It constantly drips on the clothing I am ironing, leaving wet marks. I have adjusted the temperature and steam intensity, to no avail. It also boasts that it is an "anti-drip" iron. What is causing this? Time for another new iron? Signed, "Steamed," Winnipeg

ANSWER: You are not alone, I recommend you do not throw the iron out! Based on consumer reports regarding this item, the iron has a tendency to leak. Therefore, whether you have the packaging/receipt or not, it is worth your while to contact the manufacturer and ask if you can send the item back for a credit or refund.

QUESTION: I read your tips on a regular basis and have a question I am hoping you can answer for me. I have an oak night stand on which a small lamp sits that has a black velvet-type bottom underneath its stand. I have noticed the black velvet has actually stained the oak a black colour. I guess when the lamp is standing maybe the heat from it allows the black to transfer onto the wood? Not sure how or why this has happened but would like to know if you can advise me on how to remove the stain from the wood. Sonja, Winnipeg

ANSWER: In a ventilated area, spray the wood with WD-40 (test first). Leave for 20 minutes and wipe with an abrasive pad (not steel wool). If the stain remains, the woods needs resurfacing. In other words, sand and re-stain.

QUESTION: Is it true that what you put on your skin, i.e. bug repellent, actually goes into your body? Sounds like an old wive's tale to me? Brandon, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Well, I'm not a doctor so here is an experiment you can use to test whether skin is porous. Rub a garlic clove onto the soles of your feet; chances are eventually you will taste garlic in your mouth. Conclusion: skin is porous.

Sticky Tip of the Week

Recipe for homemade paper glue: In a saucepan combine one cup flour and one-third cup sugar. Add 11/2 cups water while stirring until no clumps remain. Heat on stove and add one teaspoon vinegar. Stir until thick. Store in airtight container.

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 new blog/website:

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 26, 2013 F2

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