QUESTION: I have a problem with my four-year-old dishwasher. The acrylic glasses have a white coating on them, especially on the bottom and the top edges of the glasses. The cutlery has a blue color stain, like a stainless steel pot when on a hot element. Do you have any ideas on how to solve this problem? R & G, Winnipeg
ANSWER: The white coating on the glasses may be a permanent condition called etching. Go to the grocery store and ask for citric acid (in the pharmacy). Put the glasses in the dishwasher and add citric acid to the soap dispenser. Run the cycle as usual and if the etching stays it is likely permanent. You can also soak the glasses in vinegar and rub with fine steel wool. Don't get too excited if at first the glasses look brand new because the etching may return when the glasses dry.
In terms of the blue color on your stainless steel: Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and add hot water (enough to cover the cutlery) and half cup of washing soda (baking soda is an alternative but not as effective). Let the cutlery soak for five minutes and note if there is a difference. You will be excited when the blue disappears!
Tip: To avoid the problem of stainless steel pots forming a green/blue hue to the bottom of the pot, avoid adding salt to water until water has come to a full boil.
QUESTION: Always read your articles, I also have one of your books. I have a question regarding cleaning leather. I have a leather chair (soft leather) in a lighter color that needs cleaning. What should I use? I know that the softer leathers need special attention and I have a piece of leather that I can use as a test piece. Now what to use? Thanks, Gladys (Steinbach, MB)
ANSWER: I like the fact that you have sample leather to test solutions on! If you can get a hold of a product called Urad (check it out on the web) this is a fantastic cleaner. Alternatively, mix one-quarter cup vinegar, half-cup water and a few drops of tea tree oil. Wipe leather with a damp cloth. You can also rub cold creams on leather to soften. Another option is to wipe the leather with a small amount of olive oil which tends to seep into the leather without attracting dust or dirt.
QUESTION: Do you know how to get the smell of hydraulic oil out of clothes? We have washed them four times, used Febreeze, you name it, still it smells. Brian (Landmark, MB)
ANSWER: Leave the clothing outside for a few hours. Soak the clothes in either: half cup washing soda, white vinegar, borax or baking soda and enough water to cover the fabrics. Wash fabrics separately so that one color does not run into another. For best results boil the fabric in a large stainless steel pot for 5 mins. Wash as usual. Simple Green is a commercial product that has also had great success with this challenge (taken from Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions).
QUESTION: Will a combination of vinegar and baking soda or vinegar and ammonia make a good household cleaning agent? Look forward to your reply. Marie, Winnipeg
ANSWER: The combinations that you mentioned are amazing and powerful cleaners. I prefer vinegar to ammonia due to the strong fumes.
Just be sure never to combine bleach with any product. Sometimes people may look at a bottle of bleach and wonder, 'Why shouldn't this be mixed with ammonia?' The answer? Huge danger! Chlorine gas was used as a chemical weapon during World War I and later by Nazi Germany in World War II. Bleach and ammonia create chloramine gas, a deadly combination!
Fantastic Readers Respond
I doubt many people know this solution to fixing a washer or dryer that no longer goes through its cycles properly. The method has saved me many hundreds of dollars over the years. When a washer or dryer refuses to go through its cycles, it is probably because of moisture in the main electronic panel. I simply lift the servicing lid to gain access to the panel and insert a trouble light close to the panel. The heat from the trouble light in say about 8 hours will dry out the panel and the machine will work properly again. Works every time. Cheers, Dick
Fabulous Tips of the Week
*Prevent S.O.S pads from rusting! Line a small dish with aluminum foil. Place the used pads in the lined dish and they won't rust.
*When my sister went to Australia for 6 weeks, they visited a tea plantation. The owner of the plantation explained how to remove caffeine from tea. Add hot water to loose leaves and steep for 1 minute. Discard the liquid. This first brew contains most of the caffeine of the tea. Add water to the teapot and let steep for 2-3 minutes and drink that infusion that has only small amounts of caffeine (over 80% of the caffeine is removed during the first wash of the leaves).
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 videos/blog/website: reena.ca!