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Get rid of pesky little bugs

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Dear Reena,
I read your column regularly and find it very helpful. Some time ago, you gave a solution to get rid of the little flies that seem to take up residence in houseplants. Was it two tablespoons per litre of water of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide? The little things are really pesky!
Also, someone asked about removing a heat mark on a wooden table. I have a good friend in the furniture business, and he recommended Brasso. You just rub a small amount on the mark — sometimes more than once, but it works wonderfully! Thank-you in advance for your information. Chris

Thanks for the tip Chris!
Here is the House and Garden Bite-Back Recipe for Plants: In a one-gallon milk jug, combine two tablespoons dish soap, one tablespoon rubbing alcohol, dash of Tabasco sauce, one tablespoon canola oil and enough water to fill the jug. Pour mixture into a spray bottle and apply as needed.

Dear Reena,
I purchased several pairs of the same brand of jeans, but they are about one half inch longer than I want in length, so rather than getting them hemmed I would like to try to shrink them. Can you please advise me as to the best method of how to do this? Thank you, Elaine

Dear Elaine,

If the fabric is preshrunk then your laundering technique will not make much difference in the size. Heat is your best bet to shrink jeans, wash and dry on the highest heat settings.

Dear Reena,
Three years ago we built a new master bedroom and ensuite bathroom which we finished using natural slate tile on the floors, walls and throughout the shower area. I have been able to find very little information on how to safely clean the slate without damaging it. The information that I have found has said to avoid acidic cleaners and to stick with mild household detergent, I have been using the all-natural eco-friendly laundry soap, but leave most of the disinfection to my steam mop, which does a pretty good job. There are two problems that have arisen, we are starting to get what I assume is calcium or lime build-up on the shower floor and seat (white streaks that won’t steam off) and there is a small patch of black mildew in the silicone that seals the shower glass to the slate. Help! Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,
Add a small amount of vinegar to the mop water to combat white calcium build-up. While you wouldn’t want to use vinegar on a regular basis, it is helpful for cleaning slate once in a while in order to keep your slate looking shiny and new. Also, make sure to find out if your floor is sealable, because properly sealing your floor will also keep it looking great for years to come.
As for the mildew patch, when it comes to mildew on silicone use products that are abrasive enough to clean but won’t remove the silicone. Make a paste using 3% hydrogen peroxide and borax. Gently scrub the area with an abrasive pad to remove all traces of mildew on the seal.

Dear Reena,
Once again I’m turning to our ‘go-to person’ for answers to our household dilemmas! Everyone I know, when a problem comes up, says "Ask Reena"! I have done that in the past and here I am again.
A few years ago when I retired from my ‘paying job,’ my husband and I installed an engineered laminate floor in our kitchen and hallways. The effect is lovely. However, I have been frustrated with the manufacturer of that product since the week after we put it down. Our local hardware store, who sold us the product, recommended a hardwood floor cleaner that left a huge streaky mess when I used it to mop the floor. I tried several other products including clear water, vinegar and water solution, etc. Although I am healthy, I am also old (going into my 71st year) and having to get down on my hands and knees to wipe one square foot at a time with the warm water and/or vinegar and water solution and then having to dry it immediately to eliminate the water marks and streaks is getting very tedious. My arthritis would like me to be able to use a wet or damp mop to do this job to avoid many knuckle and knee aches in the week after! Do you have any suggestions? Any ideas would be welcome. Thanks. Val

Dear Val,
Norwex sells a great microfibre mop which comes with both a wet and dry Velcro attachment, so you may want to check it out. The dry attachment is used to pick up daily dust. If you use a mop such as this, you can wash the floor with the wet mop, vinegar and water. After you have washed the floor once, go over the entire surface again with the wet mop but do not add any water or vinegar to the mop. This extra step polishes and slightly dries the floor, thereby removing watermarks. Vacuuming on a regular basis is also helpful in keeping your floors looking great.

Fabulous Tips of the Week:

• Chop fresh herbs such as: celery leaves, parsley, savory, basil, etc., and put a little bit in each cube in an ice cube tray. Add just enough water to keep the herbs ‘together’. Freeze. Come time to cook, just pop out a spice cube. Add it to whatever you’re cooking. Submitted by: Rekha
• To prevent grease from splattering while cooking, sift a little flour over the hot fat and the splattering will end!

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming! Missed a column? Can’t remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Interested in grocery coupons? Check out my brand new blog and website at You can contact me by email at

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