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Old cleaners not an option in new TV age

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Dear Reena,
I recently bought an LCD screen TV. The dealer stressed that the screen was not glass and could easily be damaged by using common glass cleaners, such as those that contain ammonia. From what I’ve read, the damage may not appear immediately, but after regular cleaning with the wrong products it may become cloudy or have some other visible problems. Most of the commercial LCD screen cleaners claim that they are alcohol and ammonia free. Another issue is the apparent dust-magnet properties of the LCD screen. Some of the commercial products claim to have anti-static properties, and I’d sure like to know what substance they use and how we can be sure it won’t affect the screen. Can you shed some light on this and recommend something to clean the TV screen? Thanks in advance, Jeff

Dear Jeff,
When in doubt, always refer to your manufacturer’s manual first. If you do not have a manual call the company that manufactured the screen and ask them to email you their recommendations. Getting recommendations in writing is always a good idea.
If you would like to make your own homemade cleaner, mix one part water and one part 90% isopropyl alcohol, wipe with a very soft cloth. Do not use paper towels or anything more abrasive than a cotton T-shirt. I do not recommend Windex or anything that contains ammonia; it can etch the screen surface and can cause the plastic to become cloudy. There are commercial cleaning solutions available but some of them are quite expensive and contain nothing other than isopropyl alcohol and water.
To repel dust, gently wipe the screen with a dry fabric softener sheet. In every case, test on a small inconspicuous area first.

Dear Reena,

I love your new website content but have not seen a cure to my problem. The insides of my wine decanters became cloudy over the years when I no longer put wine in them and instead used them to store mouthwash for the bathroom and vinegar for the kitchen. I ended up spoiling all of my beautiful decanters! They are 40% lead crystal. I would like to restore their beauty for posterity. The products I’ve tried seem to make them look worse. So far I have used: cola, baking soda, denture cleaning tablets, Oxyclean, bleach, ammonia and lemon juice (both with and without salt). Thank-you, Lillian

Dear Lillian,
Sounds like the glass is permanently etched. That means that material has been removed from the surface leaving it no longer smooth (shiny). The glass needs to be polished with a buffing compound using an electric buffing machine and buffing wheel. In other words it’s time to contact a professional to rectify this challenge.

Dear Reena,
I have all three of your books but cannot find an answer to the following question. How can I thin correction fluid once it becomes gummy? Sheldon

Dear Sheldon,
There are thinners designed specifically for this challenge. If you cannot find a thinner for your brand, you may want to add a few drops of one of the following to your correction fluid. Nail polish remover containing acetone, this is a quick drying solvent compatible with many products on the market. Be aware, the fumes are flammable and breathing them can be dangerous. Another common solvent is isopropyl alcohol, which you can find in your local drugstore.

Dear Reena,
Can you tell me what Accent is? I have a recipe that calls for this ingredient and wonder if it is necessary to go out and buy it. Edna

Dear Edna,
Monosodium glutamate, also called MSG, can be found in most supermarkets in the spice aisle and is sold under the brand name Accent. If using MSG, reduce salt to half teaspoon. The purpose of monosodium glutamate is to enhance the flavor of certain foods. Originally isolated from seaweed, MSG is now made by fermenting corn, potatoes and rice. It does not enhance the four basic tastes (bitter, salty, sour, and sweet) but it does enhance the complex flavors of meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. MSG is an important ingredient in the cuisines of China and Japan and is used commercially worldwide in many types of foods. It is naturally present at high levels in tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. In China, MSG is known as wei jing, which means flavor essence. It is up to you whether you choose to include MSG in your recipe; personally I opt to leave it out.

Dear Reena,
We have two bedroom lamps which are 25 years old and we still like them. However, although the shades are not dirty, they do show signs of yellowing. We have been looking for new shades in stores but are unable to find anything that suits our lamps or are as nice as the old items. We have not been successful in finding new lamps that would suit as well. Do you know of any product that would clean the shades? Painting them would be very difficult to get good results, and dyeing is out. You are our last hope of finding a solution. Thank you for your help. Pat

Dear Pat,
You are right, even with proper cleaning sunlight can cause fading or discolouration over time. There are companies which make custom lampshades and also recover old lampshades. Not knowing what the fabric of your lampshade is makes it difficult to advise cleaning solutions but I must tell you that both my mom and I spray painted our lampshades on separate occasions several years ago and we are both happy with the results.
For everyday cleaning of lampshades, use a lint brush to remove dust. For general cleaning of washable lampshades: Mix four cups warm water with half cup fabric softener. Dip in soft cloth and wipe down lampshades. If the lampshade is washable but has glued-on trim (preventing water immersion), use the following method for cleaning: Mix one tbsp. dish soap with 1 cup warm water, whip the mixture with an eggbeater until it makes stiff foam. Apply the foam to the shade with a sponge, being careful not to wet the trim. Rinse by going over the shade with a clean cloth wrung out in clear water. Allow the shade to dry. Lastly, some dry cleaners will accept lamp shades for 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? Interested in grocery coupons? Check out my brand new blog and website at You can contact me by email at

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