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Pumice stone key in cleaning grout

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Hello Reena,
I’d like to know how to clean the grout on my kitchen floors. I tried some products but they didn’t work very well. Donna

Dear Donna,
Whenever I want to freshen up old grout, I get a handy little piece of pumice stone. Pour some dish soap onto the pumice stone and wet it, then scrub the grout. Looks wonderful. Next spray isopropyl alcohol onto the grout to prevent mildew from growing and discolouring the grout (keep away from small children). Another option is to make a paste of borax and water, scrub grout with an old toothbrush.

Hi Reena,
My basement is finished with white ceiling tiles. Some time ago I noticed a leak in the washroom which caused a stain approximately five inches in diameter on one of the corner tiles. The leak has since been fixed, but the stain remains. What is the best way to remove or cover the stain? Can it just be painted? I no longer have any of the original ceiling tiles and, as you may know, it is hard to find matching ones. Plus, I really don’t want to buy a whole package to replace one small custom-cut tile! Thanks. Yours truly, Lucille

Dear Lucille,
Begin by combining 50/50 bleach and water into a spray bottle. Spray the stain, allow the solution to sit for 20 minutes and scrub. If the stain remains, painting is a good idea. Your best bet is to bring the tile into the paint store to colour-match the section. Tiles discolour over time and you may want to add a little yellow to the white so that the tile blends well.

Feedback from Readers Who Care
Re: Cleaning Driveways

Hi Reena,
Here is a method that works well instead of using bleach or muriatic acid to remove oil stains on cement driveways: Pour a small amount of paint thinner, Varsol, WD-40 etc. onto the oil stain and immediately cover the spot with Oil Dry. Oil-dry is an absorbent product similar in appearance to kitty litter and it can be purchased at auto parts stores. The paint thinner dissolves the oil and they are both absorbed by Oil Dry. For a fresh stain Oil-Dry alone can absorb oil. Sweep up Oil Dry the next day and store in a closed metal container such as a cookie tin, it can be reused over and over again for a long time. I enjoy reading your articles. Cheers, James

Hi Reena,
Just thought I’d share with you our foolproof method of cleaning grease off concrete or paving stone driveways. Cover the stain with a liberal amount of dishwashing liquid. Immediately cover completely with sand. Allow to dry completely. Leave for as long as you can, trying not to drive over it. A few days later you can brush the sand away and the stain will be gone. Works like a charm and is so easy. Joan

Re: Homemade Dog Food

Hello Reena,
I have been reading your suggestions on various topics in your column in the paper. While I understand that you would prefer to keep away from a topic as controversial as raw feeding for pets, I wish you would have mentioned the plethora of information out there so that the woman could have started her research road to best select a diet that is most optimal for her dog.
In your suggestion, you did not even offer for the woman to determine the allergens. Your only suggestion was that of a poor replacement for an even poorer commercial diet choice. I myself have been feeding raw for over 10 years as suggested by a vet. I have raised a pup (since nine weeks of age) and a kitten (since three months of age) on raw since switching adult dogs and a cat who were kibble fed - and having health issues. The recipe you suggested is very deficient in many nutrients, and most importantly the nutrition present is not bio-available to the dog. Any veggie matter fed should not be only cooked for five minutes, as it doesn’t break down the cellular wall enough to be digested by the dog. And you don’t have any source of calcium in that diet. While it would do no harm short term, there would be long term consequences. If you are a doubter, you can come meet my nearly eight-year-old dog, who never (yes, never) had a bath in his life and experience for yourself, what a dog, with no doggie odour is like (which they do get from eating kibble by the way, just like garlic oozes from pores of people who eat it - so does the sickly smell of kibble).  See for yourself what his teeth are like without the gunk on them that kibble fed dogs have. Feel his muscles and condition of his coat. I’m sure I’ll have you thinking about proper pet food after that. Marianna

Fabulous Tip of the Week:
Just like every other large appliance in the home, dishwashers require regular cleaning. Sounds strange but it’s true because food, toothpicks, shells, glass and other scum bake onto parts of a dishwasher and require careful attention. Use a toothbrush dipped in dish soap and baking soda to scrub the basin. Brush around the seal, as well as the sides and bottom of the unit. Remove the bottom rack and clean the filter. Pour half cup vinegar onto the floor of the dishwasher then sprinkle quarter cup baking soda. Scrub well and return rack. Fill the dishwasher with dishes and run as usual.

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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