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From cleaning stippled ceilings to stoneware

Dear Reena,

Our daughters are backpacking in Europe and they have asked us how to remove the smell from their microfibre towels. Washing them (likely by hand) is not doing the trick.

— Thanks, Guy

Guy,

The first suggestion for the girls is to leave the towels on a line to dry after each use (especially if it is raining outside). Sometimes rainwater alone zaps the mildew smell. The following is a list of other products to try depending on accessibility — some may be easier for them to purchase than others. Before laundering the towels soak them in either 1 cup OxiClean, vinegar, borax or washing soda and 12 cups hot water. Leave for a couple of hours before dropping the entire contents (towels and water) into the washing machine. Dry immediately — don’t let them sit in the washing machine. If the towels still smell, they may need to resort to bleach and water (use according to directions on bottle). If all else fails, it may be a problem with the washing machine and not the towels. Sometimes fabric softener builds up in the machine and does not allow the water to drain properly, thus creating a mildew smell.

Update from Guy’s daughters: “So today we went to the store and bought vinegar to soak our towels in, but when we got back they suddenly didn’t smell anymore! We think it might be because it rained, and the rainwater penetrated the towels or something. Anyways the mildew smell is gone.”

Hi Reena,

I feel like I am wasting money by buying bread crumbs when I could probably make them myself. Sounds like a silly question but how do I make bread crumbs?

— Lloyd

Lloyd,

Great question! There is nothing like homemade bread crumbs to improve the taste of your recipes and any type of bread can be used. In fact, the mixture of various breads will add oodles of interesting flavours to your recipes (make sure that you don’t use stale bread or you will end up with stale-tasting bread crumbs). If your bread is too fresh, just bake the bread slices in the oven on an ungreased baking sheet until slightly dry (300 F for 10-15 minutes). Turn halfway through. Store your bread ends in a large, resealable plastic bag in the freezer until ready to make the bread crumbs. Tear dried bread in small pieces and crush in a food processor or leave the bread crumbs in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Hi Reena,

We are contemplating cleaning the stippled ceilings in our home. We are wondering if you would know of any cleaning supplies and methods that would do this effectively.

— Thanks, Stu

Hi there Stu,

To clean stipple: Begin by determining if the stipple has previously been painted. If the ceiling is painted with an oil-based paint, paint over the oil with latex or oil. If the ceiling has never been painted, try spraying it with the All-Purpose recipe from Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets or use bleach and water in a spray bottle and gently dab the ceiling. The risk — if the stipple is not sealed it will wipe off when you rub the area. Another option is to use clear shellac. This will seal any stains and prevent them from bleeding through. Paint (using an oil-based stipple paint). This will harden the surface making it easy to wipe, but once stipple is painted it is difficult (almost impossible). Touching up stipple on ceilings is tricky to colour match. Often the entire surface must be repainted. To make a long story short (too late), to clean unpainted stipple, vacuum it using the dust attachment.

Hi Wonder Woman!

I have a set of dishes that I can’t use anymore as they are so marked from cutlery. They are called On The Go Epoch Stoneware, Korea. Over the years I have not been able to remove the marks from using silver-plated flatware. I have tried baking soda, and a couple of commercial cleaners, but nothing works. Hope you can help as I’d like to donate these dishes to a worthy cause, but don’t want to do so if they’re not looking good.

— Linda

Linda,

How wonderful that you are making such an effort for something that you are planning to give away! Although the scratches are permanent, I have found great results with non-gel whitening toothpaste. Leave for 15 minutes and rub the surface with an S.O.S pad to lighten the grey marks.

Tip of the week:

Perk up wilted vegetables by soaking them in 2 cups water and 1 tbsp. vinegar.

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