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Cleaning

Odors in the Microwave

Q.   Some popcorn got burned in our microwave; consequently, our microwave not smells like burned popcorn. Do you have any suggestions as to how to get the odor out?  Thanks — TFeauto

• Boiling a cup full of vinegar and then washing the inside and tray with it  has helped me. Ivy R.

• A solution of 1 cup water, add 1 tblsp vinegar or 1 tblsp of lemon juice or any liquid that is acidic.  Tis’ better to smell lemony than burnt. Robert

• First, remove the tray, wash it in soapy dish water and wipe down the walls, floor, ceiling and door of the microwave. Then, leave a dish with about a quarter cup of whole cloves in the microwave until you use it again. Should help. Carol W.

• Use vinegar in a glass and microwave it, then after it boils, remove and use paper towels to clean your microwave, it should smell fine. Psneath

• In my kitchen I use white vinegar mixed with water – (I use half water / half vinegar but you can dilute it more or less)- in a spray bottle to clean my "over the stove" microwave and my all black, ceramic top range. If there is a big spill, just clean first with a hot soapy dish cloth, wipe with a paper towel or clean rag, then spray with the vinegar solution and dry with a paper towel. This cuts any leftover grease, deodorizes, and leaves a shiny surface. I also use it on other appliances and counter tops. There are no chemicals – or chemical smells- to contaminate food, and the vinegar doesn’t leave an odor. To get that smell out of the microwave, be sure to clean ALL five surfaces inside the oven: top, bottom, sides and back; as well as the inside of the door. Paula

• This is in response to the woman who asked about getting the smell out of her microwave. I have a couple of suggestions that she might try, depending on what she has on hand. A couple of slices of lemon placed in the  bottom of a cup with a little water and then microwave on high for five minutes can be very effective. It can also be very frugal if you have lemon that is leftover or has gotten a little dry in the refrigerator. The other idea is very similar. put a mug of water in the microwave filled about half way with water and then a couple of tablespoons of either lemon juice or vinegar. The measurements are just a guess because I just put some water in the mug and then a splash of the juice or vinegar. I hope this helps. Jennifer S

• This will help your microwave smell better!  Squeeze a lemon into a cup of water.  Drop the remainder of the lemon into the cup too and microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Let it sit in there until cool and microwave again for a minute.  Wipe out the microwave with a damp cloth, and it should smell better!  Good luck.  Lisa

• Put about a tablespoon of vanilla in half a coffee cup of water. Bring it to a boil in the microwave (time varies depending on the power of your microwave). Let it sit with the microwave unopened for about 4-5 minutes. This will also clean your microwave, just open after the 4-5 minutes and wipe with a damp cloth. Even the really stuck on stuff just wipes off. Hint: the steam from boiling is what cleans it, it needs to sit that 4-5 minutes to work, but if you let it sit too long then it is stuck on stuff again.

• The easiest way I’ve found to remove microwave odors is to boil two cups of water & the juice of one lemon – leaves your microwave smelling lemon fresh & it also helps loosen built on spills etc. Bridget

• For cleaning the microwave, I generally use a glass measuring cup.  I put about a third of a cup of vinegar and fill it with water.  I set the microwave to about 6 minutes (till the liquid boils).  Let the liquid sit in there about 10 minutes to steam.  Then just wipe everything off, it will wipe clean with ease.   I send this to say that when I do this, all odors are gone as well, even though its not the main purpose.  I have a great nose, and always can smell what has cooked in there, and after this method, its gone. 

• Set a glass container of white vinegar and water…about half and half in the oven, uncovered. Set it for 3 minutes on High and wipe out the inside of the oven once you take it out. Or: Crumble plenty of newspaper and stuff them in the microwave. Do NOT run it. Instead, shut the door and leave it at least overnight. Then clean it out with baking soda and water. Either way, the odor should be gone. Janet

Ink On Expensive Suit

Q. Please help me!! I have a very expensive suit (Jones New York) light color – sort of manila envelope shade that somehow has ink stains on one of the sleeves. I have tried everything under the sun, including the manufacturer suggestions but nothing has worked. If any of your readers may have some ideas as to how to get rid of these stains, I would really appreciate it. The dry cleaners won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. HELP!  –Patricia

I had a similar problem and then found a product called gonzo at the supermarket.  I had never heard of it, but decided that I would try it.  It comes in a small white bottle (maybe 4 oz.) with red lettering and costs around $1.89 (that’s what it was in NH!).  I was amazed.  My pants looked great when I was done.  There is some risk with anything you try, but I figured I couldn’t loose since my pants were ruined anyway!  I also found this to be a great stain remover for coffee and tea.  Good Luck.    Marijo from NH

I would suggest to the lady to try putting hair spray on her ink stain let it sit and try again then proceed with washing.  I have also applied laundry detergent through out the day let it dry then reapply wash then reapplied it again and it came out too.  Of course this is if it was not dried in a dryer yet!!

Guaranteed to remove ink stains IF you haven’t done too much else to them.  Spray them well with an AEROSOL hair spray.  Saturate the stain.  Let it set a few seconds, then blot blot blot with a damp cloth.  The stain should come out, then you can have the suit cleaned as usual to remove the water stain.  This may take more than one spraying with the hair spray and blotting, but they will come out. This works for lipstick stains as well.  Lauryi

I used to work in Reno and got black India ink on a brand new white blouse I was sick blouse was expensive($50.00) I used canned cream (carnation or pet) and used the back of a spoon to rub this into the stain and work it out. Repeat until gone wash as usual. It takes time but it does work.   Barbara

Many years ago I worked for Kleinfelds Bridal store (one of the most distinguished gown stores in the US) and we learned that if you got ink on the gown your get pump hairspray and gauze and it takes it right off.  Try it, it can’t hurt and may help depending how long that stain is there.

OXICLEAN – I have found this worked on things the cleaners gave up on.  It worked a miracle for me on a wonderful white suit that was washable.

Patricia, it may be too late for this suit but I have a suggestion that has saved many of my husband’s shirts and you’ve got nothing to lose at this point.  As soon as I notice the ink, I soak the spot in milk.  Sometimes it takes overnight so be patient and rub the stains every now and then.  The fat content of the milk doesn’t make a difference and I’ve even used re-consituted powdered milk.  Good luck.  Debbie

Try Simple Green on these ink spots. I was able to remove ink stains from a Pilot Rolling Ball pen from a light-blue colored expensive suit jacket.   I used concentrated Simple Green and a clean, smooth,  thin cotton rag (men’s cotton undershirts). Erda

Depending on the type of ink, these two suggestions may work:  There’s a product called Wink.  You can find it at most grocery stores.  It’s a small pink and white tube and the product is specifically designed to remove ink.  If that doesn’t work, you can go onto the web and find a product called Soilove.  It is available in grocery stores on the west coast but only by mail otherwise.  You will have to work the ink out slowly over several soakings, but I have seen this stuff take out even old, dried set-in stains. –Kamia

Ink can be gotten out of fabric by soaking in milk. I do not know if it will work on your garment due to you already trying everything under the sun.  It is worth a try though.  You are right, a cleaners will not guarantee getting out ink spots. –Good Luck

Have you tried spraying on Hair spray make sure you have a cloth on the back side so that it doesn’t bleed thru. then rub on it to remove the ink.

I have found a wonderful product in my area that gets out just about any and EVERY stain in our house (and with a new litter of puppies, you can imagine how many stains might occur).  It is called OXICLEAN.  You can find it at Walgreens, Walmart, Sam’s Club and even on TV!!  The big tub on TV is $19 which sounds a little pricey til you realized that you only need to mix a little of it (about a tablespoon) in a quart of water for most stains. This stuff got cherry jello out of my off-white carpet after the stain had been there for over a year!!!!!  I also toss a scoop in the wash as a safe (and less expensive) alternative to chlorine bleach.  I know this sounds like a commercial for the stuff, but I LOVE IT!!!!! –Kathy

If they are ballpoint ink spots, try spraying hair spray on them and wash immediently as the ink dissolves.  tonik

Ink Marks on the Walls

Q.   Do you have a remedy for removing ink marks off walls? Angela

Try using hair spray on the Ink Marks. It will work on clothing and other things.  Wilma

Try spraying a little WD-40 on paper towel and rub lightly. Don’t spray directly on surface.  Terry

First, try talcum powder or cornstarch.  If that doesn’t work (and if the paint is scrub-able) try a spray cleaner, like 409.  If that doesn’t work, use nail polish remover. Mary Alice

Try using a little Bon Ami cleanser. Dampen a soft cloth, dab just a little of the cleanser on it and gently work the spot, stopping frequently to wipe and dry and be sure you’re not lifting the paint, too! If done lightly and assuming your paint is at least average quality, the spot should come off and the paint should stay. Also – for future reference, satin finish paints are generally easier to clean than flat finish.  Carol

Something I have used for most all marks on walls is a soft damp cloth & baking soda. Just use small circling motions & be gentle. This has taken any mark off that I come across. Good luck! Phyllis  

Removing Grease Stains

Q. How do you get grease stains from a barbecue off the cement on a patio?  Ray

Sprinkle liberally with kitty litter.  Make sure it’s clay-based and not one of the newer chemical ones.  The clay will soak that grease right up and you just sweep it away.  The longer the grease has been on there, the longer you have to leave the kitty litter on.  MAK

We have had very good success at getting oil stains (from our car) off cement with laundry detergent. We use the Windfresh in the 40 lb.  buckets from Sam’s Club. Dump some of the powdered detergent (dry, you don’t need to add water) on the spot and if you have a stiff broom then rub it it. If you see the grease/oil seeping up into the detergent then sweep it up and repeat.

I don’t know if it will work on a patio but I use Lestoil to take grease stains out of clothing and off my vinyl flooring and it works wonderful.  Lestoil is sometimes difficult to find but I have found it in the grocery store with the floor cleaning items.

Pour undiluted Greased Lightning on the greased area. Let set for a few minutes then scrub with a brush. Use water hose to wash out the grease and clean the concrete.  David

Removing Gasoline Smells

Q.    I accidentally spilled gasoline on a foot pad for the back seat of my car.  I have tried detergent, Clorox mixture, and sunshine.  So far, I still cannot get the smell out.  Does anyone know how to do this? Thanks Joanne

I have used sliced potatoes. For some reason they soak up the smell. It works every time I get gas for the lawnmower and it spills on the carpet in my car. I have also heard that kitty litter will do the same thing. Hope this helps.  Vickie

I’m willing to bet that the reason you can’t get the smell out is that the petroleum product has soaked farther into the padding and upholstery than you have successfully cleaned.  Water won’t do it, because you’re working with an oil and need to use something that is a grease dissolver.   My grandfather (the mechanic) used this:  Soak the area thoroughly with a mixture of 1-2 cups plain white vinegar mixed in 1 gallon warm as you can stand water, then use lots of clean white towels and a brick, clamp or something else to add weight (your own tired arms will do, too) to wick out all of the petroleum and water solution.  Follow with a rinse of warm water mixed with baking soda (1 1/2 cups per gallon), then again wick out until as dry as you can get it.  You will probably be best served to use something warm to dry the rest of the upholstery, so it doesn’t mildew. Kamia

Fingernail Polish in the Carpet

Q. I spilled fingernail polish on my carpet – a whole bottle.   Any ideas on removing it?

Blot with fingernail polish remover. You may want to test in an area behind some furniture first to make sure the color won’t come up. Start out with as little as possible and use a sponge or white towel. We used to own a carpet cleaning company and this was the suggestion in one of our pamphlets. Good Luck.

Non-Toxic Disinfectant Cleaning Spray

Making your own household cleaners will save lots of cleaning supplies money over the years, but the real savings are in being able to rid your home of toxic chemicals that not only affect children and pets, but also adults as they are absorbed through the skin and lungs.

Here’s one of our favorite all-purpose cleaner recipes.

Lavender and Tea Tree Spray Cleaner

1 t. borax
2 T. white vinegar
2 c. hot water
1/4 t. lavender essential oil
3 drops tea tree essential oil

Mix all ingredients together and stir until dry ingredients dissolve. Pour into spray bottle for long-term storage and use. Spray as needed on any surface except glass. Scrub and rinse with a clean damp, cloth.

More Cleaning Recipe s

You can get essential oil kits from Nature’s Sunshine. It’s fun to make your own supplies. It’s a great idea for gifts and a nice tradition to pass down to children.

Removing Dog Hair

Q. I’ve got a dog that sheds quite a bit. I’ve tried the "Swiffer Sweepers", but they don’t pick up the hair like I’d hoped. Can someone give me a tip for picking up all this hair efficiently? I have hardwood and tile floors. – J

I am not sure how to help you pick it up but may I can help it not fall out so much put 1 teaspoon of olive oil in you dogs food per day and believe me it help the dog not shed so much  BM.

A damp sponge (or sponge mop) worked great for us when we had a dog.  Pat

We have a cat who also sheds quite a bit, I’ve found that the best way to keep up with the shedding fur is to use our vacuum on the lowest possible setting. We also have hardwood floors and this works quite well. Also, if you then use a swiffer after vacuuming I find it works well at picking up the residual fine hairs. Hope this helps. Hannah

I also have hardwood floors and a dog that sheds.  I know if can be frustrating dealing with dog hair on a daily basis.  I was give a small broom vacuum from a friend that did not use it (she had carpet) and I have found that it works better than anything for our situation.  It is very light weight and not cumbersome to drag out like a heavy conventional vacuum.  I have priced these broom vacs in stores and found them to be a reasonable $25.00 – $40.00, though mine was free.  I would recommend a cordless, rechargeable style for even more ease in quick cleaning.  Ours has a cord and it does not reach very far, therefore it takes more time to plug and unplug (I have child-proof sockets) and I am still considering buying a cordless vac. ( I am trying to be frugal and use the one I was given.) These vacuums do not replace regular rug vacuums, they don’t pick up heavier items, but have worked well and quickly with dog hair.  Stod.

The best way I know to pick up a lot more dust and dog hair when sweeping is a trick I learned from a VERY old housekeeping book.   Go outside and pick up some freshly mowed grass clippings or damp leaves (a couple of handfuls).  Sprinkle them all over your kitchen floor.  Then sweep.   The dampness from the grass will stick to more dust and dog hair than sweeping alone, and it will show you very clearly where you missed.   This also helps keep the dust from landing on the furniture to dust off later. Lorraine

I just vacuum up my dog’s hair on my tile and wood floors.  Betsy.

I heard about someone who trains his dogs from puppy hood to accept being vacuumed — stop it at the source!  This is not an option for me. I have 2 fuzzy, shedding dogs & 2 cats, and I have found that the rubber brooms that are being sold now really do work! The rubber doesn’t generate a lot of static electricity, so the hair rolls up almost like a piece of rope, and it doesn’t tend to drift the way it does when using an ordinary broom. I also use the rubber broom for getting the pet hair off of upholstery and carpets. (A very slightly damp sponge is also good for this.) The broom is washable, and has an adjustable handle. I got my broom on sale, with a coupon, at a local discount drugstore for less than $10. I put the hair on the compost pile; sometimes birds take it from there for nesting material, and the dog smell discourages other animals from getting near the compost or the garden.  Suzanna

Shedding dogs, cats and even molting pet birds litter our floors nearly year round! Grooming the 4 legged friends, outdoors with old rubber gloves helps the shedding and indoors I lightly spritz my swifter cloth ( or old rag or sock, those refills are so expensive!) with water, wait 5 minutes and then dust the floors. A bit of moisture seems to make cloth work better, and the rubberized mat sheets that come with some of the duster units work the best!  Renn

My dog also has a shedding problem and I could never seem to stay ahead of it until my vet recommended a 3M Lint Roller. I just gently roll the roller over the dogs coat and it picks up any loose hair. At first my dog was afraid but now that he is used to it he loves it. I usually use about 4 sheets at a time and by getting the loose hair before it falls off I don’t have a mess. I Hope it works for your dog. Kathy

Removing Dark Eye Makeup From Washcloths

Q. I’m having a terrible time removing dark eye make-up stains from light colored terry cloth washcloths. I’ve tried a lot of different things…desolvit, bleach, goop, spray ‘n wash, dishwasher powder, soaking all night…nothing seems to work ..any suggestions? – Patty

For Patty’s response, try using OxiClean and letting them soak overnight.  If you can make it into a paste, then scrub into the stains with an old toothbrush that will work even better.   I have even gotten old make-up stains out this method – Debi

Have you tried "oxyclean" or "Zout"…I love the stuff. I work in a Chiropractor’s office and his towels looked awful before I washed them. I didn’t need softener (which by the way, locks in stains by coating them with silica) try soaking with oxyclean then spot treat with Zout, finally wash them like you normally do. good luck – BB

I had the same problem. I love clean white washcloths but everyone of mine were yellowish-gray in the middle from make up stains. I tried everything from soaking in bleach, Oxyclean which worked on brightening all of my other whites, enzyme detergents, and every kind of spot remover on the market. Absolutely nothing removed the stains. Finally I read an article in Martha Stewart magazine that made perfect sense. The article recommended using a dark cloth for makeup removal only. I went to a discount outlet and bought cheap (2 for a dollar) hunter green washcloths. I keep them in my makeup drawer next to the makeup remover cream. My white wash cloths are spared and absolutely nothing shows on the green ones. Of course Martha embroiders her with "Makeup Only" so her guest will know what they are for. I didn’t bother, because I know what they are for and I’m the only one who uses them. Best regards – Joyce

I use Krud Kutter (available at Home Depot and Paint Stores) to get mascara off of my yellow velour hand towels. Krud Kutter works on just about any surface and any stain without damaging it – Kay

Fingernail Polish On Clothing

Q.     I painted my daughters fingernails the other day and before they were dry she tried to straighten up her dress. Now there is pink nail polish all over the back of her beige colored dress. I think if I use polish remover, it will take the color out of the dress. I hate for it to be a loss; it was a gift and she has only worn it once. Please help! K.P.

I too had a daughter who got nail polish on a dress. Although it was not beige it still was necessary to get it out as it was a good dress.  This is what I did… Take paper towelling and place behind the fabric where the stain is.  Next take a cotton ball or paper towelling with nail polish remover and BLOT the polish out. This works really well. Launder the item as  usual. Hope this helps.  Monica R.

Same thing happened to me. I used Shaklee Basic H. Soaked it in that with water and it will take it out. My husband washed a pink slack outfit I borrowed from a friend with something blue and it turned lilac. But I soaked it in the Shaklee Basic H and it came out looking like brand new. Amazing, but it works. Myra