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Removing Water Deposits

Q. I’m looking for advice on removing soft-water deposits from faucets and fixtures.  Vinegar works great for hard water, but I recently moved to a home with a water softener, and found that vinegar does nothing for soft water deposits.  Thanks.  Deborah A.  Try a product called CLR — it is wonderful!  Anita O. A.  I just read about this last night in Good Housekeeping- Sept 2000 issue. It told about the difference in the type of faucet you have. For example- they recommended vinegar for silver faucets and baking soda for brass colored faucets. One tip was to make a mixture and soak a cotton ball in it and leave it on the faucet that way so it has time to work. Try that. Anita E

Removing Spilled Wax

Q. I am hoping someone can help me.  My husband was waxing our van when the wax accidentally dumped over.  It was on a ledge by the window, so as a result, it splattered (or poured rather) all over the brick of our home and the concrete driveway.  Any ideas on how to remove this?  We have tried scrubbing it, but to no avail.  I would appreciate any input!  Thanks!!

A.  What I would try is laying an old clean towel over the wax and apply heat to the top of the towel with a hot iron. This may cause the towel to absorb the heated wax. Repeat as many times as necessary, while  using a clean area of the towel each time.  Karri

A.  This is not so much a how-to but a what-to-do-first.    Car waxes are made of many things a lot of them not wax.    Polyester resins for example(polycoat).   read the label for the ingredients.   find out which cleaners will be effective.   Check the bottle for the internet site of the company.   Even if one is not listed use internet directories to find them.  re:parent companies are almost all on the internet.  The FAQ section may give you the information you need.  If not e-mail them with the problem you are having with their product.  They will usually reply; they want to keep you as a customer.  Good Luck, Michael.

A.  Try spraying it with full strength white vinegar. It should help break down the wax. If it’s thick it might take several shots to get it all. Good luck!  Kelly

A.  Wax comes off most everything with ice and cold. if you live in a climate where there is snow and cold, that time of year will be your best to get the wax off. Otherwise, invest in a bag of ice, don’t open it and  rub on brick a section at a time. Carefully using a putty knife, it should crack right off. Jean

Taffy In The VCR

Q. My son has mangled our VCR by getting taffy in it.  I reserved a book from the library on VCR repair but won’t have it for a few weeks. I thought I could just clean it out but can you use water? Can you scrub some of those "gadgets" without damaging them? If anyone knows how to repair things like this, please, give me your advise. My husband is an electronic technician and he says first UNPLUG the machine, then use a q-tip and dab rubbing alcohol on the parts that need cleaning and then let the machine thoroughly dry (minimum of 1 hr.) before plugging back in. Do NOT use water! Debbie J.

Tar On Brick

Q . Recently, my son did some repair work on my house and used tar to seal the space between the house and the wall outside.  He got a lot of the tar onto my brick front porch, please if anyone can come up with a method or product to help me to remove it, I would be most grateful.

A.  We have gotten "tar balls" on the bottom of our feet at the beach and found that Vaseline petroleum jelly was the best solution to remove the tar residue from the skin – hopefully this will work on other surfaces as well – good luck.   Dale

A.  You can dissolve tar by using a little bit of gasoline or paint thinner (mineral spirits) and a scrub brush.  Then wash the area with plenty of soap and water. Please be careful!   This also works for the tar spots on your car from going through construction zones – and from your clothes from working on construction.   Bob & Lorraine

A.  A friend of mine had driven through tar accidentally and got it on the outside of her tires. She used Avon’s Skin So Soft and it came off. I’m not sure how big of an area you are talking about; her wasn’t really huge, but it did work. Ramona

A.  My son is a foreman for a constriction company, which lays tar all day long. I don’t know if or how good this works, but he has told me that Baby Oil works.

A.  I ‘ve learned that trick from my roofer. Scrape thick pieces off and soak the rest with Paint-thinner . It will come right off. I did it on my bricks and it worked beautiful. Iris , California

A.  To remove tar the first part is the hardest–time. Let the tar harden over time.  Any method of freezing the tar will usually speed this up.   After the tar has hardened physically scrape off the tar trying not to disfigure the bricks. Remember that if you use a cleaner, paint thinner for example, the discolored area will get larger and go deeper into the brick. Tar is usually too thick to penetrate brick unless it is a commercial quick drying solution of tar and thinner. If all else fails remove the stained brick and replace with similar bricks, probably from a place that carries used housing materials.If replacing the bricks do not break up and throw away. Remove mortar carefully and simply turns the brick over and remortar in place.  With time and weathering they will be identical in appearance.     If the original brick was sealed, reseal with same sealant. 

A.  Your son can help you.  After all it has been a mutual experience up until now, don’t turn it into punishment.  Life’s lessons learned.  Michael

A.  Mayonnaise removes tar.  Price

A.  In college I use to do roofing work we would clean it up with either wd 40 or gas just have to be careful it my take a few applications. Then just spray it down with the hose.  BC52

Removing Stains in Clothing with Coke

Q.    Somewhere I heard about coca cola being great for washing stains out of clothes, but I wasn’t able to get any more info on that.  Has anyone heard of using coke?

To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains.

NO! Don’t use Coca Cola to remove stains; you’ll only create more. What does work like magic is club soda. Sponge club soda on a stain over and over and watch the stain disappear, even beet or red raspberry stains, but you need to do it right away when the stain occurs.

When we lived in Texas and Oklahoma I went to the laundry mat and found that the people washing the oil rig clothes used Coke small Bottles or cans primarily to cut the oil in the clothes. It apparently it works because there were Coke machines only in the laundry mats.

My friend uses a two liter bottle of coke in addition to her detergent for her husbands work uniforms, he works in crude oil. She says this removes all the stains and odors. I imagine you could adjust the amount for the size and amount of dirt. She won’t use anything else! (obviously she has grease and oil stains)

Coca-cola is a great grease cutter, but not a cleaner. If you have one of those stubborn grease stains, that hasn’t washed out, a little coke in the stain can really help, but it’s not a cleaner — you’ll need detergent with it.

Rust Removal

Q. I have a problem with rust spots on my clothes from the dryer. I have tried CLR and various other things with no luck at all. If you know what will take it out I would sure appreciate the help! Thanks

Try a product called "Wink" (brown plastic bottle) it is expensive, but will last a long time! – Ray

I have found a product that will remove rust spots. It is called The Works, I think it is mainly used for toilets, but I have removed rust from clothes,furniture and a lot of things. Thought you might want to try it.

I purchased a second-hand shirt for my son, several years ago. He needed a white shirt for a class play. The shirt had metal snaps and they had left rust spots on the shirt. I tried everything you suggested but they didn’t work. Then I tried "cream of tartar". I filled a large pot with water and 1/2 a box of cream of tartar, added the shirt and brought the whole thing to a boil. Boiled it on the stove for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Worked like a charm. Whitened the shirt as well. The kids still tease me about my "Shirt soup".

Iron rust stains can be removed from washable delicate cottons and linens by moistening the stain with water, squeeze lemon juice directly onto the stain and hold it in the steam from a boiling teakettle for a few minutes. Rinse with water and repeat as many times as necessary. Another method is to boil the article in a solution of 4 tsp. of cream of tartar to a pint of water. Boil until the stain is removed, then rinse in plenty of water. – Harriet

If you will put the item you are treating with salt and lemon juice out in the Sun while you are letting it sit, it works better. Sue

This is usually used to remove rust stains from sinks etc.. and is sold in hardware/home stores. I don’t know if it works on cloth or not, but you can read the label for information. It works great on the sink.

Try "Iron Out" sold in hardware stores like true value. Walmart also carries it follow the directions carefully. Great for nurse’s uniforms or white clothes that have yellowed. Hope this helps! Jean

I’m wondering if she has checked her dryer’s barrel for nicks that have then gone on to rust. There is a product you can buy at most any hardware store that can paint the rust spots, sealing them. Comes in one or two different colors, that I remember, and can be used on different appliances to cover scratches. It’s a good idea to paint any and all knicks so this won’t happen in the future. Hope this helps! Take care. – Cheryl

To the person with rust stains on her clothing, I have always had good luck with a product called Whink Rust Stain Remover. Just follow instructions on the bottle. B. Parrish

Try a product called "Whink" (brown plastic bottle) it is expensive, but will last a long time! – Ray

I’m just now getting around to reading the past two weeks of’s e-zine. Happened to see the request for something that works on rust. There’s a product I bought in Houston, Texas that I will never be without. Everyone who comes to visit us is first requested to pick up a bottle of this magic potion. We have not been able to locate it in Colorado. The product is called The Original Quaker House Rust & Stain Remover ( for fabrics, toilet bowls, metals, urine stains, sinks, and carpets. I keep it by my sink because it will eliminate coffee stains or any other food stains on my white ceramic sink, immediately. For a true rust stain, I have the same result. Within seconds, the stain is gone. I’ve also taken a whole bottle to a toilet bowl that someone was trying to clean from years of hard water. Amazing…cleaned it within seconds, whereas the owner had scrubbed for hours with a variety of cleaners. All that is written on the bottle is that it’s by Quaker Cleaners in Houston, Texas. No Website is listed or address. Hope that helps. Marcia Horn Noyes

I have been gone for a few weeks but read the problem with the spots on clothing. I also had the same problem about 4 years ago. I was told that after years of use of the dryer sheets it eats away on the drum in the dryer. I had to replace the dryer and have not used a dryer sheet since. I have heard this same problem 3 times since it happened to me. I think now I just pay attention to it a little more.

I paint a rusty spot in my washing machine tub with Wite-Out every few weeks. Exa

Nicotine Build-Up On Mirrors

Q. What will remove smoke film from mirror glass?  I have tried everything, nothing will cut the nicotine build up.  [Quit smoking, praise God] Thank you,  –Betty/NC

A. We had this problem after my mother died. But I was amazed by what Windex cleaned up. I’m surprised this hasn’t worked for her. Congratulation on giving up this expensive and unhealthy habit!

A . I use Fantastic cleaning spray to get rid of the nicotine/ yellow build up. I have used this idea for use in cars also. Maureen & Skylar

A. Try half and half white vinegar and water. You may have to go over it more than once if the buildup is extremely heavy. Warning:  It will stink when you take it off!

A. Try pure rubbing alcohol to remove the smoke.  I clean my mirrors with it all the time and it does not leave streaks.

A. When we inherited my folks place the nicotine was heavy everywhere.  They had both been chain smokers for years.  I discovered many of Mom’s tan knickknacks were actually white when I used window cleaner that was strong with ammonia on them.  If you’ve already tried this.  Try using straight sudsy ammonia in a well ventilated area on the mirror and lots of elbow grease.  I actually had to soak some of her pieces to get them clean, but I wouldn’t recommend immersing the whole mirror as it may take the silver backing off the mirror. Instead cover the glass with newspapers and dampen (not soaking) them with the ammonia, let it set.  That should do it.  –Jan

A . Clean mirror with rubbing alcohol . If that don’t work, then try ammonia full strength. One other thing to try is vinegar diluted with a small amount of water.

Melted Balloon Stain

Q. Any idea how to get the stain of a melted balloon out of a fine linen handkerchief? Thank you, Heather

A. I don’t know if it will work, but have you tried freezing the handkerchief?   Trish

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