QUESTION: My arborite counter is almost 14 years old. When the counter was new it resisted all stains (to my joy). Now that it is older, stains seem to be more powerful and harder to clean. I am not willing to replace the countertop; do you have any suggestions for renewing the surface? Tracy, Winnipeg
ANSWER: High-pressure decorative laminates such as Arborite brand are popular however, stains on laminate are sometimes tricky because they have a tendency to seep into the plastic and become part of the fabrication just as dye stains on fabrics. Begin by making a paste of baking soda and water. Leave for 15-30 minutes and scrub. If that doesn't clean it use a product called Countertop Magic. This is a spray cleaner made to clean and restore the lustre of Formica and plastic laminates; it's available at home-improvement stores.
QUESTION: What is your trick to get crazy glue off of fingers? Gloria, Erickson, MB
ANSWER: When this happens soak (and I mean soak for at least 15 minutes) your fingers in one of the following; Coke or the hottest water that you can stand or acetone. Gently pry the glue off of your fingers and wash.
QUESTION: We have a granite cutting board that matches our counter tops. The top of the cutting board is finished the same way as the counters, therefore it is shiny, smooth and sealed. The bottom however, is rough and unfinished. Over the past year the bottom of the cutting board has developed a rank smell. It smells like algae or mould. I have tried everything to clean this, as we really do not want to throw the expensive cutting board out, but nothing takes the smell away. Is there anything I can do to fix this problem? Thank you. Sarah, Steinbach
ANSWER: This is not a very common occurrence. However, all stone, even granite, is porous to some degree, and will absorb moisture over time. Some stones are more porous than others, so it is important to use a penetrating sealer on the working surface (just as you have) to prevent stains from oil, wine, or other liquids from soaking into the surface. While unusual, stone can absorb odours. Here are a few solutions, be careful not to allow the substances to touch the sealed top area of the cutting board as it will eat away at the sealer. Put about one quarter cup rubbing alcohol into a bottle and then fill the rest with water. Add a few drops of dish washing soap. You can use this to spray underneath your cutting board. Other options are spraying or soaking the underside of the counter with 50/50 three per cent hydrogen peroxide and vinegar or wipe with tea tree oil. The liquids will seep into the stone and should kill the mildew smell.
You can seal the underside of the cutting board however sealer is not a permanent fix.
QUESTION: Is there a problem using homemade fire starters made of sawdust and wax or dryer lint and wax in fireplaces. I am concerned about wax creating a coating in the chimney? Thanks for your help. Jean, Brandon, MB
ANSWER: Dryer lint, egg cartons, pencil shavings, empty toilet paper rolls and saw dust are suitable fire starters used for an inside fireplace. Wax additions are better left for outdoor fireplaces because as you said wax build-up in chimneys can become a problem over time. An alternative to homemade wax fire starters is to save old newspapers and layer one loosely over top of another. Following many layers, leave to dry for several months. Toss in the fire as a fire starter; be sure to use black and white ink paper only.
QUESTION: I've got black stuff building up along where the top of the tub meets the tub surround. I'm assuming that it is mould of some type and I've tried bleach with no success do you have any other suggestions, as it is very unappealing. Thanks so much, Parker, Winnipeg
ANSWER: Due to their small size, mixture of surfaces and the fact that bathrooms generate tremendous amounts of moisture and humidity, this room is a natural breeding ground for all types of bacteria and mildew. There are an amazing amount of mould cleaners on the market, which could take care of your challenge. However, my favourite solution is to combine a spray bottle full of vinegar with a few drops of tea tree oil (much less toxic and does a good job). Scrub with an old toothbrush or a pumice stone. If the mildew remains, sprinkle borax or baking soda to make the area more abrasive, scrub and rinse. One other suggestion that many people attest to is applying a small amount of car wax to areas that tend to grow mildew as a preventative measure.
Reena Nerbas is the author of the national best sellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and the soon to be released book Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives available on-line and in stores across Canada.
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Fabulous tip of the week
Use a paste of cigar ashes or cigarette ashes on furniture to remove watermarks or scratches.