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Renovation & Design

Mouse in house a pesky problem

QUESTION: I have a mouse problem at my house. What can I do to prevent mice from coming inside? What can I do to catch them once they are in my house? Linda (Blanshard, Man.)

ANSWER: Although some may argue mice are adorable and cuddly little creatures, they carry disease and are a hazard to you and your family.

What works for one mouse will not necessarily work for all. Begin by sealing off all openings to the home; a mouse can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime. To seal an area, use caulk, spray expandable foam, steel wool or, even more effective, copper wool.

A popular non-toxic deterrent is peppermint oil, used on cotton balls and placed in groups wherever mice like to congregate (this is different from peppermint extract used in cooking). Peppermint oil can be purchased at health stores or online. Another option is shaving cream sprayed onto cotton balls and put inside boxes or under the hood of vehicles.

While a cat is the most effective way to keep mice away, an alternative is gently used kitty litter sprinkled around the house, or shavings of Irish Spring bar soap, fabric softener sheets or rubber snakes. Mothballs should be avoided as they are poisonous to animals and humans.

If you're using a non-kill trap to catch a mouse, here is a trick that will bring you successful results. Combine peanut butter and birdseed and put it on the trap, but do not set the trap for two days. Doing this will encourage mice to play near the trap without any threat of being caught. On the third day, set the trap and catch your critters. Bring the mice at least 10 kilometres from your home before releasing them, otherwise they will likely find their way back to you.

Peanut butter is more effective than cheese because mice love the taste and it's more difficult for them to remove from the trap. Birdseed keeps mice at the trap longer because they take time to chew the seeds.

QUESTION: I am wondering about the best way to get Sharpie (permanent marker) off a beige leather couch. It looks smudged; no one is owning up to it! Thanks. Mona, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Attempting to remove this stain may make the area additionally visible, therefore you may want to leave it alone. However, here are a few suggestions of removers that have had good results on ballpoint ink and may work on permanent marker. Begin by blotting the area with a generous amount of Dawn dish soap, water and a white cloth. If some of the ink appears on the cloth, continue this process. Other wonderful ink lifters include Sunlight bar soap, shaving cream, mosquito repellent or a 50/50 combination of vodka and three per cent hydrogen peroxide. Some people have had great results with a product called Zout.

If all else fails, soak the stain with paint thinner and dab, dab, dab. This is the most effective permanent ink remover, however it does carry a strong odor and takes persistence. Test everything on an inconspicuous area first and blot with dish soap and water between applications. (Taken from Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions).

To sift or not to sift, that is the question

Have you ever asked yourself what the point is to sifting flour and does it really make a difference? The answer is yes. Sifting flour creates fluffier and lighter cookies and cakes. When a recipe calls for sifted flour, measure your ingredients, place the measuring cup on a piece of paper towel or parchment or wax paper and sift the flour over the cup until it is overfull, and then level it off. Submitted by: Margaret

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my brand new videos/blog/website: reena.ca.

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