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Renovation & Design

Cleaning right between the lines

Larry Roberts / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Files

Using a pumice stone with dish soap is one way to scrub mould out of grout

Question: Suggestions on how to remove mould from grout. Our shower tile is only two years old and we thought we were cleaning properly, but we just noticed the start of mould.

— Charlene

Answer: Purchase a handy little piece of pumice stone. Pour some dish soap onto the pumice stone to wet it and then scrub the grout. Next, spray isopropyl alcohol onto the grout to prevent mildew from growing and discolouring the grout (keep away from small children). Another option is to make a paste of borax and water, and scrub the grout with an old toothbrush. To avoid future mould build-up, wipe the wall with a towel after each use.

Question: My husband was staining something on our deck and managed to splatter stain on the vinyl siding, cement walkway and the composite deck. I really need your help to get rid of these stains.

— Karen

Answer: One option is to purchase the organic compound oxalic acid. Test before using and take care to read the instructions printed on the label. Oxalic acid is a bleaching agent and will lighten the stain. The stripper by Behr, or other products such as these, are also effective options. If the stains remain, the areas will need restaining or repainting.

Question: I have bought a number of jackets with down feathers in the linings which are leaving me feeling like a plucked chicken. Everywhere I go when I wear them, the air around me is floating with feathers. One even landed in my friend’s cup of coffee! Is there any way I can try and "seal" these jackets so the feathers don’t keep working their way out? It doesn’t seem to make a difference on the price of the jacket I buy — they all have the same effect. I wonder if there’s any solution to the problem that you’ve heard of. Thanks.

— Heather

Answer: Both expensive as well as inexpensive down-filled jackets have a tendency to lose feathers. Here are a few suggestions to solve this issue. If the problem is excessive, you can attempt to return the jacket even without a receipt. Depending on the label, the store might honour a refund or exchange. If the jacket cannot be returned, pull escaping feathers towards the inside of the jacket when they decide to stick out. If you pull feathers out, the holes become larger and more feathers will escape. You can attempt to put your jacket into the dryer and run the no-heat fluff cycle for about 15 minutes. The reason this works is because as the jacket is worn, the feathers compress and flatten, making them easier to fit through the weave. But if you fluff your feathers, they will fatten up and have a more difficult time fitting through the fabric. If all else fails, wear a thin nylon jacket underneath your down-filled jacket to prevent the feathers from clinging to your clothing. Scotchgard products have proven unsuccessful when it comes to keeping feathers inside jackets. I had the same challenge, so I wrapped the jacket up in a bag and returned it without a receipt. I too felt like a badly plucked chicken.

Beautiful Quack Grass

Quack grass is one the most troublesome perennial grassy weeds in our lawns; it is more complicated to control than other weeds. Many weeds can be controlled with selective herbicides — ones that kill specific plants and leave all others unaffected. Unfortunately, there is no selective herbicide available to control quack grass in lawns.

● To control quack grass chemically, a non-selective herbicide is required. A non-selective herbicide will kill all growth it contacts, which means you would have to get rid of your entire lawn and start again. For most people, this is not an option. Your best option is to dig out quack grass, making sure that all rhizomes are removed, because even a small section left in the ground can renew growth.

● Control quack grass by mowing your lawn at the lowest setting on your mower. Soak the areas affected by quack grass and wait until the quack grass is five inches long (it grows faster than regular grass). With gloves on, soak large sponges with weed killer and press the sponge onto the weed. Make sure that you touch only the areas that you want to kill. Three days later, the quack grass will die off. Fertilize and water the lawn.

Note: every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca. Ask a question or share a tip at reena.ca.

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