Renovation & Design

How to lift a fabric-softener stain with minimal pain

Bill Hogan / Chicago Tribune files

If you want your cakes to leave ‘em smiling, take care to bake right after mixing, use more layers for a given amount of batter and don’t peek!

Question: I spilled a few cups of fabric softener on my carpet yesterday. I tried to sponge up the mess with water, but it has left a huge yellow stain. Can you suggest something that can remove the stain? Thank you so much!


Answer: Purchase either Sunlight laundry bar soap or Ivory bar soap. Wet the carpet with water and scrub the area with soap. Rinse with water. Repeat until the stain is gone.


Hi Reena: I love your column. I have a problem cleaning my dish cloths (the ones I use to wash dishes). I wash them in the laundry with regular detergent, but they always come out with an unpleasant musty smell. Any suggestions? I’d prefer not to use bleach.


Answer: This usually happens when the drying time is too slow. For example, if the cloths are hung to dry, they tend to become hard and sometimes smelly.

The other reason why this occurs has to do with the dye or fabric used in manufacturing. Try to choose cloths that are domestic rather than imported. North American products under many circumstances have been proven to be higher quality and should remain soft and fresh, as long as they dry quickly.


Question: I baked a cake for my husband’s 50th birthday, invited 20 of his closest friends and had the meal catered. The cake was going to be the most impressive and delicious cake he had ever tasted. I baked it fresh that day, but excitement turned to horror. When I removed the cake from the oven, the centre had sunk into a hole of destruction. What happened? How can I avoid this in the future?


Answer: The sunken feeling you had was mirrored by the sunken cake, believe me — I’ve been in your shoes. How disappointed you must have been! Here are a few common avoidances for sunken cakes.

Leave the oven door closed for the entire baking time. Avoid opening the door to check the cake. Secondly, double-check the oven temperature, and if you have quite a bit of batter, separate it into more than one pan. Third, make sure that the baking soda and/or powder is fresh. Using old ingredients can affect the outcome. Fourth, refrain from overmixing. As you mix the batter, you incorporate air, which will eventually cause the batter to collapse. Fifth, do not mix the batter ahead of time and let it sit on the counter. Once the leavening agents are added to the batter, go ahead and bake the cake immediately.

Contributor feedback

Re: Potluck Leftovers: in the Nov. 16 paper, there was a question about potluck leftovers. I was recently at a potluck; of course, there was tons of fabulous food left over. At the end of the evening, our host brought out a basket of plastic containers and we all got to take home what we wanted. Lunch the next day was such a treat.



Proper table-setting tips

● Set the dinner plate in the middle of the place setting.

● The fork lies to the left of the plate.

● The knife is placed on the right of the plate with the sharp edge toward the plate. To the right of the knife is the spoon. In European tradition, the dessert or coffee spoon may lay above the plate.

● A water glass stands above the knife.

● Before serving dessert, clear the table of dirty plates and cutlery.

● After dessert, try to avoid clearing the table until the guests have left the table.

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.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email to Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website:



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