Renovation & Design

Humidity likely the cause of mildew on window seals

All Weather Windows

In order to reduce condensation in your home, make sure you use fans in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as a dehumidifier when necessary.

Question: Year after year, mildew develops along the caulking/sealant around my windows. In past years, my husband has regularly used bleach and elbow grease to clean it. We don’t mind the normal amount of work a house takes, but this is ridiculous, not to mention probably harmful to our health — both the guck and the bleach solution.

The past two years have shown much growth of the mildew. We were almost prepared to replace all of our windows (at a cost of $25,000 to $48,000) until the inspector who did our energy audit said the windows were quite fine, and only a few were leaking to a minor extent.

Have you any suggestions of how to clean off the guck in a safe and non-toxic way, effectively and for more than just a few months? I hate the thought of removing all my windows and having them in a landfill site when they’re still fairly energy efficient.


Answer: Based on your description, the problem does not sound like a window problem, but rather high humidity levels in your home coming from day-to-day activities such as boiling water, bathing or operating the dishwasher. In order to reduce condensation in your home, make sure you use fans in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as a dehumidifier when necessary. It may be worthwhile to call a professional to access moisture levels in your home, and to verify that you have proper ventilation and insulation in your roof, crawl space and basement. Making the proper changes in your home such as upgrading your furnace may be advised. If you do decide to make changes, check to see if the government is offering any homeowner energy grants in your area.

For cleaning the windows, you can combine vinegar with 10 to 15 drops of tea tree oil. This will give you a great clean, but is not a long-term solution. Tea tree oil can be found in pharmacies and health-food stores.


Question: What is the best way to clean my iron? The bottom plate looks brown, as if it has some baked-on residue on it.


Answer: Take two tablespoons of baking soda and add enough water to make a paste. Apply the paste to your iron and scrub it with an abrasive cloth. Rinse.


Question: When making gravy, is it better to use cornstarch or flour as a thickener?


Answer: Both flour and cornstarch are excellent thickeners — personally, I use both. However, when making gravy, there are advantages to using cornstarch rather than flour. Cornstarch has twice the thickening power of flour, so you need to use only half as much. If a recipe calls for one quarter-cup of flour, you can use just two tablespoons of cornstarch.


Flooring feedback: I read about the lady who was having a problem cleaning her laminate floor. I also had this problem. I tried different solutions that were recommended to me by the store where I purchased the flooring with no results. I phoned the manufacturers in Texas and they recommended cleaning with Windex Ammonia D. It worked wonders. I spray it on the floor and then mop it up. Try a small area of your floor first. — Helen


Reader tips

I have great success with residue removal on floors and walls by using a paste of baking soda and coconut oil with a little bit of elbow grease. — Aaron

Freeze leftover pickle juice into Popsicle moulds. Or squeeze pickles and freeze the juice. More and more people are becoming hooked on this cool, low-calorie sensation. — Minna

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 at Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website:



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