Friday, July 17, 2009

Sleeping bags - fresh and sweet-smelling.

So, how can a family keep their sleeping bags from getting all musty smelling over the winter?

Page 228 in The Trouble with Tulip recommends the following:

First, store them in a cool, dry place like a closet - never the basement.

Second, don't roll them up too tightly or they won't have room to breath when you store them.

Finally, when to do store them slip a fabric softener sheet down inside.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Picnic anyone?

It's picnic time again. Want to keep ants off the picnic table?

Page 226 of The Trouble with Tulip recommends putting the table legs in water-filled coffee cans and you're good to go!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


In The Trouble With Tulip Jo recomends dipping match heads in candle wax to make the matches waterproof.

And speaking of fire, bring along the perfect fire starters:
  • cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly - store this in a plastic bag to contain the mess
  • save the lint from the dryer. It's flammable and makes perfect fire starter, and best of all, it's free!

More camping and picnic ideas coming your way!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer is here. Going camping?

Page 227 of The Trouble with Tulip has a great campsite tip!

Bring along a hula hoop and a shower curtain with rings. Rig it up on a tree branch and you have an instant dressing room.

Throw in an inflatable kiddie pool and it becomes your own private bathtub.

You could also run a hose over the top for a shower but beware of cold water!

More camping tips coming up in two weeks!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is there any hope for dye stains?

For dye stains you may be out of luck.

You can try a commercial stain remover or oxygen bleach but be prepared to kiss the garment goodbye.

Here's a little song to help you remember how to treat your stains. Sing it to the tune of "Amazing Grace":

A protein stain goes in the cold
For oil, I need to Shout.
With tannin I should use enzymes
But dye probably won't come out...

Have a great day!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What do you mean, tannin stains?

Tannin stains are created by items like tea, cola and wine, and are especially difficult to get out.

Page 171 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder recommends that we avoid natural soaps which can make the problem worse. The best thing to do is treat the stain with detergent that contains enzymes instead.

And this one comes with a warning: Don't dry until you're sure that the stain is gone, because the heat will caramelize the sugar in the stain and turn it brown!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stains, stains and more stains.

Last week we talked about the four types of stains. By the way, these are listed in detail on page 171 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder.

Today we'll talk about oil-stains. These stains are produced from products like auto grease, hair mousse and suntan lotion.

Start with a stain remover with enzymes such as Shout or Spray 'n Wash. Soak the stain and then launder as usual.

My assistant, Shari, uses dish detergent on vegetable and olive oil stains which 'mysteriously' appear her shirt when eating angel hair pasta and clam sauce. Just place the dish detergent (not dishwasher detergent) directly on the stain and let it sit a bit, then launder as usual.

Next time we'll talk about the tannin stains!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let's talk about stains!

Stains fall into four simple categories
  • protein
  • oil-based
  • tannin
  • dye

We'll start with protein stains this week.

Protein stains (such as baby formula, eggs and urine) require cold water because hot water will actually cook the protein setting the stain even more!

So, be sure to use only cold water when washing out those protein stains.

Next week we'll tackle oil-based stain concepts!

Monday, March 30, 2009

"Your silver candlesticks. They're looking dull."

What can you do about the wax build-up on candlesticks?

Page 146 of Blind Dates Can be Murder recommends blowing the hot air of a blow-dryer set on high at the wax. When the wax is warmed up it wipes off easily!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How can I remove the crayon marks on my walls?

Page 119 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder suggests the following steps:

1. spray the marks with WD-40 lubricant
2. wipe with a paper towel

If you still see some marks:

3. scrub with a washcloth using a mix of liquid detergent and hot water

And remember to:

4. rinse well
5. dry with a paper towel

Have a lovely day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Scuffed sneakers?

Do you have black smudges on your white sneakers or shoes? Are they impossible to get off with just soap?

Page 84 of Blind Dates Can be Murder has a solution:

Use an old toothbrush and whitewall tire cleaner to scrub off the smudges.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The dreaded coffee stain!

With today's busy schedules we are often running from task to task taking quick sips of coffee and this can lead to the dreaded coffee spill.

Page 70 of Blind Dates Can be Murder suggests using salt to remove the coffee stain, if it is still wet, as follows:

1. Pour a small pile of salt into a dish.
2. Wet a paper towel and dab it into the salt.
3. Gently rub at the stain with the damp salted towel.

Jo's stain happened to be on a sturdy white knit shirt so she knew she could try an additional solution:

1. Dissolve two denture-cleaning tablets in warm water
2. Soak the shirt in the resulting solution.

Stay tuned for some more tips from the Smart Chick Mystery series!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How do I get red wine stains out of my tablecloth?

Page 34 of Blind Dates Can be Murder suggests two solutions which can be used on any material.

1. Pour a dab of white wine over the stain.


2. Cover the stain with salt and then flush it with club soda or cold water. Let the soda or water slowly drip through the material to remove the stain.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is it possible to remove dye from my favorite shirt?

Dye is particularty tought to get out but yes, there is a treatment you can try found on page 14 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder. Its called the 'Big Drip' treatment.

1. Stretch the fabric over a big bowl and secure it with a rubber band.
2. Put the bowl in the sink.
3. Turn on the faucet to where cold water slowly drips and let it drip directly on the stain all night long.

Make sure it's cold water!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Is there anything I can do to stretch out my shoes? They're too tight in the toe area.

Absolutely! Page 6 of Blind Dates Can Be Murder suggests that you use a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag. Press it into the toe of your shoe and carefully fill the bag with water until that area is full. Repeat for the other shoe and place in the freezer for at least 24 hours. The water will expand as it freezes thus stretching the toes!

Monday, January 12, 2009

How can I clean my light fixtures without ruining the finish on the frame?

Page 212 of Elementary, My Dear Watkins recomends that you spray cleaner onto your cloth and not directly at the crystals or glass. Carefully wipe only the part you want to clean otherwise the cleaner might leech into the frame though nicks and cuts. This could eventually corrode the finish.

Or, for a chandelier, remove the crystals if they're removable and hand wash them in warm water with a capful of vinegar and a drop of dishwashing liquid.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Vitamin E Stain

Hi folks,

Happy New Year to you all!

I thought you might enjoy this recent exchange with a reader, who ended up solving her own problem.

Q - I just squirted vitamin E oil on my blouse. Is their any way to remove the stain?

A- Hmmm...that's a new one on me! Sounds like a person I know who squeezed a capsule and it popped, shooting the liquid into her eye. Turns out, it was her dog's stool softener, which led to plenty of joikes (at least her eye wouldn't be constipated, etc.), but it ended up being pretty serious and actually burned her retina. She's fine now. Anyway, your note reminded me of that experience.

Any oil-based stain is always best removed with a professional stain-removal product such as Shout. You could also try rubbing in a little water that has been mixed with a dab of Dawn dishwashing liquid or similar (any of the ones that promise to draw grease away from the dishes).

Let me know if neither of these approaches work and I'll take a look at some of my reference books for you. Is it really oily, or is that just what it's called? Because that could make a difference in how to treat the stain.

Follow up email - Thanks for your suggestions. I sprayed it really good with Shout and let it set for a while, then checked it and it was still there, then I put salt on it and let it set for several hours. I could still see the stain, finally I sprayed it really good with hair spray and let that set for a few hours and it finally came out.

My final comments - I was glad to hear back and to learn that the stain finally did come out. Though I wouldn't recommend using salt and/or hairspray on all fabrics, I'm glad it really worked out in this situation. Way to go!