Ask Reena – for Apr. 20, 2009

QA friend discovered that plastic parts of a kettle melted onto the enamel part of her stove. She can chip pieces off a bit but she is afraid of damaging the enamel. What can she do?

A Begin by heating the area with a blow dryer, leave it in place for three minutes and then gently scrape the residue off with a plastic putty knife. If the plastic remains, spray the stove with WD-40, wait for 10 minutes and then wipe. Caution should be taken when using WD-40 around a heated surface, however we are tackling the outside and not the inside of the oven. After the plastic is gone forever, clean the stove with dish soap and water. I think that your friend will be smiling! QI was told that you can clean a toilet with Kool-Aid or Tang. Is this true?

AAbsolutely! Kool-Aid just like Tang orange crystals contains high amounts of citric acid. Citric acid is a powerful cleaner derived from fruit such as lemons, grapefruits and oranges. The added benefit to using Kool-Aid as a cleaner is that it is safe for homes where pets drink from the toilet and it is non-toxic for the air in your home.

QI look forward to your column in the newspaper. Your ideas are great! Here is my question; how do I get freezer smell out of ice cube trays? Best wishes and thank you.

A When making ice cubes let’s begin with the water supply. If you have hard water with lots of minerals in it, you’re best off to use distilled water. Whether starting with tap water or distilled water, boil the water to get some of the air out of it. If you’re pouring the water into plastic trays, let the water cool somewhat before making ice cubes. Chances are that the odour is coming from food that has gotten into the insulation system of your freezer. Put 1 tbsp. vanilla extract on a small plate and set in the freezer. Repeat three times. Or purchase activated charcoal from a pet store. Place in freezer to remove smell. Lastly, clean the ice cube trays periodically with a mixture of baking soda and water.

QWe have just moved into a 1964 two-storey home with a beautiful wood-burning fireplace made of Tyndall stone. I would like to know how to safely clean the stone from the many years of soot that has darkened the area above the opening and up the front of the fireplace. I have already tried a weak solution of TSP and a scrub brush, but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference. Any suggestions?

ASince Tyndall stone originates in Manitoba, I decided to call Gillis Quarries Ltd. Tyndall Stone located there, so that I could provide you with the best possible advice.

If the surface is smooth, your best bet is to sand any stained areas with 50-grit sandpaper. A belt sander is a little easier and will save time. Do not use TSP on the surface. Because of the salt in TSP you may end up with a white residue (efflorescence) on the stone. If the stone is rough, clean with a nylon bristle brush.

In both cases avoid using water, but if you feel that it is very necessary, protect the surrounding area and clean with 50/50 bleach and water.

QCan you give me a homemade recipe for dishwasher detergent?

A Commercial dishwasher detergents contain high amounts of bleach that work hard at cleaning dishes by breaking down food as it washes. For those who wish to avoid bleach here is an easy recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent: To the soap dispenser add 1 tsp. borax and 1 tsp. baking soda. Another option is to add a small amount of baking soda and borax to your commercial powdered dishwasher detergent. Your detergent will go further and last longer.

QI purchased a beautiful leather purse (through mail order) which was wrapped in plastic when I received it. It had a musty/mouldy odour, but I figured a good “airing” would remedy the smell. Two months later I’m still airing it out, and it’s too late to return the purse. I’ve tried stuffing and wrapping it in newsprint, and used dryer sheets in it as well. When the newsprint was removed it took on the odour, but the purse still smells. I have also used leather wipes on the exterior to no avail. Any ideas about how to get it to smell like regular leather?

AYou’re doing all of the right things but the problem sounds more like the odour is coming from either the chemicals used in leather preparation or the dyes used in colouring the purse. Begin by cleaning the purse with Murphy’s Oil. Leave a few sprigs of eucalyptus or cotton balls soaked with shaving cream inside the purse. If the smell persists, freeze the purse for a day and note if there is a difference. If the odour remains, this is likely a permanent condition.


Store big bags of dry dog food in a clean garbage can with a lid.

Reena Nerbas is the author of the national bestsellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and the soon-to-be-released book Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives available online and in stores across Canada.



Stories from our other publications