A va­ri­ety of tac­tics can take down anthills

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - REENA NER­BAS

QUES­TION: We have a moun­tain­ous anthill which is rapidly de­stroy­ing our peren­nial gar­den. HELP! Thanks, Ditte, Win­nipeg, Man.

AN­SWER: There are a num­ber of so­lu­tions for tack­ling ants, be­cause what works for one will not nec­es­sar­ily work for an­other since there is such a large va­ri­ety of ant species. To be­gin with, many ants will stay away if they smell an odour un­pleas­ant to them such as cin­na­mon, gar­lic, tea leaves or cof­fee grounds. You can also sprin­kle anthills with dry oat­meal, corn­meal or Corn­flakes ce­real. An­other op­tion is to make what I like to call rhubarb tea. In a stain­less-steel pot, boil rhubarb leaves with wa­ter. Pour the cooled liq­uid onto anthills. This helps get rid of ants and be­cause of the ox­alic acid in rhubarb, your pots will come out sparkly clean! You can make your own ant-rid­der by com­bin­ing 1 cup bo­rax with 2 tbsp. ic­ing sugar; add a few drops of honey. Trickle near ants or leave this so­lu­tion in a bowl and place it out­side where ants are a prob­lem. Keep this com­bi­na­tion away from grass, pets and chil­dren. Lastly, push a metal pipe into the ant hill and pour hot wa­ter into the pipe.

QUES­TION: I have stain­less-steel cut- lery that has turned black. I have tried cleaner, the foil method, and have not had much luck. I did try bleach with dish soap and that did clean them a bit, but there must be some­thing bet­ter. Thank you, Judy, Win­nipeg

AN­SWER: Well, I’m not sure what you used for the “foil method,” but let me give you my favourite foil trick — I love it! Get a bak­ing pan and loosely lay crum­pled alu­minum foil on the bot­tom. Into the pan drop one-quar­ter cup Arm and Ham­mer So Clean wash­ing soda (find it in the laun­dry depart­ment of gro­cery stores) and enough hot wa­ter to cover the bot­tom of the pan. Put the stain­less steel into the wa­ter and wash­ing soda for about 5 mins. If any­thing is go­ing to get rid of the black, this is it! QUES­TION: I have your books, but was un­able to find a “cure” for ink stains on a suede leather jacket. I haven’t had it for very long, so I don’t want to give it up just yet. Thanks so much! San­dra, Win­nipeg

AN­SWER: The prob­lem with ink stains on leather and suede is that as ink seeps into the tex­tile it ac­tu­ally dyes it, which makes it very dif­fi­cult to re­move. Be­gin with this easy so­lu­tion: Sprin­kle the area with bak­ing soda and then us­ing a stiff damp­ened brush, move the brush back and forth un­til the stain is gone. If the stain re­mains, dab the area with rub­bing al­co­hol and a white cloth. If you see ink ap­pear­ing on your cloth, con­tinue un­til the stain is gone. If dye from the jacket lifts, stop clean­ing. In this case, your best bet is to take the jacket to pro­fes­sional leather clean­ers or leave the jacket as is. As you wear it, the ink will likely fade over time. QUES­TION: I have a table­cloth that my aunt’s mother cro­cheted and it’s about 40 years old. It ap­pears to have ei­ther tea, cof­fee or maybe rust stains on it. I would like to try and re­move the stains. Have you any sug­ges­tions? The dry clean­ers don’t want to take a chance on it be­cause of its age. Thanks, Cathy, Bran­don, Man.

AN­SWER: If I were in your sit­u­a­tion, I would put the table­cloth in 12 cups of hot wa­ter and 1 cup of bo­rax or wash­ing soda. Let soak for an hour. While wear­ing rub­ber gloves, re­move the table­cloth, rinse with wa­ter and lay flat to dry. An­other op­tion is to soak the table­cloth in 1 cup of 3 per cent hy­dro­gen perox­ide and 8 cups wa­ter. Leave for an hour and lay out­side to dry. Worst-case sce­nario, soak the table­cloth in a com­mer­cial prod­uct called Iron Out and hot wa­ter, rinse in cold wa­ter and lay flat to dry. Note: Iron Out is risky be­cause it is a strong toxic prod­uct. Feed­back from reader: Hi, Reena, I read your re­ply re­gard­ing smelly tow­els as a re­sult of front-end-load­ing wash­ing ma­chines. I feel I have to re­spond be­cause this is a much big­ger is­sue than it might seem at first.

The odour is not caused by dyes but by bac­te­ria grow­ing in the fab­ric of the face cloths and tow­els, par­tic­u­larly when moist­ened by a cou­ple of uses. It can be trans­ferred to clothes in the wash and pro­duce rashes. Some new clothes, tow­els or other cloth prod­ucts have this smell even when new be­cause they have al­ready been con­tam­i­nated with bac­te­ria.

We have a front-loader that has had this is­sue since al­most new. Vir­tu­ally all low-wa­ter-con­sump­tion wash­ing ma­chines have this prob­lem, which is why you are see­ing ma­chines on the mar­ket with san­i­tiz­ing cy­cles, sil­ver in­te­ri­ors and steam cy­cles in part. The man­u­fac­tur­ers rec­om­mend the doors be left open to help dry the in­te­ri­ors and door seals to re­duce bac­te­rial growth. They also rec­om­mend an oc­ca­sional wash cy­cle with chlo­rine bleach with the washer empty to kill any growth. I do not know if they ac­knowl­edge that it is mostly a bac­te­rial prob­lem, but speak around it with terms like “musty odours” and “mouldy smells.” It is not mould or al­gae.

The smell is quite par­tic­u­lar to these bac­te­ria and read­ily iden­ti­fied and is of­ten termed a “musty” odour. It can with­stand tem­per­a­tures as high as 42 de­grees Cel­sius, so a nor­mal wash cy­cle will not usu­ally touch it. Chlo­rine bleach is an ef­fec­tive rem­edy. How­ever, do not use chlo­rine bleach with any other prod­uct, as chlo­rine gas will re­sult.

Of­ten, large-vol­ume wash­ers lend them­selves to over­load­ing, and com­bined with the small amount of wa­ter used, sim­ply do not get clothes as clean as the old ag­i­ta­tor-style wash­ers.

The clothes must tum­ble to get clean and can’t if the ma­chine is too full. We have a re­cur­ring brown film on the door seal of our ma­chine that is likely bac­te­rial. Soap residue is food for these bac­te­ria, as are skin par­ti­cles and, it seems, just about any­thing. Liq­uid fab­ric-soft­ener residue may also pro­vide a medium for these bac­te­ria. I work in the chem­i­cal busi­ness and deal with wa­ter treat­ment in par­tic­u­lar. Yours truly, Neil, Win­nipeg Fab­u­lous tips of the week:

To bring down a fever, soak a cloth with vine­gar and wrap the cloth around the pa­tient’s feet.

Gen­tly bleach tow­els and sheets by soak­ing them in ei­ther le­mon juice or 3 per cent hy­dro­gen perox­ide and wa­ter. Lay them out­side on the grass or hang to dry.

To get rid of rust stains in the tub, mix one-half cup 3 per­cent hy­dro­gen perox­ide with 1 tsp. cream of tar­tar. Ap­ply to stains. Wait 10 mins. and scrub. Citric acid is also very ef­fec­tive in re­mov­ing rust stains. Sprin­kle onto damp­ened area. Wait 10 mins. and scrub.

I en­joy your ques­tions and tips. Keep them com­ing.

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