Whiten yellowed ivory piano keys patiently
QUESTION: What is the best way to clean piano or organ keys? Just as a side note, my Household Solutions books arrived in the mail and I am happy to say that some of my Christmas shopping is already done. Keep up the good work. Darlene, Winnipeg
ANSWER: For general cleaning on plastic or ivory keys, use vinegar and water on a soft cloth. For ivory keys, wipe with nongel, non-bleach toothpaste on a damp cloth. Ensure that you rub gently and do not scrub. Rinse with fresh milk and buff well. Note: Over time and with repeated cleaning, the yellow on your ivory keys can be significantly reduced. Whitening your ivory piano keys takes a long time and a great deal of patience.
Extra tidbit: If you are unsure whether your piano keys are plastic or ivory, note that piano keys that have ivory tops are made in two parts. If you look carefully, you will notice a join. Also, ivory piano keys are off-white instead of stark white. Lastly, ivory has a grain. Modern pianos have plastic keys, which do not have any grain. Be careful not to mistake ivory keys for cellulose keys. Cellulose also has a grain, but the cellulose grain is more even than ivory.
QUESTION: We have a very old (102 years) christening gown made of white cotton and lace that has been in storage for the past seven years. We now find that it has a yellow stain, probably from milk, on the front of the cotton. Because of the age of the gown, we were reluctant to tackle the stain without some professional advice.
Can you suggest a safe way to remove the stain without harming the fabric please? Thank you! Sharon, Winnipeg
ANSWER: You always want to begin with the mildest solution and use more aggressive solutions only if necessary. With this in mind, make a liquid paste of borax (or washing soda) and water. Cover the milk stain. Leave overnight and rinse in the morning. Dear Readers, I must share with you my dishwasher experience. Last week, my dishwasher stopped working right in the middle of a wash. It could not even muster up enough breath to complete the cycle. After inquiring of the manufacturer, I was told the dishwasher has been recalled for this exact reason (it just suddenly stops working). The dishwasher was going to be fixed at no charge within three to four weeks. Well, after two days I opened up the dishwasher and the smell punched me in the face and nearly knocked me down. I poured half a bottle of vinegar onto the floor of the dishwasher and sprinkled baking soda on top. The smell is gone and I can now breathe with a smile. King vinegar prevails once again!
Fabulous feedback from reader: Dear Ms. Nerbas, I read with interest your article on garage sales in the Winnipeg Free Press Saturday, June 5, 2010. I think it would have been a good idea to also suggest people make attractive signs that can be seen from some distance. I notice many signs which I cannot read as I am driving by in my car.
More importantly, however, I think you should have told people to pick up their signs as soon as the sale is over. Many people never bother to take their signs down. As a result, they sometimes blow around the neighbourhood for weeks.
Kenneth, Winnipeg Outstanding tips of the week:
I don’t know what I would do without nylon net — there are so many uses for it. I tuck it in where I am likely to find spiders (around doors, the space between outside walls and concrete steps). I also secure netting inside heat vents with a rubber band and put netting between sliding windows that have drainage holes and over top of open pipes, etc. I also fold netting over the blade of my knives to prevent accidental cuts. Submitted by Erna (Gladstone, Man.)
If you are still using plastic grocery bags instead of recyclable bags and don’t know what to do with the mountain of bags collecting in your home, the solution is easy — donate the bags to self-help. The bags will be reused instead of wasted.
Scarecrows in the garden? A balloon pop is a fast way to scare those birds away, but for long-term results use a kite. Place a kite in the garden; crows will think it is a bird and fly away to bother someone else.