Getting baked-on food off ceramic counter
QUESTION: In an apartment building I own, the client cooked on the ceramic-top stove, but neglected to clean the top surface and now it is all baked on. How can I start the removal of the old baked-on mess?
— Jean, Winnipeg
ANSWER: Head to a store where appliances are sold. They will sell you a tool that looks like a razor blade. This little gadget will not damage the surface but it will save you time and effort in cleaning the stovetop each time you use it. There are also products on the market for cleaning cooktops but a little dish soap, water and the razor tool are all I would use.
QUESTION: I have recently noticed a layer of strange-coloured soil on all my houseplants that looks fuzzy, much like white mould. I do not water my plants very often and am wondering what the cause of this is. What is the best way to get rid of it and prevent it from happening again? I just mixed it into the soil but am thinking perhaps I should have scraped it off. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks — Sheri, Winnipeg ANSWER: Depending on where you live, the problem may be the amount of salt in your water. In other words, if you have a salt softener on your coldwater taps and you are using cold water to water your plants, the white layer you see forming may be salt and not mould. If this is not the case, typically mould comes from overwatering your plants. Wait until the soil is dry five centimetres deep before watering. Or move the plants to an area where they will receive additional sun. If the problem remains, re-pot the plants and start over with sterile soil.
QUESTION: I have been reading your column regularly and appreciate your easy solutions on so many things. I have a problem I am unable to resolve. I used rubber/silicon feet to support some display items on a windowsill, which was exposed to morning sun on the east side. After a few weeks I discovered these feet left marks on the paint of the sill. I have tried many things to remove these marks without success. I was hoping not to have to sand and paint the whole area. I did try sanding with a very fine paper (Diamond Grit 600) without any success. I would very much appreciate any suggestions. Thank you. — Harwant, Winnipeg ANSWER: What I would use in your case is plain old baking soda and water. Make a paste. Leave for 20 minutes and scrub hard. If the marks remain, spray the area with WD-40. Wait for 10 minutes and wipe. If the marks are still there, you will need to clean the area with TSP and water or dish soap and water and repaint.
QUESTION: When I lend books to my friend they come back smelling strongly of perfume and/or creams. Sometimes after I’ve visited her, my clothes also reek of perfume. I am highly allergic to strong odours. How do I get the perfume smells out of my books and clothes? I very much enjoy your articles. Thank you. — Marion, Winnipeg ANSWER: Leaving books and fabrics outside on a dry day is an effective way to zap odours. When you bring your items back into your home, soak fabrics in borax and water before washing (according to the care-label directions). As for the books, place them in a plastic container or garbage bag with either kitty litter or charcoal. Or lay the books in your freezer for a couple of hours. That should zap any lingering odours.
QUESTION: In your column, you mentioned micro-fibre clothes. We bought one a while back, but we don’t know how to use it. Do you wet it, spray it with some kind of solution or just use it dry? There were no directions on the package when we bought it. Thanking you in advance for your reply. — Gerry, Belair, Man. ANSWER: This is such a great question, it made me smile! Good quality micro-fibre clothes are a worthwhile investment and this coming from a very frugal person. If you get your hands on a good quality cloth, each fibre is 100 times finer than human hair. The reason this is important information is the cloth will hold a lot of water, and water is all you need. You can wet the cloth once and wipe down several windows without having to re-wet the cloth. If you also find a micro-fibre drying cloth, you will be laughing because then you are really in business. Wash your windows with water and dry in a circular motion (on a cloudy day or in the morning) with your drying cloth. No streaks!