Readers frequently write in with tips or questions, or post advice in the comments section. I’m going to start collecting the best advice here, and answer any questions I’ve received. Want me to test out a recipe or a cleaning tactic you’ve heard about? I’ll do that, too. Just e-mail email@example.com, or post a note in the comments. On to this week’s tips, tricks and questions:
I’ve had a few people ask where to find two products I’ve written about frequently – mineral oil and Bar Keeper’s Friend. I use mineral oil to preserve wooden cutting boards and salad bowls, and to clean oil splatters from my cooktop area. BKF is a sink and tub miracle worker, cleaning soap scum and those anti-slip grips at the bottom of every bathtub. You can buy mineral oil at home stores like Crate and Barrel and Williams-Sonoma – any place that sells a lot of wood products, really. Mineral oil is also used as a laxative, so the cheapest place to buy it is your local drugstore. Just make sure it is odorless and colorless. Look for Bar Keepers Friend at your local grocery store, Wal-Mart or Target. It’s also available for a good price at Bed, Bath and Beyond. In my tests I’ve used the cooktop cleaner version, which comes in liquid form. That’s a little bit more expensive than the original powdered product, but it’s easier to use.
Reader Anne-Marie used the original BKF with good results. She writes:
I have lime and soap scum issues, and I’ve tried so many cleaners to no avail. I read [your] post and had to try Bar Keepers Friend. My local target only carried the powder stuff (for less than $1.50), so I gave it a whirl. Wow! 10 minutes, a sparkling shower and bathtub. Thank you for the suggestion!
Reader KKD e-mailed me a very thorough explanation of how she cleans her dirty hairbrushes. My wife’s hair isn’t that long, but her hairbrushes full of hair do drive me a little crazy. I’ll have to try this technique.
keeping hairbrushes clean is a drag, especially for women with longer hair. The trick to keeping your hairbrushes as clean as your hair is to wash them exactly same the way you wash your hair – with hair shampoo! The following method is fast and easy (even if it looks long written out).
Step 1: Take a pair of scissors and cut the hair in the brush by going down each row both horizontally and diagonally. Sounds like a lot of work, but it actually goes MUCH faster than trying to pull the hair out any other way.
Step 2. Put a paper towel or two in the sink to catch the hair that is about to come out of the brush. Use a very fine-toothed comb to comb the just-cut hair out of the brush. I use an old nit comb left over from my daughter’s preschool days, and will feel really bad when it finally gives up on me. In fact, that nit comb is so great for this job that I might just buy another one – although I think that would involve buying the who embarrassing treatment package, too.
Step 3. Once most of the hair has been removed from the brush by combing it out, use a hand towel to get the rest out.
And now, for the brilliant final step!
Step 4. Bring your de-haired, but still dirty, brush(es) into the shower with you, and as you are washing your hair WASH OUT THE BRUSHES WITH YOUR HAIR SHAMPOO. This works better than anything else, because hair shampoo is MEANT to work on hair! Its purpose is to remove the things that make your hair dirty–natural hair oils, skin to hair products–and it does the same for your hair brush. Moreover, shampoo disperses nicely from your brush under water – just as it does from your hair. (Regular liquid soap can take forever!)
I got a great response from readers when I shared how I helped a friend clean up after moving out of her apartment. One thing I didn’t cover was patching holes in walls where pictures used to hang. When I patch my walls, I take the thorough route and use spackle and paint.
Reader drphillg has a great shortcut I’ll be trying in the future:
Another item [landlords] will nick you for is holes in the walls. The easiest remedy: Toothpaste (of course!!) Just make sure to get a tube that’s WHITE. You may have to do a couple of applications. If it’s a big hole, wad up tissue paper to fill the majority of it.