Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Cleaning White Towels and Wedding Dress


By Reena Nerbas

Mystery Marks on White Towels

Hi Reena,

Last year I purchased new white towels for my remodeled bathroom. They are Calvin Klein and lovely, but a few washes in they started sprouting grey blob shaped spots, especially on the hand towels. At first I thought it was my daughter’s toothpaste staining the towels when she wiped her face, but switching toothpastes didn’t help. The spots have also appeared on the bath mat; so I know it can’t just be the toothpaste. With copious amounts of bleach the spots can be faded or erased, but this needs to be done constantly or they re-appear. I have changed laundry detergents as well to no avail. Any ideas? Jen

Dear Jen,

Since the spots are mainly apparent on hand towels; it makes sense that they may be the result of a product that your daughter uses. Bleach is found in cosmetic products other than toothpaste such as teeth whiteners and hair products. Benzoyl Peroxide for example is found in several products i.e. acne treatments may be the culprit. Consider investigating all of the products that she uses to help you determine the cause of discoloration. Have you experimented by trading towels with her and observing whether discoloration is still an issue? To brighten towels, add a product such as washing soda to each load. Pour one quarter cup to each load to brighten colors and whiten whites. Using washing soda with hot water will also clean out the hoses in your washing machine.

Cleaning Wedding Dress

Dear Reena,

How can I clean my 30 year old nylon wedding dress? Maggie

Dear Maggie,

When it comes to something as special as a wedding dress, it is absolutely recommended that you take the dress to a dry cleaner experienced in handling wedding dress fabrics. Properly cleaning the dress and stains is important in preserving the dress properly. Old stains may easily turn brown over time. However, if you prefer to wash the dress yourself and you know for sure that the fabrics are washable here is an option for you: Purchase gentle detergent or baby shampoo. Fill your bathtub with warm water and half cup detergent. Carefully swish the dress in the water and gently wipe scuff marks or stains with a baby toothbrush. As I am sure you know the dress will need to be hung to dry on a cloth or plastic hanger (not wire). Store in acid-free tissue paper and inside of an archival box.

Melting Marshmellows

Dear Reena,

What is the fastest and easiest way to melt marshmallows (without burning them)? Yours Truly, Carlos

Dear Carlos,

When heating marshmallows on the stove, grease the bottom of the pot before adding them. You may want to add water to the pot as long as water does not compromise your recipe. If you heat marshmallows using a double boiler, they are less likely to burn. Another sure fire way to quickly melt marshmallows is with the use of a microwave. You will need a large microwave safe bowl because the marshmallows expand when heated. Microwave the marshmallows for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until melted.

Jarred Garlic vs Fresh

Dear Reena,

Is jarred garlic safe for cooking? I prefer fresh garlic, but I cook so rarely that it doesn’t stay fresh. Bella

Dear Bella,

Before purchasing jarred garlic read the ingredients. Be aware that if the jar contains garlic and oil only this is not a safe combination. The ingredient list should list salt or some type of acid such as vinegar to ensure healthy consumption. Jarred garlic is not your only option; purchase a terra-cotta storage jar and fresh garlic bulbs will keep for up to two months. Discard garlic if it becomes dry or green sprouts appear. Did you know that you can freeze garlic cloves (peeled or unpeeled) in sealable bags or containers? They are softer when thawed but fine to use in cooking.

Reader Feedback

Re: Perfect Homemade Buns

Dear Reena,

I read your advice on weighing bread dough to ensure that homemade buns are all the same size. Not having access to a kitchen scale, I didn’t know what to do. It then occurred to me to download a free Kitchen Scale App. on my iPhone 6. Worked great! Louie
The LED Investment

  • Consider making the switch to LED lightbulbs. According to Natural Resources Canada; LED bulbs last 25 times as long as incandescent bulbs, are mercury free and dimmable and operate in all weather conditions.

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

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