Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Getting the Yellow Out of Clothes

By Reena Nerbas

Tarnished Silver

Dear Reena,

I found an old silver necklace in a box in the basement of my house. It is very tarnished, almost completely black. Is there a way that I can clean it without taking it to a jeweler? Thanks, Hank

Dear Hank,

The following tip is unbelievably easy, quick, amazingly effective and cheap. Line the inside of any small container with crumpled aluminum foil. Pour fairly, hot water into the container and sprinkle a generous amount of salt. Place the necklace in the water, on the foil, and within seconds the silver will return to its original shiny color.

Removing Grease from Leather

Dear Reena,

I spilled grease from fast food on my leather (smooth leather, not suede) jacket. What do you recommend for getting the stain out? Sydney

Dear Sydney,

Always start with the easiest solution and then move to the trickier solution if needed. Sprinkle the area with one of the following: baby powder, cornstarch or baking soda. If the stain is fresh the powders will absorb the grease and once you brush the powder away the grease will disappear. If the grease stain is a little older apply one of the powders with a little water to make a paste. Leave it for 15 or 20 mins. and wipe. You can also wipe the area with dish soap and a bit of water since dish soap is created as a natural grease cutter. Another option is to hold a hot hair dryer onto the area and massage the leather to lighten the spot.

Adding Salt to Pasta

Dear Reena,

I love to cook pasta and never know when (or if it is necessary) to add salt to the water. Here’s my question, does water boil faster if you add salt?  Jack

Dear Jack,

I took on this challenge; I put one cup of water in one pot and one cup of water plus 1 tbsp. of salt in the other. I was amazed at how much faster the salted water came to a boil. Along the same lines, if you take two identical pots and add one gallon of pure water to one pot and one gallon of 20 percent salt water to the other and heat the two pots on identical stoves, the pot containing the salt water will come to a boil first.

In terms of best pasta flavor, salt should be added to the water unless you are on a low sodium diet because it does enhance the overall flavor. Cooking pasta in salted water means that the pasta will absorb some of the salt and therefore not taste bland. This cannot be corrected by salting the pasta later or adding salt to the sauce. All you end with is bland pasta with a salty exterior. You really should add quite a bit of salt to the water so it tastes like water from the ocean (don’t worry, most of this will go down the drain). Salt may be added before heating the water or once the water has started to boil. However, allow the salt to dissolve before adding the pasta.

Yellowed Shirts

Dear Reena,

I am sending blouses and t-shirts to a charity organization. They have hung in the closet for a very long time and have gotten yellow, very yellow across the shoulders and even down the center of the arms. I washed these in cool water with zero and put in dry un-bleachable Javex (I mixed it with water first). Some of the tops cleaned up pretty good but some (I guess) depending on the material did not. I did not dry anything in the dryer. Can you please help me? I am in an apartment and have no outside access to hang clothes. Thank you. Bev

Dear Bev,

First of all, good for you for recycling your clothes instead of throwing them in the trash! Depending on the fabric some of the stains may be permanent. However, the best product on the market that I have found to conquer yellowing fabrics is washing soda. Washing soda is similar to baking soda in that baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and washing soda is sodium carbonate. In other words, washing soda is stronger and not edible and although it does not contain bleach or phosphates it is caustic and therefore you need to wear gloves when working with washing soda. You can either boil your clothes in a stainless-steel pot in water and washing soda to brighten them or add washing soda to your washing machine, or simply soak your fabrics in washing soda and warm water for 20-30 minutes. Wash as usual. Be cautious not to mix colors in the washing soda and water solution because one color will run into another. If all else fails purchase an inexpensive box of RIT dye remover and use it according to the directions on the box. Doing this will extract all colors; the fabrics can either be left or re-dyed.

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.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

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